10 Minutes @ The Piano

A little chat.

(Article associated with my newest playlist entitled 'Ten Minutes @ The Piano')

Even if you have some experience, consider this your first ever piano lesson.  Try to forget what knowledge you have acquired and what pieces you can play, as well as what you are working on now and whatever your short-term piano plans are.

I am often asked questions which relate to finger technique, body posture, sight-reading or piano theory which in themselves are very useful and practical skills that indeed should be developed and maintained throughout a pianist's life; however, I am never asked questions which do not involve the body/fingers or music theory in terms of how to improve at the piano.

(Consider my new eBook: Water Pianism)

It is not uncommon to believe that only a combination of knowledge and practice improve a pianist's skills.  Whilst piano knowledge is useful in understanding what is to be played and piano practice is useful in reinforcing what is to be played, have you ever considered what exists beyond the piano, its theory and the body/fingers themselves?  Where is the knowledge stored or what is controlling the fingers?  Why do we want to use a piano to express ourselves?  What is it that we want to express?

There exists a three-part channel which must be understood and developed in the correct order so that the pianist gets the most benefit from each part and thus becomes the most naturally proficient and excellent pianist possible.  Usually, part two, the body/fingers, and part three, piano theory, receive an equal amount of attention and the third part is completely ignored.

That part, of course, is the Mind.

Without it, your fingers don't move and knowledge cannot be acquired or applied which leaves quite a mystery as to why it is given so little, if any, time at all in the life of a pianist of any experience.

Rather than discussing piano theory (for which Google is your friend) or body/finger enhancements in too much detail, I would like to encourage you to think about the value of the Mind and how it can help you to become that wonderful pianist you so long to be but don't realise or believe you already are.

Below are two ways how one is not advised to approach the piano:

Piano > Body > Mind

Body > Piano > Mind

Below is how one is advised to approach the piano:

Mind > Body > Piano

I now wish to pose the readership a question: does a pianist really need a piano to be a pianist?

Well, I think that the answers to that question help to understand why one must begin with the mind and not the body or piano theory.

In my Water Pianism philosophy, the mind has three components: the natural Self, the Ego and the Inspirational Source.  An understanding of these three components (see link) will enable You to see how to bring the best out of yourself, namely: ignoring the poisonous Ego, allowing the Inspirational Source to feed you wisdom, ideas and creativity and simply being your natural Self which observes these negative and positive inputs and selects which one to listen to (I hope you choose the latter).
Next, one would do well to question exactly why they want to play the piano but this does not only mean "Because I want to play Einaudi music", or "My friend told me it's easy", or "Mum said I should play an instrument", or "I'm bored", or "I want to become rich and famous", ... you get the idea.  The answer to this question must be something even deeper; Why do you want to play Einaudi's music?  Why do you want to become rich and famous?

You must trust in your answers, and the questions themselves, because they will set you on the correct path on which you will work your body and acquire knowledge appropriate to your natural Self.  Method books do not accommodate well because they are very impersonal and unnatural to most followers.  Learning simple sight-reading pieces, Italian terms and Bach may well not be what you want to achieve on the piano, so spending time on it would be futile at this stage.

Of course, one regularly updates their goals, ambitions, interests and tastes just as much as one is always experiencing new things and coming to new realisations about life and music, and as such, ones piano interests are simply updated accordingly.  One day, you never know, you may enjoy Bach and want to acquire sight-reading skills (!?) but forcing such things at unnatural times impedes progress and lowers enjoyment.

Another significant reason to focus on the mind during your piano life is that, even if you don't have constant access to a physical piano, the mind is the most perfect replacement.  In fact, the fingers can do what the mind can imagine them doing and the fingers cannot do what the mind cannot imagine them doing.  Based on this, we could say that a piano is not required as much as previously expected and assumed.

In addition to this, in terms of the body, one already has 'arm strength', 'finger flexibility' and the ability to coordinate fingers and once again, a physical piano is not at all required to further enhance these.

By working on such exercises mentally and physically (the gym/stress-ball squeezing) away from the piano,  when one returns to the piano, nothing has been lost and, quite likely, more will have been gained.

When learning new songs or major scales, whilst playing them at the piano (with the eyes closed to remove visual interference) is beneficial for feel and precision, they can be equally as well internalised on the 'internal piano' as at the physical piano.  This means that, instead of complaining that not much time is available for 'piano practice', one can simply bring up the internal piano, visualise the 12 major scales and imagine how the fingers would play them.

What is remarkable and perhaps unbelievable for you at this stage, is that, truthfully, whatever processes your brain is undertaking at the piano when learning to finger major scales naturally, it will be doing exactly the same thing without the physical piano!  So, no more excuses about no time.

Do you notice how the above does not yet even required you to go to a piano?  You can work on your mind anywhere and you can strengthen your muscles and finger flexibility anywhere you wish.  You can internalise chord sequences, new songs (through repetitive listening) all away from the piano.  You can identify your Musical Personality anywhere, too.

So, at the end of all of this, an empty, lifeless box of wood with strings and hammers is just waiting patiently for a thoughtful, balanced, honest, Purposeful performer with good, strong shoulder, upper and forearm muscle strength and ell-flexed finger tendons to bring it to life.

Begin with the mind; the piano is too lifeless to offer anything and the body is just patiently waiting for commands from a balanced place of intention and pure honesty.

As always:  Play You.

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