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Create Your Recipe For Piano Playing Success By Combining These 12 Ingredients

Feb 8, 2008
Are you frustrated because you are making such slow progress in learning to play the piano? Do you feel inept, incompetent, uncoordinated or untalented because it takes so long to master your favorite song?

Think of it:

When you can send an email to someone in Australia and receive a reply within seconds, you may be tempted to think that developing your keyboard skills should be a much faster process than it is.

We live in the Information Age where you can get immediate answers: "just Google it"; quick fixes: "download the update and restart"; and instant gratification: "click here to listen to five versions of your favorite song".

If you're like me, you're thrilled by many of the benefits of living in the 21st century!

But what happens when you want to bake a cake, learn to drive or build your dream house? Dr. Wayne Dyer puts it this way: "You can't rush the growth of a tomato plant".

What I'm leading up to is this:

Growth takes time. In order to get the results you want as quickly as possible, you need to follow a proven formula. When you do, your keyboard success will be virtually guaranteed.

Here are the 12 ingredients that you can combine to create your recipe for piano playing success.

Part I: External Ingredients-How to Prepare for Powerful Piano Practicing

1. Place: Examine the place you practice to determine if it is helping you to concentrate and stay focused. Be aware of any distractions and eliminate them. Remember that the place you practice can really propel your progress.

2. Schedule: Decide on the best times for practicing everyday. Be sure to take into account your energy level, other commitments and musical goals. When you set up and maintain a consistent practice schedule that works for you, you'll get faster and better results for your efforts.

3. Goals: Setting goals to learn a piece for your recital, to memorize five songs or to remember how to play the songs your learned in the past will help you to identify where you want to go and by when. Identifying your goals will help you get your piano playing from where it is now to where you want it to be

4. Priorities: Once you have set your goals, you need to determine what material to practice and in what order. Procrastination can easily paralyze your progress. So be sure to start by figuring out what music is important to you so that you will make the best use of your practice time. Setting your priorities will help you achieve maximum results.

5. Organization: In order to use your practice time effectively, you need to organize your music. This will not only help to streamline the process of working on your pieces, but it will also help you to keep your music arranged in order of its importance for accomplishing your goals.

6. Inspiration: To stay motivated, listen to recordings, watch DVDs of performers, read inspirational books and articles and attend concerts and peer group soirées. When you do this often, you will find yourself inspired to improve.

Part II: The Internal Ingredients-How to Approach Every Piece of Music

7. Timing: Pay careful attention to rhythm when you practice. You'll get far better results by playing slowly and evenly as you learn and then picking up the speed as you gain confidence. Also use your metronome to help this. You'll also be amazed at the benefits of counting aloud.

8. Fingering: When you come to a difficult passage, take the time to figure out the best finger pattern to use. If you don't like what's printed in the music, write in your own. You'll then be able to practice the part correctly, pick up the speed and help your fingers to "memorize" the pattern.

9. Phrasing: You speak in phrases and sentences without even thinking about it. The slurs, rests and breath marks (as well as punctuation in the lyrics) are your guides to making your music "speak intelligently". Pay attention to these and listen to how much better you sound.

10. Articulation: There are many special marks that tell you how to play each note. The staccato, marcato, tenuto and accent symbols along with certain words give you very clear indications of how to play each musical passage. Notice them; they're your guides.

11. Dynamics: When you pay attention to the signs that tell you whether to play loud, soft or somewhere in between, your music will start coming to life. The reason why the actual name of the piano is pianoforte is because this instrument can truly span the range of musical volume that can help your playing to sound super.

12. Expression: You probably fell asleep during a dull class in school. Why? Chances are that your teacher did not speak with much expression. Don't let this happen to your playing. One way to increase your expressive style is to imagine that you are playing a particular part of a piece with a non-keyboard instrument. You will be astounded by the results you get.

Action Exercises

Here are three things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, become a thinking pianist by using your mind to your examine your practice spot, assess and plan your practice schedule, identify your goals and set your priorities. Then organize your music according to your goals and priorities and build in regular time for inspirational activities.

Second, remember to pay attention to all of the directions found in each piece of music: timing, fingering, phrasing, articulation, dynamics and expression. These are your guides for bringing your music to life. Always take the time to read the menu and take advantage of what if has to offer.

Third, combine these 12 ingredients into your recipe for success. Do this continuously and make it your new keyboard success habit.

Start today. You'll astonish yourself by how fast your piano playing will sound fantastic!

© 2007 by Ed Mascari All Rights Reserved. ed@edmascari.com
About the Author
Ed Mascari has been teaching piano privately to children and adults for three decades. He combines his extensive experience to guide students in a variety of styles as he helps them achieve their unique potential. To find out all about piano lessons, visit: http://www.edmascaripianostudio.com/
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