Sectional Piano Practice: Divide and Conquer

A man dividing a maze demonstrating sectional practice

When learning music we often find passages that are challenging and difficult to master. We find our progress with these passages lags behind. In this situation, it is helpful to use sectional practice whereby we isolate difficult passages and work on them separately. Following are a few suggestions which will help make sectional practice as effective as possible.


Hints for Sectional Practice

  • When deciding on a section choose musically logical divisions.
  • A natural tendency is to work on sections that are too large. Choose a section that seems reasonable and cut it in half.
  • The more difficult the music the smaller the section.
  • To facilitate the generation of accurate repetitions, slow the tempo or if necessary practice hands separately.
  • Try repeating the sections three or four times correctly rather than once.


Enhanced Accuracy and Security

You are overloading your mind by working on sections that are too large. This disrupts the natural learning process. Through repetitions, you are transferring information from short-term to long-term memory. By using sectional practice and dividing the music into logical and small packages you are presenting the information to your mind in a friendly way. You will need fewer repetitions to form permanent memories. In addition, you will experience enhanced accuracy,  you will have better focus and fewer technical problems.


3 thoughts on “Sectional Piano Practice: Divide and Conquer

  1. As a piano teacher, that is one of the techniques that I do…less frightening for students…that is to play pieces in section…especially the ones that are patterns or sections repeat in another section of the piece. They realize that oh…the piece is not so big to them.

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