Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how the great composers came up with so much music. It just seems impossible! When you think about Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and so many other composers, it almost seems like magic. It’s as if something was handed down to them from the heavens. It doesn’t seem like anyone could write so much fantastic music.
The truth is that we only have a tiny glimpse of their music.
Most of the great composers made music up spontaneously, constantly. They were known to be tremendous improvisers. But because audio recording was not developed until centuries later, we only have the written scores of these great composers to go by. But we get glimpses as to what the great composers actually improvised, and some of their fantasies. For example, you think about Bach and you think about very regular, beautifully crafted music that obviously was written out. But what about music that he just made up? Are there any glimpses into that? Yes! For example, Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue. The way that starts out is very rhapsodic and spontaneous in nature. It’s an amazing work that goes places you would never expect. It gives you a little glimpse of what these composers were able to create on the fly.
Improvisation can sow the seeds for compositions.
This isn’t just true of the early composers. Think about when you listen to a Chopin Nocturne. Just imagine the melodies that Chopin and Liszt made up. Sometimes they would have parlor gatherings, and they would go back and forth. As did other great composers of the 19th century, such as Anton Rubinstein. It was one of the things that they did, where they played for one another spontaneously. Listen to the opening phrase of the B-flat minor Nocturne of Chopin. The second cadenza is something that no-one would think of writing. He must have just played this and figured out a way to write it down. It’s very rhapsodic, off the cuff phrasing. It’s not metered. And it gives you just a little hint as to what these composers did on a daily basis, by themselves, for their family, for their friends, and at all kinds of get-togethers.
Have fun with music!
I believe all the great composers have joy and passion in their music! It wasn’t just a tedious task. It wasn’t all lonely nights of crafting great compositions, although that’s a part of music. A part of practicing and learning music is spending the time to learn scores. But having fun with it and not losing the love of music is what it’s all about! I believe those are the seeds of the great composers. So enjoy your music! Explore things and see what you can come up with! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how the great composers came up with so much music. It just seems impossible! When you think about Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and so many other composers, it almos
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about which fingers work best for playing trills on the piano. Sometimes people see trills and they think they should just play as many notes as possible. I’ve talked before about how trills must be measured. You have to know exactly how many notes you’re playing in a trill. Even though when you listen to a trill it sounds like a free form explosion of notes going back and forth, trills have to be measured so you know exactly how many notes you play. Otherwise, ending a trill is impossible because you’re leaving it to chance whether you end up on the right note or not!
You don’t always get to choose your trill fingers.
There are some instances, for example in Bach Fugues, where you must trill with four and five. These are the worst fingers to trill with! Try to avoid four and five as trill fingers. A lot of people think three and two are the best trill fingers. And indeed, three and two are pretty strong trill fingers. But the best trill fingers are actually three and one! Three and one are the strongest fingers. Your thumb is the strongest finger and the third finger is probably your second strongest finger. Three and one are terrific for trills. Four and two could work nicely as well. There are a lot of different possibilities. Three and one are great when you have that possibility. Three and two are good too. It depends where you’re coming from and where you’re going in your score to determine what the right fingering is. Not only that but if you have other lines within the same hand, sometimes as I said, in contrapuntal writing in fugues particularly, you might not have much of a choice as to which fingers to use for trills.
I’m going to give you one final trill fingering tip.
I’m going to show you something that’s really interesting and it ties right in with the idea of measuring your trills. If you measure your trills, you might want to try alternating three, one, three, two. By using those fingers, you actually reduce the load of the trill to three fingers so none of the fingers have to work quite as hard. Not only that but it helps you to measure your trills. Even if you don’t end up using three, one, three, two as trill fingerings, it will help you to make sure that you’re playing the right number of notes in your trills, which is the most important thing!
You never want to think of trills as something abstract from music.
