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Top 10 Practice Tips

1. The first time you play a piece be extremely careful not to make mistakes with notes or rhythms. Think 10 times and play once - Franz Liszt

2. Divide the piece into short sections or phrases for effective practice. For a new piece, repeat one section 4-8 times before moving to the next. Then join sections. It's better to practice well and make significant improvement in one area than to tackle too many aspects or too much of the music at once.

3. Begin practice with the last section of a piece, then move to the next-last till you have reached the beginning. This is useful when a piece is harder at the end, and as a memorization technique. You should be able to start playing from any bar in the piece if you want to be secure in performance.

4. It is better to play slowly and accurately than play too fast early on. You don't want to develop bad habits - that's not productive practice. Practise very slowly; progress very fast - Stephen Heller

5. Count aloud when practising. You could also mark the beat with one hand if you are playing hands separately.

6. It is good to end the practice of a piece by playing it slowly (1/2 speed), including the details in your playing. Your brain tends to remember the last way you played a piece most strongly.

7. Play every note staccato. This helps strengthen memory and finger lifts, which are often the weak part of finger technique.

8. Use variety. Any one method will dull your brain if used too much. This is the same with practising one piece or one part of a piece for so long that you get tired.

9. Sit still and sit up, as posture affects your playing and the audience.

10. When you are ready to perform, play for others often. This way, you will discover your weak areas of technique or memory, as nervousness tends to uncover these insecurities.

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