Learn piano online, the core concept of practicing explained.
In itself Yamaha’s C3XPE grand piano is already an elegant musical instrument - impeccable craftsmanship and uncompromising level of sound quality. Pouring Kenneth’s technical prowess and heartfelt articulation into the mix gave us what can arguably be described as piano music’s own equivalent of ‘shock and awe’.
“If you know something, you have power over it”. Kenneth’s ‘shocking’ and ‘awe’ inspiring rendition of Scarlatti's 5 sonatas and 3 etudes by Rachmainoff did not come as much of a surprise to me at all because like him, being a lifelong student of the piano myself I know how difficult it is to be able to play at that level of proficiency – the enormous sacrifice involved in the time and energy spent practicing.
Let’s delve deeper into the concept of practising, specifically piano practice. What does it take to be as good as Kenneth?
When interviewed and asked “How do you keep winning?”, tennis great Roger Federer’s frequent line of answering is “It’s all because I am such a talented player, I just sit on the couch all day and watch TV”. Instead of a fake modest answer he goes in the other direction. Of course everyone knows he is faking.
Practicing is a repetitive and solitary endeavour. Although you cannot avoid the feeling of monotony that is bound to set in, there are ways to escape it.
If you are lucky enough to have a friend who shares your passion for the piano, practicing together can be exciting. You’ll have the opportunity to point out each others’ mistakes and make corrections immediately.
While one of you is playing the other can watch and learn – mirror neurons at work. Indirectly and unintentionally having a friend plying the same craft as you are, subconsciously forces you to improve - a little bit of peer pressure does no harm.
The idea is to create a situation for yourself in which practicing ceases to become a mere drill. Established professional musicians have been known to play in subway stations, pedestrian streets and public parks. Passers-by unwittingly mistake them for depraved street musicians begging for coins.
The truth is some of them choose to play in public to escape the hours of prolonged solitude were they to practice in the comfort of their own homes.
If you have a practice partner, the extra body can be used to record your play. Watching or hearing a recording of your own play can be an eye-opening revelation. Areas requiring improvements you were completely unaware of make themselves clear to you.
Granted, the truth hurts, I have seen a recording of myself playing too, I was struck by a sense of inadequacy. But that is the whole purpose of practicing; to fix the badness, so go ahead and be brutally honest with yourself.
A piano student’s level of endurance becomes a factor when faced with hardships during practice. How strong is your desire to become a good pianist? If it is weak, quitting is only a matter of time.
I started to learn the piano when I was already a working adult, because my desire to learn was so strong even after a long exhausting day at work I still had the energy and motivation to go to lessons and practice everyday.
Each individual student will have her own sets of obstacles in the pursuit of learning the piano, the fuel that keeps you going is desire.
Set goals for yourself to gauge progress. Splitting them into short term, mid term, long term goals helps you stay focused and avoid unnecessary frustration. “How so?”, you may ask. To achieve the grander long term goals you must first achieve short term goals.
Short term goals are small feats that are relatively easy to accomplish in a short amount of time. For example, playing 2 bars of ‘Fur Elise’ (Beethoven) without mistakes within 3 days. By accumulating such small feats over time you would have accomplished the mid term goal of being able to play Fur Elise in full within a month for instance.
Continue to accomplish the mid term goals puts you on a path towards achieving the long term goal of becoming a skilful pianist able to pass ABRSM’s grade 5 practical piano examinations.
Whether or not you actually decide to sit for the examinations is besides the point. I don’t. Because I play for my own pleasure. The point is to set clear measureable goals to gauge your progress and to accomplish tangible success.