Just imagine that every single note is written out and play it as it’s written in the score. If you’re figuring out your own trills, find something you can play reliably. Don’t worry about trying to make the fastest trill. What’s important is that it’s musical, repeatable, and dependable. If you can use three and one, or at least three and two, you’re going to be way ahead of the game. I would like all of you to try three, one, three, two, as well and let me know how it works for you! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about which fingers work best for playing trills on the piano. Sometimes people see trills and they think they should just play as many notes as possible. I’ve talke
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to play with a metronome. It can be a really daunting task, particularly if you’re not accustomed to playing with a metronome. The tips I’m going to give you today are not just for those of you who are new to the metronome, but also for those of you who practice with a metronome incessantly and wonder how to stay with the metronome.
How do you set a metronome?
There is some great software out there that can be helpful. You can get apps on your phone that allow you to just tap the tempo and it finds it for you, which can be incredibly valuable. But how do you even establish the tempo? Let’s say you’re playing a piece and you’re wondering how to set the metronome. Well, you can tap your foot along with the music to establish the beat. You have to establish the beat first. Then turn your metronome on and try to match it. Once it sounds right, try playing along to see if it feels right. If it feels too fast or slow, adjust the speed and try again until it feels right.
How do you stay with the metronome?
I’ve seen so many people struggle to stay with the metronome. I’m going to show you a very simple technique that’s going to make a world of difference. When the metronome speeds up, speed up with it. When the metronome slows down, slow down with it. Of course the metronome is consistent, but I bet when you’re playing with the metronome, you could swear that it’s speeding up and slowing down! In reality, it’s you who is changing speed. But it feels like the metronome is slowing down or speeding up sometimes, doesn’t it? All you have to do is follow whatever it seems to be doing. If it seems to be getting faster, you get faster. If it seems to be getting slower, you get slower. And if you do that, you will stay with the metronome.
If you continue to struggle you may want to adjust the speed.
When you’re playing with a metronome and you’re not absolutely precisely with it, make minute adjustments in your playing by going a little faster with it, or a little slower with it to get back on time. But if you ever gain or lose a beat, you should stop and figure out if maybe the metronome is set a little too fast for you. Try a slightly slower speed to see if you can stay with it, because you should never gain or lose a beat. However, if you just nuance slightly behind or ahead, you might just finish the phrase then go back and see if you can do it more faithfully on the beat. Practice a number of times until that ebb and flow around the beat is minimized. The goal, of course, is to stay spot on with the metronome. But you don’t necessarily have to stop every single time you’re slightly off. Instead, get used to adjusting. Follow whatever the metronome seems to be doing. That’s the answer for staying with the metronome!
Once again to recap, establish the speed by tapping your foot or tapping your hand and then finding that speed on your metronome. Or better yet, download an app where you can just tap in the tempo. From there you can adjust further to find exactly the right speed. As you’re playing, if it feels just too fast or slow to be able to play with, adjust the speed. But once you lock it in, whatever the metronome seems to do, that’s what you’re going to do. That’s how you’ll stay with the metronome. I encourage all of you to try this! If you’ve had problems with the metronome, try these techniques and see how they work for you. I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to play with a metronome. It can be a really daunting task, particularly if you’re not accustomed to playing with a metronome. The tips I’m going to give
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to know when a piece is in a major key or a minor key. There are certain sonic signatures you may already be aware of. Something in the minor key has more of a sad or dark quality than a major key. Just establishing a major key compared to the same exact chord progression in the minor key sounds drastically different. So you might be able to figure out that a piece is in a minor key because of the sadder quality that minor harmonies naturally tend to have. But is there a technical way to differentiate?
The key signature provides you with essential information.
If you know your key signatures, you know that if you have no sharps or flats that you’re probably in C major, if you’re in a major key. Because no sharps or flats form the C major scale. So what if that was in a minor key? What would that mean? Well, here’s the interesting thing about key signatures. All key signatures share both major and minor key possibilities. So if you have no sharps or flats, it could be in C major, but it might be in the relative minor of C major. What do I mean by the relative minor? It has to do with starting on a different note of the scale. The sixth note of the major scale is where the relative minor is found. So if you have no sharps or flats, instead of being centered on C, being centered on A, the sixth note of the C major scale, you are in A minor. Another way you can find the relative minor is to simply go down three half-steps from the major key. So once again, no sharps or flats could be C major, or it could potentially be three half-steps lower than C, which again brings you to A.
