"Play Piano As Fast As Possible!"Written by Ronald Worthy
Copyright 2005 RAW Productions
One of rules of practicing we all hear over and over is "Be sure to practice slowly." (I'm guilty of this too!) Often result of this is a feeling of inhibition, which leads to tedium. Picture yourself filled with excitement and yearning in setting out to learn a new piece. Suddenly a voice from darkness whispers: "Don't touch those keys! Sit erect, play slowly, stay strictly in time, watch that fingering..." and your smile is gone. I'm beginning to feel a cramp just talking about it.
The fact is, a certain amount of slow practice and attention to small scale detail is absolutely necessary. But there is something lacking in approach so many of us have taken; we set out to make music, and end up playing what amounts to no more than a series of sterile exercises.
How can we overcome this problem?
First of all, it's important to remember that music comes to life through shading, dynamics, differences in touch, shapes of its phrases, rhythmic vitality that is so much a part of right tempo. These qualities are all missing in a slow, rigid "practice" version of a piece. They are just as essential as correct fingering, and they don't come across without careful work.
So, perhaps we should change that rule from "Be sure to practice slowly" to "Practice as fast as possible." But Wait! This requires some further discussion. The slow part of practice helps teach fingers where to go, and makes it mush easier to learn work. But in order to learn how to create music, how to make piece sing—we must practice it at a tempo that will help reveal musical relationships and subtleties of form.
Pianists must have opportunity to experiment with touch and phrasing while practicing, and there is little chance of boredom when so many exciting elements are introduced to practice session.
Get a New Point of ViewWritten by Kathy Paauw
Copyright 2005 Kathy Paauw
Ask yourself these powerful questions: 1. Are you affected by what happens to you? 2. Do you affect what happens to you? 3. Which would you prefer?
In The Art of Possibility, authors Rosamund and Benjamin Zander remind us of our tremendous ability to attract what we want in our lives by being purposeful. In addition to being co-author of this wonderful book, Ben Zander is also conductor of Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a teacher at New England Conservatory of Music. After 25 years of teaching, Ben Zander recognized that students would be in such a chronic state of anxiety over measurement of their performance that they would be reluctant to take risks with their playing. One evening Ben brainstormed with his wife, Roz (she is a therapist), to see if they could think of something that would dispel students' anticipation of failure. Here's what they came up with… Ben had a class of 30 graduate students taking a two-semester exploration into art of musical performance, including psychological and emotional factors that can stand in way of great music-making. He announced at beginning of semester that each student in class would be getting an A for course. However, they were asked to fulfill one requirement to earn this grade. Sometime during next two weeks, each student was to write him a letter dated for following May, which began with words, "Dear Mr. Zander, I got my A because...". In letter they were to tell a detailed story of what would have happened to them by next May that was in line with them receiving an A in his class.
In other words, Zander asked students to place themselves in future, looking back, and to report on all insights they acquired and milestones they attained during school year, as if those accomplishments were already in past. He asked them to write about person they would have become by next May. You'll have to get The Art of Possibility to read some of amazing letters Ben Zander received from his students.
Zander tells us that “the A is an invention that creates possibility for both mentor and student, manager and employee, or for any human interaction. The practice of giving an A allows teacher to line up with her students in their efforts to produce outcome, rather than lining up with standards against these students. In first instance, instructor and student, or manager and employee, become a team for accomplishing extraordinary; in second, disparity in power between them can become a distraction and an inhibitor, drawing energy away from productivity and development.”