Elements of a Successful Practice Routine

You need an effective practice schedule if you are looking to improve your skills in playing piano by ear. In this blog post, we will explore the three key elements of a good practice schedule: technique, vocabulary, and fluency. By incorporating these elements into your practice routine, you can enhance your musical abilities and become a more versatile musician.

Technique: Mastering the Foundation

Technique forms the foundation of your practice schedule. It involves developing the physical skills required to execute difficult passages on your instrument. When it comes to technique, the key is to strike a balance between proficiency and personal goals. The amount of time you dedicate to technique depends on your skill level and the level of complexity you wish to achieve in your playing.

To practice technique effectively, consider incorporating exercises like scales, runs, and specific exercises such as Hanon. These exercises help improve finger dexterity, coordination, and strength. Consistency is key in technique practice. Aim to dedicate a portion of your practice session to technique exercises, focusing on proper form and execution. Over time, as your skills improve, you can gradually increase the difficulty level of the exercises to challenge yourself further.


~Practice Suggestions

Vocabulary: Expanding Your Musical Language

Vocabulary refers to the collection of chords, progressions, and musical ideas that you can draw upon while playing. It is crucial for musicians to continuously build their vocabulary to avoid feeling stuck or repetitive in their musical expression. To practice vocabulary effectively, start by selecting songs or musical passages that match your current skill level or slightly exceed it.

Slowly analyze and memorize these pieces, paying attention to the chord progressions, melodic patterns, and harmonic structures. Understanding the underlying musical concepts behind the songs will help you internalize the vocabulary more effectively. As you practice, focus on playing the passages accurately and with musicality. Gradually increase the tempo as you gain confidence. It's important to note that the process of building vocabulary takes time and patience. Consistent practice and exposure to a wide variety of musical styles will gradually expand your musical language.

~Practice Suggestions

Fluency: Play with Ease and Flow

Fluency is the ability to play music smoothly, without pauses or stumbling. It focuses on the overall musicality of your playing and how well you can apply your techniques and vocabulary in a live setting. To improve fluency, practice with a metronome to develop a sense of rhythm and timing.

Recording yourself playing is also a valuable tool for assessing your fluency. Compare your performance with that of accomplished musicians in your genre, aiming to replicate their sound, timing, and expressive nuances. Analyze their phrasing, dynamics, and use of space in their playing. By studying and emulating their style, you can enhance your own fluency and musical expression.

In your fluency practice, focus on memorization and emulating the original recordings. This will help you internalize the musical ideas and develop a consistent and polished style. As you become more comfortable with a specific repertoire, try improvising and adding your personal touch to the music. Remember, fluency practice is about developing a natural and effortless connection with your instrument, allowing the music to flow through you.


Developing an effective practice schedule is crucial for musicians who aspire to play by ear and improve their skills. By incorporating the three key elements of technique, vocabulary, and fluency into your practice routine, you can enhance your playing abilities and broaden your musical language.

Begin by dedicating a portion of your practice session to technique exercises, focusing on proper form, execution, and gradually increasing the difficulty level. Next, expand your vocabulary by selecting songs or musical passages that match your skill level or slightly exceed it. Analyze, memorize, and internalize the musical concepts behind these

Which of these areas have you neglected? Are which of these areas would you like to focus on most?!!!!! Feel free to comment below 

  • Devaughn O'Brien says:

    Loving these tutorials. Please keep sending them to me. Thanks

  • JR Rabanal says:

    Good Morning Mr. Wilson,
    I have been searching for over 5 years now trying to learn Jazz Piano after watching some of your tutorials I’m convinced this is the right place for me to start my journey.
    A little background, I’m 66 years old going into retirement played music most of my life, went to school for music, played bass professionally back in the 80s then family and kids happened. It’s been 30 years now my obsession for Jazz piano started when I turned 60 so I started to listen to Jazz to learn the language now I want to start playing . I’ve been thru different sights but I find yours easier to understand because you talk about Technique, Vocabulary and Fluency which is what I’m looking for.
    My struggles are Rhythm and Rhythm I understand the theory but I haven’t really played much yet, so any advice you can give is very much appreciated.
    Looking forward to learning from you ,I will be signing up soon as I’m preparing my Music room to learn.



  • Chuck Robinson says:

    Thanks.Needed that learning knowledge 🦾🎼🎶!

  • Gresham Mokwena says:

    quite helpful!

  • George long says:

    Very helpful information here, you are helping so many people become great piano players nobody else has this kind of teaching, thanks so much for sharing your talent!!!! And God Bless!!!

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