We hear the age-old adage, “Practice Makes Perfect.” However, a more encouraging message for the piano player in your life might be, “Practice Makes Progress.”
All too often we think of practice as needing to produce results on the spot. We play something incorrectly ten times, and then finally get it once. VICTORY! We then walk away from the piano to go do something else. This is disastrous! (I am exaggerating - but it’s not ideal). Each time the passage was played incorrectly, muscle memory and neural pathways got reinforced that might lead to a bad habit - a learned mistake in the piece. Ten incorrect plays versus one correct play barely allows the right pathway to form in the brain, let alone be reinforced and made easier. Instead, we need multiple correct repetitions of a passage to form good habits and make progress.
This basic neuroscience of learning and habits needs to be applied daily for effective piano practice! “Practice Makes Progress” could be taken to the next level: “Perfect Practice Makes Progress.” Thoughtful, slow, accurate practice quickly forms the foundation for enjoyable playing, and sets the stage for confident performances in the future. Next time you play something accurately, don’t get up. Repeat it correctly again and again.
Practice fast, learn slow. Practice slow, learn fast.