Okay, it’s practice time and you are trying to decide what to work on today. You sit down at the piano but feel less than thrilled about running through the same piece you’ve been working on for weeks. So, what can you do to help improve the piece without actually playing the instrument? Graham Fitch of practisingthepiano.com has some ideas on “Learning Away from the Piano“:
Immersing ourself in the storyline or narrative we have allowed our imagination to conjure up, focussing on an image or scene (such as dancers dancing, a moonlit evening, a colour scheme) is so much more inspiring, meaningful and communicate when we perform than zooming in on the technical elements (a fingering, where to put our elbow, etc.).
When I was in college, I did this ALL. THE. TIME. I still vividly remember a certain piece I played that had the sounds of many different eras and genres within a span of just a few lines. For each line, I developed a character in my head (a clown juggling while standing on a ball, a fat man bouncing around the town square, an opera singer letting it all out, etc.) and then brought what I thought would be their emotions out in each respective part of the piece. It helped me to improve immensely, and I have no doubts it will help you too.
Analysing the formal structure of the music as we see it is absolutely a hallmark of the intelligent pianist’s approach to performance preparation. This usually embraces harmonic and formal analysis, but can also be done more freely using graphs or mind maps.
For those of us who are visual learners, this is extremely helpful. I used to take colored pencils to my lessons and my professor and I would mark up the music with different colors for dynamics, accidentals, keys, phrasing, and so on. Being able to see the piece you are playing in a different format can further develop your understanding of the piece as a whole, and help you figure out how you want to play it. Now…maybe you don’t want to mark up your music. In that case, take one of Graham’s suggestions: create graphs or mind maps to help you visualize the piece in a new light.
Graham Fitch is a pianist, teacher, adjudicator, examiner, lecturer, writer and commentator. He blogs regularly at his site http://www.practisingthepiano.com, has produced a multimedia eBook series on piano playing and is the main contributor to the Practising the Piano Online Academy, an online resource for pianists and teachers.
To find out more about how you can learn away from your instrument, view the original article at https://practisingthepiano.com/learning-away-from-the-piano/