A Piano Practicing Technique That Works 100% Of The Time
This piano technique really will get those fingers to “think twice” before giving you a hard time again!
You know when those times arise – even though you know what fingerings you’re using for that little music segment you happen to be working on are the right ones – what seems to happen is that they just don’t happen to find their right place in a timely manner.
In other words, it just doesn’t “flow.” That fourth finger…or that thumb…etc. just isn’t getting to that key quickly enough.
Why? In many cases, if you slowly observe what’s going on with those finger movements of yours, you’ll find that the finger (or thumb) is not prepared early enough.
So, how do you find out for sure? So many people overlook this. This is such a valuable concept that I want you to have an automatic tool that’s there for you whenever you need it! Once you have this tool, you need to get it to work for you by regular use of it.
Deal? Okay, let’s take a look…
Have you ever seen a movie in slow motion or in “slow frame” mode? Perhaps you’ve done this while watching a movie on DVD or via a service like Hulu or Netflix. Once you stop the movie, you can advance it one frame at a time. The point here is that you are able to see the scene you are watching one frame at a time. In addition, you are able to “freeze” each frame for as long as you like. You even have the luxury of leaving that scene frozen on the screen long enough to go to the kitchen, get yourself a snack, and come back.
Well, if you have ever done this, you may have noticed that the particular scene that is held on the screen was viewed by you from a different perspective. For example, every element of that particular scene is observable. You are able to view it in much more detail than you would if the movie simply continued at regular speed. If the scene included someone walking from one room of their home to another, you were able to see the colors of the walls… or the molding in the doorway… or the expression on the character’s face… or what the character was wearing… you get the point.
That is the perspective I would like you to take when these piano fingering challenges present themselves. You will gain so much insight from applying this piano technique during your practice sessions, it’s almost uncanny…
If you had the luxury of recording your practice routine with a camcorder or the video feature on your phone, you would be able to play that back and take a look at each tiny segment of movement of your hands and fingers in the same way.
If recording yourself practicing isn’t very convenient, you can still “slow-frame” your act of practicing. How? Play the segment that you are working on as slowwwwwwwwly as possible and watch each and every finger and hand movement.
Play the musical passage as usual, except… slow things down to the point where you can see – really see – where that finger is directly prior to when it should be played. Often, you may find that it’s about two or three keys further away than it has to be (or more)!
This is truly eye-opening!
Somewhere within your effort in playing your example, you’ll usually find that there is some earlier movement or adjustment that you could be utilizing. Sometimes, it’s the hand helping the fingers cross. Other times, it could just be that your fingers need to extend a bit more to be closer to the target note, etc. In other instances, you might that a slight movement or the arm left or right would make a certain finger “stretch” possible.
Let’s Play Detective
In addition, pay attention to where your eyes are focused on during this “fingering stumble.” Notice what you are paying attention to.
The only way you can really fully understand the value of this is to experience it. This technique will become more and more valuable to you as you master its application. Please make it a part of your practice approach and you will discover for yourself that your entire piano playing experience has taken a turn for the better.
What else will happen? You will find that you actually look forward to these challenges. Why? Because every single time one presents itself, you will be in charge of it. Rather than looking it as an obstacle, you will know that it is a “key” waiting for you to grasp which, upon using it, will unlock technical secrets that you otherwise would have missed! You will learn to love being a “detective” as you proceed since you know for a fact that new discoveries are just around the corner!
The effectiveness of this kind of self-observation is so reliably powerful that I focus on this concept intensely in my 88 Keys To Learning program. Actually, when it comes to mastering a particular segment of a song (or an exercise) it’s a way of reducing 3 weeks of practice toa couple of hours. Each and every student who earnestly devotes his or her efforts in this way realizes results that are nothing short of fantastic.
This works for any musical segment you are wanting to improve technically. It’s mighty effective for segments of musical pieces, scales, patterns, and more.
When I am conducting my private lessons, I don’t think there is a piano teaching day that goes by without my encouraging a student to utilize this powerful eye-opening practice approach.
If this approach to practicing is new to you, I urge you to have an open mind as you apply it to your own practice sessions. What you will discover is that your alertness to what is really going on with those fingers and hands becomes enhanced the more you make this a habit. Practicing just won’t be the same again!