Learning the Rules

Therefore, the first “practice routine” you should use is to follow Chapter One, starting from the beginning and applying the concepts to a composition you want to play. The objective is to become familiar with all the available practice methods. You can choose a piece that you have never played before, but the best choice is probably a composition that you have already practiced a little so that you can concentrate more on learning the practice methods than learning the composition. Choose a piece that is not too long and not too difficult. Before you start on the piano, read the entire Chapter One (or the whole book) once quickly. Don’t even try to learn anything the first time because this book contains so many ideas, and they are described so concisely, that most people need to read it several times. You will be surprised at how well the key ideas will register permanently in your brain when you read something without trying to memorize everything in it. Read it the first time as if you are reading a novel or some fun story and skip sections that you think have too much detail; after you pass all the major ideas through your brain once, it will become much easier to understand the beginning of the book even if you don’t remember most of what you read previously. You will also have a good idea of the outline of the book and how it is organized: all the basics are presented in Chapter One, section II, and the more advanced concepts are discussed in section III.

There is no need to practice each method until you become good at it, before going on to the next one. The idea is to try each one several times and to understand the purposes of the methods and to get a rough idea of how the objectives are achieved. You will have plenty of time to practice them later on! Of course, you might have fun applying them and end up spending a lot of time on some particularly rewarding methods. There is nothing wrong with that!

Once you have some familiarity with most of the practice methods, we are ready to design practice routines. In order to design generally useful routines, we assume that you have had at least one year of serious piano practice. Our objective is to learn Bach’s Invention #4.