The Ultimate Morning Practice Routine ☕

Lisa Witt  /  Practice  /  UPDATED Jan 12, 2023

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Waking up and playing piano first thing in the morning is a lovely experience! But it’s not always easy…especially if you’re not a morning person!

I want to share with you an easy, helpful, and encouraging practice routine that you can do at any time of the day. Morning larks will love it; as will night owls and everyone in between! It’s designed to be fun, and like an appetizer, I hope it’ll whet your appetite for more piano-ing throughout the day. (There will be lots of food metaphors in this lesson — you’ve been warned!)

Step 1: Sit down at your piano bench! 🥱

Getting started is often the hardest step! So if you make it to your piano bench and sit down, you’ve already won.

Now that you’re here, take a moment to settle in. Take a few deep breaths and do some stretches. If you’re interested in how to perfect your posture, I recommend checking out our lesson with a chiropractor.

Step 2: Eat your vegetables (practice your scales) 🥗

Practicing your scales is similar to eating your vegetables before enjoying dessert. They’re good for you, but they aren’t the tastiest thing to practice.

So, let’s get scales out of the way first! In the video, I’ll play a simple one-octave C Major scale, but you can practice any scale or scales you want. Once you know a few scales, you can focus on a handful of scales a day.

When I practice scales, I like to be very intentional. I ask myself: how do the keys feel? Am I tense? Am I applying pressure evenly, and are there any sticking points?

One thing I like is focusing on playing two notes at a time, back and forth. This really zeroes in on technique.

🎹👉 GET INFORMED ABOUT SCALES! If you’re new to scales, check out our theory lesson on how major and minor scales work. We also recommend checking out fun ways to eat your vegetables practice your scales.

Step 3: Diatonic triads 🖐️

Now that we’re done practicing our scales, let’s practice our triads. In my C Major example, I’ll move through all the triads that occur in the C Major scale. The fancy word for these are diatonic chords.

In this exercise, we’ll practice dropping and lifting our hands on each chord. This will build good habits. Pay attention to how you weight your hands — take care not to tense up when you play.

Step 4: Chord progression practice 🎶

Now let’s get to the meat-and-potatoes part of our practice routine. By using a chord progression to practice technique, your practice will sound more like a song than a drill, which I find always helps motivate folks to practice.

This exercise is designed to help you work on dexterity, speed, dynamics, and hand independence while sounding awesome!

The chord progression we’ll use is:

Am – F – G – Em

(It’s very pretty and moody!)

What we’ll do is play an arpeggio form of each chord with our left hand and a solid triad form of the chord with our right hand. 

The arpeggio looks like this:

Combined with triads, it’ll look like this:

Once you get a hang of it, speed up.

Then, try switching your hands. Play arpeggios with your right hand and triads with your left.

Step 5: Two-octave arpeggio

Now let’s take things up a notch. This exercise sounds really cool — you’ll forget that it’s an exercise and not a song.

On your left hand, play a triad or a shell chord. And on your right hand, play a two-octave arpeggio of the same chord. If you’re not sure how to do this, rewind this part of the video a few times. Here is the fingering:

The Right Exercises to Kickstart Your Practice

As you can see, the intent behind all these exercises is to get you excited about playing piano. Start on a good note (pun intended), and you’ll be motivated to keep going.

Technique isn’t always fun, and I’m not afraid to admit that! But just like sneaking wilted spinach into pasta sauce, you can “sneak in” technical exercises into something that sounds less regimental by using chord progressions and arpeggios.

I hope you like this practice routine — have fun!

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for more than 20 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others. Learn more about Lisa.

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