When it comes to music practicing, it can be so hard to convince yourself to do everything that your piano teacher has asked. Once you’ve played through your repertoire you look at the list of technique that you’ve been asked to practice – scales, arpeggios, chords and the ever-dreaded Hanon, and it’s far too easy to convince yourself that you don’t need to practice your technique today after all!
Next time you find yourself in this predicament, stop! Better yet, practice your technique before you begin your repertoire. When your piano teacher asks you to practice your techniques, they aren’t doing so because they want you to suffer – technique is a very important part of becoming an accomplished pianist!
How will Technique Help My Playing?
1. Stronger Fingers
Piano is tough on your fingers! Playing long pieces with complicated note sequences requires your fingers to be quick, flexible, and strong! While practicing is one way of increasing your fingers’ strength, playing the same songs over and over may neglect some of the fingers that you need to strengthen (for example, the ring finger on both hands is commonly not as strong as your second and third fingers!). Doing technique exercises such as Hanon will help you to keep all of your fingers strong and ready for whatever your next piece will throw at you.
2. Faster Learning
Scales, chords, and arpeggios are more than just a practical application of theory. These musical elements are the very basis of composition, and entire scale passages are commonly incorporated into music. If you don’t have your scales up-to-snuff, these passages are going to be a lot more difficult for you than if you are able to play them like the scales that you have been practicing. Chords and arpeggios are also commonly used (both solid and broken) in the bass clef to add depth to a song. Practicing these components of your technique will make learning new pieces much easier!
3. Better Sight Reading
Once you become truly comfortable with your technique components, you will find that sight reading also becomes much easier! Instead of staring at the selection trying to identify individual note names, you will be able to identify groups of notes as a G+ chord or an A- scale passage. This will help your sight reading improve exponentially, and you will be able to play sight reading passages with more attention given to dynamics and expression than note names alone!
4. Improved Hand Positions
Practicing the same scales or chords over and over can get monotonous. However, muscle memory is a very important component of learning the piano. For this reason, the repetitive patterns of scales and chords give you a natural understanding of what the correct hand position for each grouping of notes should be. This becomes especially important when you are sight reading, or when you are trying to conquer an especially difficult part of a new piece.
Technique may not be the most fun part of your practice, but it is definitely one of the most important parts!