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.
- Beginner Technique Suggestions: practice your major scales, practice your 1, 4, 5 chords in every key, practice your diatonic chords, etc…
- Competent Technique Practice Suggestions: practice the first few Hanon exercises, practice Major and Minor scales, Practice your 7th chords, Practice your 2-5-1's in every key, practice inverted dominant chords
- Intermediate Practice Suggestions: practice your diminished scales, practice your modes, practice your Flat 9's pairings, practice your Barry Harris practice practice routine (coming soon!)
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.
- Beginner Suggestions: I would focus on developing your 1-4-5 vocabulary
- Competent Song Suggestions: In the midst of it all, by Kevin Bond has some dope chords, Also check out Mike Bereal's version of Grateful!
- Intermediate Song Suggestions: Cory Henry's accompaniment on the song “faith” is breath-taking, I would learn that, Quennel's Jesus loves me chords are amazing as well
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