So what is the A minor scale?
The pure form of the A minor scale is simply the same exact notes of a C major scale, except starting on A. To discover whether a piece is in a major or minor key, you might think all you need to do is figure out where the notes are centered. There is actually a much easier way! Generally speaking, the minor is not found in its pure or natural form. Instead, it’s found in the harmonic or melodic forms, which have altered tones. That is to say that in a harmonic minor scale, the seventh note is raised a half-step. Interestingly, having a raised seventh makes an augmented second between the sixth and seventh notes. All the other notes of the scale are either half-steps or whole steps, but here you have a step and a half between the sixth and seventh notes.
Why is this so significant? Because if you see a piece with no sharps or flats, and all over the place you have G sharps, then you can pretty well assume that you’re in A minor. I mentioned that there’s a harmonic and a melodic form. The melodic form has two altered tones. Both the sixth and seventh notes are raised by a half-step. But the melodic minor scale descends in the natural form with no altered tones. There’s something really interesting about the melodic minor in that it has all the exact same notes of the major scale with the exception of the third. If you just change the third note from C to C sharp, now you have an A major scale. That’s an interesting side note, not to confuse the issue, because the A major scale has almost nothing to do with the A minor scale, except they are parallel major and minor.
Today the thing to think about is the relative minor.
Once again, the relative minor is found starting on the sixth note of the major scale. In C major the relative minor is A minor, which can be found in either the harmonic form with the raised seventh or the melodic form with the raised sixth and seventh, which only is ascending. Descending, it reverts back to the natural minor. So if you have a piece with no sharps or flats and you see a lot of F sharps and G sharps, you can be pretty well assured it’s not in C major, but it’s in A minor.
With other keys, as long as you know key signatures, you know which specific notes to look for. For example, if you have one sharp in the key signature, which would be an F sharp, this is the key of G major. To find the relative minor of G major, it’s exactly the same thing. It starts on the sixth note of the G major scale. Or you could go down three half steps from G. Either way, E minor is the relative minor of G major. So if you played all the notes of the G major scale, except starting on E, you would have the natural or pure E minor scale, the relative minor of G major. But that’s not the way minor scales generally occur. Usually, minor keys are found in the harmonic or melodic forms with altered tones. Both the harmonic and melodic minor have raised sevenths. The melodic also has a raised sixth. But the raised seventh is the keynote, because either of those altered forms will have a raised seventh. So the seventh note of the E minor scale gets raised by a half-step, which means the D goes up to D sharp. So if you have a piece with one sharp you might assume it could be in G major, which it very well might be. But you also want to investigate the possibility that it’s in the relative minor. Just count up to the sixth note of that scale to E, go to the seventh note of the E minor scale, which is D, and if you see a bunch of D sharps in your score, even though you’re in one sharp and you think you should be in G major, it could very well be in E minor. This is the way to really assess whether a piece is indeed in a minor key or a major key. Every single key signature has its associated relative minor starting on the sixth note of that major key, or going down three half-steps from the tonic note.
I hope this is helpful for you!
Study the scores of pieces you’ve played for years or pieces you’re working on. Check to see those keynotes. If you have a raised seventh in the relative minor, you’re probably in the minor key, not the major key. I hope this has taken a rather complex subject and broken it down for you so that you can investigate for yourself. It is extremely important to have the whole understanding of the score, the harmonies, and the structure. It can help with memory. It can help with sight reading. It’s not just an arbitrary exercise in theory. It has practical elements for you! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to know when a piece is in a major key or a minor key. There are certain sonic signatures you may already be aware of. Something in the minor key has more of a sad o
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how you can get great bass sound out of an old piano. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a piano where the lowest notes just sound pathetic. It can make you not even want to play down there! I remember practicing for many years before I had a formidable instrument, and I found that I would kind of punctuate the low notes. I would bang them trying to get any sound out of them at all. Then I would play a concert grand or even a semi-concert grand and realize I was overplaying everything below the two octaves below middle C. It would all sound too loud and ugly.
