Organising your practising

Organising your practising

Organising your piano practising remains the most critical challenge for any pianist. Practising music can prove to be a somewhat subjective matter. How should we practise? How long should we spend on scales? How to approach new the preparation of a new piece?

the result of my practising sessions / Juan Rezzuto

Setting up goals for our day is fundamental. We need to have at least an approximate idea of how much we'll have available during the day. Splitting our practising sessions is good. For example, if we can commit three hours to our studies, it is advisable to organise our practice into four forty-five minute sessions.

Each session should have the same structure but a different goal. The general structure of a practising sitting involves:
1.  a technical module,
2. a new repertoire module and/or 3. a maintenance module.

The technical module of the very first practising session of the day should be the largest of the day. We need to set up our performance mechanism. That means more scales, more arpeggios, trills, thirds and sixths. If we are carrying out a forty-five-minute session, we would maybe spend good fifteen minutes on this very first warming up of the day. Then we have to decide whether we will use the remaining 30 minutes for new material or for both new-material and maintenance.

In general new material needs more of our attention, and taking account we have just started with our practising day, we should be in the position of being more efficient for these purposes than later on the day. My suggestion, the first forty-five-minute session should be committed to "new material".

The second session experiences two modifications: 1. the warming up period is shrunk to 5 minutes; 2. we can certainly produce a mixed session. A mixed practising session is one in which we can work on new material and also maintain repertoire. I suggest a distribution of 5 minutes of warming up, 20 minutes of new material and 20 mins of maintenance.

The third session should turn the focus to repertoire maintenance. Why? Because our intellectual resources will have reduced by then, and therefore we can work on building up reflections rather than constructing an abstract image of the piece. My suggestion, in this case, will be to commit 5 minutes to warm up, 20 minutes to maintenance and 20 minutes to new material.

The fourth session is the maintenance session. We can expect to be entirely worn out by then. Not only because of the practising but also because of the day itself. I suggest working 5 minutes on warming up 30 minutes on maintenance and 10 minutes on sight reading. In this way, we can use those low-performance 10 minutes to do something useful but not demanding.

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