Why 99% is Bad in Piano Playing

Piano Lessons / Uncategorized / Why 99% is Bad in Piano Playing

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about why 99% is bad in piano playing. You might think I’m a very strict teacher or something like that. How can 99% be bad? Valedictorians would be very pleased to have a 99% average! Usually somebody is lauded if they’re at even 90%. How can 99% be bad in piano?

The incredible complexity of piano music requires more than 99%.

If you were to play even a relatively simple piece of music like Minuet in G of Bach, just the first section has well over 100 notes. But consider that each note has a rhythm. So that’s over 200 details. Each note has a fingering. So now we’re up to 300. Each note has a phrasing, either slurred or staccato. That’s 400. How about dynamics? So there are over 500 details just in that first section of this short piece! So if you are at 99%, you’re missing a handful of details just in that small section of this short piece. That’s why 99% is not a good average for playing classical music.

There are almost an infinite number of details that have to be present for the music to sound right.

There are more aspects of the music than I mentioned above, the elegance of the balance between the hands, the rise and the fall of the phrases dynamically, and more. That’s why you have to strive for something much greater than 99%. How do you do that? By being organized in your practice! That’s why you can’t just simply read through music over and over again and expect to assimilate the thousands of details, even in a short piece like this. You must be very meticulous in putting together small chunks of music, studying the score carefully, looking at tiny phrases at a time, and amassing this information into your head and into your hands. Put things together little by little. And beyond that, go back and check your work constantly! Nobody can remember that many details without constant review. When you think about what you’re accomplishing when you play a piece of music on the piano, if you’re playing it accurately, you’re not missing notes and rhythms, phrasing and fingering and expression all over the place, it is a remarkable feat!

You are playing at a level much higher than 99% accuracy if you’re getting through something without any obvious glitches.

You have a lot to be proud of in the work you’re doing! If you’re not breaking up all over the place, you are well above 99% in your playing. That is what it takes to be able to play a piece of music on the piano. So remember to be organized in your practice so you can achieve something that is astounding. You are learning thousands of details that you can perform just like that. What a pleasure! When you put the practice in and you learn it correctly, then playing can be such a joy. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

3 thoughts on “Why 99% is Bad in Piano Playing”


  1. Robert,
    Here’s a question for your videos if you haven’t already addressed this.
    You mention phrasing and expression.
    What are they? How are they different?

    1. This is a good video topic! Simply put, phrasing is the ways in which notes are connected or detached. Slurs and staccatos are examples of phrasing (but there are other markings as well). Expression, is everything else – any words written in the music, dynamics, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 × 2 =