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Week 10: Practice (Part Two)
Last time we discussed how much to practice (I mean play). Now let’s look at what to play.

I like to break up the play session into four parts. So assuming your session is scheduled for one hour, break it up into four 15 minute sessions as follows.

First part of the session: Warm up and exercises. Here’s a chance to get your mind and body into the playing mode by doing some warm-ups. At least two good reasons for this. First, it’s prearranged and repetitive. No need for intellectual creativity at this point. Second, after you’ve warmed up properly, you should be better able to play the rest of the lesson with fewer mistakes and more focus.

So what’s good to warm up with? Scales are good. Major scales. Look up the fingering in a scale book available at any music store. After scales I recommend Hanon exercises. Part One of Hanon gives great finger exercises anyone can do. Get Hanon at a music store. (In fact, Hanon Part Two has the fingering for all the major scales). We have some favorite exercises of our own that we may share with you here in weeks to come, so keep coming back for more tips of the week.

Second part of the session: Review old songs. Fifteen minutes of going over three or four songs that you already know, more or less.

Third part of the session: Work on learning a new song. Set up a repertoire goal (e.g. one new song per week) and really focus on learning this new song.

Fourth part of the session: Goof around. Experiment. Investigate. Noodle. Compare. Evaluate. Have fun. Break rules. Sound foolish. And above all remind yourself that the only reason you put yourself through this one hour session was for your own self-indulgent enjoyment.

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