Piano: The Little Voice

Hello my fellow musicians, artists, and music lovers,

Do you practice intuitively? Listening to what feels right to work on right now? Paying attention to the little voice that says “STOP!” or “move on?” Not holding yourself to any kind of regimented schedule?

I have to confess that this week, I did NOT practice intuitively, and the consequences were not so good. Faced with 2 recital programs to learn in 2 weeks, I sat down with the scores, designated the priority ones, wrote a list of all the spots I needed to learn, and then……I panicked. The panic was less helpful, so I squelched that down and chained myself to the piano to work at a hurried and maniacal pace. Every spare moment was spent grimly running my fingers and drilling. I skipped meals, and I skipped exercise, prioritizing work over health.

Thank goodness this didn’t last long. Under the pressure to accomplish too much, my body started to protest and I felt emotional and physical burn-out to the point of tears.

After the burn-out event, I decided that I was going to listen to my intuition instead of my rational mind. That I would ask the little voice what I needed to work on to prepare for my rehearsals. And how I needed to prepare for them. And you know…..it prepared me perfectly for the pieces that needed to be ready. Some rehearsals asked me to have 2 pieces ready….my little voice would tell me to practice just one, and lo and behold, we would end up not having time for the second piece. Everything happened in a perfectly balanced timing. I found myself doing more slow practice and breathing more. And I didn’t have to sacrifice taking care of myself.

Intuition is one way of making art. Actually, it’s the only way I myself know how to make art, at the piano and otherwise. For me, the biggest challenge is trusting my intuition above what I think others expect of me. I wanted to be so perfect to please the people I was rehearsing with. And I learned that this mindset did not serve me.

I think it’s very hard to set aside pressure. To prioritize trusting our inner guidance rather than the external pressures we put on ourselves: to impress others, to be perfect, to prove we can do it, to make others happy.

Yet, if we truly want to make authentic art, we have to let this go. To listen to your inner voice while practicing is your greatest gift and strength as a authentic musician and artist. Your intuition is unique to you…it speaks to you and only to you.

If you feel like it, I’d love to encourage you to talk to your intuition this week [if you don’t already do so]. Ask it what to work on next. Ask it when to move on. Ask it how you need to practice right now. And above all, ask it to help you find your own voice through the music. What do you have to say?

Let me know how it goes! I always love your comments.

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