The guiding principles for practising piano exercises well

Guide #5 for practising piano exercises well: Express a convincing interpretation

A musical phrase played on the piano is like a sentence of words spoken by you. How you convey what you wish to say will have an effect on the listeners’ response. Before attempting to play any one of the piano exercises I usually try out the melody with the right hand only. This is so that I can get a feel of what the music is setting out to depict. Only then would it be possible for me to interpret its meaning and express its true message. 

For an actual piano piece it takes much more effort. The composition has to be dissected in minutest detail. This might take weeks or months depending on the song you are working on, so do not be deflated if you feel your progress is too slow. 

Remember to enjoy playing, focus on inward thinking and listening to the music. Recognize where to make a greater climax or a more symphatetic coloring in certain parts of the composition. 

With a convincing interpretation anyone listening to your rendition will become more engaged and drawn to you, more important than that is the satisfaction in one’s self felt after conceiving and expressing the best interpretation of a song that you can.

So how do you interpret a piano song correctly? A piano student can learn from many sources. Once I entered a piano competition where all the other participants had at least 10 years more training on the piano than I have had. The difference in the level of proficiency between them and me was staggering. By watching and listening to them play I acquired many ideas of touch, tone, phrasing and interpretation. 

Polish these ideas during lessons or when practising alone at home and the interpretation get embedded in your mind and you shall be able to express yourself well on the piano each time playing any song.

Guide #6 for practising piano exercises well: Stay loose, fight stiffness

One has to be aware that practising is not playing. If you heard me practise you would probably think I could not possible play the piano. Practising is when you experiment with the fingering, adeqate tone production and shaping the phrases musically. Making mistakes and looking for the solutions is what practising is about.

During these intimate times when there is nothing else between you and the piano is when you are best suited to learn to relax. Practise making you fingers, hands, wrists and arms loose. The part of your body from the shoulder down to the finger tips have to be made free eliminated from any stress in their muscles.

To produce beautiful music on the piano the touch of your fingers as they land on the keys have to be perfect. For that to happen press the hands againts the keyboard and keep the wrists low. Its detrimental that the wrists are loose and not moving. The thumb should be maintained curved. With the hands and fingers in position to start playing, always use fingering that is most comfortable to the hand. 

As you begin to play – connecting the keys in a smooth legato line is crucial towards rendering a passage on the piano smoothly, The whole body must be free of stiffness, stay relaxed even though you might get nervous when the song. Staying loose and fighting the urge to tense up your muscles is an overriding factor that determines the quality of your execution of a piano song.

Total relaxation in your body will be reflected in your music. It is pointless even if you feel the music and love every note of the composition for you can never express its meaning with stiff wrists and arms. Continue reading part 4 of 'The guiding principles for practising piano exercises well'.

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