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  Melissa Harris Piano Studio, Cape Cod - Center for Adult & Senior Music Education
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No apologies, please.
HOW you practice matters more than IF you practice!
Adult Student Practice Tip #2: In the Beginning, there was Rhythm.
Adult Student Practice Tips: #1 - Practice Plans
New Year's Intentions


Adult Piano Students
Adult Piano Study - Avoiding Injury
iPad apps
Melissa Harris Piano Studio
Mindful Piano Playing
Piano for Adults - Common Themes
Piano Teachers
Read Music
Sight Read
Sight Reading
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HOW you practice matters more than IF you practice!

You know the saying, you are what you eat?  Well, as you practice so you'll play....

What is your purpose?

1.  Are you working out a passage in a new piece of music?  Analyze things BEFORE touching the piano!  Know what you are about to hear before you play. Know what you are aiming to accomplish.  

2  .  Are you practicing familiar music to maintain your current repertoire?  If practice involves repetitions, prepare mentally before each mindful execution.

Adult Student Practice Tip #2: In the Beginning, there was Rhythm.

Students -- adults and kids -- tend to focus on playing the correct keys when starting lessons, generally paying far less attention to the time values of the notes.  It should be the other way around!  Developing a good sense of timing and the ability to read rhythm patterns --along with developing healthy fingering habits and learning to read notes “intervallically” --is the real key to success.

Let’s talk about how you might go about learning to read rhythm patterns early on.

1.   Use Technology:  If you have an iPad, I highly suggest an app such as ReadRhythm or RhythmLab.

Adult Student Practice Tips: #1 - Practice Plans

Organize your practice:    Any plan is better than no plan.  

Keep a journal, not of time practiced, but of this plan.  It will capture the immediate goals, weekly goals and longer term planning.  If you have an iPad, you may want to use a White Board App for this, as some -- such as Evernote -- allow you to record audio into the document.  

Before you begin your work, be aware of what you are setting out to accomplish.  Mindless
repetitions only do harm.  Better to play anything at all once correctly than to repeat mistakes.


“Anyone who acts without paying attention to what he is doing is wasting his life.  I’d go so far as to say life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.”  So declared legendary pianist and teacher, Nadia Boulanger.

The Buddha himself could look me in the eyes and say this, and I’d likely have to ask him to repeat himself, I’m so distractible.  I do somehow manage to pay very close attention to advice from good piano teachers, though, something I learned to do early in life.

SightReadPlusTM for iPad-- Use with Acoustic Piano: a modern solution to an age-old problem

“Ten minutes a day on sight-reading.”   Sight-reading WHAT?

When one of my students, an MIT physicist, approached me with the idea of developing educational apps that could be used with real instruments, my first hope was to find a way to solve this issue of early level sight reading.
mTA’s SightReadPlusTM listens to a student play a real piano or keyboard, evaluates note and timing accuracy, and offers help where needed.  Students earn gold stars and points for everything they practice!

Seeing Ourselves in the Mirror of Music

We can learn A LOT about someone by listening to his or her piano playing.   It’s much harder to observe ourselves.

Regarding adult piano students, here are some of the more common STRENGTHS.

1.  A love for the sound and feel of a piano.
2.  A willingness to be challenged, in a big way.
3.  A willingness to be humbled.    
4.  A willingness to sacrifice - time, expense, physical and emotional effort.
5.  A willingness to reveal who we are to anyone listening to our playing.

Finding Time

Waiting 9-10 minutes for pasta al dente allows for a pretty focused practice moment.   Putting your phone on speaker while waiting for the next available customer care associate offers a little sight reading opportunity.  Computer downloads or virus scans can take what seems like ages-- unless you're working out fingering for a Chopin prelude. 

If you're an adult student in the year 2013, odds are you've figured these things out.  Spending an uninterrupted hour alone at a piano is a rare luxury for many students.