1.Wrong attitude: To practice to get it right.
Why is it wrong to practice to get it right? Because the moment you get it right you loose your motivation to keep practice. A lot of students will fight with a piece for ages and then finally get it right and immediately stop practicing it. The consequence is that their unconscious will have accumulated all the numerous wrong repeats against the one single correct event. At pressure guess which version is going to spring from the unconscious? You can bet it will be the wrong one.

Correct alternative attitude: To practice to never ever get it wrong.

2.Wrong attitude: To consider a piece “difficult.”
Some students are fascinated and deeply impressed by pieces they consider “difficult”. They want to play those pieces, and they want to be seen playing a “difficult piece”. As a consequence, they expect the “difficult” piece to be “difficult” to play, and therefore they feel somehow cheated if it turns out that the piece was actually quite easy to play after all. The idea of “effort” gets built up in the practice. The result: the piece sounds labored, and looks like a lot of effort is involved in plying it.

Correct alternative attitude: No piece is difficult. A piece is either impossible or easy, and the difference is correct practice.

As a consequence of this correct attitude, the aim of practice becomes to make the piece easy. Difficulty does not enter the equation any more. Either you can play it with ease, or you can’t play it at all. No piece is ready until it has become easy. But it will not become easy by itself. You have to figure out what to do, which movements to use, etc. so that it becomes indeed easy.

3.Wrong attitude: To believe one has exhausted all practice approaches to a piece.
Lots of student sight read through a piece and come up with a reasonable (but far from acceptable) rendition. They are then lured into a false sense of confidence: “This is easy”. So they never bother in doing all the work they would do with a piece that they would regard as impossible. As a consequence they are forever sight –reading the piece and producing a less than acceptable performance. Repeating the same mistakes and in-building bad habits. I knew a guy once who had been playing (badly) Bach’s 2 voice invention no.8 for some 5 – 6 years. He just could not be bothered to work on it properly. And he kept moaning how he could not master this piece even after 6 years of practicing it. When I pointed out that he actually had never really practiced it he was deeply offended.

Correct attitude: Approach every piece with the same degree of seriousness. Leave no leaf unturned. Go the whole way.

Ultimately these bad attitudes ultimately refer to aim. Whatever is it that you want, you must aim at it. If you do not aim at your piece being completely without mistakes; if you don’t aim at making it easy to play, if don’t aim at perfection, is it that surprising that you don’t get it?

1 comment:

  1. I had never read such a clever and illuminative collection of advice !!! Although I am a drummer I am impressed by the quality of these piano tips most of which can also be applied to practicing drums. and I must say you are a great teacher !