Is there anything you can do to get a better bass sound out of your old piano?
The answer is yes, but it depends upon the size of your old piano. If you’ve got an old spinet, there’s not much you can do because the strings are so short. But if you have an older piano of a decent size that lacks sound in the bass, there are oftentimes ways you can get new life out of the bass. One obvious thing, if your piano is old, the bass strings might have lost their life. Replacing the bass strings may be necessary. Restringing the whole piano is a big job. But there aren’t that many bass strings because there are only one or two usually for each note down there unlike the rest of the piano, where there are three strings for each note. So you can get your piano technician to replace just the bass strings. They might even be able to use the existing tuning pins if they’re tight enough. If not, just replace those tuning pins while you’re at it with slightly larger tuning pins to make sure that they are good and tight.
There are also ways to bring new life to old strings.
Sometimes simply loosening the bass strings and then tightening them back up in tune can make them sound dramatically better. Better than that, bass strings can be twisted. Bass strings all come with at least a half twist or a full twist, depending upon the manufacturer. You can put another half or full twist on those strings. But it does flex the string. And if the strings are really old, you could snap some bass strings. So there is some caution advised here. But if they’ve never been twisted before, sometimes the sound you can get out of the bass strings with a simple twist is unbelievable. The way you find out if this will help your piano is to have a technician twist just one of the strings. Find a note that has two strings and twist one of them. Then listen for the difference by muting each string and listening to them separately. If the string that was twisted is dramatically brighter and more vibrant, have your tuner twist all of the strings to get new life out of the bass on your piano. Sometimes technicians will actually remove the strings, not completely, just at the point where they could take it off of the loop and then they clean it by folding it onto itself like tying a knot. This gets the crud out from between the coils, which can also really enhance the sound of those bass strings.
So, there are techniques for reviving the bass on your piano! I advise any of you who want the bass on your piano to sound more vibrant to talk to your piano technician about these techniques. But make sure that they’re versed in this technology because not all piano technicians do this. Don’t have them do it if they are not accustomed to doing it. Find a technician who is familiar with these techniques and they will know whether it’s going to work on your piano or not. You might just get new life out of your bass without having to spend a lot of money! I hope this helps you! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how you can get great bass sound out of an old piano. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a piano where the lowest notes just sound pathetic. It can make
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to cement corrections in your playing. One of the most difficult things about practicing is when you work on something, you get it right, and you think you have it locked in. And then later the same mistake creeps in again and again. So what can you do if you make a correction, but then still make the same mistake? Today I’m going to show you two techniques that will help you cement corrections in your playing.
You must be able to recognize where the correction has been made!
This first technique is incredibly important. It is crucial for you to know where the correction is. I have a brief story for you:
A young boy is getting ready for school. His mother hands him his lunch and asks him to return a library book on his way home from school. The boy agrees, and his mother hands him a large book. He carries the book to school. He has the book with him all day. It’s rather cumbersome and a bit annoying as he carries the book from class to class. He can’t wait to drop off the book after school. But at the end of the day when the bell rings he excitedly runs straight home. When he comes inside his mother asks if he had returned the book, and there it is sitting under his arm. He had been thinking about it all day long as he carried the heavy book from class to class, yet somehow he still forgot to return it.
This is indicative of what happens when you make a correction in your music and yet, the mistake happens again anyway. It’s because when you’re coming to it from a certain place, you’re used to missing it, even if you corrected it. So how do you alleviate this problem? Once you make a correction, you need to cement that correction by going back and being aware of the correction when you arrive at it. To do this, try going back different amounts of time to approach the correction from different places in the music. This is a really valuable technique.
