For many years practicing the piano, I have always found technique to be challenging; not so much that it is really difficult, but because it seems so time consuming and boring. I’ve never felt that I was getting better nor could I hear results.
Typically, I would select a key each week and go through the scales, chords, and arpeggios for that key; however, this method just did not work for me. I would find myself not practicing very often and I would quickly loose interest.
The solution only came when I attempted to changes things up a bit and make technique into a game. Here is what I did:
1) MAKE A SPREAD SHEET. I made a list of all the possible scales, chords, and arpeggios I could possible be asked in a spread sheet.
2) MAKE A DEADLINE. Since I knew I was doing an exam I set a deadline for the day I needed this chart to be completed by.
3) DO SOME MATH. I divided the number of days I had until my deadline by how many technical things I had to complete. That number told me how many “new” technical items I had to do daily.
4) COLOUR-CODE! For each new 5 day work week I would pick a different colour. Once I completed a technical component up to the required speed, I would colour in the box with that week’s colour. (For example, the first week is blue, the following week is pink, etc)
This new strategy was very helpful in keeping me diligent about practicing, staying interested , and finding patterns. Yes, patterns! The best part about this method is I could pick whichever items I wanted to do without any particular order. Naturally, I found ways to make it easier for myself by discovering patterns within everything. If I knew that I had to practice 5 new technical items a day I would do the ones I found easiest first. I realized that I deemed things as “easy” if I recognized a pattern. For example, I could easily do all the diminished 7th chords solid because they have the same fingering or doing all the arpeggios with 4, 2 fingering. Basically, this method let me explore technique in a way I have never experienced before and it was like I had my own relationship with it, separate from everyone else.
So now, when I see my students now struggling in this same area, I can offer another way…maybe not the best way for them but it would be an alternative to the common way of practicing technique.
Here is what my Technique Checklist looked like before I started: