I have been conducting piano lessons in a one-on-one environment for many years. Many of these clients have been adults who already had a fair to good amount of previous experience with reading and playing the piano. Their knowledge of and ability to play chords has also been significant enough in order that they might be competent enough to be able to perform a rendition of a favorite standard song in a decent fashion.
Yet it has always interested me that, despite their possession of such knowledge and skills, many of them have one significant characteristic in common:
Their playing lacks that “certain something” that lets a listener know they are in command of that piano keyboard in terms of producing genuine music.
Note that I said their playing lacks that “certain something” rather than saying they don’t possess such ability.
So, what’s responsible for this lack of confidence that is necessary for a performance to come across as convincing? Well, simply put, the music cannot come out of the instrument if it does not first reside in the performer. I see it time and time again where an individual will approach playing a song as if they are mechanically trying to make that piano do what they want. In other words, rather than hearing and feeling the song within and allowing that experience to be naturally conveyed to the instrument, they seem to view the piano as a “machine” to which they are giving instructions via “pushing buttons.”
This is an issue that is much easier conveyed one-on-one than it is via writing about, of course. However, it is so important to the musician who aspires to play authentically that it needs to be addressed. I created two specific video sessions that are aimed at helping a pianist to get that “flow” happening in his or her playing as well as providing suggestions for how to approach playing those left-hand chords in a way that makes musical sense. You can access How To Play Standard Songs With Confidence #1 and #2 by clicking here.
Remember, if you are not able to fluently sing a song – at least hearing and feeling it within – then your potential for performing that song in a fashion that “sings” is rather limited. Therefore, a preliminary suggestion is to familiarize yourself with that song so well internally that what your “singing on the inside” must inevitably be projected through your instrument and, ultimately, to your listeners’ ears. Once you master this relationship between yourself and your instrument, your music will always be taken seriously.