Slow things way down to fully understand every detail.
There is another completely different technique I want to introduce to you today. You probably know the feeling you get when you say a word over and over until it loses its meaning. You say it enough times, and it sounds like giberish. It almost makes you wonder if it’s even a real word! The same thing can happen in your piano playing. You’ve played something so many times up to speed that at a certain point you approach your music, and it seems completely unfamiliar. How can you eradicate this? If you go extraordinarily slowly on something that you can play up to tempo comfortably, it’s going to feel totally different to you. It’s going to feel almost as unfamiliar as saying a word over and over again. Is that even a word? Is that even a phrase? Am I playing the right chord?
It comes down to intentionality. You must have a musical intelligence, looking down upon yourself, making sure you’re going to the right place. This is absolutely essential, particularly when you’re making a correction in your music. You must know where that correction is, as I mentioned previously. And you must know what the correction is on a deep level. Do this by slowing it way down. There could be something you’ve played a million times, but when you slow it down you realize every single nuance. Maybe you never really thought about it. You just played it and it came right out. Then for some reason you start missing it again and again. To alleviate the problem, play very slowly note by note and study your fingers. You will start to understand it on a much deeper level by this intensely slow practice. Just this in itself may solve your problem.
You can use a metronome to bring corrections up to speed.
Sometimes, it takes progressive metronome speeds to put the correction into context. But just going through the piece slowly can be of tremendous value. One of the most important types of practice you can do on any music you have already learned is to slow it way down, take out the score, take your foot off of the pedal, put the metronome on really slowly, and play everything very definitely. Maybe play a little bit stronger than usual because when you play slower, the notes have to last longer. This is a great way to reinforce your memory and your performance!
These are two valuable techniques to cement corrections in your playing. I hope these are helpful for you! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to cement corrections in your playing. One of the most difficult things about practicing is when you work on something, you get it right, and you think you have it l
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about the importance of volume in music. It’s interesting, as technology has grown, the use of volume to reach larger and larger audiences has ensued over hundreds of years. Originally, music was just singing, because the human voice is the first musical instrument. Then percussion instruments came along with people banging on things to make even more sound. With the invention of modern instruments like the saxophone, volume again increased. Then electronics took us to another level with how much volume is possible. But today, we’re talking about something a little bit different. The subject today isn’t about how the volume of musical instruments and musical expression has grown over generations and beyond, but how volume in your own music has a profound effect upon the listener and the emotions that are conveyed. The actual amount of amplitude, the energy of sound levels, has a profound effect upon how you feel when you’re listening to music. I’m going to demonstrate this for you with some original music to celebrate the new year. I hope you enjoy this!
See the accompanying video to hear the performance
Sometimes you can actually make a far louder message by holding back and playing delicately. The same thing is true with technology on a grander scale. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into venues where the music has been so loud that you can’t really appreciate it because it’s beyond the threshold of pain! Any sound over 100 decibels is considered to be above the threshold of pain. If you go into a club, often the music is far above that level. But lower volume music actually draws listeners in! That’s the lesson for today on a personal level, as well as a global level.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this! Here at Living Pianos we wish you a great new year of music! We have plenty of great subjects for new videos in 2021, so stay tuned!
I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about the importance of volume in music. It’s interesting, as technology has grown, the use of volume to reach larger and larger audiences has ensued over hundreds of ye
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today we’re going to discuss how to achieve speed and lightness in your piano playing. These two things are related. It’s simple physics really. Moving a great deal of mass takes more work than moving a smaller amount of mass. So minimizing motion in your fast playing is really the secret. I’ve talked about this with finger work, so today the focus is going to be on the wrists. The wrists are incredibly important on the piano for so many things that the fingers just can’t do because they don’t have enough power. First I’m going to give a little refresher on how this applies to finger work. Then I’m going to show you wrist technique and how minimizing motion gives you more speed and lightness with the wrists as well.
