The Joy of Consistency


Please, please stay focused.


Disclaimer:  This article is going to be hard-hitting and for good reason:  I want you to make progress towards achieving your piano ambitions without any ego interference but for that to happen, some heavy reminders and forceful motivation is required; a few reality checks, if you will.  So allow me to begin with the most important question of all:  Do you really want to get good at playing the piano or are you just messing around with a passive interest which will go nowhere beyond three chords on the white notes and playing with three rigid fingers?

There are so, so many people who would like to learn the piano; I see that from my own YouTube channel, others, viewers of this blogs, emails, comments, forums, etc. yet regrettably, many either want to be spoonfed the notes and fingering positions, not learn basic relevant theory and/or don't waste a minute a day on necessary-to-them technical exercises... or if they do, they do them half-heartedly.

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No matter what music you'd like to play or compose on the pano, you must know your major scales.  You don't need to worry about playing them super fast, just know the shapes.  Every chord, every melody, every other scale, every chord progression is based on the major scale or a slight variation thereof.  Knowing the major scales helps with orientation in a piece, memorisation of melody and chord progression, makes transposing easy (if you want or need to do that) and can be used to execute a huge variety of technical exercises to help with precision, dexterity and hand independence.  You must be consistent until you no longer require that consistency; you then move on to the next thing requiring consistency, ad nauseum.  It may be the major and minor chord shapes, playing arpeggios, playing left hand stride, learning chord extensions, etc.

You must be consistent or don't bother starting out in the first place because you'll only get frustrated and think you're not good enough, which is not true.

Consistency is made easier when you're working on things you truly enjoy so you must have spent some time recognising your musical personality and identifying theory and technical holes which apply to your path:  Do you like Chopin?  Great, so you need to learn how to read music.  Not straight off the page like Liszt but away from the piano; just learn what the notes are and a few dynamic markings.  It's not difficult.  A little consistency is all you need.  Want to play jazz?  Great, so you need to master timing, rootless extension voicings and modal theory (at least).  Listen a lot, learn the theory and enjoy your major scale mastery as you become more and more familiar with chord shapes and common progressions.  Just. Be. Consistent!  Or don't bother.

Perhaps you're one of those players/students who repetitively plays what you can already play?  This is stagnation.  If you're not prepared to make even the tiniest efforts to improve, take the money by selling your keyboard.  Consistency is such a huge word but is achieved through tiny steps.  There is no need to feel overwhelmed by the word.  One major scale a day.  One chord type in all twelve keys for the next three days.  Internal manuscript sight-reading practice for ten minutes twice a day.  Score analysis for five minutes while you're drinking tea.  These tiny moments will accumulate and you will notice improvements and improvements are motivating.

It may seem as if I never had consistency issues in my life, piano or not.  Well, I did but I have always been programmed to dissect difficulties and master these smaller parts.  I naturally enjoy dissection, checklists, babysteps; I find it very motivating to observe progress in myself and others.  When mastering French, for example, I used to read my wordlists systematically and filter them every few months to a new wordlist with only the words which hadn't stuck, plus new ones, then repeat, repeat, repeat, for many years.  I still do it to this day, albeit with less words now (thanks to consistency!)  Card magic is another passion:  I was consistent in adding material (techniques/ideas) to three categories in my mind:  card(s) selection / theme / revelation.  There are so, so many ideas for each, involving one or many cards that even after 16 years, I still realise or read new things which can be added to one of the categories.  I often dissect into little notes new things, drill them, practise new techniques I never cared for (colour changes, mainly) but above all, I am consistent.  I can discuss many other topics such as diet (low carb/high fat/greens/spices), exercise (Qi Gong, fast walks, plank), etc. but I can assure you that I have been consistent in them to this day.

I guess I'm trying to transmit the joy of consistency.  In fact, I had originally titled this article: Consistency or Nothing - but as you will have noticed, I updated it after writing the previous sentence because that's exactly why I wanted to write this article.

I want you to be consistent on Your piano path.  I want you to know for certain that your piano ambitions are a lot closer than you think; it really, really isn't so difficult.  You only have 10 fingers, two hands, 12 major scales, let's say five or six common chords to learn, three popular chord progressions and two common time signatures, plus a couple of rhythms to portray.  At the end of the day, there is a limit to what you can play, contrary to popular belief.  You are limited to the above and you don't even need to acquire all of it because Your path is personalised and doesn't need every aspect of pianism.

To conclude:  Ask yourself if you really care to play the piano.  If yes, which I hope is the answer, get the major scales down.  Get some chord templates and progressions down and play them in all keys.  Listen a lot to your favourite music more closely than before.  Try some finger independence exercises.  Test your internal metronome.  Visualise often on your internal piano.  Sit properly at the piano and don't have bad posture or saggy wrists... and bloom, thanks to your new-found...

Joy of Consistency!

And remeber, you're not alone.  I have 300+ videos, growing weekly.  Specialised playlists.  Regular articles.  And...

I'm pleased to announce that a no longer secret website project has been under development for the last few weeks.  It's a video management website through which you will be able to manage my videos much more efficiently.  Once registered (for free), you'll be able to add videos to your own watchlist and enjoy themes, video of the day and personalised recommendations based on what you have and haven't watched already.  All videos are ordered from most recent (since YouTube doesn't like promoting my content) so you can enjoy lots of missed content.  There will be an FAQ page, testimonials from those who have benefited from the Water Pianism philosophy and more features coming soon such as commenting (nothing to do with YouTube comments) and more recommended playlists by me, for different paths.  I'm also starting work on my Water Pianism syllabus, which will be accessible to registered members too, in a few weeks/months.  Please follow my social media (Facebook or Instagram) to be notified of the website's release.

And how is all this happening?