I wonder what practice routine would be the best, if I want to be a good pianist. One that plays in a band for example. How much time each day is expected? Which books should be played?! Or what is the best routine for the best results?! (notice that I know the best thing is to have a teacher. But unfortunately I don't have time or money for piano classes)

  • 3
    If you don't have money, that's one thing, but how can you find time to practice if you don't have time for classes? – klutt Nov 4 '18 at 11:58
  • Possible duplicate of Piano practice for adult beginner – Tim H Nov 5 '18 at 10:38

Here's some general advice from a former working NYC jazz guitarist.

Practice Efficiently

How much time you dedicate to practicing piano is not as important as how effective the time that you do dedicate is.

You could practice something you're already good at for 5 hours a day, and get really good at that one thing, while still sucking at everything else.
You could practice what you're not good at, with great focus, for 30-60 minutes a day, and probably end up as a better and more well rounded pianist than the former. (This will be brutal and honestly not that fun unless you're a masochistic practice freak, but it's how all the best jazz musicians are, by habit.)

Use a Metronome

If you want to play with a band, keeping time is one of the most important skills to have. You should practice everything with a metronome.

Learn the Language

Transcribe famous solos, from old jazz pianists and saxophonists to train your ear and learn the language. 99% of the time, this is the only way.

Transcribe how old pianists accompany soloists.

Hope this helps. The list could go on and on. Good luck!

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The best thing you can do for yourself is to get proper ergonomic movement into your playing. No matter how much theory you know, no matter how good your reading is, not matter how good your sight reading is, not matter how much your improvisatory skills are, if your hands can't do what your ear and brain wants to do, most of your practice time will be a waste. Get technique out of the way so that everything else falls into place. It would be like owning a sports car that can go 120 mph but you live in a 30 mph city.

Improper movement right off the bat will become hardwired into your brain and your technique will be flawed for the rest of your life.

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Each one of us uses a different way to learn. Sometimes it's repetition, sometimes it's understanding the theory, sometimes it's monkey see - monkey do, sometimes it's try many ways till the right one crops up, sometimes it's rising to a challenge (others will baulk at that...), sometimes it's just 'learn the hard way'!

We're all different in our approach - and hardly anyone instinctively knows their best way.

How we practice is rather similar. There are many ways, and a couple of them will be most suitable for one individual. That's not to say that the same ones will be successful for another. We have to work out, usually by trial and error, which suits best as individuals.

That's where a great teacher comes in: they will have that sixth sense which will highlight what will most likely work best for each individual.

If I say my best way is to lock myself away until I can do something flawlessly - which may take 10 mins, may take 4 hrs - there's no guarantee that'll work for you.

If your question was 'what different strategies are there to make my practice time most effective and efficient?' the answers will be different. But it wasn't...

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Did you already use the search feature?

There are already a lot of answers to similar questions, e.g.:
- Beginning "adult" piano for musicians
- Piano practice for adult beginner
- Best Way to "Learn" Jazz Piano
- Developing a good practice routine for piano improvisation with a band

If there is no appropriate answer, please provide more information about yourself:
- Do you have any musical background?
- Can you play other instruments?
- Which kind of music do you want to play (i guess jazz and blues as the tags suggest)?

Now my answer from what I know about learning to play blues/jazz piano:
You need to get down the basics first (scales, chords, read sheet music). If you are a total beginner, start with one of the beginner books like "Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course".

Blues and jazz is best learned by immersing yourself with it. Listen a lot to the music, take a song and try to play the bass notes and melody with the record. Learn phrases and solos you like and practice them in all keys.

If you want books get a good book about learning blues and jazz concepts. I recommend:

  • Tim Richards: Improvising Blues Piano
  • Tim Richards: Exploring Jazz Piano

There are also some interesting books about grooves and accompaniment styles:

  • Bernd Frank - Rhythm-Styles for Piano
  • Philipp Moehrke: The Easy Groove Piano Book - Modern Piano Grooves

About the practice routine itself:
To get best results I suggest to practice at least two or three days a week for a minimum of 15-30 minutes. It is better to practice 15 minutes each day than doing a two hour session every week.

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