Surfing on the Piano

Piano Lessons / piano lessons / Surfing on the Piano

This is Robert Estrin at, Your Online Piano Store. Today’s subject is surfing on the piano. You might be confused by the title, wondering what this is going to be about? I’m not talking about playing the piano while you are surfing, although that would be quite a trick! What I’m talking about are the implications of the mentality of surfing and the mentality of playing the piano.

Are there parallels between playing the piano and surfing?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been living in California for so long that this thought even occurred to me, but there are times when I am playing the piano and I feel that sense of going in and out of “the wave”. Or rather, “the zone”. I’ve never surfed, so I may get this wrong, but to be able to ride a wave there are times when you have to be able to make a snap decision as to how you are going to negotiate what is in front of you. You can either push the limits or try to play it safe. You have to be able to instantly make decisions. For example, if I’m playing a piece that has a lot of technical challenges in it, I might want to push the limits a bit while making sure I stay in control so I don’t wipe out.

Ride the musical wave!

Say you are playing the B-Flat Minor Scherzo by Chopin. Ask yourself, “How far can I take this?” You’ll want to try to push the envelope just a bit. You’ll tax yourself going for it, but also holding back just enough so you can ride the wave. A great piece of music like this has it’s own momentum. You have to challenge yourself or you might lose the musicality, but you have to hold back enough that you can keep it going.

Try it out for yourself

See if you can push the limits without wiping out. Practice playing it safe first, then go back and challenge yourself once you feel comfortable. You’ll find that there are aspects of each version that you’ll like, so you’ll want to aim for that balance between the two.

Sometimes playing it safe can be detrimental to a performance

You’ll find that there is nothing wrong with the safe version, though you may find that in some ways you are in less control. If you are trying to ride a wave safely, you might not keep going. You’ve got to take risks at the right moments so you’ll land in the right places. That is the parallel with surfing. Think instantaneously and strive to be in the zone.

I’d love to talk to any of you surfers out there, particularly those who also play the piano. You must be able to get into a certain zone where you aren’t even thinking in words, you are just in the moment controlling what is around you and trying to stay on top of everything. Be it a wave or Chopin, it is all the same mental state that you must achieve in your music and in life. Thanks so much for joining me. Again, this Robert Estrin from, Your Online Piano Store.