Plan your daily work. You are going to work 20 mins daily on each of your pieces. After you finish your 20 minutes, forget about it until the next day. Move on and do another 20 minutes on the next piece. These 20 minutes do not need to be consecutive. They can be any 20 minutes anytime of the day. This is the beauty of this system, you do not need a block of 2hs 30mins (you can do it if you want though), but you can spread it in lots of blocks of 20 minutes.

The most important requirement for this method to work is consistency. You must do it every day.

The second most important requirement is that you have a specific goal that can be achieved in 20 minutes. So if you are learning a new piece, this may mean that you will be working on the first two bars. If you cannot master two bars in 20 minutes, next day do just one bar. Next day do the next bar, and so on.

Keep a music journal where you write briefly where you are at, and what your next steps are, so the next day you know what to do

The key word here is discipline. Never practise by sitting at the piano to play whatever you feel like. It is perfectly all right to do so, but it does not count as your 20 minutes practice. And if you do it, make sure you share it with someone else, this way you will be practising performance

Here is an example:

1. C.P.E. Bach Fantasia in D minor (Wq 117/12)

Here is my suggested plan to learn this piece in 8 practice sessions:

Session 1: Bars 5 – 6 (these are the most difficult bars)
Session 2: Bars 1 – 2
Session 3: Bars 2 – 5
Session 4: Bars 1 - 6
Session 5: Bars 6 – 9
Session 6: Bars 1- 9
Session 7: Bars 10 – 14
Session 8: Bars 1 - 14

Each of these sessions should take 20 minutes at the most to learn (if not you will need to break them further). But assume it does.

So on day 1, you start practice session 1: bars 5 – 6. At the end of the session you should be playing these two bars like a pro. (How do you do that? It is not simply repeating the 2 bars for 20 minutes, you know. There are all sorts of approaches and tricks – but it just will take to long to go through all that). Anyway, during these 20 minutes you will do a number of things that will result in you totally learning these two bars.

On day 2, you are going to tackle session 2: bars 1 – 2. But before you even think about doing that, you should start by going over bars 5 – 6 again. Three things may happen:

a. you can play it perfectly straight away. If so, play it 3 or 4 times and move on to bars 1 – 2.

b. You cannot play it perfectly at all. Wrong fingerings get on the way, you sort of know it, but not at all at the level you achieved yesterday. If so, forget about bars 1 – 2 and again dedicate this practice session to bars 5 – 6. Relearn them without skipping any steps and without cutting any corners by going through the same activities you went through the previous day and that led you to mastery (this is the bit that no one wants to do). To your surprise, what took yesterday 20 minutes, may take only 4 – 5 minutes today to accomplish. If so, you still have 15 minutes left over: use them to learn and master bars 1 – 2.

c. You completely and totally forgot it. In this case, just repeat practice session 1. I assure you that the next day you will be on [b] above, and by the third day you may well be on [a].

Assuming case [a] above, when the 3rd day arrives, you start by going through bars 5 – 6 and bars 1 – 2. This should take no more than a couple of minutes (unless you are on [b] or [c]) but I will assume [a] to keep this short. So use the rest of the practice session to tackle bars 2 – 5.

When the fourth day arrives, use the practice session to join everything together: Bars 1 – 6. Now you will not need to repeat the previous practice sessions everyday, just repeat this session since it encompasses every single session so far.

Keep going like that until you reach day 8. By then the piece should be perfect.

So if everything goes right, in 8 days you should have mastered this piece. Don’t stop practising it! keep reserving a 20 minutes session until the end of the month to polish and do any further work that needs to be done on it. At the end of the month this piece will be a part of your repertory. If you did everything right (no one can do that), then you should never forget this piece, even if you stop playing it for 10 years. If you do forget it from neglect, just repeat the process.


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