Terrifying!! One main goal of piano teachers is to teach ourselves out of a job; students should be well versed enough in piano reading, literature and technique, that they can sit down and learn a piece of music without any extra input.
However, getting to that place takes work! Here are some tips for those times when a student is assigned a piece of music to learn BEFORE the teacher goes over it with them!
Step 1: LOOK
What is the Key signature? What is the first note? What fingers do you start with? These are all essential questions to begin with. Once you start playing, keep your eyes up, so you are able to read the notes fluidly without losing your spot.
Step 2: LISTEN
Do you remember what this song sounds like? If you haven’t heard it before, try listening to a recording to refresh your memory – YouTube and Apple Music are great resources! When you begin to play, listen to yourself – do the notes sound anything like what you remember hearing? Did you remember to check your key signature?
Step 3: SLOW DOWN
If this is the first time you have played this song, play it very slowly and steadily, and make sure to count either aloud or in your head. Playing hands separately is OK when you are just learning a new piece!
Step 4: SMALL CHUNKS
If a piece only has a few small sections that trip you up, remember to practice in small chunks. Pull our those bars that are trouble and play them slowly, one hand at a time. Are you counting the correct rhythms? Using the right fingers? Playing the right notes? Once you’ve rooted out the problem, practice it slowly hands together.
If you are still having trouble – THIS is when your piano teacher will step in at your lesson and help you. Proactive practicing will make for productive lessons, and you will progress much quicker through your studies!