How I Got Where I Am

And How You Can Too...

I have a lot of playlists.  See them all here, ordered by Latest Video Added. It's important to promote my newer content because YouTube has a useless habit of promoting older content only.  I have some plans for a few new playlists but for now, I'd like to dedicate this article to a playlist of just two videos in which I will share the ways I reached a level of proficiency in various Mind, Body and Piano elements in the hope that you will adopt them on your own path and personalise them.

A lot of what I did during my early days was unconscious and without philosophic or educational intent; many of the internal philosophies of Water Pianism were happening for at least a decade before I put them all together for others.

The videos demonstrate the technical and theoretical aspects of pianism and my progress with each.  Each video is sprinkled with just enough Water Pianism philosophy and commentary on the Mind and Body elements to hopefully nudge you in a positive direction so that you can follow a more honest path; Your path, on which you acquire what You need, when You it and set Your goals to achieve at Your pace.  Water Pianism is truly all about You, not 'a method'.

The first video deals with the technical aspects of pianism, namely: rapidity, precision, stylistic traits (arpeggios, stride, etc.), fluency, touch, dynamics, natural fingering, endurance, etc. and how I used various exercises and personalised games to achieve my level, including how I might use newer ideas if i wanted to take my level beyond stratospheric!

Technique is often assumed to be a finality; it is not.  Some see technique as a struggle and rate theirs against others', using it to gauge their own progress as if their paths and natural learning paces are equal; they are not.  You would do well to see technique as: 'a continually progressive, ever personalised state of ability'.  This means you accept where you're at and know that wherever you or anyone else with their technique, it's never the best and it's always unique to the individual.

Personalised technique is an important philosophy to understand because it implies that some technique is for you and some isn't.  It also implies that the way you acquire and execute a technique is also unique to you.  First and foremost, recognise that there is some small percentage of technique which, no matter how easily or with difficulty it is acquired and no matter which repertoire is performed, it applies to every pianist.  From the list above, I propose that these are:  precision and fluency.  It's irrelevant if you have very dexterous fingers (rapidity), can play for a long time (endurance) or use natural fingering (removal of conscious interference)... if you keep missing notes and hesitating, you're not a very good pianist!

In this video, therefore, I demonstrate my favourite precision technique and my favourite endurance technique.  Be sure to execute them when sitting in such a way that you have no 'energy puddles': the wrists are slightly below the elbows, first knuckles slightly below wrists, second knuckle line below first and finger tips below all.  This allows power/energy/control, call it what you will, to flow uninterruptedly from your sturdy core, through your unslouching shoulders and to the piano.  I used these exercises in my early days and blended the idea with major scale mastery and chords because precision in these two pianistic elements is beyond paramount, if such a word exists.  To further enhance your abilities and reduce conscious interference, do both hands independently and together with your eyes closed.  Learning to trust your body is enormously important.  Your mind will only impede you in any movements, big or small, that you make.

Behind all my technique is a mindset of observation; a calm, non-interfering mind which watches what my fingers do and doesn't concern itself with the how's and why's.  I like to call this 'the get-over-it-! philosophy', which is a fun way to say: stop thinking! If you know it, you know it; if you can do it, you can do it.  Imagine celebrating every time you finished a sentence, or walked up some steps.  You don't because you've gotten over the fact that you can speak fluently and not lose your balance.  It's exactly this mindset you need when practising and performing.  Enjoy the fact you can do something, observe it silently and get over it!  Your joy is better spent on silent observation than pride.

My greatest weakness was my left hand in descending patterns, no matter scale or chord.  Fortunately, I understood the 'dissection philosophy' and the 'personalisation philosophy' so I inherently set out to strengthen this weakness.  I say weakness; it wasn't a physical issue, it was co-ordinatory.  My left hand's fingers could move and play notes in general but they refused, or did so with great discomfort, to operate in a descending fashion, which means thumb to little finger, no matter the interval or distance.

I broke this problem down into its smaller components: thumb to index, index to middle, middle to ring, ring to little, then alternating thumb to each finger, only descending.  I used the chromatic scale, major scales (mixing 'black' and 'white' notes) and stayed in one octave until I felt capable to go over two octaves.  I used a metronome to monitor my progress:  can I do this with two notes per beat at 60BPM?  Eventually, yes.  Pushed it up to 80BPM.  Can I?  Yes, finally.  Up to 120BPM... 160BPM... eyes closed.  All good.  At each finger movement, I was mindful.  My conscious mind was absolutely with each finger, I could see the intervals on my internal piano and enhanced my precision when descending.  Then, I applied the results to repertoire and felt much lighter and less fearful of slipping up.  I often combine technical requires so I'll alter dynamics and tempo, rhythm and time signature to really get into the feel of a technique.  You, of course, would do well to do likewise.

Before closing this video, I discuss how I would use the dissection philosophy to master a difficulty at (or away) from the piano, knowing that whatever it is, is is surely something about precision and natural fingering more than anything else, so consider this on your own journey.  All difficulties can be overcome by mastering the smaller/est components of it and bringing them together.

In conclusion of this first video, identify your needs, don't compare, sit well, close your eyes, be patient, be mindful, dissect and mix and match your weaknesses with things you can do well... and enjoy the destinationless journey!


Part 2/2 is available above.  It's shorter so I just recommend you enjoy it instead of me making this article longer than it is already!