How To Perfect a Piece of Piano Music

Are you frustrated with sloppy performances or a general lack of confidence while playing your piano music? You really can learn music to the point of perfection, and by practicing with the methodology listed below, you’ll arrive at your auditions and recitals more confident than ever.

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How Do You Perfect a Piece of Piano Music?

To perfect your piano music, you will need to learn the technique slowly and meticulously, add dynamics in an intentional manner, and memorize the piece until you are mentally aware of every note that follows while you are performing your music in front of an audience (you can’t be reliant on muscle memory alone).

Practice Slowly and With Different Articulations

If you must casually sight read through a piece of piano music when deciding whether or not to learn it, that’s fine. But after that, don’t allow yourself to play through imperfections – each time you play a wrong note or rhythm, you start to memorize that habit.

When you first encounter a technically challenging passage on the piano, you should play it hands separately at a painstaking pace. If you do play it hands together, go even slower.

As you drill difficult passages, increase the tempo only gradually – you will be shocked at how insecure the new music feels when forced into a consistent tempo. Practice these difficult passages with dotted rhythms, slurs and staccatos, accents, and fortissimo – all of these practice techniques will help embed the music into your muscle memory.

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Don’t Allow Yourself to “Ghost” Notes or Cheat

When you do try to play through a newly-learned section of your piece with a metronome, it can be tempting to play through as though you were sight reading. That means you may “ghost” notes that you aren’t confident in, ignore cracked or wrong notes, and allow other imperfections to slip by. Don’t do this! If you can’t play the music perfectly with a metronome, you need to slow your tempo down. If you do allow imperfections on the keys, you will have to unlearn them. The same principle applies to those taking San Antonio violin lessons or even drum lessons in San Antonio.

Memorize the Music Thoroughly for the Long Term

To truly perfect a piece of piano music, you will need to store the music in your long term, not short term, memory. That means that you aren’t relying only on muscle memory to play through a piece of music – you have to be mentally aware of what is coming next in the music at all times, even when playing from memory.

To do this, you will need to study the music, mentally rehearse it, listen to the music, memorize in small, overlapping sections, and even memorize sections of the music hands separately if you have the luxury of time (if you are able to play sections of a piece from memory one hand at a time, your memory will likely hold up under even the most intense pressure).

One way to test your memory: label sections of your piece with letters. The beginner could be A, the third line could be B, and so forth. Then ask a friend to call out random letters while you sit at the piano – you must be able to start from those sections from memory.

For music to enter your long term memory, you will also need to take breaks. For instance, once you can play completely through the piece by memory, let it sit untouched for 3-5 days. When you revisit the music, you will probably need to re-memorize bits and pieces of it, and this is a good exercise for your memory. If you follow this routine multiple times before a performance, you will be in good shape.

Of course, finding opportunities to play your music from memory for friends and family can be an incredibly useful way to shore up your memory before an audition.

How to Make Your Piano Music Sound Beautiful

For your piano repertoire to truly be perfect, you will need to include dynamics, articulation, and other musical interpretations. Nobody wants to listen to a robot play the piano, and once you’ve learned the notes, your focus should turn towards making the music beautiful.

Create a Plan for Musical Interpretation

This can be done away from the piano, so feel free to grab your music, a pencil, and a notebook, and head to a coffee shop for a planning session. You may benefit from listening to your favorite pianist playing the music and taking notes, or if you already know the music or feel particularly creative, simply create your own plan without borrowing from anyone else. Of course, follow the composer’s markings in the score.

For this exercise, you may want to identify recurring sections first. Will you play it loudly the first time and quietly the second? Or does the second iteration have a bass line that needs to be slightly emphasized? Or perhaps in the developmental section, the melody is buried between busy treble and bass lines – this would need to be marked, or you might forget to emphasize the main tune.

You can plot out your crescendos, decrescendos, rubatos, articulations, and more without sitting at a piano, and you may come to appreciate your music more if you give interpretation this much thought.

Record Yourself Playing and Take Notes

Once you’ve learned your music and added musical expression, you must record yourself playing. What may sound like dynamic contrast to your ears may not come through to an audience! You will probably be disappointed the first time you hear yourself play a piece of music, but that’s exactly the point. Take notes, add some markings to your score, and make it more beautiful and interesting to your listeners.

Start Practicing Better Today, and Contact Us For Lessons

Whether you are learning Rachmaninoff, Bach, Chopin, or the Beatles, you can apply these practice strategies in your next piano session. If you do want to enroll in the best music lessons in San Antonio, send Kosha Music Academy a note today.