Having Fun at Piano Lessons: Creative Practicing

Sometimes the normal “play each song/section x number of times per day” isn’t quite enough to cut it when we run into tricky passages or pieces in our practicing. Even the best pianists occasionally get stuck and even frustrated. So as piano teachers, what do we do when our students feel frustrated, tired, or even want to give up?

Well, we have to think outside the box a little bit!


This week, Jonny came to his solo lesson to work on “You’re Welcome” from Moana (what a fun song!) and had practiced his best to learn his assignment at home, but couldn’t get one specific section down. He was trying so hard to get it right, but just got more and more frustrated. So in order to break the tension a little bit, I suggested something I called “silly practice!”

Sometimes our desire to be perfect or play perfectly is actually exactly what gets in our way. We want to learn to play something perfectly in the long run, but of course we won’t be able to do it the first time through. To help him get past the frustration he was feeling, Jonny and I practiced playing the line wrong – on purpose! Besides making us both laugh, it was a good reminder that mistakes are part of the learning process. Once the pressure was off, we took turns playing the passage with either right notes and crazy rhythms, or right rhythms and crazy notes. By the end of the lesson, Jonny could play it with both notes and rhythms correctly and had a ton of fun doing it!


So if you find yourself stuck in your practicing, don’t give up! You may just need to do something a little crazy – like playing mistakes on purpose – to figure it out.