Repetition is the Key to Learning Something Deeply
Repetition is the key to learning something deeply. It works most effectively when you are isolating a small amount of material, because the object of your focus will be more specific.
When you have the correct chord movement for part of an exercise or tune under you hands, repeat it continuously until is flows. You should notice a gradual increase in your comfort level as you continue repetitions, eventually remove your eyes from both the music and the keys, and keep repeating until the movements seem easy. This activity is especially important for problem spots in harmonic exercise or tunes.
Try to have your hands in position, actually touching the notes before you strike a chord. This will reinforce your "hand memory" of the chord's shape. When you are ready to play the chord, lift your hands an inch or two and drop the full weight of your hands on the keys, going to the bottom of the key bed.
At first, you probably will miss some notes, and that is OK; simply make the necessary corrections and continue with more repetitions, keeping that feeling of dropping. This will achieve a fuller sound, and your hands will learn the shape of the chords much more quickly and securely.
Recite the chord roots as you play an exercise or drill chords. This will keep you aware of what you are playing, especially when you work with rootless voicings. As you repeat a progression over and over, make a conscious note of the chord structure (i.e. root-7-3-5) which you are manipulating. This will reinforce your understanding and hearing of the harmony.
Whenever your hands need to leave the keys to start at a new location (i.e. practicing an individual voicing or ii-V7-I progression around the key circle), release the chord immediately, rather than sustaining it. This will give you extra time (metronome clicks/drum sounds) to reset your hands for the new key.
To your success,
Ron Worthy is a Music Educator and Performer. He provides an online piano instruction program for all ages. He offers proven tips, tools and tactics (that anyone can learn) to play Rock, Pop, Blues, R&B and Smooth Jazz Piano.
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