How to Cement Corrections in Your Piano Playing

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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.

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