First of all, no one can learn to play the piano in two weeks. It takes years of diligent work to acquire the necessary piano technique, skills and musical knowledge to mould yourself into a decent pianist.
The problem I am trying to address is something more specific. A problem I was struggling with recently.
You see, I have been learning to play the piano for more than five years. If that was all I was doing I should have been a virtuoso by now, but I am not….yet.
So I have the skills and knowledge, but still struggling to play a sonata by Mozart, are there ways to sharpen my piano technique in 2 weeks so that I can breeze through the stubbornly difficult sonata?
Improve piano technique in 2 weeks : Day 1 and 2 - Divide and conquer
The trouble with a sonata is the pace. Even at a subdued speed there is still a need to keep the song moving forward without missing a beat. There is little time and luxury to relax before the next note demands your attention. It made me feel pressured to rush every phrase of the song, though there really is no requirement for such hurriedness. It is still an arrangement of melody meant to be enjoyed.
Resist the urge to rush by playing slowly, so much slower that a snail would seem to move faster. Go through the whole piece at this speed for a couple of days until you are comfortable with it and have lost the tendency to rush.
Do so with hands separately. Play the whole song with the right hand first slowly, then with the left hand. Accuracy in landing on the correct keys, timing, endurance and overall piano technique is acquired one hand at a time, not when practising hands together.
When it is time to play hands together it is good practice to remember what our mothers used to tell us; do not bite off more than you can chew.
The piece I was trying to learn is Sonata K545, the first movement is in the key of C major, it then switches over to A minor in the second movement. In both movements there are mind boggling scale phrases, trills and chords that have stymied me for months.
Attempting to play through all of these would have been overwhelming. Break the song into smaller sections and play. A common practice that I have been adhering to for years is to play just one bar plus the first note of the next bar. I can usually get it right after10 minutes and then move on to the next bar.
I find that I could learn a phrase of a song more effectively and play it well by practising both hands together one bar at a time and connect them later to render the phrase smoothly.
Improve piano technique in 2 weeks : Day 3, 4 and 5 – Correct mistakes immediately
‘Procrastination is the thief of time’. A very true fact that all have us have experienced while going about our daily lives. It also happens to be true when working to improve technique and learning to play a piece.
If it is a song you are just starting to learn anew mistakes will occur in abundance. Fix them immediately. The reason why this is so important is; if you don’t you will continue practising mistakes – the song will remain imperfect in your hands. More time loss to fix them later.
If you have a dedicated mentor listening over, she can point them out and help you overcome them, but isn’t it better to reduce wasting our energy putting out fires when we should be focusing on enriching our repertoire. There is much more to discover in the musical universe – Chopin, Bach and Brahms await us. Continue reading part 2 of 'How to improve piano technique in 2 weeks'.