Why do I have to Practice Some Songs and Not Others?

by Ruby
(Clinton, CT, USA)

I took piano lessons (as an adult) off and on for over 10 years, usually completing book three in different method books. Also, played Sonatinas, and pieces from other books, about Intermediate level. My question is, twofold, why can I play some songs only after practicing them, and why, can I not pick up a book and play from sight reading. I am told that I sight read very well. I can play some songs from a hymnbook or any book at my level, and others baffle me. I know the notes, time, etc. I have no problem with any of that, so why can't I play better?


Thank you

ANSWER

Hi, Ruby--

I think that the first part of your question is closely related to the second part.

The reason that you can play some pieces only after practicing them is most likely that these pieces require specific skills that you have not yet practiced.

As we learn different pieces, we pick up the skills required to play those pieces and those skills become a part of our "tools" that enable us to play other pieces which require the same skills.

My guess is that the pieces that give you trouble are ones that require proficiency at skills that you have yet to master.

For example, if a piece contains a rapid scale passage in E minor and you have not yet practiced playing the E minor scale at that tempo, you will have to practice that passage.

Having to practice a piece is NOT a BAD thing! Even the best concert pianists practice HOURS every day.

The trick is to choose pieces that are at an easier level if you just want to sight read them.
Resign yourself to having to practice the pieces that are more difficult.

As you do both of these things, you will find that the level at which you can sight read increases. In the meantime, you will have learned a LOT of new skills!

You might want to check out our Absolutely Free Piano Lessons. You will find tons of useful information and it is all FREE!

Hope this is helpful. If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to ask again!

Best Wishes,
Lynne

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