Michael's Blog

Please take a look at this guide to some of my important posts.


Analyzing music for performance

When your playing isn’t “right”, I believe it is important to distinguish between your analysis and your performance.

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How to correct mistakes (and why you shouldn't even try)

The word “mistake” is hard to define, and I think this is because it is a matter of perspective. Whether something is a “mistake” or not requires having a measure of “correctness”, and this measure has to be relative to the one doing the measuring.

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Looking for blind spots

In sharp contrast to the usual method of practicing, which is locating and correcting mistakes, my approach could instead be described as looking for blind spots. As always, I stress awareness over correctness. True change and improvement can only come from this place.

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What am I supposed to be focusing on while playing?

I am quite familiar with the experience of being a student in a lesson and feeling like I have no clue how to fix everything, how to please the teacher, or what the heck I’m supposed to be doing right now. Teachers don’t help matters by encouraging the student to focus on whatever the teacher or student is most worried about. So, it is no wonder that students often don’t have a clear idea of...

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More about the waterfall technique

I would like to address some of the rationale behind the principles of the waterfall technique. The technique is seemingly too simple, but every aspect of it exists for a reason. Hopefully, this will address many common concerns.

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Tags: technique

Practice demonstration - Bach B major fugue

I’d like to demonstrate some practicing using the waterfall technique. I chose the B major fugue from Book 2 of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Although I have played many Bach fugues, this particular one was completely new to me. It is a 4-voice fugue, with a lot of complexity. Here, I show how the fugue can be learned without ever trying to unravel that complexity.

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Tags: practicing

Rhythmic flexibility

I’d like to argue for a concept that I believe is sadly lacking in most music studios. For lack of a better term, I will call this rhythmic flexibility.

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Tags: technique

Stop struggling with scales

Many pianists struggle mightily with scales. They struggle to play them fast, evenly, cleanly, and comfortably. Scale-playing certainly did not come easily to me, which is why I spent the time thinking about how to re-approach the whole issue. Hopefully, you will find my explorations useful.

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Tags: technique

How do I get rid of tension?

Many pianists complain of excess tension while they are playing. It seems to prevent fluid playing, causes pain and injury, and basically ruins any chance of fun at the piano. What can we do about this problem?

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Tags: technique

Rules for practicing

Do you have a clear set of rules you follow when you practice? It may be worth experimenting with this concept: think of practicing as a game. Here are some rules I follow. This isn’t a complete list, and you certainly don’t have to follow them. But I invite you to consider them, and to find your own rules.

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Tags: practicing
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