Five Beginner Videos

Start your journey here...

I have created this article with the wholehearted intention of providing newcomers to both my channel and the piano with the five most beneficial videos to assist in their destinationless journey of piansim.

Of late, I have noticed a trend in my YouTube video views: much traffic comes in via my most popular video yet my newer content is not being seen.  This is disappointing because so many comments and emails are asking me questions which are presented, even titled, in the newer videos.  This article hopes to bridge this divide.

When viewing videos on my channel, you would do very well to see the description boxes because so much more information may be found there for your benefit.

In addition to this existing popular article, which is more philosophical in nature, and this existing popular playlist, which will take you on a very exciting journey of self discovery and the mind, this particular list will provide benefits from 'at-the-piano'-type videos, ideas and exercises rather than 'away-from-the-piano'-type philosophies, as can be found all over my channel and blog.

Do also consider my eBooks and podcast collection which go hand-in-hand with my videos and provide additional inspiration, motivation and knowledge for all ages and levels who feel themselves ready to drop the ego and play according to their nature.

Let us begin...

Neglected Practice Techniques

Practising is one thing, practising wrong or unnecessary things is another.  In this video, understand that playing over and over the same things may well enhance your muscle memory but a chimp can do that, and you are not a chimp.

Understand that much many more benefits can be experienced if one focuses on the contents of this video:  dynamics, finger individuality and endurance.  Applying dynamics to your technical exercises will teach you how to control the power you have over the keys.  Developing the ability to have each finger control loudness/softness during performance enhances your ability , sound and touch.

Finger individuality teachers you to see ten fingers as a whole and not five fingers on the left and five on the right.  Understand that each finger is capable of doing whatever the other nine are capable of doing and these exercises will encourage you to reach that pinnacle.  Endurance is so important because one tires easily during execution, both physically and mentally.  Extended repetitions will reveal weakness to be strengthened and make you a much better pianist in the long run.

Liszt was known to have never sweated during performances; he quite simply understood the philosophy of endurance-during-practice and energy conservation during performance.

Personalising Practice

Once again, practising anything from technical exercises to repertoire difficulties can be boring and exhausting.  This video encourages you to personalise and play with difficulties.  Mastering major scales?  Chords? Arpeggios?  Progressions?  Phrases?  Just play around with them and change them in terms of tempo, key, dynamics, rhythm... One you have mastered a difficulty in ways other than the original form, you will have little, if any, difficulty in executing it normally.

Liszt himself played scales and arpeggios using all finger combinations, as can be seen here.

Precision and Parallel Motion

An incredibly common issue for newcomers and even experienced performers is to play with precision, especially with the eyes closed, which is best.  This video encourages you to play around with 'both hands' and use the major scales and chromatic scale, as well as chords if you wish, to enhance your precision.

Once you know what an interval feels like and once you stop concentrating on both hands (which means 50% left, 50% right... limiting!), your precision will improve astonishingly.  Remember that it is not your eyes that play the piano but your inspirational source using the body as a tool.  The tool needs to be mastered and refined and this only reaches the highest levels when the ego doesn't get involved via the eyes!

Liszt described such an idea as a technique of the soul; something far beyond mere bodily abilities.

Sense of Rhythm

What is music without rhythm?  I already discuss the internal metronome but having a sense of rhythm is a different philosophy, as explained in this video.  The I.P., basically, is the internal ticker... 1...2...3...4... no matter the time signature or tempo.  The sense of rhythm is your performance/bodily movements atop that internal ticker.

See a guitarist playing solo Bossa Nova; he has a sense of rhythm.  Solo piano? He has a sense of rhythm:  they enable you to feel the rhythm and tempo without a bass player or drummer.  That's your ideal and it's only possible by being aware of your internal piano and taking the ideas from this video to enlighten you to your very natural and real sense of rhythm!

Liszt spoke of rhythm as not being something strict but flexible, yet never losing time.  In other words, don't sound like a robot.

Breaking Your Brain

Both hands doing different things is only a difficulty because the mind is treating them as two different things.  In fact, you simply have ten fingers.  This video gives you some fun exercises to do, eyes closed, to train brain to bring both hands into one unit.  Whilst they may seem very difficult in the beginning, you will be astonished at how quickly you are able to do them.  The benefits include removing conscious interference and improving you general playing fluency, both in performance and practice, because the ego is less involved in trying to control everything.

The best fingering comes from eyes closed (or reading Shakespeare!) and not expecting to find 'the way', because you will not.  The exercises of this video will prove most beneficial to you in more ways than I can possibly note here.  Self-discovery is key.

Liszt used to read when doing technical exercises, thus completely removing any chance for this interfering mind to 'do the fingering' for him.