Imagine you are the Lord or Lady of the manor and you are hosting an important function. A dignitary and their entourage are descending on you for the weekend – there is a series of events including a grand dinner, and then a ball, and it is most important that everything goes smoothly.
Fortunately, you have a team of servants living below stairs whose lot in life it is to be at your behest and to obey your every command – 24/7. Your cast of characters includes the obligatory butler, housekeeper, chauffeur, cook, chambermaid, probably a footman and maybe even a valet or two. Your job as host is to make sure that each of your servants knows exactly where they have to be, when they need to be there and what they need to do when they are there. Having trained them and rehearsed them in their duties (OK, you’ll probably have delegated that part but bear with me), your job is to look radiant and serene on the day and enjoy your own party.
If you haven’t told your servants exactly what to do and rehearsed them so they can do it down to a T in their sleep and with their eyes closed, then you have only yourself to blame. If after all this rehearsal you don’t trust your servants on the day, your worry will be noticed and you and your guests will feel uncomfortable. If you interfere with this well-oiled machine, you risk things going wrong and setting up a chain reaction of accidents thus upsetting the whole show. So you have to trust that what you have orchestrated will come to pass without your doing anything at all except turning up.
It is possible to sit back and enjoy our own performances, provided we have put in the graft and can then manage to get out of our own way as we walk onto the stage. Day-to-day piano practice is not always a bed of roses – let’s face it, it can be challenging, tiring, frustrating and fraught with problems sometimes. Knowing exactly what we want and knowing how to get there are paramount to the process. How can we expect our hands and fingers to do any sort of job if we don’t have a clear idea of the end product, or (just as important) the training process itself?
Wasted Time and Energy
So much time and energy is wasted in the practice room because there is not a clear goal, or a sense of what is involved in the process of learning and refining a piece from scratch to performance. Players do not seem to have the patience to work slowly, in small sections and hands separately. This is not a chore, it has its own sort of interest, and can even be joyful. Nothing of any lasting value can be achieved without total concentration in the practice room, the conscious mind and the ear fully involved and engaged with what we are doing. Playing through our errors day after day hoping they will magically disappear is plain stupid, and a colossal waste of time. Stop and figure out what went wrong, and where, and take steps to correct this.
The Practice Tools
If you were doing some DIY jobs around the house, you wouldn’t use a hammer to put a screw into the wall even though you could bodge it that way. Nor would you fix a leaking pipe with duct tape, even though that might be a reasonable temporary solution. I have written many blog posts about the practice tools – how to fix specific problems in our playing via systematic approaches in our practising time. Thanks to my newly designed website, many of the archive posts now appear in one place. For a list of blog posts that will help you in your day-to-day practice, click here. For more on the full series of practice tools in my eBooks, click here.
*** *** *** *** ***
In Part 3 of my ebook series, I explore scale and arpeggio playing in depth. Included are many ideas for practising, as well as rhythm charts, practice charts, other interactive features and video demonstrations.
Preview or Buy Practising the Piano Part 3
Click on “Preview” for a free preview or on “Buy” to purchase Part 3 of Practising The Piano now.
[prod_btns code=”ptpp3v1″ title=””]
Click here for the full series bundle:
[prod_btns code=”ptpp123bundle” title=” “]
For more information, and the catalogue to purchase individual parts, click here.
*** *** *** *** ***