Playing yourself out

Pianists and other musicians understand that it can be very easy for your playing to plateau. Often it is more of an emotional plateau than an actual physical halt in progress but everybody who plays experiences this sooner or later.

For beginners it usually occurs shortly after they have managed to put their initial chords together and established their first rhythm patterns. The strange thing is many people become discouraged during this period because it feels like they are just playing the same thing over and over and not getting any better, when in actual fact it is in those moments that the real progress takes place.

Here is the crucial point where you have to keep practicing and playing the same chords or patterns over and over again without getting frustrated, or worse, bored of playing the piano.

But how can you do it? How can you keep going?

Keep these three things in mind:

1. Remember. Always remember why you started to learn to play the piano.

2. Inspiration. Search for your best source of inspiration; keeping track of your favorite pianists and composers and always listening to all kinds of music to get inspired.

3. Routine. Build your own practice routine, a routine that best suits your needs and what you are wanting to achieve.
Good luck with this!

Posted by Ben Edwards

Evelyn Glennie

Touching the sound!

This post, besides being a fount of inspiration is going to be more of a “heads up” about listening.
On the “playing with a band” blog post I mentioned that piano players can always play by themselves if they want to. The piano is an instrument that allows you to do that. It’s not like a drummer who needs of more musicians to create something more melodic… pianists can create magnificent musical pieces on their own, how lucky you Rocket Piano-ers are!?

Anyway, when playing with a band you have to LISTEN to the other band members, especially when improvising.

Listening is one of the most essential things in music, when creating and of course when playing it. I want to share with you a magnificent virtuoso percussionist from Scotland, Evelyn Glennie who has been profoundly deaf since age 12.

This does not inhibit her ability to perform at the international level. She regularly plays barefoot for both live performances and studio recordings, to better “feel” the music. Glennie contends that deafness is largely misunderstood by the public. She claims to have taught herself to hear with parts of her body other than her ears.

Here is Evelyn discussing how to listen with your whole body rather than simply using your ears.

Indeed, this is a highly valuable lecture for any musician and the reason I’ve included it here on the Rocket Piano blog is because of the highly tactile nature of the piano and how this instrument makes such a tight connection between physical approach (pressing keys down, soft or harder), the intellectual (musicality) and the emotional. Remember there are no rules and no right or wrong – we all hear differently, we all play differently! Groove to the beat of your own drum.

If you are planning to watch a movie at some point this week, check out the “Touch of sound: A sound Journey with Evelyn Glennie”. I watched it last weekend. It’s a documentary not to be missed by anyone who loves music as well as anyone who simply wants to feel things differently.

I hope you enjoy it!