Practicing Piano While on Vacation

Some of my students are going to places warm and exotic for Easter Break. One of them, who's taking her Gr. 7 piano exam in June, asked me how to practice while on vacation. Bonus points to her for asking! What I've done in the past is put my music in a binder or duotang and study the score, analyzing the form, dynamics, articulation, rhythm and harmony. If my ear is on that day, I can hum the melody and practice how I'd like to shape it. I've also tap practiced the melody. That can be done in a 10 minute mini practice at the airport, on the plane, at the beach...you get the idea.

I know of one piano accompanist who played "air piano" while on public transit. Her husband, a conductor, would laugh at her whenever she grumbled over hitting a wrong note. "You're playing an imaginary piano. How do you know?" he asked.

She told him that her body remembered where each note was on the keyboard, so her muscle memory was finely tuned.

I've hopped on a few discussion forums to see what others do. If it's a short vacation, the rule of thumb is to enjoy the time off. If you're preparing for a major performance, one can practice as I outlined above. You can also see if the place you're staying at has a piano or keyboard that is nearby and make arrangements to play on it during low traffic times. Several posters advise packing headphones to plug into a keyboard so that the world doesn't have to listen to you drill a troublespot 50 times.

One of my young students brought an Keyboard Chart Chart on his Christmas vacation, which is available at most music stores. He placed the cardboard keyboard on a table or the floor to practice.

I've also heard of a "roll-up piano", made by Hecsan in Japan. Neat concept. However, advanced pianists would have challenges with the small length and the fact that it doesn't play chords very well.

If only we could be all like pop star Alicia Keys - she brings her piano with her everywhere she goes.

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