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{ Category Archives } Learning

Deliberate practice: delay automaticity

Cognitive psychologists have found that one process in human learning is automatizing: complex tasks, when practiced or rehearsed enough, become automatic, so they can be performed using little or none of a very scarce resource: conscious attention.  Anyone who drives a car is familiar with discovering one has been daydreaming and not consciously paying attention, […]

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“How to Practise”

Don’t criticize my spelling: Mike Saville is British.  And the blogger who publishes “How to Practise“, which is a site that provides a wealth of straightforward, often helpful practice tips, mostly in the form of exercises, drills, tricks (not really sure what to call them).  Similar to a few books I’ve mentioned, like Practiceopedia, and […]

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Harriette Brower, Piano Mastery

Harriette Brower’s 1915 book, Piano Mastery, is online in a public domain Project Gutenberg edition.  She recounts interviews she did with about 20 master pianists and teachers (e.g., Busoni, Paderewski, Goodson), includes essays on interpretation by William Mason and William Sherwood, and offers her own essay on technique (from hand position through practicing, memorizing, tone […]

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Class taught by Chris Lewis

Chris Lewis is a pianist, organist and teacher in Vermont, and is one of the regular faculty at the Sonata adult piano camp. I think he is an unusual and remarkable analyst of piano playing, and a uniquely terrific teacher. He is a fabulously talented performer, so his methods apparently have worked for him! Chris […]

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Sonata piano camp

I’m currently attending, for my fifth year in a row, the Sonata piano camp in Bennington, VT. This is a year-round institution, running for 38 years now. Originally it offered only a summer piano camp for children. Since 1979 they have been offering 10-day adult piano camps throughout the year. There are currently 9 sessions, […]

My books on practicing, and on music generally

Here is a listing of the books I have on practicing the piano. And a listing (incomplete) of the books I have on music generally (including practice, interpretation, playing, theory, harmony, history, etc.).

Previewable repertoire for students

Philip Johnston, author of Practiceopedia and founder of, is not just a music educator (and entrepreneur), but also a composer. At he sells scores of his music for students. I have no idea how good his pieces are for teaching but he offers a very interesting feature: the student or teacher can preview […]

PracticeSpot resources for teachers and students is a well-stocked site with resources for practicing, aimed at both music teachers and students (it is not specific to piano). The founder, Philip Johnston has published several books on practice, available for purchase here. But there are many free resources: drill sheets and exercises for chords, scales, pitch recognition, sight reading, etc. A […]

YASPT: Yet another set of practicing tips

These from Don’t drop the piano. (See original post for details.) Isolate technical difficulties and work through them intelligently. Plan out what you need to work on during each practice session and stick to it! Use your knowledge to actively explore the many elements of your music. Have someone listen to your playing and ask […]

Memorization practice ideas from Christine Kissack

I obtained these ideas from Christine Kissack, Piano Learning Center (piano teacher in Falmouth, Maine): LEARNING IN LAYERS: TO REINFORCE MUSIC MEMORY ANYTIME – think through the score away from the instrument BEFORE YOU START – develop a “relationship” with the key(s), i.e. scales, cadences, arpeggios CHOOSE A PHRASE Apply a variety of rhythmic distortions […]