Playing the piano with confidence

When we don’t feel confident, playing the piano can seem very difficult. It can be hard to trust ourselves, hard to feel the music, and hard to get absorbed in the whole process. Paradoxically, it can seem impossible to actually progress, because it seems that confidence is the result of ability, but we also feel […]

Should playing feel good?

When I play the piano, I strive to make it feel good. It is no fun for me to feel like I am struggling with my body while trying to play, and the music that results from that struggle is not something I would enjoy listening to. I want to be clear that I am […]

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. For the purposes of this article, I am assuming that […]

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. What is a blind spot? As I have written about, there are […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Is it possible to play perfectly?

Do you want to play perfectly? Would there be an advantage to being perfect? (practice makes perfect) An 8-year-old student of mine was experiencing some anxiety about playing. Quite a lot, actually. He would not even put his hands on the piano to start playing. “Are you afraid of making a mistake?” I asked. He […]

Why you can’t play the right notes

Here’s an idea worth considering: while you are practicing, there are certain things you can do…and certain things maybe you can’t do. Maybe you can just play the right notes. Try and see if it works. Maybe it will. Or…maybe it won’t. In that case, is it really something you can do? OK, how about […]

10 subtle signs you are NOT trusting yourself while practicing

Should you trust yourself while you practice? There might be some benefits. But, you will not even know how unless you pay attention to signs that it is not happening. To get you started, here’s a list of ten such indications: Playing a wrong note twice, trying to fix it the second time. Trying to make […]