What do you do when faced with something that’s extremely difficult to play on piano?
Whether it’s a Chopin Etude, and complex Charlie Parker bebop tune, or a progressive rock keyboard part by ELP, our attitude at this very moment is crucial. How to proceed? How to practice the music? Maybe you just need repetition, but that’s usually just half the battle.
Maybe that Chopin Etude would become a little easier if you identified the chords that the left hand part is outlining. Or maybe you’d memorize the melody to Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” better if you sang along with your playing. Or maybe you’d play Keith Emerson’s arpeggios more cleanly if you practiced them as dotted rhythms before evening them out again.
That’s what makes the learning and teaching process so interesting, because the reason is often not apparent at first. Even if the answer is simply more practicing, maybe there’s a way to practice the part more effectively.
This holds true for piano teachers, too.
When a piano student is having difficulty learning something, immediately ask yourself, “Why is the student having trouble with that?” And then lead the student through several the learning process, in a fresh way.
Whether we’re teaching piano or learning ourselves, we and our students make a lot more progress if we become more interested in this question. What do you do when faced with something that’s extremely difficult to play on piano? “More of the same” is rarely effective enough.
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