PRACTICE STEPS

PRACTICE STEPS
#1 Getting Started: Gathering Information
1. Title, Composer, Musical Style
2. Key Signature.
3. Meter, Performance Tempo.
4. Define Terms & Symbols.
5. Divide into Practice Sections.
This step takes just a few minutes when you start your piece.
#2 Learning the Notes & Rhythms
1. Play Section Slowly — Hands Together — One Time.
2. Tap or Clap Difficult Rhythms and Write in Counts Where Needed.
3. Play Complex Measures Hands Separately.
4. Look for Repeated Patterns and Note Families (Label.)
5. Play Section Hands Together Again Slowly.
6. Play Section Hands Together Again Slowly.
7. Listen for Improvement.
8. When Satisfied, Move onto Next Section of Piece.
This step can take several days or just a few minutes per section, depending on the difficulty and length of your piece.
#3 Bug Spotting: Correcting Persistent Mistakes for Smooth Accurate Performance
1. Play Section, Stopping to Draw a Bug over the Mistake.
2. Identify Each Bug...Rhythm bug, Sharp bug, Phrasing bug.
3. Use the Correct Method to Eliminate Each Bug.
4. Play Again. When Satisfied, Move onto Next Section of Piece.
Again, this process can take days or just minutes on each section. Fewer careless mistakes will make practice go faster.
#4 Finishing Touches
1. Bring Piece Up to Tempo without Hesitations.
2. Listen for All Dynamics as You Play.
3. Stay on the Lookout for New & Old Bugs Returning to the Scene.
This step is critical for performance pieces. Play & Listen, Think, then Repeat, Play & Listen, Think, Repeat, Play & Listen, Think, Repeat.
#5 Memory Work
1. If You Complete All of the Steps Above, Memory is Easy.
2. Use the Same Sections to Work on Memory.
3. Test Your Daily Progress by Returning to the Piano Often.
4. Don’t Wait Until the Last Weeks to Memorize.
Memory requires daily practice both with and without the music.
© 2013 Susan Alcon 
 
PRACTICE STEPS — ELEMENTARY PIECES
#1 Getting Started: Gathering Information
1. Look at the Title and Decide What the Piece Should Sound Like.
2. Look at the Time Signature for How Many Beats per Measure.
3. Look for any Sharps or Flats.
4. Look up any Words or Symbols you Do Not Know.
5. Divide Your Piece into Practice Sections.
6. Find your Starting Position.
This step takes just a few minutes when you start your piece.
#2 Learning the Notes & Rhythms
1. Pick a Section and Play Hands Together Slowly — Two Times.
2. Watch Carefully How Notes Move...step, skip, repeat.
3. Next, Clap, Tap, and Write in Any Difficult Rhythms.
4. Look for Repeated Patterns and Note Families (Label.)
5. Play Difficult Parts Hands Separately Three Times (Counting.)
6. Play Section Hands Together Slowly.
7. Play Section Hands Together Slowly.
8. When Satisfied, Check & Go to Next Section of Piece.
Don’t Write in Letter Names.
Do Circle Finger Numbers for Position Shifts.
#3 Bug Spotting: Correcting Persistent Mistakes for Smooth Accurate Performance
1. Play Section, Stopping to Draw a Bug over the Mistake.
2. Identify Each Bug…Rhythm Bug, Sharp Bug, Phrasing Bug.
3. Use the Correct Method to Eliminate Each Bug.
4. When Satisfied, Move onto Next Section of Piece.
Again, this process can take days or just minutes on each section. Fewer careless mistakes will make practice go faster.
#4 Finishing Touches
1. Bring Piece Up to Tempo without Hesitations.
2. Listen for All Dynamics as You Play.
3. Stay on the Lookout for New & Old Bugs Returning to the Scene.
This step is critical for performance pieces. Play & Listen, Think, then Repeat, Play & Listen Think, Repeat, Play & Listen, Think, Repeat.
#5 Memory Work
1. If You Complete All of the Steps Above, Memory is Easy.
2. Use the Same Sections to Work on Memory.
3. Test Your Daily Progress by Returning to the Piano Often.
4. Don’t Wait Until the Last Weeks to Memorize.
Memory requires daily practice both with and without the music.
© 2013 Susan Alcon 
 
PRACTICE STEPS — BEGINNER PIECES
#1 Getting Started: Gathering Information
1. Look at the Title and Decide What the Piece Should Sound Like.
2. Look at the Time Signature for How Many Beats per Measure.
3. Look for any Sharps or Flats (key signature and/or accidentals.)
4. Label Words or Symbols.
5. Divide Your Piece into four or eight measure Practice Sections.
6. Find your Starting Position.
This step takes just a few minutes when you start your piece.
#2 Learning the Notes & Rhythms
1. Pick a Section and Play Hands Together Slowly — Two Times.
2. Watch Carefully How Notes Move…step, skip, repeat.
3. Next, Clap, Tap, and Write in Any Difficult Rhythms.
4. Look for Repeated Patterns and Note Families (Label)
5. Play Difficult Measures Hands Separately Three Times (Counting.)
6. Play Section Hands Together Slowly.
7. Play Section Again, Hands Together Slowly.
8. When Satisfied, Check & Go to Next Section of Piece.
Don’t Write in Letter Names.
Do Circle Finger Numbers for Position Shifts.
#3 Bug Spotting: Correcting Persistent Mistakes for Smooth Accurate Performance
1. Play Section, Stopping to Draw a Bug over the Mistake.
2. Identify Each Bug…Rhythm Bug, Sharp Bug, Phrasing Bug.
3. Use the Correct Method to Eliminate Each Bug.
4. When Satisfied, Move onto Next Section of Piece.
Again, this process can take days or just minutes on each section. Fewer careless mistakes will make practice go faster.
#4 Finishing Touches
1. Bring Piece Up to Tempo without Hesitations.
2. Listen for All Dynamics as You Play.
3. Stay on the Lookout for New & Old Bugs Returning to the Scene.
This step is critical for performance pieces. Play & Listen, Think, then Repeat, Play & Listen Think, Repeat, Play & Listen, Think, Repeat.
#5 Memory Work
1. If You Complete All of the Steps Above, Memory is Easy.
2. Use the Same Sections to Work on Memory.
3. Test Your Daily Progress by Returning to the Piano Often.
4. Don’t Wait Until the Last Weeks to Memorize.
Memory requires daily practice both with and without the music.
© 2013 Susan Alcon