The many struggles of a piano player include trying to find a piano practice routine that will work for them. Many people practice inconsistently. For example, someone might play at 8:00 at night one day, and then on the next day, he might play at 4pm. This might not work for you.
You have to come up with a consistent routine so your mind gets used to the fact that you need to practice the piano at whatever time you choose. This way, you'll skip a practice session less often. Of course, if you're anything like me, you'll take a guilt-free break from piano every now and then (usually after a competition).
Alright, so let's dive into the first step in developing a piano practice routine that will work for you:
Step 1. Figure out your most productive time at the piano
The first step into coming up with a practice routine is to figure out what works best for you. If you're able to wake up at 6 in the morning (if you can, please tell me how you do it!), you can practice the piano at around 6:15 and then prepare for your day. However, for some people, that's out of the question, whether you can't wake up (like me) or you have to go to work or school early that day.
It is important to keep note that if you have a low attention span, it's best to practice in intervals throughout the day.
One thing you can try is to determine what time you like to practice. For example, I hate practicing early in the morning. I have a low attention span and my fingers are super clumsy. What I do is I practice for 20 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes when I get back home, and then another 30 minutes after dinner. Of course, it all depends on you. If you like to practice in the afternoon and then at night, go ahead. Find whatever works for you.
So, now you've set up a time to start your piano practice routine.
Great! Let's move on to the next step.
Step 2. Warm up before you practice
Now, you might be asking yourself, "What do I do in a piano practice routine?"
Generally, you would want to warm up before each practice. So I would take a minute or 2 from your practice session just to play a scale of your choice. What I like to do is to play a scale that I'm having trouble remembering. For example, one day I'll play the A minor and the next I'll play the E-flat major. If you feel like you need more warming up, feel free to do an arpeggio or two.
Step 3. Pick a song and practice that
The next thing you do is to pick a song you're having trouble with- or one that you like to learn. Take however long time you want to practice the song, but I recommend not to spend too long on the song -- purely because your attention span will start to diminish over time. However, you can choose to play this one song only for the whole practice session if you need to play it for a piano competition the next day, or if you just really like the song. If you chose to put the first song away to pick up another song, the next step in your piano practice routine is pretty simple. All you have to do is to repeat step 2. Practice the song however you want.
Step 4. Stick to your piano practice routine
Now that you planned what time you want to practice, and what to do during the practice, now you might be asking yourself how to stick with your piano practice routine. Well, what I used to do was force myself to do so until my mind accepts the fact that at exactly 8:30 PM, I need to go to the piano room and practice.
Step 5. Reward yourself for following your routine
You can motivate yourself by rewarding yourself after you have successfully followed your set routine. This step is particularly helpful since it makes you want to look forward to finishing your routine (just make sure not to take any shortcuts!).
Some things my friends tried that work (for them) is to treat themselves after each practice by getting a smoothie or some other cold drink.
Think of a 'reward' that will make you look forward to getting it! Otherwise, there's not much point in setting up a reward if you don't look forward to it, right? Feel free to think it through and don't be afraid to get creative!
Additional tips to develop your piano practice routine:
If you decide to practice in intervals, it might be helpful to play one song per interval. So for example, if you practice at 6:15 AM, and then at 6:30 PM, and then at 8:30 PM, you can play one song at 6:15AM, a second song at 6:30PM, and then a third song at 8:30PM.
However, if you find that you forget how to play the song the very next practice, I would not follow that method. Instead, it might be better to practice each song a little for each practice. Again, everything on this list is all up to you. Feel free to mix and match and explore whatever piano practice routine works best for you.
Do you want to know even more tips?
If you want to read even more tips on how to make the most of your piano practice or if you want to find out how to practice efficiently, then read these related posts (you just might pick up an idea or two!):