Proper piano practising

Proper piano practising. A reflection and clarification of my last WKMT article

The title of this, my post, describes my life challenge. I’m continually trying to improve the way I take advantage of my time when I practise. Time is a precious asset and wasting it goes directly to our musical interests.

Organising our studying time in blocks of extreme mental focusing is fundamental. Practising blocks longer than 45 minutes can prove to be inefficient. If you have your initial stages cleared, you will need to spread three hours of exercising through your day for the rest of your life. The latter might sound overwhelming, but if done correctly, these three hours a day will be the ones you will enjoy the most.

Scales and arpeggios take a big part of this time. We need to commit at least 15 mins to 30 minutes to warm up our performance apparatus. Without this preparation, we would end warning out our pieces with an excess of repetitions. After we have warmed up, we go directly to the “learning of new material” stage. At least this is the way I choose to use my first 1 or two hours. Learning new musical material is what requires the most of our intellectual energy and therefore tackling this task when we are fresher might be a good idea. After we have spent some ours applying our piano-memorizing-process, we can then start with our repertoire maintenance tasks.

Maintaining our repertoire is one of our most important duties, after all as pianists it is essential we are capable of playing pieces professionally at all times – at least something! – I tend to focus on those pieces that are either my battle horses or the ones I need to perform in my next concerts. To maintain them, I mainly apply two different complementary methods: 1. I run through them by heart in very slow-motion, singing the leading notes. 2. If I find a passage I’m flaking at or I know I’m struggling with a particular section, I work on it separately and intensely. How? By clearing up the movements, I assign to each micro-passage and how my “negative movements” interact with my positive ones.

The primary purpose of our studies is to prevent any paralysing reaction/s during our performance/s. Stress is fueled by anxiety and uncertainty, for that reason clearing all possible emerging doubts beforehand can prove to be the best solution for our stage fright.

Juan Jose Rezzuto