Piano Practice Routines for Beginners

piano practice routine

As a beginner piano player, you want to practice regularly and improve, right?

The only way to get better at piano is to practice every day.

In fact:

It’s important to practice about 30 minutes a day with a structured routine.

While advanced players will need longer practice times and have many elements to their routines, beginners can focus on three things:

Scales and chords, song preparation, and playing music.

I’ve outlined an easy-peasy routine you’re sure to love, plus some great tools to keep you motivated.

We’ll talk about setting goals, keeping track of progress, and staying engaged.

Ready to get started? Read on!

Bonus: Download The 7 Easy Ways to Stay Motivated With Piano by clicking here, and discover how to make playing the piano fun again!

Setting Goals

Piano practice is all about setting and attaining goals.

You’re already in your way to setting your first piano goal!

After all, you’re here.

You can make your first piano goal right now:

Commit to following this 30-minute practice routine one time.

That’s an easy goal, and one you’re sure to complete.

When setting piano goals, don’t aim for long-term or abstract goals.

Make goals like this:

Learn to play the C scale on Monday.

Or:

Practice 30 minutes four days this week.

Tangible, concrete goals will get you where you need to be.

Keep track of your practice goals and successes.

There are lots of tools out there, like piano practice apps. You can also use an old fashioned journal to keep track of practice days.

So, are you ready to meet your first goal? Good for you!

Here’s a 30-minute lesson plan to get you started:

The 30 Minute Daily Routine for Beginners

30 minute piano practice routine

A quick note:

You can get two hours’ worth of practicing into 30 minutes if you do high-quality practicing.

You can get two minutes’ worth of practicing into the 30 minutes if you plunk around aimlessly.

Here’s how to ditch the plunking and tackle the quality time!

1. Warm up: 5 minutes

You need to warm up before you exercise, right?

You should do that when you practice piano, too.

Here’s what you should do: Start with scales.

Beginning piano players should learn to do all the major and minor scales.

If you don’t know them all, no worries:

The warm-up time is the perfect time to learn them!

Just work on a new one every day or every other day.

After you do your scales, work on chords.

You should learn a new chord or chord inversion every day.

As a beginner, work on learning all the major and minor chords first.

As you learn scales, this should follow naturally.

Once you get the basic chords down, you can work on inversions.

Before you know it, you’ll be proficient in a huge range of chords!

But don’t stop there!

Here’s what you should do next:

2. Analyzing: 10 minutes

This is the part of your practice session when you get to know new pieces and take a good look at the ones you’ve already started working on.

There are a few things you should do during this time:

First, take a look at the notes.

What kind of notes are they?

How many beats does each get?

Can you see any patterns?

Once you’ve checked this, take a look at the dynamics of the piece.

How loud or soft should you be playing?

If your piece has a tempo, make note of it.

Also check for repeats and other elements written on the music.

As you’re perusing your music, you might find some things that you want to circle or highlight.

So: Make any notes you need to.

Now that you know what’s written on your music, you can move on to the sound of the music!

But wait:

Don’t touch the piano yet.

First, you need to figure out your rhythm.

Clap out the rhythm of your music until you are comfortable with the way it is supposed to sound.

Finally, if you are playing a two-handed song, find any chords and practice them.

You want to be prepared for chords when they pop up!

Now, you’re ready to play it through:

3. Playing the piece through: 5 minutes

Now that you know what’s in the music, you can play the piece through.

Here’s something very important:

This should not sound pretty.

Practicing piano and playing piano are not the same thing.

So: Don’t try to sit down and play something beautiful!

This step might not even sound like you’re playing music, but guess what:

That’s ok.

Right now, you just need to play slowly.

Get all the notes right.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Instead:

Practice makes permanent.

So work on making the right notes permanent, even if that means going slowly and awkwardly.

This time is for you to discover the sound and the feel of the musical piece.

There’s no audience…

It’s just you and the piano right now.

When you’re doing this part of your practice session, it’s always a good idea to start by playing through with just your right hand.

Then, once you’re comfortable with that, play with just your left hand.

Once you can play with both hands independently, go ahead and put your hands together.

As you go, keep a pencil handy.

You will want to make notes on any tough spots. You’ll need these for your next step.

Read on:

4. Practicing the hard parts: 10 minutes

This is where the real meat of your practice is.

Whatever you do:

Don’t skip this!

Basically, during your last ten minutes of practice, you’ll just be playing the tough spots over and over.

Of course, you need to be intentional about this.

Work on the hard parts carefully, so that you can smooth them out.

Just pick a little section at a time:

Sometimes you’ll need to work on only two or three notes, other times you can work on a whole phrase.

It depends on the song and the section.

It’s tempting to bypass this step and instead play the whole song over and over.

Don’t do that!

You can’t improve quickly that way!

In order to get the tricky spots down, this is what you do:

Work hard on them. And don’t give up.

Once you get your fingers trained to play them, you’ll be able to play them as easily as any other part of the piece.

Once your ten minutes are just about up, though, feel free to play the whole piece through again so you can see how much you have improved!

By the way, if you’re looking for songs to try this with, check this out:

Playground Sessions is an online piano program that also offers a ton of songs on all skill levels!

If you don’t know where to find music, Playground Sessions is a great place to go.

Week-Long Practice Schedule

The best way to start practicing regularly is to commit to practice seven days in a row without stopping!

You can also set a goal to practice four or five days in a week, if that’s more realistic for you.

Setting a tangible goal like this is vital to keeping up with your piano ambitions.

Here’s a seven-day beginning practice schedule to kick off your practice commitment.

