Did you know that you can play piano twice as well in just 2 weeks from now?
Let’s imagine for a moment that I’m listening to you play piano. I’m on the other side of the room and you’re at the piano or keyboard playing whatever it is you like to play. Now try to see things from my perspective. I’m watching someone play piano who’s probably pretty good, but there’s one thing that’s holding them back. And it’s probably not what they think it is.
This is a common scenario. Let’s say I get a new piano student who likes jazz. (It could be rock or any style, but I’ll use jazz as an example.) The student loves music but is frustrated they can’t play better. And they think the solution is to learn more. Learn more advanced chord voicings, learn better “licks,” learn to play faster, etc. You get the picture.
Now yes, I can and will teach them all these things. But what is obvious to me while listening to them for the first time, is that they’re not in control of their improvised phrases. They may have a good grasp of the beginning or even intermediate-level jazz vocabulary, but I hear them trying to do too much and it’s not quite working.
So in this case, I explain that they need to play 40% fewer notes in both hands. This will enable them to play with a firmer grasp of rhythm, and they’ll be better able to mentally follow their improvised lines while soloing. They’ll be more in control of their playing. So they try it and within 2 weeks, violá!, they sound twice as good.
It’s actually that simple, but what’s interesting is how we usually can’t see this for ourselves. We need someone from “outside” to show us. We know that something’s holding us back, but the answer we give ourselves isn’t working.
The next time you sit down at your piano, ask yourself what one thing will immediately improve your playing by 200%. What will make you twice as good. If you can find the answer, you’ll be much happier about your playing. Good luck!
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