Tag Archives: piano


Copied from Chick Corea’s question page at

Q: I would like to know more about how you manage practice time—specifically, how you know when it’s time to stop practicing something and move on. Also, how do you make the mental switch from practice to playing? — Sam D.

A: Thanks for your question—it’s a good question. To learn how to prepare properly or practice properly, to make advances in one’s technique, or knowledge at the instrument, or music in general, is a really important thing.

The main thing that I can see about practicing—and it’s also true about playing—is that the very basis of practicing, and knowing “when” and “how” and all of that, stems from first having an intention to advance, an intention to improve. An intention to take a certain challenge, or a certain piece of music or a certain phrase, or any particular thing that you think of, and then you have an idea that you would like to improve it, and you also have an idea of how it probably would sound, when it sounded right.

And this is another real important aspect—how you know when you’ve arrived, is that you have to trust your own judgment of what it should sound like. You can’t just accept another’s opinion about it. If a teacher is listening to you practice, and they say, “Oh yeah, that’s right,” when you play, you have to make sure you understand that that’s someone else’s opinion; it’s not yours, unless you can also see that same thing.

So it’s all about one’s own understanding of what his own goal, or target, or object of accomplishment, is. You have that in mind, and then you just go for that. You apply yourself calmly, and create the time, and you just keep doing it, until you’ve got it.

That’s the simple explanation of how to practice. I try to do that, and I get better at it, actually, as I get older. I learn more and more how to do that. And how to slow things down, sometimes, to the right speed, in order to understand every little part of it. You don’t want to go too fast or too slow, but just at a tempo and pace that you can have success at, and really know that you’re gaining on your goal.

— Chick



Once a student of Lennie Tristano, pianist Dave Frank is a prolific solo artist and educator based in New York City. I first discovered him through one of his Youtube videos and now I eagerly await any new videos that surface, which are always interesting and informative in a down-to-earth way.

Please visit his Youtube channel here.

How many days a week on average do you practice?

7 1/2

What time of day do you normally practice, and for how long?

2 hours in the morning, 1 in afternoon, 1-2 hours in evening approx..more
when my wife goes to sleep.

What does a typical practice session consist of, does it vary at all, and how has it changed over the years?

Working on concepts that will be part of my next performance (at the
beginning of my YT vids)

How has your current routine evolved to where it is now? Did you develop it yourself out of necessity, or have you been inspired by anyone else’s methods?

Lennie Tristano taught us to devise a practice routine that had time given
to specific subjects. At that time, I had a 5-hour/day routine that I kept
in place for the 6 years I studied with him that included technique,
harmony, singing with records, improv, basslines, composition, etc. Now I
choose subjects that interest me at the moment and devote regular periods
of time to them daily, if not gaily…

Do you try to make time to practice a little bit of everything each session, or do you spend more time on a few specific ideas before moving on?

Answered that one

Do you have any practice methods that you would deem unusual?

I watch TV 100% of the time that I practice. It started when I was
teaching at Berklee watching the Red Sox in the Series while I practice
with the sound off(didn’t want to miss the games but didn’t want to miss
practicing either), over time the whole thing got out of control and now I
can’t practice without watching TV including sound) I tivo cop shows,
reality shows, Dr. Phil, etc., and watch em while I practice and compose.
I do FF the commercials. I recommend this way of practicing to exactly

We mortals have to constantly remind ourselves that exemplary musicians
like yourself are really human. It is clear that personal practising is
only one part of the puzzle in eventually becoming accomplished on any
instrument, but do you think that it has played a major role in helping
you to get to where you are today?

I am completely obsessed with practicing and have been my entire life. I
am resigned to the fact that my entire lifetime I’ll be in the shed. I
don’t perform, or play with another soul ever. I practice in my studio,
teach folks worldwide through skype 7 days/week, and put the fruits of my
labors into my YT performance/master class videos. I am the strangest
musician on the planet) But it works for me.

Finally, do you have any words of advice for anyone who is trying to
practice more productively and become a better musician?

Organize your work with the help of a master teacher, schedule your
practice time, keep a diary (not a dairy) and make a lifestyle out of it if
you enjoy it. I have spent thousands of days of my life peacefully and
happily absorbed in practice, as long as I have something to practice I am