How Much Should You Stick To Routine in Your Practice?

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how much you should stick to routine in your piano practice. Years ago, I made a video about how you can make practicing more enjoyable. It was a guide on how to organize your practice to make it as productive as possible. I described how you should have an appetizer of scales for warming up, then a main course of memorization and refinement, and then you can have a dessert of review pieces! You can see that video here. But what I’m going to talk about today is something quite different. And it’s the flip side of this!

Don’t get too attached to your practice routine.

All too often, students get married to their routines. They love their routines so much that they don’t realize they might be missing out on discovery. Truth be known, my practice is anything but organized! I don’t necessarily stick to a regimen in what I do. In fact, sometimes I find a specific area that needs work and I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time on one specific problem, maybe ten times more time than I spend with anything else in the practice session. It could be a very small section of music. Maybe there’s a certain technique that you’re working on. Or there’s a part of the music where you’re discovering new possibilities in the score. Maybe you’re finding a new way of approaching the keyboard. Maybe you are after a different sound out of the piano. You might think it’s important to stay on task and get to your scales or to your new piece. You might feel you need to get to all those regimented aspects of practice. But it’s more important to feel engaged in your practice.

Anything that engages your mind is ultimately the most productive practice you can do!

Don’t fall into the habit of routine for routine’s sake. You may find yourself doing the same thing almost to the point of mindlessness. Don’t just go through the motions because you think it’s important. You may be getting some physical benefits, strengthening your hands. It could even be productive to play over pieces so you don’t forget them. But the real practice is that of discovery.

Remember, practicing is a mental exercise.

Practicing is a thought process. So if you find yourself spending way too much time on something, but you’re getting somewhere with it, go for it! Because you’ll find, after spending a tremendous amount of time on something small, it will translate to other aspects of your playing. You can get great benefit from spending a tremendous amount of time on something that’s seemingly very small. It all relates to everything else you do on the instrument.

Routines are good, so you don’t forget important aspects.

Work on your sight reading every day, or at least every week. You don’t want to forget your review pieces by neglecting them for a week or two. So it is important to keep up with the basics. But ultimately, you should go off on tangents that engage your mind. You shouldn’t feel like that is wrong. So long as you’re accomplishing something, it is worth the time! Keep your practicing interesting to you and you will accomplish even more in the work you do at the piano! Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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