Piano Practice – How To Build Better Habits

piano practiceToday I want to teach you about a really useful piano practice technique that I’ve started using in my life. I’ve found a lot of benefit from it in both my music and in my personal life.

It’s easy and I think you’ll really enjoy it as well once you start using it too.

(We’re also going to talk about a special piano practice challenge at the end of the article too that I think you’ll love.)

Why I Developed This Piano Practice Habit

Earlier this year as Freejazzlessons.com kept on getting more friends and fans I found my life was getting more chaotic.

Perhaps you can relate if you feel pulled in lots of different directions in your life?

You see I’m a pretty simple guy. I know what brings peace in my life. I’m most happy when I can get to spend most of my time doing 2 simple things everyday.

1. Practicing piano daily so I can keep sharing all my jazz piano discoveries with the community here.

2. Creating helpful courses and training resources for musicians who love jazz and want to learn how to play jazz on a high level. (I get a lot of joy out of giving.)

So, I try to structure my time accordingly so I can do both of these things everyday. But, when you’re hosting an ‘online jazz piano party’ for 60,000 people per month it can pull you in lots of different directions when it comes to time.

I found myself in a new situation. I didn’t have hours a day to practice piano yet I knew I needed to practice more. (Can you relate?)

During this time was also getting over 200 emails per day from the community here, constantly creating all the in depth video training for Premium Membership Course, and also playing lots of gigs too.

piano practice I felt like a chicken with my head cut off. My focus was suffering and my personal piano practice routine was starting to drop off.

I knew I couldn’t let the little things that pop up in life get in my way. Consistent practice is 1 of the keys to musical success. I had to improve my focus and continue to reshape my practice.

My happiness and musical growth was on the line. So, I started searching for answers.

How I Started Getting My Focus Back

One night after I had just spent 12 hours straight filming new tutorials for my Premium Membership students I decided to take a little break and watch some TV.

I was dog tired and needed to shut my brain off for an hour or so. So, as I’m flipping through channels trying to decide what to watch when I stumble on an old Seinfeld rerun. You know the one where George has the Gore Tex coat? I had to watch it!

Of course the episode was funny…just like 99% of Seinfeld episodes were. It’s hard to find a Seinfeld episode that was bad.

In fact, I got me thinking how consistent Seinfeld was at putting out funny episodes. Years of hilarious episodes.  The consistency and quality of the show was amazing.

I started wondering about what made Jerry Seinfeld so great. I mean how did Seinfeld get that good at comedy so consistently? There was no way this happened by luck right?

piano practiceEverybody can tell a funny joke here and there but to create years and years of worth of classic comedy is special. His productivity was world class.

So, I started wondering how Seinfeld put out quality work so regularly? Was there some sort of special strategy? What was his secret to productivity? Could I learn to do it too? I had to find out.

What Was Seinfeld’s Trick?

I hopped out of bed and walked down to my office and jumped on google. I wasnt sure even what to search for. So, I did a variety of searches like…

  • “Why is Seinfeld awesome?”
  • “How do you do 9 years of good work?”
  • “Seinfeld practice”

They also produced interesting results but not exactly what I was looking for. When I finally googled the term “Seinfeld productivity” though that’s when the golden goose hit!

I was so excited by what I found.

I discovered that not only did Jerry actually use a special productivity trick but he attributed it to a large part of his comedic success!

The Don’t Break The Chain Technique

piano practiceAccording to Brad Issac, Seinfeld used a special productivity trick called “Don’t Break The Chain”.

As a young comedian Brad ran into an already famous and successful Seinfeld at a comedy club and asked him for advice.

Here’s how Isaac described the interaction with Seinfeld…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”


Now, Notice how Seinfeld didn’t say a single thing about results, being motivated, or being great. All that mattered was that he didn’t break his chain.

He knew that the act of working on his craft regularly would pay off. Eureka! It was simple and easy to understand. Jerry turned the act of practicing into a game.

I figured I had nothing to lose so I’d give it a try too.

piano practice So, I set my goal, “No matter what happens I will set aside time to piano practice everyday and not break the chain.”

Notice for this particular goal I didn’t set a goal of practicing scales for 15 hours a day, practicing 20 new tunes in all 12 keys, learning a new Chick Corea solo, etc. etc.

Those things are important but I didn’t want to get bogged down with all the specifics just yet.

I knew I would address all the ‘what to practice’ on a day to day basis. But to simply build a long term habit of daily practice I knew I had to keep my approach simple.

“No matter what happens I will practice everyday. I will not break the chain. “

So, on February 11 of this year I went out and bought myself a wall calendar and a red marker and I tried Seinfeld’s practice technique.

My Awesome Results So Far

It did feel a little weird on the first day but after stringing several days of X’s in a row together I found the X’s all right next to each other beautiful to look at. It also felt GREAT to add another X to that calendar.

piano practiceAfter doing the exercise for months now I have to report back that Seinfeld’s strategy has been amazing.

I don’t even have to think about it now. I practice every day. Practicing has become almost a reflex.

My chops are better, my creativity is better, I’ve learned more tunes, and my joy from music is at an all time high. Everything just feels better musically speaking.

So, I would recommend this strategy to anybody that wants to carve out time in their life for piano practice.  It’s been a game changer for me.

Your New 7 Day Piano Practice Challenge

Here’s the thing. I want you to become a better musician. And if you’re reading this article than I’m quite certain you want to get better too. Much better.

We both know you need to put some practice time in to get better. So, I’d like to offer you a simple challenge right now.

(I wouldn’t be a good teacher if I didn’t motivate you right?)

piano practice If you’re ready to make an improvement in your music and in your life I’d like you to do 1 simple thing right now. 

Join me for the next 7 days in ‘not breaking the chain’. 

How The Piano Practice Challenge Works

So, here’s how it work. for the next 7 days you’ll practice daily. I’ll be doing it too. After each session you’ll just put an x in your calendar. The goal is to go 7 days without ‘breaking the chain’.

Simple. Easy. Fun. Rewarding.

Here’s your Next Step

If you’re serious about becoming a better musician I’d like you to to do 1 simple thing right now.

Leave a comment in the comments are and let me know you’re in. Just say, “I’m in.

I’ll be here with you and so will the other community members every step of the way. I look forward to hearing from you!

Let’s build some skills over then next week.

I look forward to reading your comment below. If you have any questions please leave a comment below as well.I’m happy to help.

To your musical success,

piano practice



Steve Nixon