Those of us who teach and play ourselves understand that music requires commitment in the form of consistent, focused practising. This does not mean a snatched half-hour here or there or a blitz the night before the weekly piano lesson, but regular engagement with the instrument and its literature (at least 5 days out of… Continue reading The power of “yet”
Technique lies at the foundation of piano playing, and good technique can serve the beginner student right through to advanced level.
On the most basic level, we practice to get better, to become proficient, to ensure we never play a wrong note. However, productive practising should never just be mindless “note bashing”. As pianist and renowned teacher Seymour Bernstein says in his excellent book ‘With Your Own Two Hands’, “productive practising puts you in touch with… Continue reading The Three H’s of Practicing
Play always as if in the presence of a master - Robert Schumann The ability to self-critique, evaluate and reflect on one’s playing during practising and in lessons is a crucial skill for musicians, and is a component of the skillset of “deliberate practise” and self-regulation, which enables us to practise productively and deeply. Around… Continue reading Encouraging evaluation, reflection and self-critique in practising
I suspect all piano teachers broadly agree on the importance and value of consistent and deliberate practicing for all students, and that practicing is essential for successful learning and progression. How our students practice is in no small part down to us as teachers: during lessons we will suggests areas which need special attention and… Continue reading How teenagers practice
Routine or “autopilot” practising can kill one’s enjoyment and productivity at the piano. Practice can become strained or monotonous because it’s too often primarily directed by a preconceived idea and too exclusively goal- or result-oriented. This can lead to frustration and a feeling that you are not progressing as rapidly as you would like to.… Continue reading Creative approaches to practising
"Practise makes perfect" - that oft-quoted phrase beloved of instrumental teachers the world over.... It's a neat little mantra, but one that can have serious and potentially long-lasting negative effects if taken too literally. Musicians have to practise. Repetitive, committed and quality practise trains the procedural memory (what musicians and sportspeople call "muscle memory") and… Continue reading The Perfectionism Trap
During a conversation in a recent lesson with one of my students, she told me that her previous teacher would stop her every time she made a mistake and ask her to correct the error before continuing. She admitted to me that she found this habit irritating and I asked her what effect it might… Continue reading Stop-Start
"I find juggling four works at the same time so tricky. If I leave one aside for a while, even only a week, it seems to fall apart!"
Whenever we have a thought or physical sensation thousands of neurons are triggered and get together to form a neural network in the brain. “Experience-dependent neuroplasticity” is the scientific term for this activity of continual creation and grouping of neuron connections which take place as a result of our personal life experiences. With repetitive thinking,… Continue reading Rewiring turns “I can’t” into “I can”