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How To Practice the Piano While You Travel For Business or Vacation

house David Chang Apr 18, 2022

Traveling can be frustrating for dedicated pianists. Difficult piano music must be learned in small increments, and if you are trying to memorize your music, you’ll need to practice every day. Furthermore, you gain momentum as you practice consistently, and once that momentum is broken, it can be hard to find again!

So how should you handle trips if you are a pianist? You can’t cancel every business trip or vacation for the rest of your life. In this blog, I’ll discuss how a pianist can stay sharp while away from an instrument. Of course, if you’d like more information about my piano lessons in Brooklyn, please get in touch!

Can You Practice Piano While Traveling?

Yes, you can certainly practice while you travel. You may not be able to practice the piano in the most literal sense, because you probably won’t have an instrument handy. But you can review your music, work on memorization, interpret the score, and more. In fact, this may help you in the long run - it will force you to look at your music differently, you will need to engage your brain (eliminating the risk of mindless technical practice), and you may even have better recall.

How To Practice The Piano While Traveling

Study Your Music

If you are memorizing a piece of music, you will need to recall things at a moment’s notice. What is the first chord in the development section? What is the left hand variation in the third repetition of the main theme? Into what key does the transposition take me?

These are all things that you can study while you sit on a plane or relax in a hotel room. You can test yourself by studying the music, closing it, and seeing how far you can “ghost play” with your hands on a table top.

Additional Reading: Music and Piano Camps For Adults

Start Learning New Music With a Table Top

This strategy won’t get you very far, but you can make some progress on a brand new piece of music this way. Open the score, and slowly go through your playing motion on a table while you read the music. You can have a pencil with you and mark sections of the piece that you know will be trouble when you go back to the piano.

You can also block chords and slowly finger through difficult technical passages. If you do this slowly, you will start to learn the notes even before you reach a piano.

Listen To Recordings of Your Pieces

A great way to improve your memory of a piece of music is to play a recording while you read through the music. Your aural memory will help you perform better, and by reading the notes while you listen to the piece, you will be able to recall them more easily. Furthermore, you’ll get ideas of how to interpret the music. If you like the way the performer phrased a section of the music, make a note. And if you have an idea of how you could interpret it better, make a note of that as well.

Write Down Interpretive Elements

This builds on the previous point - you can mark phrasing, dynamics, and interpretations into your music. While you are listening to a recording, singing the music, and otherwise studying the score, jot down notes for musical ideas. This is important to do because if you have a great idea for how to play a section musically, you won’t remember that idea the first time you practice the music again. You need to write it down so you don’t forget.

Additional Ways To Practice While You Travel

Roll-Up Pianos are a Real Thing, and They are Popular

This isn’t necessarily a great idea for pianists who already play at an advanced level, but if you are trying to learn things like notes and scales, a roll-up piano can help you keep momentum while you travel. They are small, light, and can be opened up on a table top. This will allow you to review notes in both hands, and you won’t forget everything you learned in your previous week’s lesson.

Look For Practice Rooms

If you are traveling to a city, you might be able to find a practice room. You will need to Google around and perhaps call a few venues, but if you really need to practice, you can probably make it happen. Please note that most publicly available practice rooms will be intended as rehearsal spaces for bands and ensembles, and you won’t necessarily be able to find a beautiful Steinway grand piano. But you can probably track down a decent upright piano or full-sized digital keyboard.

Get Started With Piano Lessons at David Chang Music

I would love to help you reach your goals on the piano. Please get in touch about piano lessons either in my studio or online, and you are welcome to read more about my lesson offerings.