10 Steps to Learning a Notated Piece of Music

Posted by on Jan 29, 2017 in Fun, Tips | 0 comments

1.         Acquaint yourself with the piece. This means listening to it, if possible, so you have an idea of what it should sound like.

2.         Practice the scale relating to the key of the piece. As a preparatory exercise, you could practice the scale relating to the key of the piece, making yourself aware of where sharps or flats occur.

3.         Co-ordinate hands as you go.  Begin with the first phrase, repeating until it is easy. If you are playing an instrument where co-ordination between hands is required, include this, although sometimes the technique of separating right hand and left hand parts before putting them together is applicable depending on the piece.

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4.         Make sure you settle on fingering that is comfortable and works well in the piece and use this fingering every time.

5.         Repeat until easy.

6.        Do not always start from the beginning of the piece. When the first phrase, as well as co-ordination, has been achieved concentrate on the second phrase.  You may find you have trouble joining the first and second phrases, so practise going from the end of one to the beginning of the other until it is easy.

7.         Work on the next phrase in the same way.  However, when you come to joining the second and third phrases, make sure you work only on this join.  Be careful not to always begin the piece from bar one.  This can waste time.

8.        Pinpoint the areas to work on.  Many times I have heard people play the first four bars of a piece brilliantly while the rest of it slowly falls apart.  This happens because whenever a mistake or difficulty has occurred, the practitioner has begun the piece from bar one, played until they hesitated or tripped up and gone back to play from bar one again.  Obviously nothing will get sorted out this way, although your first bars will be brilliant!

9.           Learning music is also about training muscle memory, so teach your fingers the ‘dance’ routine by drilling the movements. As you do this you will also be learning the sound of the piece and how it feels to play it.

10.         This method of learning can also be applied on a smaller scale.  You may, for example, find a section within a phrase is giving you trouble.  You will then need to work on this smaller section in the same way as you work on your phrases, breaking them down into individual notes and beats if need be.

Here is what one piano teacher, who has influenced a ton of wedding band in Melbourne, says about implementing this method of learning;

“We worked a bit more on “St Louis Blues”. Once again I understand the importance of breaking things down into small sections and repetition. I could tell that my student was struggling a bit with it but as soon as we broke it down and repeated it a few times she was able to get it.” – Leon Sampson

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