If you are learning piano on your own as an adult self-learner, you will do best if you work in some practice time most days. You might like to establish a routine of how you will go about your practice. You can do things in a certain order, or you can mix things up differently every day.
One thing you should always do when you practice is to play scales. You do not have to play every scale every day. You might want to focus on the flat scales one day and the sharp scales the next. You do not even have to take it that far – just be sure that you practice scales of some kind for awhile before you begin to play.
Next, play some chords. Build on the scales you have played and make up as many chords as you can manage in the time you have allotted to spend on the exercise. The more you play your scales and chords, the better you will be when it comes to improvising. You will even play written music better because it will make more sense.
It is a good idea to have a set musical piece to play every time you practice before you start playing other songs. It can be any song that you can play fairly easily. Something that gives you a feeling of satisfaction is always a good choice. Make sure you do not pick a song that is new or tricky for this. You want to start out with a positive experience. You can work on the hard music later in the practice session.
After you have played your starting piece, go on to play songs you have been working on. Go over the rough spots carefully and try to play them from beginning to end without stopping. At this point it is a good time to sight-read any new music you have on hand and want to try. Then, take a little break.
Get a drink of water, eat an apple, or make a phone call. Then, go back to the piano and finish your practice. Many people believe that you have to sit down and play until you are exhausted. They never consider that taking a break can breathe new life into your playing.
Once you have had a break, you can use the rest of the time to improvise. You can make up music based on the chords and scales you played earlier. If you prefer, you can go in a completely new direction. Let this be your time for enjoyment and pure pleasure. With the right attitude, improvisation does not seem like work at all. It feels like complete freedom.
While it is good to practice most days, do not hesitate to take a day off if you are feeling bored with it. There is nothing that kills enthusiasm like overwork. Take off just enough time to renew your excitement about playing the piano. It should not take long.
If you are learning piano on your own and are having trouble finding motivation to practice, go to a piano concert, buy a piano player’s CD or MP3 download, or listen to a movie soundtrack based on piano music. Whatever it takes to get you back in the groove, do it.