Occasionally, when we sit down to practice, we just pick up the instrument and start playing without thinking about what we would like to learn or accomplish during that practice session. When sitting down to practice any instrument, it is important to first consider what you wish to get done during that practice session. Graham Fitch of practisingthepiano.com calls this, “The Pre-Practice Routine.”
While I am no golfer myself, I am struck by what golfers (and tennis players) do before they hit the ball. I’ve noticed they take quite a bit of time concentrating and focussing before every single shot, presumably so that the ball has the best chance of landing where they want it to go. It led me to question why pianists in their practice rooms often seem to do the exact opposite – bringing their hands up to the keyboard with no real thought or focus as to what they want to achieve.
The point Graham makes here is quite a good one. Golfers take time before a shot; they mentally prepare and consider where the ball will go after the swing. They take into account everything around them (the wind, sand traps, trees, etc.) and consider what will happen when they take that swing. When playing an instrument, you should take on a similar approach. Before you start wailing away, consider what needs to be done to reach your goals. Remind yourself of the key signature, tempo, and dynamics. It’s perfectly reasonable to take some time to think about what you want to happen. You can’t know that you’ve reached your goal unless you have a goal to reach in the first place. So sit back, relax, and think about the wonderful music you are about to create; visualize it, hear it, play it.
Graham Fitch is a pianist, teacher, adjudicator, examiner, lecturer, writer and commentator. He blogs regularly at his site http://www.practisingthepiano.com, has produced a multimedia eBook series on piano playing and is the main contributor to the Practising the Piano Online Academy, an online resource for pianists and teachers.
To learn all about Graham’s pre-practice routine, view the original article at https://practisingthepiano.com/pre-practice-routine/