Monday:

30 minute session on:

C scale and chords inversions, All of Me by John Legend

Tuesday:

30 minute session on:

G scale and chord inversions, Everything I Do (I Do It For You) by Bryan Adams

Wednesday:

30 minute session on:

D scale and chord inversions, A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay

Visit the Official Website: PlaygroundSessions.com

 

Thursday:

Review the last three days’ worth of warm-ups and songs

Friday:

30 minute session on:

F scale and chord inversions, Amazing Grace

Saturday:

30 minute session on:

A scale and chord inversions, Blank Space by Taylor Swift

Sunday:

Review Friday and Saturday’s warm-ups and songs

You can find the songs listed here on Playground Sessions.

BONUS: Looking for a Longer Practice Session?

1 hour piano practice routine

1. Warm up: 10 minutes

Start with scales:

Beginning piano players should learn to do all the major and minor scales.

You can warm up your fingers and, at the same time, learn a new scale every day!

You should start with the C scale. Once you have this down, learn all the other scales.

You can find a major scale pattern by following this step pattern as you go up the keys:

Whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.

Each key – whether black or white – is a half-step.

So, if you play the next key up, you are taking a half step.

If you skip the next key, you are playing a whole step.

Finger Patterns:

Once you’re done with scales, work on finger patterns.

A finger pattern is a common series of notes that you will often find in songs.

For example, play C E G E C with your right hand until it feels comfortable.

There are a lot of finger patterns out there, and you can learn many of them in the Playground Sessions lessons.

Chords:

Finally, play chords. You should try to learn a new chord or chord inversion each day.

Start by learning the C chord and its inversions, then move on to G, D and the others.

2. Analyzing: 15 minutes

Use this time to really analyze a new piece of music.

If you are playing a longer song, you can break it up into three or four days and analyze a page at a time.

Start by looking over the notes.

What kind of notes are they?

How many beats does each get?

Can you see any patterns?

Once you’ve checked this, take a look at the dynamics of the piece.

Take note of the volume and tempo of the music.

Also check for repeats, changes in tempo, and the key signature of the piece.

Jot down any reminders you’ll need for later.

Now, clap out the rhythm of the piece. Start by clapping the right hand, which is almost always the melody.

Then, clap out the left hand.

Find any difficult notes and try playing them.

That way, you’ll be prepared for later.

3. Playing the piece through: 5 minutes

You’re ready to play the piece from beginning to end!

Remember, this shouldn’t sound pretty.

Practicing piano and playing piano are not the same thing.

Don’t try to sit down and play like you’re at a performance!

This step might not even sound like you’re playing music.

Just play slowly.

Get all the notes right.

Practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent.

So work on making the right notes permanent!

Start by playing with your right hand.

Then, once you’re comfortable with the right hand, play with only your left hand.

Once you can play with both hands separately, play with your hands together.
As you go, keep a pencil handy.

You will want to make notes on any tough spots. You’ll need these for your next step.

4. Practicing the hard parts: 20 minutes

This is the most important part of practice!

Work on the hard parts carefully, section by section.

Practice each section until you can play it easily.

One way to motivate yourself is to play this game:

Once you can play the section five times in a row without making a mistake, you can move on to the next part.

Or try this:

If the hard section is really long, take a few notes at a time to work on.

Once you get one part down, move on to the next little bit.

Be sure to connect them.

That means you need to take the last note or two from the section you already practiced and include it in the new section.

It’s tempting to just play the whole song over and over.

Don’t do it!

You can’t get much better that way!

You’ll improve quickly if you practice intentionally, little by little.

5. Review: 10 minutes

Finally, you’re at the last step!

This is where you get to see all your work pay off.

There are two things you should review during the last 10 minutes of your practice session.

First, review everything you’ve done for the day. Focus on playing through today’s song.

It might not sound perfect, but you’ll be encouraged when you hear the improvements.

Next, review songs you’ve already learned.

You want to keep your repertoire sharp!

Choose a few songs from previous practice sessions and play through them.

If they need any work, add it to your to-do list for the next session.

Finally, give yourself a pat on the back!

If you keep going for an hour every day in this way, you’ll improve quickly and reach your goals.

Great work!

By the way—lessons are also a huge part of learning the piano. Head over to Playground Sessions, where you’ll find awesome online lessons and tons of sheet music!

Where to Find More Instruction So You Can Fill Your Practice Routine With a Variety of Learning Materials and Keep It Fun!

Now you are an expert on daily piano practice routines.

Remember, though, learning the piano takes practice, but it also takes instructions.

Are you taking piano lessons?

If not, there are plenty of great lessons available online!

You can take a lesson on your own time once or twice a week.

Your lesson will provide you with enough material to practice all week long.

playground sessions logoOne of my favourite online lesson sites is Playground Sessions, which I have referenced a few times above...

You can get lessons on a variety of popular songs, since Playground Sessions and other online courses offer detailed tutorials on hundreds of songs you love.

You could even add song tutorials to your daily practice routine, if you like.

I recommend you check out our full detailed review of Playground Sessions here.

If you choose to take online lessons, you can also learn elements like sight reading, finger positions, and other important aspects of piano.

You can fit these things into your daily and weekly schedule and set short-term goals that will help you succeed!

The great thing about Playground Sessions is that it will help you take a step-by-step approach to learning the piano.

Each lesson builds on the one before it, so you’ll get a structured progression through your piano journey.

You’ll have concrete goals and professionally-designed instruction to help you meet those goals!

Stick with your lessons and stick with your practice…

Who knows?

You could be playing at Carnegie Hall someday!

Anything is possible when you practice hard and practice smart. Consider checking out the review here.


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About The Author

Breana Johnson

I’m Breana, long-time piano player and casual guitar strummer. I grew up on Moezart and the Beach Boys, and I love all types of music! My day job is writing, but I moonlight as a piano teacher and occasionally play for events.