FIRST YOU MUST PLAY ME SLOW-LY
AND THEN YOU
WILL SEE SOME PRO-GRESS
THEN SOME MORE PRO-GRESS
THEN YOU WILL START TO SEE
THAT IT’S EA-SY Try speaking this in the rhythm of the opening of the Fugue subject!
There’s no such thing as a difficult piece on the piano. Either a piece is impossible – or it is easy. The way in which it changes from the one to the other is by practising…..
I’m not sure which famous pianist first said this, but it is fact maddeningly true to experience. The only problem is that we don’t have - or don’t think that we have
Enough clarity of mind and
Enough physical and mental coordination to engage in
But if we did we would find that it is true. And even if we only find that it is true for one piece then we have discovered an important truth – that there is nothing to fear.
Einstein was once asked what he felt was the most important question for humanity. His answer was to find out whether the universe is essentially friendly and benign. If it is, he said, we have nothing to fear. We can therefore focus our energy on tuning into the universe’s positive field instead of putting up walls of defensive armour and protecting ourselves from endless imaginary tigers.
A lot of the blocks that manifest for people learning the piano are to do with imaginary tigers. There are so many excuses not to practise. There are so many feas about playing wrong notes – especially in front of teachers! There is so much tension which manifests in the body – shoulders, jaw, neck, forearm, wrist, even big toe (as I have discovered myself) But where does all this tension begin? Quite clearly it all begins in the mind –in the movement of fear which comes from anticipation of a difficulty which has not yet arisen.
Take a short passage which at present is impossible for you to coordinate.
Slow it right down, analyse every movement of the fingers which is necessary in this passage and clarify in your mind the exact order of those movements.
Remain emotionally detached from the results; simply observe what happens when you repeat and repeat and repeat.
Relaxed mind makes for relaxed muscles.
And one day without warning the light switches on in your mind – this is easy!
The bad news is that sometimes this state is achieved once and then appears to go away again. I have often seen and heard a pupil play something which they thought they couldn’t - but then not be able to repeat the success. The way the mind tightens up is very subtle – the very thought that success has been achieved can produce a tightening in the muscles which makes it difficult to repeat the success.
Endless patience is needed – but if you persist you will find it is true. As long as you think something is difficult you will tighten up and it will remain impossible. When you have dissected it and analysed it and slowed it down and practised it again and again one day it will be easy.