Essentials Mastery

For all perceived skill levels.

This article is associated with this video which provides example exercises for all the points made in this article:

It was Master Suzuki who said, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few", something a lot of pianists, no matter their experience, would do well to take into consideration.

Too often, the further one believes to have journeyed, the less one believes more is to be acquired.  This is the detrimental, egocentric 'expert's mind'.  Call a concert pianist of 30 years a beginner and you will offend them; call me a beginner even in 30 years from now and I'll thank you for realising!  This is the difference.

A beginner's mind means to always be aware that the journey ahead is longer than one's own lifetime of learning could ever master, no matter the duration or intensity of that journey so far.  And that's OK.  It further means that what would be considered 'basic' to an expert's mind is continually respected and seen as 'essential' to the beginner's mind.

If that made sense, you may enjoy delving a little deeper into what I call Water Pianism and even consider joining the Community (link to that on the Page itself).

The contents of this article relate to the Piano component of the Energy Channel, ignoring the Mind and Body components which are discussed here and here, as well as in almost every article and video of mine!

So what are the essentials one is to master, the respect and never forget, no matter one's current progress?

First of all, be sure to understand the concept of the Internal Piano.

The Essentials, in musically logical order, are each to be mastered in all twelve keys (apart from #1, of course) before moving on to the next:

1.  Chromatic scale (half-tone intervals)
2.  Major scales (whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half-tone interval pattern)
4.  Minor triads
5.  Adding the Major 7th to both triads
6.  Adding the dominant 7th to both triads.

(Minor scales not on the list? Are you insane?  No.  Minor scales come from Major Scales, so you need to know those first anyway before you can even find minor scales of any kind.  Further, one rarely finds 'minor scales' in music, only in exam demands.  So, realistically, despite the traditional mindset, don't stress yourself over minors unless you have an exam coming up; even if you want to learn them, everything in this article still applies).

What that list implies is that anything ever written, from Mozart to Elton John, includes at least some of those essentials and fortunately, whilst they are in musically logical order, they also happen to be in 'order of commonality'.  Once mastered and maintained, in order, all music instantly becomes accessible to you, even if it comes with new difficulties such as new chord types (but what is life without challenges...? See the picture at the top of this article).

As part of your learning and mastering them, it is important to recognise that they are beneficial in so many ways.

The above list, in addition to its unparalleled importance, offers opportunities to also practise, enhance and master, in no particular order, with the eyes closed for as much as possible:

1.  Precision;
2.  Muscle memory;
3.  Endurance;
4.  Timing;
5.  Patience;
6.  Finger independence;
7.  Dexterity;
8.  Hand independence;
9.  Internal piano visualisation;
10.  Ability to play in any key/transpose pieces
11.  Ability to acquire new chords and scales as required and apply the same mastery techniques to them effortlessly.

It must be understood that one never truly 'masters' this list above; it's a continuous striving to go higher and higher.  The first list at the beginning is to be mastered and how long that takes is down to the natural ability of the individual and not something to be worrying over.  Consider my YouTube channel and articles for videos on all those aspects.

Further, remember that every hand is different, resulting in slight differences from one pianist to another but do remember what applies to all: gravity works down; this is where the power and control come from: shoulder higher than elbow higher than wrist higher than middle hand higher than fingers. Play with the fingers - they are inherently strong enough.  More power? Use the wrists.  More power?  Use the forearms.  That said, 90%+ of the power ever needed is already stored in the fingers so manage power wisely and economically.

I trust that the combination of this article and video has enlightened you to a very important aspect of not only pianism but anything you may be doing in your life.

Enjoy, fellow beginner.