Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about making your practice hard so your performing will be easy. I have a strong recommendation for those of you who want to maximize the effectiveness of your practice. Now this isn’t for everyone. There are many reasons why people study the piano. There are some people who just want to enjoy playing the piano and not work too hard. For those of you who feel that way, this message is irrelevant. But for the rest of you who really want to get as much done for the time you spend working at the piano, this will be very helpful for you!
When I practice, I want to get as much done as I can in my limited time.
There’s almost no one who has the freedom to practice as much as they want. It’s very rare to have that opportunity. Even conservatory piano majors have to do their coursework. And some people have to work side jobs and learn accompaniments as well. So you want to maximize the effectiveness of the time you have to spend at the piano. What does that mean? It means you’re going to work really hard! But does it mean hours and hours of scales, arpeggios, exercises, Czerny? No, quite the contrary. Exercises are what you do when your brain is tired. You can just work your fingers and do your scales, thirds, octaves, and anything else that you want to do work on. Go for it! But that’s not the hardest thing. The hardest thing is learning music.
Learning music is the most important thing that we do as pianists.
Learning music is important in all styles of music. Of course, other styles have other disciplines. But certainly with solo music and accompaniments, you’re learning scores. And if you try to make that an easier process, you will be less equipped to handle performing. For example, I know people who spend hours and hours a day reading through music. Now that’s good for developing your reading. You will become a better reader if you do that. Although I know people who spend a great deal of time, but they never quite get their playing to a high level. They spend hours and hours practicing. But it’s not really practicing, because practicing is a thought process.
If you’re just mindlessly reading notes and letting your fingers follow the score, even if you’re working for hours and hours a day, you might not accomplish very much. But when you memorize music, methodically working through small chunks and assimilating them, getting them on a high level, that takes tremendous mental effort! Almost as tough is refining the music you’ve already learned. You must go through slowly and carefully, making sure every nuance of every phrase is just as the composer wrote, studying the score and then taking small enough sections that you can assimilate and incorporate all those tiny refinements of the score into your playing. That is really hard work! When you’ve done even an hour of that kind of practice, you will know you’ve done some work. And you’ll have something accomplished for it!
This kind of practice is very hard, but extremely rewarding!
When you’re performing a piece that you have on a high level, it is such a joy. To have that kind of command over the music is a great experience. It’s worth the sweat and effort you put into your practice! So remember to make your practicing hard, so you’re performing is easy. It’s worth it! And for those of you who don’t feel that way, you’re going to enjoy what you’re doing. But understand that you’re not going to get that pristine high level in your playing by just having casual practice. If that’s what you’re after, that’s fine. But if you want to play on a high level, you must go through the steps. Make your practicing worth it! Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
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