Minimize motion of the fingers when playing fast.
A piano melody, even one that is quiet, still has to project. It takes a certain amount of arm weight supported by the fingers to achieve this. This is analogous to the breath of a wind instrument or the bow of a violin. You can get a nice warm melody that projects and creates a fluid line by utilizing the fingers and the arm weight. But you can’t use that much finger motion when you want to play at a much faster tempo. You have to stay closer to the keys. Your fingers need to be close to the keys and rounded, so there’s a minimum amount of motion necessary. It makes it much easier to play fast and light.
The wrists are necessary for articulating staccatos, phrasing, accents, and chord technique.
For an example, I’m choosing a piece that I’ve taught countless times, the Ballade by Burgmuller. Students often play the staccatos with their arms, which creates a ponderous sound because the arms are so big and heavy. It’s better to utilize the wrists instead of the arms. However, trying to get the speed faster with that much motion can be incredibly difficult. But by staying closer to the keys you can play faster and lighter. When you want speed, stay closer to the keys in your finger work and use less wrist motion. Certainly don’t use the arms! The arms have a real limit of speed. Playing fast staccatos with the arms is all but impossible. But the wrists can go very fast. The wrists have much less mass to move compared with the arms, so already that helps. To get even more speed, agility and lightness in quick playing that is not just finger work, stay closer to the keys and have a minimal amount of motion. Then you’ll be able to go much faster!
Try this technique on whatever music you’re playing!
If you’re playing rapid finger work and you find that you’ve hit a brick wall, try lightening up and staying closer to the keys. In chord technique and staccatos, use the wrists, not the arms because they are much faster and more agile. And as you get quicker, stay closer to the keys and use less motion. That’s the tip for today! I hope this is helpful for you! Thanks again for joining me! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today we’re going to discuss how to achieve speed and lightness in your piano playing. These two things are related. It’s simple physics really. Moving a great deal of mass takes more
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today we’re going to discuss the three worst piano practice habits. These might be things that you do in your piano practice. Maybe you’re scared I’m going to bring something up that you do! Maybe you’re not aware of these destructive habits that are part of your practice routine. But it’s better to find out now than to continue on the wrong path.
1. Hesitating before a tricky passage
Hesitation is a habit that I constantly work with students to eradicate. It’s such a bad habit! You get to a difficult part and you can’t quite get it, so you hesitate just for a moment, then you get it and go on. This is a very bad habit because it ingrains stopping into your playing. The more you do it, the more you will continue to do it. It’s self regenerating. So how do you break that habit? We’re going to get to that, but first I’m just going to list the three habits so you can see how they apply to you.
2. Starting over from the beginning after making a mistake
The second bad habit is, when you make a mistake you get frustrated and you go back to the beginning. I’ve talked about this many times before. This is such a destructive habit. In a performance, if you find yourself having difficulty, what are you going to do? You can’t just go back to the beginning. The audience doesn’t want to listen to all of that again just so you can get past that point.
3. Changing speeds in your performance
Maybe there are some parts of a piece that you can play really well, so you play them at a nice fast tempo. Then you get to the parts that are a little harder and you slow down to accommodate them. Once again, you lose the whole flow of the music. You might think that to play everything slowly is tedious for the audience, so you might as well play fast where you can. But that doesn’t make for a fluid performance.
What can you do in your practice to eradicate these bad habits?
1. Hesitating before a tricky passage: You’re going along and you pause for just a moment, and then you go on. This is incredibly disturbing to the audience. Maybe they are tapping along to the beat and then suddenly it hesitates. It’s off-putting. With something that’s lyrical, anytime there’s a hesitation it just doesn’t feel right. I’m going to tell you what you can do. First of all, make sure you’re choosing the right tempo so you can play through the piece without hesitation. But suppose that just doesn’t cut it. Suppose you’d have to play the piece at half the speed just to avoid a couple of hesitations. That seems like a brutal solution. Indeed there are more effective ways of dealing with hesitations, unless you’re hesitating every bar, in which case you obviously need to choose a much slower tempo. But if it’s just a few key places where you are hesitating, and you can’t quite eradicate it, I have a solution for you.
