Welcome to the site. Efficient piano practice starts with great planning. You don’t just want to dive into any practice session without thinking through ahead of time how it’s going to go. You also want to do a bunch of research on what the best practice methods are before you get too far into practicing. The difference in improvement between someone who practices efficiently and someone who doesn’t can be enormous. If you plan your practice sessions properly and follow really good practice techniques, you can see your abilities at the instrument improve immensely over a very short period of time. Here are some ideas on how to practice very efficiently.
Memorize from the get go
Don’t wait to memorize. You will learn much faster if you memorize pieces from the onset. You will also get a deeper understanding of the music you are playing and you will give yourself more time to focus on the technical challenges and honing your interpretation. It simply makes no sense to wait to memorize.
Hands separate practice
Before you ever put hands together, make sure you have mastered passages with hands separate practice. If you can’t play a passage with hands separate, how can you expect to play the passage with hands together? You will learn much more quickly with hands separate practice as well.
Goals and milestones
It is easy to let your minder wander when practicing. To avoid this, set very specific goals for each practice session beforehand and force yourself to stick to them. You will not feel very good about yourself if you set a goal and don’t reach it, so to hold yourself accountable, it is a really good idea to set very specific goals every time you sit down at the piano.
20-30 minute practice segments
In order to avoid both physical and mental fatigue, split your practice sessions into 20-30 minute segments. After 30 minutes, you will receive a fast-growing diminishing return on each additional minute of practice. For this reason, it’s best to split up your practice time and let your brain assimilate all the information it just learned from each mini-segment of practice.
You don’t want to practice only hard pieces and similarly you don’t want to practice only easy pieces. Along the same lines, in order to improve overall in the most intelligent manner, it is best to play pieces from different eras. With this being said, it’s a good idea to mix up the difficulty and time era of the pieces you are playing. It will help you stay focused and motivated and you will always have a challenge at your hands.
Forget about exercises
I firmly believe that spending time on mindless exercises is a waste of time. You can learn all the technique you need to know in the context of the pieces you are learning. There is no reason to waste 20 minutes of playing exercises like the Hanon exercises. It is simply not efficient and it doesn’t allow you to use your brain.