PIANO: Contrary motion

Hello fellow musicians!

I've been enjoying the luxury of practicing for myself this summer. I'm learning Beethoven's Op. 109, which I've always loved. 

A simple suggestion for today.

While learning the Beethoven, I noticed I was being a "good student" and playing the written dynamics and articulations exactly. With my repetitions, I'd refine the gestures and clean up the notes....but I kept practicing basically "the way it would sound" for performance. Yet somehow, my work wasn't sticking.

duck art.jpeg

So one day, I decided to deliberately play with opposites, to play contrary to the markings on the page. I practiced fast/loud/legato passages slow/quiet/staccato. And vice versa. The practicing became about discovery, not just clocking in the hours/notes. I started to notice that the control used in quiet playing strengthened my note accuracy. I found that the staccato practice helped me refine physical gestures. Playing slow passages quickly helped me find the sense of line, of direction. Best of all, I did not get bored.....because at the end of the day, it is our lapses in focus that create our mistakes.

 I noticed immediate results, even in practice sessions on the same day. 

I feel that practicing opposites is really important,  ESPECIALLY important for pianists. It teaches us how to adjust on the fly...to a different space or even to a different instrument. Even if you never perform in public, your teacher's piano may feel very different than yours and perhaps you do have to play with different weight and articulation than what you did at home. Every piano has a unique feel and sound and often it is the unfamiliarity of the instrument that throws off our focus (either in touch or sound). To strengthen your adjusting skills, I highly advocate practicing in the way I described above.

Please let me know how it works for you in the comments below. (And if it doesn't work, let me know that too.....we can refine this process together).

Happy 4th of July!

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