When you are practicing, get in the habit of stopping whenever there’s a hesitation. Stop immediately and find your place in the score. Find an appropriate place in the score just before that hesitation where you can start to get past the point of hesitation. You might have to start slowly and increase the speed. Maybe even do metronome speeds if you can’t quite get through the hesitation by playing it several times. Then after you’ve played through the trouble section several times in a row perfectly at a comfortable tempo, go back to the beginning of the piece, or the beginning of the section to pass that hesitation.
Interestingly, you may find that even though you can play it many times in a row perfectly starting at the previous phrase before the hesitation, once you go back further, you may still hesitate there. So you may have to go back a little bit further to get it fluid. Then go back to the beginning of the section or the beginning of the movement to finally eradicate that hesitation. You can work all your key hesitations out that way. I sometimes refer to this as the band-aid approach of practicing. It can be very effective, because if you just have three or four places in an entire piece where you’re hesitating, to take the whole piece painfully slowly will feel quite tedious. And it’s not the most productive way to solve the problem. So hopefully this solution works for you!
2. Starting over from the beginning after making a mistake: It’s so tempting when something goes wrong to just start over and try again. Well, the problem with this is if you get in the habit of doing that in your practice, when you get out to perform you’re going to do the same thing. More than that, it doesn’t solve the underlying weakness in your playing. So what you must do is find exactly where you had the problem, and study the score to figure out the solution. Then, much like I described before in avoiding hesitation, start just before the point at which you had the problem, pass that point several times, increase the speed, and use the metronome if necessary. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s a very valuable technique. You may have to go back a little bit further to finally be able to start from the beginning and pass that point without starting over. So the key here is to reference the score and nail down the correction. Be very deliberate with this. Find the specific correction so that you don’t just play on automatic pilot with your tactile memory. You don’t want to rely upon that because obviously, whatever made you miss it that time, will undoubtedly happen again. So you want to really focus on the correction. A lot of people want to know what they did wrong, but that’s of no value. Find the correction! Whatever you focus on is going to be apparent in your playing. If you’re focused on the mistake, you’re going to make the mistake. Focus on the correction and forget the mistake. This is a life lesson too!
3. Changing speeds in your performance: I have a student who’s extremely talented. He likes to play everything really fast and it’s pretty dazzling. He hasn’t been playing very long, and I’m constantly impressed by him. But being able to get through an entire piece or even an entire movement at the speed at which he starts is oftentimes all but impossible. So going faster and slower really isn’t the answer.
Here again, you want to focus on the parts you can’t play up to speed. The answer here is to work with a metronome. Once you get to the part you can’t play up to speed, find a speed you can handle and set your metronome to it. Then start from the beginning and play the whole selection at that speed. If you really want to play a faster tempo, zero in on the parts you can’t play faster and work with progressive metronome speeds and other practicing techniques in order to get them up to speed. Then you will be able to play everything at the tempo you want. But starting off at a tempo faster than you can play the difficult sections won’t work.
So these are three tips for you! You’ve probably noticed there are similarities in the solutions. Focusing in on the correction, going back, speeding things up, working with a metronome, going back a little bit further, then going back to the beginning. These are tremendous practice techniques that come into play in solving these common problems in piano practice. If you can break these bad habits, I promise you, you’re going to take your playing to a higher level! You’ll really have security, and you’ll be able to play through a piece from the beginning to the end at one speed without stopping, without going back, without hesitating, and without changing speeds. I hope this is helpful for you! Thanks again for joining me! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today we’re going to discuss the three worst piano practice habits. These might be things that you do in your piano practice. Maybe you’re scared I’m going to bring something up