In business, the three words the determine success are location, location, location. In piano, the three words that speed up your pace in acquiring piano technique are slowly, separately, sections. That is to practise slowly, with separate hands at first and by sections.
Some people think the faster you can play a musical phrase on the piano must mean that you are a more proficent pianist than another who plays slower.
Believing that he has to play fast in order to get better, a new piano student usually tends to rush through a piano exercise or the nursery rhyme he is learning. I was guilty of the same offence.
Playing fast though appear impressive to friends and family members does not help to improve piano technique.
When my hands and fingers were moving too quickly they built up stress in the muscles, more so if I was unfamiliar with the music I was practising.
Pick out a song you have never played before and try playing it as fast as you can. There will be many mistakes and fatigue will set in sooner.
If I had insisted on pressing on this way, all I will be doing is practising mistakes which negate its purpose - to improve technique. First, we must play slowly.
Go back to the song you picked out just now and play it slowly. Doesn’t it feel easier going from one note to the next?
When we are playing slow we have time to locate the next key we have to hit, naturally the playing becomes more accurate.
The good news is that technique improves fastest when we are practising at a speed at which we can hit the keys most accurately.
As the accuracy improves start to play just a notch faster. Continue to do so and constantly vary the speed of play.
Go from fast to slow again to confirm that your wrists and arms remain stress free and check on the accuracy.
While experimenting with the speed just now, did you play with the right hand or the left hand or both hands?
Playing with both hands would have been unmanageble for me. Coordinating the two hands to play together remains the most dreaded part of trying to learn a song.
To make the task more manageable playing hands separately is usually most effective. Technique improves more when we practise one hand at a time.
The hand needs to acquire the deftness to locate the keys accurately, hitting them with the precise amount of force and moving on to the next key smoothly.
These elements have to be ingrained in the right hand and later the left hand. Whichever comes first is up to the individual’s preference, the essential fact is that practising hands separately is what builds piano technique.
I have a competition coming up in about 3 weeks from now. There is absolutely zero chance of me winning, the only reason I am participating is to grow the confidence playing in front of an audience and get rid of the nervousness. The song is a sonatina four pages long, by far the longest piece I have ever played. Continue reading part 2 of 'Piano Technique - Discover The Way To Technical Brilliance'.