Piano Practice Routines and Tips

This is a collection of tips, tricks, and routines for practising the piano from across the net. Some of these I use daily and have been immensely helpful in improving my touch and tone.

Order of practice to learn a new piece

  1. notes
  2. rhythm
  3. articulation
  4. pedal
  5. voicing
  6. dynamics
  7. rubato
  8. tempo

To Routine?


Common mistakes


Rebuilding technique


  1. change fingering or reorganize
  2. set a time limit of 10-15min for one skill
  3. oscillate to slow tempo every 2-3-4 times
    • go back to square one and feel the natural movement
    • keeps you in check
  4. indirect practicing
    • practice something slightly more difficult or different
    • change the key (transpose) of a repetitive pattern
  5. symmetrical practice (mirror image)
    • analyze angles and position of hands
  6. don't overthink it
    • let the subconscious do its job
    • break up the passage and work on a small part for a week or so
    • take scheduled breaks
  7. retraining is ok
    • sometimes, something in one piece corrupts something in another piece

Thirds, sixth, etc


practice routines


Josh Wright 10 tips webinar

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Prevent looking at hands too much



source, source

Reduce tension


  1. transform the weight
    1. close the lid of the piano
    2. feel weight on the fingertip: rest of hand rubber, tip of finger metal
      • circular motion
      • on table, desk, knee, anywhere
      • get used to the weight on fingertip
  2. arm swiping
    • releases the finger from arm and fingers
    • can use it for octave work
  3. wrist swiping
  4. finger staccato
    • should be relaxed in the wrist
    • tiny motion
    • fingers should release
    • as soon as the note plays, hand returns to neutral relaxed position
  5. touch fingers together (sideways) between each note
    • returns your hands to natural position
    • great for chords as well: lift and touch fingers together
  6. press release exercise
    • press the key and release tension while still on the key
      • pressing into the key and releasing the tension (don't lift off the key, finger is still on the key and pushed in)
    • start very slow, then make it faster, then just think about release
  7. free hands part 2
    • press the key, go very slow, then shake your hand (like a vibrato on violin)
    • shaking motion makes hand rubbery
    • at first can think of rocking back and forth
    • can use this to release tension on individual fingers (e.g. pinky)
    • video: flying pinky
  8. slooow legato
    • legato but veeeeeery slow
    • self-assessment exercise
  9. addon
    • assess tension along the way
    • good for speed and learning as well
    • think of phrases as single motions
    • liquid hands with good structure
  10. independent fingers
    • slow practice, if one finger is down, others shouldn't even know about it: should be relaxed
    • sometimes also add dynamics while learning the notes

flop method


Managing stage fright


Absolute Accuracy Rule for practising new pieces


Solidify performance


  1. Play slower
    1. Pick a piece you know but is not solid
    2. Get out the sheet, metronome, play slowly without pedal and raised fingers (exaggerated movements)
  2. Play faster
    1. Pick a piece you know but is not solid
    2. Play faster than you usually do, then zero in on the 10-20% weakest parts
      • use normal practice routines on those sections

Gyorgy Sandor basic movements


  1. free fall for slow to moderate tempo
  2. wrist and forearm line up with fingers; wrist starts low on phrases and raises by the end
  3. rotation on zig zag movements
  4. staccato by sudden pushes
  5. thrust for loud and fast chord passages

Great quotes

Found around the intertubes, here are some great quotes.

On stage fright

Great job! I like to remind myself that the purpose of a performance is to share music with the audience, not actually to showcase your playing specifically. Instead of "oh no, I played a wrong note, everyone will think I'm not very good" and all of those sorts of thoughts we all have, try out "I'm doing my best to present this beautiful piece of music."


On motivation

Playing an instrument is an incredibly personal process, to the point where your level of satisfaction is influenced by your overall well-being.

Like the dashboard of a car, sometimes playing will have these little indicators that something needs resolution- instead of "check engine", it might be "check your lifestyle". Maybe you're low on metaphorical gas? Perhaps there's something else that needs to be addressed. Reflection advised.

The important thing is to keep practicing- the dashboard is working as intended. If you up and quit, it won't solve the problem, and worse, you'll be without the tool that told you there was a problem in the first place.