[1.III.22] Summary of Method

This method is based on 7 major concepts: Hand Separate Practice (HS, section II.7), Segmental Practice (section II.6), Relaxation (section II.10 & 14), Parallel Sets (section II.11, section III.7.2, section IV.2.1), Memorization (section III.6), Mental Playing (section III.6.10), and Making Music (throughout the book).

  1. Learn only musical compositions, no Hanon, Czerny, etc., but Scales, Arpeggios, and Chromatic Scale (section III.5) are necessary. Your first piano should be a weighted key digital; then obtain a quality grand as soon as possible.
  2. Listen to performances and recordings. It is not possible to imitate others exactly, and they can give you ideas that will help you practice musically.
  3. Practice old finished pieces cold (without warm-ups, section III.6.7), to strengthen your performance skills.
  4. When starting a new piece, sight read to identify difficult sections, and practice the most difficult sections first; then
    1. Practice Hands Separate, in overlapping Segments (Continuity Rule, section II.8); switch hands frequently, every 5 seconds if necessary. All technical development should be done HS.
    2. Memorize first, HS, THEN start practice for technique; get up to speed as quickly as you can. Memorizing slowly is more difficult and time consuming. Learn Mental Playing as soon as you start to memorize, and use it to acquire Relative/Perfect Pitch (section III.12).
    3. Use Parallel Sets to diagnose your weaknesses; cycle (section III.2) parallel sets to strengthen those weaknesses and for getting up to speed quickly.
    4. Shorten difficult passages into small segments that are easy to play and use these segments to practice for relaxation and speed.
  5. Play the last repetition of any repeated practice slowly before switching hands or moving to a new segment.
  6. Practice Relaxation at all times, especially HS; this includes the entire body, including Breathing and Swallowing (section II.21).
  7. Play through mistakes; do not stop to correct them because you will develop stuttering habits. Correct them later using segmental practice around each mistake.
  8. Use the metronome to check the rhythm or speed briefly (typically, a few seconds); do not use it for "slowly ramping up speed", or for long periods of time (more than several minutes).
  9. Use pedal only where indicated; practice without pedal until satisfactory, then add pedal. This means no pedal until HT play is satisfactory.
  10. To learn Hands Together (section II.25): practice HS until faster than final HT speed before starting HT practice. For difficult passages, pick a short segment, play the more difficult hand, and progressively add notes of the other hand.
  11. Practice musically, without forte but with firmness, authority, and expression. Piano practice is not finger strength exercise; it is the development of brain power and nerve connections for control and speed. For FF passages, learn relaxation, technique, and speed first, then add FF.
  12. Before quitting practice, play everything you just practiced slowly for ensuring correct Post Practice Improvement (PPI, section II.15), which occurs mainly during sleep. The last thing you want is to include your mistakes (especially from Fast Play Degradation [II.25.3]) in PPI.