The guiding principles for practising piano exercises well

Guide #2 for practising piano exercises well: Scrutinise every finger movement

I was on cloud nine when I could finally played ‘Ballade Pour Adeline’, my self-esteem probably multiplied by a hundred times with the achievement  - the value of taking piano lessons is measured in moments such as these. 

It never crossed my mind that I would go on to learn ‘Mariage D’Amour’, ‘Souvenirs De Enfance’ and ‘La Petite e’Toile’. All deeply romantic piano songs performed and made famous by one of the most well known modern pianists. 

Compared to classical pieces by Mozart or Beethoven these romantic song are relatively easier to play. I was abled to play ‘La Petite e’Toile’ in two weeks. Even easy piano songs require you to scrutinise every finger movement.

In ‘La Petite e’Toile’ there are many stressed notes in the accompaniment that are located in between regular notes. While deeply immersed in the romantic mood of the song these stressed notes may be overlooked as you continue playing legato. Stressed notes have to be played detached, scrutinizing every finger movement is crucial to prevent such mistakes. 

Mozart loves to include scale playing in his compositions. When dashing up the keyboard running scales in allegro the weak fourth and fifth finger tend to falter. Practising piano exercises that develop strength in the two fingers will help solve the problem, but you still have to check your finger movement.  

If they still falter it might be because you are not using weight playing. Shift the weight of your forearms and hands from the third to the fourth and finally the fifth finger to make the scale firm and strong.

Guide #3 for practising piano exercises well: Tackle the more difficult exercises while still fresh

People work at their best at different times. Some are most productive early in the morning while others are nocturnal creatures. Figure out the best time for you to churn out your best work and concentrate on tackling the more difficult exercises first. 

These could be works by Czerny which are excellent exercises that help to nimble your finger with enjoyable tunes or the more gruelling exercises by Hanon. Practising the piano demands the use of various motor functions including the fingers, arms and shoulders. The waist is also involved as you will be sitting on the bench for hours.  

More significant than physical labor, the brain works hard too. Mind and body will tire. After a while no matter how hard you practise the return is diminished. I gain the most from practising in the first 2 hours, so I concentrate on practising classical pieces first to build technique even though I enjoy romantic songs more. Satisfied with the progress I have made on the classical song, I would move on to the romantic piece.

Guide #4 for practising piano exercises well: Feel free at the piano while maintaining focus

How we feel is the only thing that matters in life. Everything we do, what it is all for is to be happy and content. Playing the piano has provided me with that. It has been priceless. 

There were times that I forget. I get distracted with dubious goals of finishing a song in under a week or winning a competition. Unconsciously distancing myself from the real reason why I am playing the piano in the first place. 

It is best to enjoy it, feel free at the piano. Spend the time to develop the technique and understand what is written in the music. Tune out all outside noise and focus on inward thinking, listening and ultimately enjoying the piano. Continue reading part 3 of 'The guiding principles for practising piano exercises well'.

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