Want to Learn a New Piece Better and Faster, but Don’t Know How?

Are you frustrated because you’ve played the same piece again and again but haven’t made much progress?

Getting a new piece is an exciting moment but if you play the same piece for a looooong time, it is not so great.

But actually, there is an easy solution to learn faster and improve your playing better.

Let me show you how.

Watch This Tutorial!

Spent a whole year just to prepare for only three exam pieces??

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual that students play the same set of pieces again and again for a long time just hoping that, one day, it will be finished off.

I heard a surprising story from other piano teachers.

She grumbled about exam boards that they changed exam pieces too frequently.

“They changed the syllabus every two years! My students won’t finish all the pieces within such a short time frame!”

Another teacher also said,

“It’s a shame that students spend a whole year only play three pieces to prepare for an exam and don’t have enough time to explore other, more interesting pieces.”

I secretly gasped. “Really?”

It sounds like torture, doesn’t it?

No, you shouldn’t spend a few years to prepare for just ONE graded exam.

No, it shouldn’t take one whole year to play JUST three exam pieces.

You can enjoy more variety of music, if you practice effectively.

Why can I give you any advice?

You may think, “why can you say so?”

Because I’m living proof that you can master each piece faster and better.

Let me give you a background story.

I learned the piano for just a few years when I was a child. But I quitted.

After a long gap, I decided to re-start playing the piano. It was Summer 2018.

And a few months later, the beginning of Autumn, I heard about the ABRSM piano exam and started preparing for Grade 5.

At first, my teacher suggested taking the exam next Spring. Yes, it’s a sensible advise. But once started I was able to play them all reasonably quickly, so we decided to make it in the Autumn.

And, ta-da! I passed my first ABRSM piano exam with distinction, less than six months since I re-started the piano.

It’s not the end of the story.

Since then, I repeated this process every term.

  • In March 2019, I passed Grade 6 with distinction.
  • In June 2019, Grade 7 with distinction.
  • In November 2019, I passed Grade 8 with merit.

I passed one graded exam per term with good marks.

“What!? You must play only exam pieces frantically!” May you ask?

No. Think about it. If you play exam pieces only, you cannot improve your skills well enough to reach the next exam standard, can you?

I enjoyed exploring plenty of other studies and pieces within a short period of time,

Because I know how to approach a new piece effectively.

If you follow these 5 steps, you can do the same way.

The 5 Steps to learn a new piece better and faster

We use a beloved tune, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as an example.

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(I show you the time stamp of the tutorial video above)

Step 1 Rhythm practice (0:32)

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The first thing you do is to get the rhythm of your new piece.

Check the time signature. If you have, set a metronome a comfortable speed.

And clap following each note.

In the video, I show you how to do that, using a simple, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Why is this exercise so important?

Because you can feel the framework of the piece, without any distractions.

Many students struggle to read notes and forget the rhythm of the piece.

Even intermediate-level students fail to count the beat or to express the length of each note adequately.

If you this rhythm exercise at first, you won’t make any rhythm mistakes any more!

Step 2 Solfege singing (2:43)

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Next thing is Solfege singing.

Have you ever heard Solfege?

Solfege is to sing notes using “do re mi”.

In the famous film, “Sound of Music“, Maria teach Solfege to children as their first music lesson.

If you learn Solfege, you can develop a sense of pitch, read music faster and express a piece much more.

Sadly, in the UK, Solfege is not commonly taught.

In my lesson, I teach Solfege to build an excellent musical foundation for my students.

If you are interested in taking my lesson, please contact me through the inquiry form.

In this video, I show you the solfege singing example.

Step 3 Chopping up into bite-size (4:05)

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You understand the rhythm and the tune of the piece, now what’s next?

You are now ready to play the piano! Hurray!

But wait! Don’t rush to play it through, from the beginning to the end!

Work a short, bite-size part one by one is the best tactic.

As you sing the piece already using Solfege, you’ve already got the idea of how the piece is structured, where the first phrase starts and where it finishes.

Practice each phrase.

If it’s needed, you can chop up into smaller pieces!

Step 4 Slow Motion Playing (6:20)

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You’ve chopped up your piece into little tiny pieces.

When you start playing them one by one, there is one more technique you’ll love.

It’s a slow-motion technique.

Literally, you play each part slowly, not usual slow but slow-motion level slow!

You can check the video to see how slowly I play twinkle twinkle little star.

But you may think “why?”

It is because we need to train our brain when we learn a new piece.

Our brain is a mighty information processor.

But it’s very easy to be overwhelmed. And once too much information comes up, it shuts down.

That’s why we need to give a smaller chunk of information to our brain each time, like feeding a baby.

Chopping up into a smaller piece and playing ultra slowly help your brain digest the information well enough to understand and memorize well.

Step 5 Magnifying glass technique (7:14)

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When you play a shorter phrase slowly, you won’t make many mistakes.

This is also an essential way to train our brain.

Our brain cannot filter which information to memorize.

If you play lots of mistakes, your brain tries to memorize each error and to get overwhelmed.

If you play without mistakes, your brain receives consistent information each time, so it’s much easier to memorize correctly.

But you may find a very tricky bar in a piece.

How should you do?

If it happens, use a Magnifying glass technique.

You use a magnifying glass to get a bigger view of a tiny little object.

Like a magnifying glass, look closely into your problematic part. Pick up the most challenging part, preferably less than one bar. Play that nano-size part at a super-ultra slow pace. Feel how your fingers, hands, and arms move while you are playing these one or two beats.

Imagine you send an important message to your brain to conquer that part. Don’t be tempted to speed it up. Once you send a wrong message, your brain will muddle up again, so take special care!

Once you feel comfortable to play that part with that slow speed, make it slightly wider, and longer, but just slightly. Imagine you pull up your magnifying glass gradually near to your eyes, and you can see a bit wider area. Maybe one bar long. Don’t speed up; keep the same speed.

And make it longer and slightly faster until you can play the phrase, including the most problematic part comfortably.

If you start from a tiny area with extra slow speed, you can soon play that part really well!

Now it’s your turn to learn a new piece faster and better!

These steps might sound counter-intuitive.

But if you approach a new piece in this way, you will find you can master your new piece much faster and better than before.

I hope you enjoy playing the piano!

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