Piano Practice Ultimate Guide:
7 Ways to Practice Piano for Beginners

By Rose Park  12/28/20 • updated 2/8/23 • 4 min read

Finding an ideal practice routine for beginners isn’t always easy, especially for piano which requires various types of practice including fingering, reading music, technique and rhythm.

So, what are ways for piano starters build a practical but fun practice routine?

There are countless ways for beginners to build and customize routines for practicing piano. Find out 7 ways to practice piano more effectively than ever.

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Table of Contents

1. Start with 20 minutes per practice session

For piano beginners, an ideal practice session is about 20 minutes on average. If you’re taking a half-hour piano lesson every week, try practicing piano at least twice a week for 20 minutes each session.

If you’re taking either 45 or 60 minute long lesson, start with a half hour per practice session twice a week also. Once you get used to this routine, try breaking your practice into certain time intervals, just like adding jogging time gradually over time. Start adding 10 minutes or 20 minutes to your current practice session, then keep it for some time to make it yours.

Consistency is key to building an effective piano practice routine. The more beginners practice piano on a regular basis with short sessions, the better in the long term.

2. Always warm up before practice

What does a “warm up” mean when practicing piano? Warm up helps your hands and fingers move better and play piano smoothly. It’s recommended for every piano player to do it before they practice and perform.

First, stretch and massage your hands and fingers, one by one. If you already have some warm-up exercises or methods such as scales and arpeggios, this is the perfect time to do it.

Then, try spreading your hand on the keyboard and see how many white keys you can reach from the thumb to the pinkie. Repeat the stretching part again. Now, try spreading the hand again and count how many keys your hand covers this time. Surprised? You’d be able to reach a wider key range the second time.

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3. Break the music into smaller sections

How do you practice piano when you see a score sitting in front of you? Do you practice the entire music from the first measure to the end? Should you alternate between practicing the whole and small parts?

Here’s one suggestion, try practicing piano this way:

  1. Play the whole music with both hands slowly.
  2. Play the whole music slower and try not to stop.
  3. Repeat the process but with hands separately, keeping a slow-medium tempo.
  4. Break the music down and group them into smaller sections. The easiest way to group the measures is by locating where the melodies are.
7 most effective tips on practicing piano for beginners

In this example, try breaking the music into three sections by rows. First, practice the first row until you feel comfortable playing it.

Then, practice the second row just the way you did with the first row. You’ll notice that there are more notes than it was in the first row. In this case, practice the first two measures (measure 3 and 4) a couple of times and then combine the remaining measures (measure 5 and 6).

Once you’re done with practicing each row, try playing two rows at once. Play any two consequent rows and get familiar with longer phrases.  

4. Repetition is vital

Why should beginners repeat practicing the same measures? Repetition is what makes your finger muscles remember patterns. In other words, repetition will let you memorize the melodies, harmonies and fingering faster and more solid without making mistakes.

First, start from practicing a small section or group of measures at least 4 to 5 times instead of playing the whole music from the start. You can always change times you want to repeat practicing the section. If you feel comfortable playing section A without looking at the score, for example, just move to section B.

If you notice you’re stopping a lot when playing through the music, that means you should focus on practicing smaller sections repeatedly within a slow, steady tempo.

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5. Listen to the recordings

By listening to the recording, you can illustrate the sound, tone and atmosphere of the music. This type of practice will help beginners get a clear image on the tempo and general nuance of the music.

Listen to the recording before and after practicing piano or anytime you feel like listening. You can also listen to a variety of music by the same composer or composition period, which will expand your knowledge of repertoire and improve your listening skills. 

For example, if you’re practicing music by Mozart, you can explore his other music such as  symphony, opera and violin sonata. You can also listen to other composers from the same classical period, including Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert.

6. Practice piano with hands separately

When playing music with both hands, beginners tend to make more mistakes in the non-dominant hand part. In other words, if you’re right-handed, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes on the left hand part. 

For beginners, it’s important that they use both hands comfortably. This isn’t easy for advanced piano players either which means building a good habit of practicing both hands from the start will give you advantages in learning hard music faster and easier.

First, try practicing your dominant hand only for several times. Then try with the non-dominant hand only but a few times more than you did with the dominant hand. Now, play the music with both hands slowly. Lastly, play it within original tempo. Repeat this process in the next practice session.

Piano Practice Ultimate Guide - 7 ways to practice as a beginner

7. Explore different tempos

Slow practice ensures accuracy in playing piano, and it’s important for every piano player at any levels. Slow practice helps beginners understand and learn the correct markings, rhythms, fingerings and music notes. It also gives beginners enough time to think and prepare for the next measure while playing.

As a beginner, you should also practice at a variety of tempos. Try to explore different tempos and experiment with playing at really fast tempos or even slower tempos. This type of exercise is good when especially you feel a little bit bored with practicing the same section over and over again.

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Rose Park

Rose Park is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she studied Piano Performance and Arts Administration, receiving both Bachelor's and Master's degrees before co-founding Lesson With You. As a pianist, Rose was a prizewinner in many international piano competitions and performed at  various summer programs and festivals across the United States, Italy, and Japan.