Learning music or practicing the piano it can be challenging as all depends on our mood, self-discipline and devotion. Is not about how many hours we can practice, but more on how we practice. That’s the difficult part of the whole process. This “how we practice”, the quality of our thoughts during practicing is what can be challenging. As human beings not all days are good days and our mood unfortunately very often can be influenced from external factors or other people. The art of music depends so much on emotions, imagination and mental agility.
Piano technique is so much depending on how well we can mentally process a piece of music, a quick piano passage etc. Everything is in the mind. It took me a while to learn this, I used to work for many hours and the results were not the ones I wanted and then slowly slowly I realised that I need to work more with my mind than my fingers. I stopped practicing 6 hours per day, but 3 and during those 3 hours I could do more work than before only for the sole reason that I was practicing more mentally than physically. Visualisation is what helped me a lot. I will give you an example, when I am starting a new piece the first thing I do is to play it through a few times just to get an idea of its harmony, form and character. If is technically very demanding piece, then I divide it in parts, I make sure to clarify the fingering (very important factor) that I will be using and then I start working on the different parts. I don’t just play again and again a certain part, but I stop and try to visualised first in a slow tempo everything that is going on in that certain passage, my fingers on the keyboard, what fingering am using, what notes I play and in a few words I replay the passage with all the details in my mind till I am able to mentally play it in a faster tempo and feel certain that I know exactly what is there. Is a process that takes days to be done and feel comfortable with, but is worth every minute of it. The knowledge of harmony and the form is also very important for the whole process of learning a piece and of course all these has to do with thinking during practicing. If you have never work before with visualisation and you want to try just start with mental practicing of scales. Scales are easy to do as the notes are in an order and you have to focus more on the finger changes and the alternated notes. If you try please don’t get frustrated as in the beginning it will feel like almost impossible to do.
Usually other thoughts are tending to invade our brain during this process, but as with everything the more we want to do something and the more we try at the end we manage. Even thinking in a certain way is a matter of habit and the brain eventually will think in the way you want it to work. You can’t imagine how many times I wanted to run away from the piano, how many times I cried as I felt I can’t do it, but luckily it was something inside me that always brought me back as piano is a matter of passion and great love for music. I am still learning, still evolving and still not satisfy of how I play etc. Perfection doesn’t exist. Even if you read some interviews with the greatest pianists you will find out that what we consider from them that is perfection they feel that it was not a good done job.
I hope you will decide to go with what your heart tells you, as is the best way to do things in life even if sometimes we have to face challenges.
Sorry for the late reply. Thank you for the letter.
I’m keeping in mind “quality over quantity” when I practice, after I read your email. For example, before practice I listen to music that I will play or read the music sheet. I feel I can play the piano more smoothly than before. It’s been half a year since I started playing the piano, so I can’t still play so well. From now on, I will practice more and more and I want to become playing without any worries.
It’s a very difficult time for all of us because of the Coronavirus, but let’s try our best. Take good care of yourself. (Haruka)