How Can I Learn Piano Songs Faster?
Speed your success with these tips from the pro’s.
Does your piano practice feel unproductive?
Do you sometimes feel that your songs are taking too long to learn?
In this article, you’ll learn out these four tips that are used in teaching practices and music conservatories throughout the world. Not only will you learn songs faster, but your songs will sound brilliant when they’re complete.
1) PRACTICE SLOWLY
For real. During the early stages of the song, you should be playing so slowly that passersby can’t even recognize the song.
Bring your speed up gradually and only at a pace you can master. You’ll know when it’s time to bring the speed up a bit because:
- The music will begin to feel easier and more fun to play
- You won’t be making repetitive mistakes.
I’ve found that this is the hardest step for both kids and adults. Most people don’t realize that they’re playing too fast for quality learning. If it’s really hard for you, try these ideas to make it easier:
- Warm up with some old songs or fun songs that you can play really fast. Take a few minutes to get it out of your system before moving on to your practice pieces.
- Think of your first week with a new song as a scientific or mechanical adventure. Plan on absorbing the piece technically before turning into music.
2) COUNT OUT LOUD
Hopefully, you know how to count out loud so you can get great rhythm into your songs. If not, it’s well worth the investment to hire a good teacher who will help you learn how to count music the right way.
Here’s where most people go wrong with this step:
- They think they can whisper the counting instead of saying it in at a normal speaking volume.
- They sing the counting instead of saying it.
- They count “in their head” instead of actually counting out loud.
How come whispering, singing or thinking the numbers doesn’t work?
When you’re whispering, thinking, or singing the numbers instead of counting out loud, your rhyhthm will adjust to what your fingers are playing. It’s a law of nature that happens every time. If you cheat on the counting it will show in your finished work.
But when you’re counting out loud at a normal speaking volume, then your fingers (and rhythm) follow your voice.
That’s why it’s important to verbally say the numbers out loud at a normal speaking volume. Your spoken word is more powerful than the intuition of your fingers, and it’s also stronger than the auditory choices (“by ear”) that drive so many incorrect rhythms during the early years of study.
Counting out loud might be a pain, but it really works.
3) PRACTICE HANDS SEPARATE FIRST
There are different opinions about whether you should begin with the right hand or the left. Personally I like to learn the right hand first because it helps get the melody ingrained in your head.
If it’s a long song, try learning it in chunks or even one line at a time. Practice each hand separately until you can play both parts with ease. Then put them together and keep working it until it flows.
When you play hands together for the first time, it’s going to feel super slow (as if you’re starting all over from scratch). That’s normal.
If you have the patience to approach your songs this way, you’ll be physically prepping your fingers so the section comes together quicker (and sounds better) than it otherwise would.
4) LEARN & MASTER ONE LINE AT A TIME
This tip is for beginners, and will change as you move into the late beginner and intermediate stages. But when your’e new, it will takes about 4 times longer to learn a song if you’re trying to practice in big sections.
Breaking the song down into smaller pieces helps you to learn songs faster because:
- You’ll learn and master many of the song’s patterns within the first couple lines.
- The brain learns and retains things better in smaller chunks.
- Your fingers learn better physically in small portions.
Want to know the science behind learning in smaller chunks? Check out one of the most popular courses on the web, “Learning How To Learn,” for a fabulous understanding of how the mind learns and retains new material. The course is free and is in no way related to this site.
Practice Slowly. Count Out Loud. Practice Hands Separate, Then Together. Learn in Small Chunks.
If you follow these four tips daily, you’ll learn your songs 2 or 3 times faster and the sound quality of your music will improve in a huge way. Don’t throw away weeks or even months of your life by making the same mistakes over and over.
Be honest with yourself — are you really applying these piano practice tips into every practice session?
Follow these powerful tips for success, and post your your videos to our Facebook page so I can hear how well you’re doing!
Tips for advanced and professional pianists
Things change as you progress, and the way you practice should change, too. If you’re an advanced student or a professional, check out this blog from Noa Kageyama called The Bulletproof Musician.