5 Mistakes Piano Beginners Make

Did you know that the difference between snowmen and snowwomen is snowballs?


Learning the piano is exciting.  You are sitting before a huge world of opportunities, emotions and sounds.  You will develop your own brain and fingers in many ways and be able to touch many people with your growing abilities.

However, many people do not make the correct decisions early on and making correct decisions at this stage is just as important as daily practice, if not more so.  It can be compared with starting out on a journey, only to be heading in the wrong direction; it doesn't matter how well-equipped you are, how clear your map is, how good your walking shoes are or how much food and water you packed.  If you're walking in the wrong direction with the map upside down, you ain't doin' it right!

In this little gem of an article, I'd like to share what I have acknowledged as 5 Mistakes Piano Beginners Make.  It would be very beneficial to share this list with students, even new teachers, or those who you know are hoping to embark on their piano journey very soon or have even started tickling the ivories already.  I would like to know I have helped at least one person start the piano on the right footing.

Mistake #1:  Thinking that the right hand is more important than the left hand.

Terrible.  Tragic.  a huge mistake!  At the beginning, you must treat your hands equally.  Even if you are right-handed; on the piano, you are nothing-handed!  So, it's like learning to write as a baby again, just with a bigger, noisier pen.  Whatever, and I mean whatever you learn with your right hand, learn and do with your left hand at exactly the same speed and develop equipower between your hands.  Maybe the intro of Liszt's Mazeppa, played by the greatest Liszt interpreter to have ever lived, George Cziffra, will give you an idea as to why both hands must share power and independence:

 


Mistake #2Speed!  Must play fast to be amazing!

Oh, don't be so ridiculous.  What is speed?  It is not a goal, it is an ornament; an ornament to be applied sparingly when required.  Speed is something you will acquire passively, without focusing on it above all other more important things.  Speed comes from a freedom of the mind knowing what must be played in the following few seconds and the fingers simply following this subconscious command.  If speed be involved in this command, the speed will come out naturally because you will have mentally trained your mind over the months and years to accept no boundaries, no limits in playing, thus speed becomes not 'speed' but something of a 'necessary sound' to be produced.  It is just part of the music, like rests (silence!).


Mistake #3:  Thinking Classical music is boring

You are a fool to think that Classical (Beethoven) and Romantic-period (Liszt/Chopin) piano music is boring.  In fact, I would suggest you don't bother wasting your time on a piano ever again.  The only reason piano music exists for you to play is because those great, enormously genius musical giants dedicated their every waking minute to writing music for the world to enjoy.  They pushed every limit in composition and piano technique (more so Liszt than any other in terms of technique).  They wrote for the passion, for true love, sadness and longing, they wrote for nature, art, travel and adventure; they wrote for Purpose, intent, from the heart and to communicate their emotions, feelings, thoughts and desires through music.  If you consider all of these things boring, perhaps you should question if you are actually alive?


Mistake #4:  Too much practice (unfocused) practice

Surprisingly, you don't need to practice every day with your hands on the piano.  Furthermore, you need to realise that you have two choices:  do you become a technician, or a musician.  These are the only two options.  If you wish to become a technician, then study 3-5 hours every single day; pain your hands into executing every single scale, major and minor, every arpeggio of the 5 main chord types (major, minor, major 7, minor 7, minor-major 7), with both hands, at phenomenal speed.  This will not make you a pianist, this will create a robot out of you; a heartless, musical-less machine.  A musician, on the other hand, lives.  He develops his technique in accordance with his needs.  If you wish to become a concert pianist, plan your year into months and your months into weeks and your weeks into days.  This way, your energy is spread out yet never wasted and your playing will become more emotional.  Your technique and technical abilities will grow in harmony with your repertoire and desires, rather than a manic urge to become a technician who never lives and who can't actually play the piano, just use it.  What a loss.


Mistake #5:  Not learning to sight-read because it takes too much effort

Sight-reading is not boring.  Sight-reading is actually an insight into the great mind of the composer.  Once you start to realise that studying a score is just like having a conversation with the genius who wrote the music, it becomes less of a chore and more of an exciting activity.  You love a Chopin piece but you don't read music so well?  No problem, go online and watch a tutorial on YouTube for how to play it.  Memorise the notes and internalise it.  Great.  You can now 'play' that Chopin piece.  Now what?  Go and watch another video and learn another piece?  If this is your intention, stop now.  You are making a piano cry!  Get any recommended sight-reading book, preferably one with flash-card type practice bars, and progress through it every day, every week, every month for a good solid year.  During your studies, spend some time with Chopin, Liszt or Beethoven.  You don't realise it yet, but they are telling you how to play their music.  They are talking to you: "Dear student, use the pedal here unlike that YouTube video you watched"  "My great student, play this trill more slowly and get louder; this is what I heard when I wrote it, so please do it".


Think about it.

Hopefully this blog entry was useful for you.  Please feel free to comment, share or send me a comment using the form to the left if you wish to appear in the People, Promotions or Support page(s).  Liking the FB Community Page would be marvellous!

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