6 Tips To Practicing Difficult Gospel Songs

Our focus in today’s lesson is on practicing difficult gospel songs.

Have you ever wondered how top gospel keyboardists effortlessly play almost any song, no matter how difficult they seem?

Have you ever thought that only talented people with gifted fingers can play the way you’ve always watched them do on TV?

Well, that’s because you’re yet to learn 6 tips used by top players.

The tips I’m about to show you are no new discoveries. Although they’ve been used by most of the piano greats we know today, they were never put into writing to ease learning.

Below are presented the six tips that can help you practice any gospel song irrespective of its difficulty.

Tip #1 – Listening To And Analyzing The Selected Song

One of the fastest ways of learning a song, which is used by gospel keyboardists, is listening to the original recordings of the piece you want to practice.

This would give you an overall picture of the contour and stylistic nature of the music, as well as inform you on the techniques you will need to conquer any difficult section.

Listening can also save you great time and energy from repeating many bars that have same elements and structures.

Analyzing a piece (i.e. checking out for musical forms like AB, ABA; rhythm; and modulation), would always prepare you for the work ahead, and could make you attain 40% of acquaintance with the piece at hand.

“Let Me Throw More Light On That…”

While practicing the song As The Deer, analyzing the song shows that the line that says “as the deer panteth for the waters so my soul longeth after thee” and the line that says “you alone are my heart desire and I long to worship you” share the same chord progression.

That’s the power of analysis.

Tip #2 – Beginning With The Difficult Parts

As a inexperienced gospel keyboardist who has practiced a few number of pieces, you must have noticed that there are sections you can actually call ‘difficult’.

Starting off with these sections would require more concentration and energy.

Therefore, it will be more rewarding if the challenging bars are learned first before the easier ones: this can be achieved by dividing sections of the song into smaller units, and then treating them as groups of three or four bars each.

Guess what?

Once you’re done with the difficult parts, you’re done with the song.

Tip #3 – Using The Hands Separate Method (HS)

This method is always ignored by intuitive players who just want to play the song to the end. So, they will be tempted to begin practicing hands together (HT) at first instance.

This is a wrong approach to learning to play by ear and for technique acquisition. Believe it or not, one gets to learn about the patterns and relations of notes only when s/he practices hands separately (HS).

HS practice helps you acquire piano technique.

Tip #4 – Memorizing While You Learn

Learning a piece can be simpler if accompanied by memorizing.

It can be stressed here that learning and memorizing should go hand-in-hand. This is so because the brain is involved, consequently, it would rescue you from being solely dependent on your ear. Learning and memorizing can foster your learning of difficult sections of a given song as well.

Tip #5 – Practicing Slowly

Ramping to play a piece without first attempting playing slowly HS is detrimental.

Firstly, you would build speed stops around yourself which would eventually hurt you in your latter playing life.

Slow playing can help basically in two ways: it helps each hand play accurately in a manageable tempo, also it assists the brain during psychological process between the nerves/muscles and the mind.

Always end a practice session by playing slowly at least once.

Tip #6 – Fingering Appropriately

Good fingering is for comfortable playing through the keys.

Gospel keyboardists always have multiple choices of fingering to use, and that’s because different folks use different strokes.

However, classical music fingering guides have been most helpful for the past 700 years.

Studying classical music fingering guides might be painstaking at first, but it’s of great advantage to the beginner. Fingering should be first learned hands separately (HS) before hands together (HT).

Final Words

Finally, having gone through these six vital steps of effective piano studies, applying them would give you great results.

For example, rushing to play HT when HS is not first learned can be harmful, and MUST be avoided.

Secondly, having a bird eye-view of the song (listening and analyzing) can prepare a student for the challenges he would encounter while practicing.

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.

Leave a Comment:

Anthony t evans says August 6, 2018


    Carolyn says August 6, 2018

    Thanks for the tips and the information. I am so motivated and
    excited to putting this into practice. Everything is laid out so beautifully.
    Thank you for sharing such valuable information. May God bless you.

Carolyn Clark says August 6, 2018

Thanks for the tips, great information for practicing. It really motivates
me because it shows me what to do with my left hand. This is beautifully
laid out. Now i can practice in all 12 keys. This has really helped a lot. again

Neville Burke says August 6, 2018

I found this Very informative. Thank you very much.

Darryl says August 7, 2018

Hey Doc great teaching!! I appreciate your teaching. Could you send me a link for (or to) the videos of the tutorials for Set the Atmosphere? I pulled it up on your blog but I can’t seem to locate them. I would really appreciate your assistance. If you could inbox them I would really appreciate it. Thank you and God Bless.

Cafille Gardner-Turner says August 8, 2018

I do not have a website. Need to get back in the playing mode for therapy. I have MS. Want to be an accomplished musician, I can read music but need to play by ear,

Akinwumi says August 8, 2018

LThis is awesome,God graces you all completely inJesus Name.

Darren says August 8, 2018

Thank you. I’ll try these tips and see how I go!

nkosinathi says August 9, 2018

awesome staff

STEVE Maingot says August 9, 2018

The information provided was clear and informative. Excellent guidance.

Wayne says August 9, 2018

Jermaine thanks for the tips. I will practice and update you with my progress.

You Can Play Your Favorite Songs! | Kareem By Ear 1 Year says August 12, 2018

[…] Hear and Play Music: Gospel Music Training Center: 6 Tips To Practicing Difficult Gospel Songs *This site post blogs weekly and on demand (when based on common questions from the audience). *Chuku Onyemachi is the moderator for this blog and one of the group of moderators for the site. *Blog followers are very engaged. Many are premium members and many more benefit from participating in the free sharing in this learning community. *I am a professional musician and have taught piano for over 10 years. I vouch for the credibility of this blog. […]

Shawn says August 13, 2018

This was right on time, I am learning a new song and this blessed my heart.

Thank you ChuKu

Razak says April 29, 2019


Philip says September 10, 2019

very impacting

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