Living in the Comfort Zone in Your Piano Playing

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about living in the comfort zone in your piano playing. Have you ever had a fast piece that you’re struggling to play fast? You have tension, but you want a beautiful, relaxed quality to your playing. You want to play with fluidity. You might wonder how to achieve this. If you keep struggling to play just a little bit faster than you are able to play with comfort and relaxation, you’ll never be able to achieve that kind of relaxed fluidity in your playing.

The secret is slow practice.

Find the speed at which you can play completely relaxed. It might surprise you how slowly you have to go in order to achieve that. The metronome is such an invaluable tool! Finding the speed at which you can play in a relaxed manner is the first step. You should have the score in front of you when you’re doing this kind of work. You may find that when you slow things down, you will realize you don’t know it as well as you thought you did. That’s why having the score in front of you and setting a metronome at a speed you can play your piece with absolute solidity is a great way to live in that comfort zone. Once you can play it at a slow tempo with total relaxation and accuracy, then you finally have the capability of speeding up your performance.

Slow practice is invaluable, but sometimes it’s hard to translate that slow playing to performance speed.

Another thing you can do is take small note groups and use extreme repetition to solidify the small section. You can take even just one or two notes! Keep playing them until you can play with complete relaxation. Then add other tiny note groups in the same relaxed manner. You can continue working this way through a passage or section of music.

These are two ways of approaching relaxation. Remember to go slowly enough that you can play with complete relaxation. Have the score in front of you so you can check your work. You’ll be surprised to learn what you know, and more importantly, what needs clarification in your playing. You can either play very slowly or you can take very small groups of notes and piece them together.

You’re working on two fronts!

One is to get a feel for what it’s going to be like when it’s up to tempo, even if you’re just playing small groups of notes that you string together. And the other one is to play at a slow tempo with complete security and relaxation. You live at that slow tempo! Live in the slow zone, in the comfort zone, and you’ll be rewarded with relaxation in your playing when you finally get things up to speed. I hope this has been helpful for you! Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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8 thoughts on “Living in the Comfort Zone in Your Piano Playing”


  1. Thanks, Robert! My teacher emphasizes just the same concepts you denote here: take small bits at a time, and don’t play faster than you comfortably can.

    Your videos are a wonderful and valuable resource. Thank you so much for providing them; I learn something new each time.

      1. Just wanted to thank you again on your advice to play RELAXED and in the comfort zone. It makes such a difference!

        I’ve been taking lessons and playing for 6 years and always find something useful in your videos. Hope meet you in person some day.

  2. Another thing to think about carefully before you start slow practice: Are you choosing fingerings that’ll still work when you speed it up? Can you minimize the distance you have to move your forearm and hand? The farther you have to go, the more energy it takes to accelerate and stop. For instance, in Katyusha, there’s a place where the bass bounces back and forth between Am and Em triads. By using 421 for Am and 542 for Em, I only have to move about a third as far as I would keeping the same fingering for both.

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