How to Take Your Piano Playing to the Next Level

Piano Lessons / piano playing techniques / How to Take Your Piano Playing to the Next Level

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to take your piano playing to the next level. This is a really fascinating subject. This transcends piano. It even transcends other musical instruments! With almost anything anyone wants to master, it really comes down to a critical mass of practicing. What do I mean by this? The term critical mass is typically associated in physics with radioactive material. You put enough of it together and it starts a chain reaction. But you could have plutonium and it would never start a chain reaction, no matter how much you have, unless you put enough of it in one space at one time. That’s what causes the chain reaction. It’s the same thing with your piano practice or any other endeavor you want to master.

There has to be an extended period of time where you’re spending just about every waking moment at the piano.

Anyone who’s really mastered an instrument has gone through this process. Once you go through that process, you will be forever changed. You will be on another level. You can depend upon what you have given yourself with that experience. Another example of this, since I’m into physics, is something called escape velocity. For example, if you were to go into a rocket, and just keep going and going and going straight up, you will never go into orbit. In fact, the way to go into orbit is not by how far you go, but how fast you go. You have to reach a certain speed to escape the force of Earth’s gravitational pull. There has to be enough speed generated. You have to have enough energy to be able to get your piano playing on that level.

You can practice for your whole life one or two hours a day and never reach that pinnacle of achievement of a true virtuoso technique.

To be a really accomplished concert level player, you have to go through this process. There is no substitute for that. Now that I’ve made this bold statement, since a lot of people watch my videos, I’m interested in your feelings about this. It doesn’t have to be just piano, any field of endeavor. Are there any of you who feel you’ve mastered painting, or physics, or anything, and you haven’t gone through that process of total absorption for an extended amount of time? I want to hear from you! I want to know if it’s possible, because my feeling is that it’s not possible. I believe that’s what it takes, and there is no shortcut to that. You can grow. You can become better. But you’re never going to be on that top echelon level without going through this process. Talk to any friends you have who have mastered their instrument or their craft, and ask them if they’ve gone through this process. I’m really interested in the comments on this one here at LivingPianos.com and YouTube. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

8 thoughts on “How to Take Your Piano Playing to the Next Level”


 
 

    1. Yup, Robert. I agree about total immersion in practicing, When I first realized what I wanted for my life was to be a pro jazz pianist I probably put in 6-8 hours a day practicing technique, ear training, etc.

      Guess what…there are times that I still do…today I am committed to a new project so here we go again. I don’t think it ever stops…thank goodness,.

  1. Robert, you have truly touched a nerve with this. Firstly, people are always telling me that I am way too hard on myself, that I play beautifully. But I am never satisfied, I struggle and struggle and never feel that I’m getting better. I am probably advanced/early advanced level. (Un sospiro and Chopin Prelude No. 1 are truthfully too much for me but I peck away at them nonetheless because I love them anyway.) I have joked many times that the problem really is I believe I “should” sound like Marc Andre Hamelin but I don’t deserve to sound that way because I didn’t spend 20 years locked in a practice room for 6-8 hrs a day. . . . (which is what you’re essentially saying I think). Now I am at a crossroads. I am 66 yrs old and love my music but am frustrated by my lack of progress. I feel that perhaps there are some key technique issues that I never got taught in the lessons of my youth and this has created a ceiling on my ability that I will never break through. Now that I have the time to practice, I am frankly discouraged from doing so because of this feeling. I would like to practice about 3 hrs a day, but at the same time feel it won’t do any good because I’ve gone as far as I’m going to go. I am a perfectionist to the point that if it can’t be perfect, then why bother. What do you think? Is there any hope?

    1. Yes, there is hope! Other’s achievements in piano have nothing to do with your development and enjoyment of learning and playing music at the piano. With productive practice techniques, you can maximize the effectiveness of the time you spend at the piano, and learn music you can play on a high level. I am happy to provide you with a free Zoom interview to discuss your goals at the piano, and discuss how to practice. Just email me: Robert@LivingPianos.com

  2. Great video today. –How to Take Your Piano Playing to the Next Level–

    I am practicing 3 hours per day, but in 1 -1.5 hour sprints.

    Played for 15 yrs since 5. Also in Band for 7 yrs. Got burned out after 4 yrs highschool trombone, marching season 40 hrs/week.

    Now started playing again, 3 yrs ago. Got a great used Kawai for 750$. about 1 yr ago.
    A piano not tuned will completely limit progress. Loose pins on pianos, are not discernable by many pianists.
    Until your piano tuner attempts to tune your piano, only tell you it is time to get a new one.

    Actions on piano, must be checked from time to time to verify they don’t need any lubrication or maintenance.

    Watch your videos. I think there is an immersion moment, when everything clicks.
    Being in Band, well, 1.5 hours, at dawn, at lunch, and 2 hours in evening , 8 hours Sat Sunday, then perform. It just get’s really natural.

    Maybe not enough music appreciation now, in schools.
    Selecting the right piece.

    a. Repertoire, should be selected, partially by passion, and by fundamentals.

    b. expanding progressive Repertoire

    c. Stepping stone to next level. purpose & objectives.

    d. What is motivation, strength, recital piece, intermediate. ?

    But playing all Chopin if not done properly, can make for a very boring recital, and slower progress, and a very bored student.
    -Piano is an art form!
    This love of art, cannot be, and must not be restrained.

    best way is for students to find pieces that speak to them. Yes, fundamental pieces are necessary–
    Naturally these pieces, must be selected based upon their current ability, and to avoid injury.

    There is a definite signature throughout their chosen pieces. – a natural progression.

    I could write a complete Dr. Thesis on Evgeny Kissen and his Progressive Repertoire as a young child until now.

    Abram

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