The Bortzes Blog

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The most challenging part of learning to play any new instrument? Practice time.

As with developing any new skill, learning to play piano requires consistent, dedicated time to build muscle memory. We've put together a few ideas for how to make the most out of your time at the piano bench – our go-to tips for effective and pain-free practice!


First, and foremost: shorter is better. Instead of sitting down at the piano for an hour at a time, divide your practice into smaller, more frequent chunks. Our attention spans only last so long before we feel the pull of distractions. 10 minutes of focused practice twice a day is much more effective than 20 minutes of sitting at the bench, scrolling through Instagram, and plunking out the occasional note. Practice for short amounts of time to maximize your focus and progress.


When you're flying through those scales or triads at the start of your practice – stop, take a deep breath, and slow it way down. If you play too quickly, you'll start to make silly mistakes that lead to bad playing habits. Instead, start by picking a tempo where you can play the scale slowly, steadily, and without making any mistakes. Gradually, you can begin to increase the tempo, but always opt for slow and consistent over fast and sloppy to make sure you're building good technique.


Anyone else very motivated by treats? On those days when sitting down at the piano bench is the very last thing you feel like doing, give yourself a little motivation. Save that post-lunch piece of chocolate for after you've done 10 minutes of chords. Earn that second cup of coffee with a quick 5-minute play through your repertoire. We are all about bribery and rewards.


Memorizing chord patterns, key signatures, and the notes of each scale takes time. Sometimes, I still have to stop and think about how many flats are in the key of D-flat major. Eventually, our hands learn the chord positions and simply know where to go. In the meantime, having visual aids is really helpful for remembering the notes in each chord and scale.

We've created a FREE piano chord chart for the major keys. You can download a copy, print it out, and hang it next to your piano. Let us know how you like it!

Any other good practice advice out there?

I spent twenty minutes this week reflecting on this question and talking about my musical journey with one of my former students.

We talk about when my love for music began, the not-so-straight path I took to building a career as a musician, and the power of music as a means of expression and inner-reflection.

Here's the interview with Karina, who started Ignite, an online platform for empowering young women to follow their passion and make a difference. Make sure you check out the amazing work Karina is doing!