#3 - Do(s) and Don’t(s) of Piano Exercises – Do Relax
Coordination of the hands and arms in addition to the pedalling with the feet plus the brainpower needed to decipher the music sheet make learning how to play the piano seem like an insurmountable endeavour.
For newbies playing the piano without strain and totally relaxed is not as easy as it sounds. Your shoulders, arms and wrists have to be very loose.
What I practised to be able to play the piano without any strain in my muscles was to play scales. Why scales? So that I do not have to keep looking at the music sheet.
Instead I could focus my concentration on the positions of my finger, the movement of my hands and the reach of my arms.
I would pay attention on making sure none of them are rigid or stiff and try to soften them the instant I felt that they were beginning to tense up.
Reminding yourselve to keep the hand and fingers curved like they are holding an orange. Use the arm to guide the hand up and down the scales on the keyboard. If you use your hands your muscles will strain, remember the arms has to guide the hands.
Practising relaxation with scales frees up your mind from having to read the music sheet thus enabling you to focus on your body’s mechanics that are involved in coaxing the beatiful sounds out of the piano. Once you have achieved relaxation playing scales, it can easily be replicated while playing a full composition.
#4 - Do(s) and Don’t(s) of Piano Exercises – Do try something new
One thing was obvious at the music festival. Everyone was made to perform classical music. There were almost fifty categories of different age groups competing on the piano and violin including the chamber ensembles and all of them were asked to play classical songs.
Why aren’t there more piano competitions that make you play salsa or ragtime?
The world of piano music is a big one. We should all try to immerse ourselves into playing songs other than classical music early in our piano education. There is a piano professor in my hometown who teaches jazz piano even though he studied classical music in France.
We met at a jazz festival 2 years ago when he offered to teach me jazz. I also know of a cuban fellow, Bruno, who wanted to teach me how to play salsa. Look for the hidden corners of the music world to discover treasures that you might not know existed. They will surprise and delight you.
Easier said than done. True. But, nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy. Recall your first piano lesson and see how far you have come. Was that easy? I was already thirty years old and did not even have a piano in my first year of lessons. I went to the music school everyday after work to practise.
Now, a whole new world has been revealed, one that is full of wonderful sounds, interesting people and remarkable talents - made possible from the desire to try something new.