A woman is laughing and throwing her hands in the air as confetti falls down all around her.

How to Make Piano Practice More Fun

Are you making sure your piano practice is fun? I’ve had so many students who started out seeing practice as work that they would eventually appreciate when they can play beautiful music down the road. That kind of long-term thinking is certainly important for getting ourselves to do things we don’t enjoy, but when it comes to piano that’s not the only option!

Making music can be fun no matter what level you’re at. Yes, there’s a certain amount of discipline that comes with tackling difficult aspects like reading music or improving technique, but even these will come easier if you’re joyful and relaxed while working on them. Why? Because our brains are in a peak learning state when they’re relaxed, joyful, and curious.

If that’s not reason enough, there’s also the obvious fact that when something is more fun you’re more likely to do it more often. So if you’re finding it difficult to prioritize piano practice, perhaps you need to add some fun to your practice routine!

Now you might be thinking, “That sounds great but how am I supposed to have fun when I’m trying to learn this difficult piece/exercise/technique?? That takes work!” Yes, playing an instrument is a very difficult, complicated endeavor. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while doing it! Read on to find some ideas on how you can make your piano practice more fun, no matter what you’re working on!

1. Make It Easy

Many of us think that if we’re not challenged at the piano, we’re not making progress. And while this could be the case if you’re just playing the same easy piece or exercise the same way all the time, it’s also often the case that the best way to make progress is take out as much difficulty as possible.

This means zeroing in on your actual goal. Are you working on learning to read notes? Don’t try to read through a tricky piece at or above your level! Instead get a collection of shorter, easier pieces that you can read through without too much difficulty. The more you experience ease at the piano, the more your mind and body will begin to associate piano practice with fun and relaxation.

Here’s another example: Perhaps you’re working on a specific piece, let’s say Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu, and you’re having some technical difficulties with it. Perhaps the RH fingering is getting all jumbled up, and trying to play it as a polyrhythm to the LH isn’t helping.

Rather than simply playing through the piece again and again, figure out what you can do to make this as easy as possible. Start by isolating the RH runs, playing tiny sections at a time so slowly that it would be difficult NOT to get the notes right.

Then slowly work your way up to a faster and faster tempo (ideally using the metronome), and also slowly work your way to playing larger and larger sections at a time. One easy way to accomplish this is by making a practice plan ahead of time.

Now I can imagine some of you thinking, “That doesn’t sound fun! That sounds like boring, tedious work!”. But that brings me to my next point…

2. Change Your Mindset

Many of us think we can only have fun at the piano if we’re playing a piece we love and it sounds awesome and impressive. And yes, that’s super fun! But it’s not the only fun thing about learning an instrument.

It’s also fun to work on puzzles, and learning a piece can be like solving a puzzle. The fun challenge is: What do you need to do in order to get to a point where you can play this piece comfortably? (Hint: The answer is NOT to just play it from start to end over and over again!) If you consider figuring out how to make things as easy for yourself as possible a fun challenge, then it changes from something boring to something fun and exciting!

Become a detective. Get curious. Observe yourself as you play. What’s going well? What’s not going so well? What could you change to make things feel easier? Experiment! Not only does this mindset make your practice more fun, but it also actually puts your brain in a space more conducive to learning. It’s a win-win!

3. Add Variation

Once again, we’re piggy-backing from the previous point. By adding variation, you’re experimenting with how it feels to play your piece or exercise in different ways. This accomplishes several goals: It keep things interesting because you’re not just doing the same thing in the same way again and again, it helps you learn how to play in a bigger variety of ways, which you can then apply to other pieces moving forward, and it can even help you avoid injury because, again, you’re not just repeating the same thing in the same way, which is the quickest road to repetitive stress injury.

There are endless, probably infinite, ways you can add variety to your playing. You can alter the articulation, playing staccato or legato. You can change the tempo or the rhythm. You can transpose the piece. You can use different fingering. The list goes on and on. The important part is that you’re doing this with attention and curiosity. How does it feel to play in a different way? Does it make things easier or more difficult? Does it make things more fun? How does it change the sound and feel of the piece?

And keep in mind the idea of making things easy as you do this. Don’t always try to create the most challenging variation you can think of (although this can be fun sometimes, as long as you’re not trying to be perfect). Instead, what sounds like the most fun and easy way to play something? Start there and work your way toward more challenging ways of playing.

Make Practice Time Easier By Planning Ahead!

Hands playing piano keys with a metronome and pencil nearby

Learn how to plan exactly what you need to do each day to accomplish your goals. Then all you have to do at practice time is sit down and play!

The Piecewise Practice Planner will help you make meaningful progress every time you practice, even with as little as 5 minutes per practice session.

Best of all, it’s completely FREE–to opt in, click the button below!

4. Make It Social

Human beings are social creatures. And although many of us like the idea of our music being ours and ours alone, adding a social element is a fantastic way to liven up your practice time if it’s gone stale. There are a few ways to do this.

One way is to schedule a performance. I personally love to perform at retirement communities, but you could also perform for friends or family, or take turns performing with a group of fellow musicians. Set a date and plan to be ready for it. Remind yourself that performance is a way of sharing your love of music with others, and isn’t about showing off or being perfect.

You could also find some musician friends to meet with periodically and talk about your playing and what you’re working on. You could even all work on the same piece and talk about it with each other, like the piano version of a book club! You could exchange tips and ideas, fingerings, help each other with challenge, and celebrate each others’ successes.

For many of us adding these social elements immediately infuses a feeling of fun into what we’re doing. Additionally, it helps keep us motivated and holds us accountable!

What About You?

There are certainly more ways than those listed above to have fun at the piano. How do you make your piano practice more fun? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Heidi has been involved in music in one way or another for most of her life. She studied music composition in college, has taught piano, voice, composition, ear training, and guitar, and has worked as a piano tuner and technician. Before the pandemic she loved playing concerts at retirement communities, bringing the joy of music to those populations. She is currently working on learning more about the connection between music and healing.

Related Articles:

I Believe Music Can Heal
How to Improve Mental States by Playing Music
Piano Technique: Make Your Playing Easier

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *