On Practising and Performance – Practising the Piano

I have been writing this blog since March 2011, putting up weekly posts except over Christmas when I take a bit of time off. Before I sign off for the holidays, I would like to leave you with three old posts that I think describe the difference between the opposite states of practising and performing. If we can keep these differences in mind when we practise, we will reach our destination more quickly and efficiently.

Cavaliers and Roundheads: Developing Performance Skills

I wrote this post in May, 2012 in response to a BBC TV programme on the English Civil War. It struck me that we need to call on our inner Roundhead when we practise (puritanical, serious-minded, hard-working and religious) and the devil-may-care, spontaneous, reckless and flashy Cavalier when we perform. If we take our Cavalier into the practice room, we wouldn’t get any work done; if we take our Roundhead onto the stage with us when we perform, we will bore the pants off our audience.

To read this post,  click here.

Practice v Performance

There is a lovely quote from legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz which applies equally to us pianists, and indeed any other performer:

Practice like it means everything in the world to you. Perform like you don’t give a damn.

This is really another way of saying the same thing – find a way of developing a Jekyll-and-Hyde mindset between your practice room and the concert stage or examination room.

practice v performance

To read this post, click here.

Going into the Zone

There is a crucial stage in performance preparation when we need to get out of our comfort zone and begin to sense what it feels like to play a work or a programme in its entirety, and to practise doing this as a very deliberate practice strategy. It’s so easy to stop and correct ourselves when we go wrong. What do we tend to do – stop, fix it and move on. When we finally get to the end, we must not delude ourselves that we have played through our piece because in performance we may stop for absolutely nothing! We need to let go of wrong notes, small slips or misjudged chord balances or voicings as soon as we have made them, there is no opportunity for correcting them on the stage. I would go one step further – we need to silence our inner critic in such eventualities by acknowledging we are human, that no performance is perfect and that these things are actually a part of performance!

To read this post, click here.

Practising the Piano Part 4

Little did I imagine when I started writing my blog that it would interest so many people, or that it would lead to a series of e-books. As you may know, I have just launched Part 4 of my e-book series, Practising the Piano and I am delighted that I managed to finish it in time for Christmas. Practising the Piano Part 4 focusses on the art of performance, including how best to prepare yourself both mentally and in the practise room. Drawing upon powerful practise strategies, proven psychological and therapeutic techniques (used by elite sportsmen and women), it shows how to combat anxiety and to deliver performances that reflect your full potential. If you completed my survey Performance Anxiety Among Pianists, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your contribution. I have used results from this survey throughout Volume 2 (the volume that deals with psychology and performance anxiety), and it is very revealing that a large number of pianists of all ages and levels struggle with stage fright to some degree or other.

Click here to find out more or to get your copy!

Practising the Piano Online Academy

The Practising the Piano Online Academy is the ultimate online resource for mastering the piano. It features a constantly growing library of thousands of articles, videos and musical excerpts on topics including practising, piano technique and performing from leading experts. Please click here to find out more about the Online Academy or on one of the options below to subscribe:

  • Monthly subscription – Subscribe for £13.99 a month to get full, unlimited access to all Online Academy articles and updates (click here to sign-up for this option)
  • Annual subscription – Save almost 30% on the monthly subscription with an annual subscription for £119.99 per year and get free eBooks and editions worth over £70! (click here to sign-up for this option)

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