“Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on.”
Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) Polish Composer and Pianist
Practising the piano and playing the piano are two different things. If a student plays through all their pieces each day they may well find at the end of the week there is no discernable improvement, even though they have spent hours at the piano.
So what is the difference between playing and practising? Playing is just that – playing the piece through over and over and hoping it improves. Practise involves breaking down the song and working on each weak area as a stand-alone section.
The phrase I probably use most often with my students is, “slow it down” as that is always the first approach to a troublesome section. When you slow down you can better pinpoint where the problem is. It can be difficult to do when you know how the piece sounds; your brain will push you to speed it up and it is easy to lose concentration, but the benefits are worth the effort.
Isolate the problem area and separate the hands, playing each hand on its own until you are more confident with the part each hand is playing. Really think about what you are asking your hands and fingers to do. If there is a run or passage that follows the pattern of a scale or arpeggio, it can help to play that technical exercise a few times first. Then slowly put the two hands back together and work to gradually increase your pace.
While slowing down and/or separating hands, still aim to maintain all the expression (dynamics, tempo etc) required.
Once you feel better about that section, put it back into the whole piece and see how it sounds and feels. If it is improved, move on to the next problem section and go through the same process. Using this method, you will eventually play the piece fluently and with pride in what you have achieved.
If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.