7. Finally, Practice at the instrument
Hearing: Good old-fashioned ear training. This is often the most overlooked component in learning. Traditionally Classical piano students avoided this until a week or two before an exam. Bad, bad, bad. It takes time to develop this. It is of the greatest benefit because I don’t believe you can play what you can’t hear.
· Melodic playback for Classical students
· Transcriptions for Jazz Students
· Chord identification
· Chord progressions
· Rhythm clap-back
Imagination: A tough one to teach. I believe a teacher must help the student trust their musical instincts. And, treasure them. Not with the goal of ignoring the musical vision of mature artists, but by helping trust and treasure their personal uniqueness.
Expression: Expression marks aren’t suggestions. Be sure to work on them from the first reading. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can add them later after you “learn” the piece. Consider this, we all play like we practice. So, under stress (in an exam or performance) you will revert to your initial way of playing. Why? This is the way you learned it, spent the most time on. You perfected the piece in a monochromatic way. Flat and boring.
Technique or what is called the fundamentals: Change your attitude. Think of them as the FUN-damentals. I use them as a form of meditation. A chance to slow down and practice playing beautifully. Beauty is that combination of touch and time we learn through repetition and reflection.
Theory: Oh boy, another area most students practice the fine art of avoidance. Students, the musicians we admire know what they are doing! If you want to have any chance of joining them, you need to understand what is going on. Form, harmony, melodic structure, intervals, historical context, the list of knowledge goes on and on. It all helps. Knowing what you are looking at makes it all easier. I promise.
Analysis: applied theory and the cornerstone of memorisation.
Practice: Learn to practice, read books on the subject, what YouTube, listen to your teacher. Learning to practice like a pro will save you years of fiddling around. And, it is way more fun because progress is faster. You will learn pieces long before you get sick and tired of them. Always a good thing.
Please watch the video below. A wealth of knowledge.