1. Never miss a day's practice, if you can possibly help it. If it should happen that your time is limited, practice your regular daily technical exercises at least.
2. If you cannot manage to get through with the study of the work set for you, inform your teacher of it before beginning the lesson. A few measures practiced thoroughly are better than a whole exercise or piece studied superficially.
3. Never waste time strumming on the piano. The more conscientiously you practice, the sooner you will be able to play anything you like. Five or ten minutes well applied will do a great deal towards improving your technique. Never practice, however, without being properly seated and without concentrating your whole mind upon your work.
4. Never begin to practice before having ascertained and made clear to yourself all about the key, the time, the rhythm, and the phrasing of the piece. Think over every measure and determine upon the best way of playing it.
5. When taking up a new exercise, carefully guard against the first mistake. Remember: "prevention is better than cure;" it is always easier to avoid a mistake than correct it. The fingers are only too apt to repeat mistakes once made, and thus to accustom themselves to bad habits.
6. Every technical difficulty must be overcome and mastered by a special exercise. Similarly, every passage or part in a movement must be practiced, or worked up, till it can be played with the exactness and precision of clockwork. Every detail in a piece must be studied and mastered separately, until the whole can be rendered in a truly artistic manner.
7. It is no use playing a piece over and over again from beginning to end, even though each hand plays its part separately; mind and memory must first of all have become familiar with every detail, and the fingers must be trained, until they become accustomed to overcome each difficulty perfectly and with ease. Hence the necessity of dividing up each exercise into small parts or sections which must then, if necessary, be practiced first with each hand separately and then with both hands. The more difficult the parts, the more frequently they must be practiced.
8. Begin by practicing slowly at first, so as never to be obliged to stop. Always play strictly in time: rhythm and time must never be neglected for want of patience or energy. Sounds without rhythm have no more meaning than single letters of the alphabet.
9. During the rests, do not remove the hands from the keyboard, but rather utilize the time, if necessary, for the next position. While one hand is playing, it is quite easy to prepare the other for its part to come, if you are only quite clear in your mind what it has to do. Hence, such parts as require a change in the position of the hand should be practiced alone, until the hand has learned to assume the required position and to do its work unconsciously.
10. Aim for the highest, so as to attain something worth attaining. Overcome all fear or dislike of finger-exercises. Convince yourself that they are as absolutely indispensable and essential as are the words and rules of grammar which must be learned by heart before the knowledge of a foreign language can be acquired.
11. Be patient and persevering. Want of patience will spoil all; perseverance will overcome the greatest obstacles and difficulties.
12. Be glad, if you can give others pleasure by your playing. But do not seek to excel by brilliant technique, which can never be the object of the true artist, whose aim must rather be the acquisition of a thorough musical education. The ambition which incessantly urges on toward perfection is the natural quality peculiar to those gifted with great talent and a strong character. Pride and vanity ignore, or know nothing of, the ideals of true art, and are the outcome of small minds.
About the Author
This article, written by Karl Zuschneid, was taken from the November 1922 issue of magazine "Etude Musical Magazine." This article is featured at http://www.thepianopages.com, along with free piano lessons, sheet music, products, and lots more.