Getting beyond what we think is possible

We’ve both been there, right? Sitting at the piano, and practicing something that we can’t even imagine ourselves playing at the correct tempo.

Sometimes it’s a complex, written-out piece. At other times, it’s a chord progression that doesn’t seem to make any sense. And sometimes it’s just trying to get our hands to work together(!)

When this happens, it’s important to keep from getting frustrated. And often, the best way to do this is to temporarily forget about the “result.” Don’t worry about the future. Instead, slow down. Waaaaay down.

Practice the music incredibly slowly, and let your hands begin to experience the shape of each chord fully. Let your fingers start to remember each scale and melody without your emotions getting in the way.

Chick Corea once said that the secret to playing fast is to practice slowly.

I’ve found this to be true, but I have to be patient and let the process happen. The biggest barrier we have in these cases if usually that we can’t mentally envision ourselves accomplishing it. We can’t even imagine our brains working that fast, or the music flowing from our fingers correctly.

So don’t even try to envision it. (You can try creative visualization another time.) Simply slow down, enjoy each note you play, and keep practicing. A lot. More than you think. Then, there will be a moment when your playing takes on a life of it’s own, and your fingers will know what to do. It includes “muscle memory” but goes beyond that.

It’s funny how when we really prepare well, we can do things that we couldn’t envision.

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