If, when reading the title, you’re thinking:
“Great piano players practice a lot”, you’re absolutely right.
But many players practice daily, but only a handful get really good, and even fewer become GREAT.
What’s their secret?
If you think that it’s their innate talent that sets them apart, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s not!
Greatness lies in the good actions that one repeatedly does, and so habits make great players.
So… does this mean YOU too have the potential to be a great pianist? YES!
Learn the 6 habits of great players and start doing them to take your piano playing to another level!
Bonus: Click here to download The 7 Easy Ways to Stay Motivated With Piano, and discover the simple way to have way more fun with your practice!
1. Great Players Prepare the Environment for Practice
Have you ever stopped your practice midway to check your phone/close a window/get a snack?
Distraction breaks your concentration, and sometimes it's impossible to get your mind as fired up as before. In the long run, this is going to cost you!
As a difference, great players prepare everything before practice to get a conducive environment.
They're not the ones whose phone rings and buzzes since they turned it off and put it away.
They come well-rested, wearing comfortable clothes, with their sheet music and pencils ready.
Basically, make it a priority to practice in the best condition possible. And for this, preparation is key!
2. Great Players Take Care of Their Assets
You can spot great players by looking at how they treat their assets.
We're not only talking about the piano here. Yes, great players clean and polish their piano.
But beyond that, pianists who are serious show a huge respect to everything and everyone they consider important for their practice/career:
Their teachers, the studio, their materials, and most importantly: their own hands!
For example: how many students you know neglect warming up their wrists and fingers before every session?
Great players, like athletes, understand how important it is to warm up the muscles before efforts.
If you're new to this whole warm-up thing, try doing a full set of scales and Czerny exercises before moving on to your practice du jour. You'll notice the difference after a few times.
3. Great Players Analyze Their Mistakes
Are you practicing for hours? Good!
However, to make you great, it's not the numbers of hours that matter; it's what you do with your mistakes.
Repeating mistakes will never bring you far, no matter how many hours you're at it. That's why great players always make time to analyze.
Where have I gone wrong? Where did I go too fast/slow?
This is far harder than you think since you need to be open to criticize yourself. Or worse, to receive constructive criticism from other, greater players.
Even when it's hard to hear, great players take it like a man (or woman) because they know it'll only make them better.
One advice from great players:
Don't take criticism personally.
4. Great Players Set Goals – and Crush Them
Let's be honest, shall we?
When you sit down in front of your piano, do you have a specific purpose in mind? Or do you just practice aimlessly?
The bad news is, aimless practice will bring you nowhere and is actually worse than not practicing at all. If you don't have a routine, you can find a great piano practice routine here.
Anders Ericcson, a renowned psychologist, coined the term "Deliberate Practice," which means practicing with a purpose. THIS is the trait of people who excel in their domain.
During his extensive research among chess players, athletes, and musicians, he found out that the great ones are those who come to practice with clear objectives for their session.
So, you should start doing this backed-by-science habit.
Take time to sit down every week/month and write down what you want to achieve by the end of this week/month.
Be as specific and realistic as possible.
Remember, slow progress is still progress!
An example of a short-term goal: by the end of this week I'll be able to play this 8-bar passage flawlessly.
5. Great Players Never Stop Learning
Great piano players know a great deal about playing the piano well, but never think they have learned everything.
So, they never stop reading about other styles or watching other great players play. They research about multiple techniques to get over their plateau (yes, even great players experience it!). They ask advice from their teachers or tutors.
In short: great players constantly seek proper instruction as it goes hand in hand with practice.
But... what if I can't get a proper instruction to support my practice?
Did I just guess your question before you even asked it?
We live in the era where great instruction is available for everyone! Not having a great teacher is not an obstacle for you to become great.
Take advantage of the many online piano lessons out there to help you pass the line between good and excellent!
However, be careful as not all of them are created equal.
When a piano student asks me which online lesson has the best worth-your-money aspect, I always recommend Playground Sessions.
It's been my top choice for years, and it still hasn't budged from the highest position on my list of the best online piano lessons.
What makes it so great though?
Why do I think it's perfect for you, no matter where you are in your journey?
Read more here, and you'll see why I highly recommend it.
6. Great Players Practice with Enthusiasm
You've guessed correctly that great players are the ones who don't skip piano classes. But that's not the end of the story.
Great players understand the importance of keeping the enthusiasm high in improving their skills. When they practice, they give it their all and do it with passion.
But don't they ever get bored?
Sure they do (they're human beings, after all)!
Great players cultivate continuous efforts to renew their motivations.
Whoa, whoa! That sounds super hard to do.
I've gathered tried and tested tips to keep you motivated in your practice. Armed with these, you'll be ready to kick boredom in the butt.
There You Have It: The habits That Make a Great Player
To clear something up, though:
Great players come in all shapes and forms.
For example, not every great player plays Bach and Mozart compositions!
The genre of music doesn't have anything to do with how great of a pianist/student you are.
And I promise you:
Even a beginner can be a great player!
Start inhibiting these good habits now, and you'll soon reap the benefits!