Piano and the spirit of playing catch

Traditional piano lessons can be great, but they can also be pretty relentless in terms of always moving to the next thing.

“Now that you’ve learned 5 notes, let’s learn 5 more.”

“Can you play that faster? And more smoothly?”

“You play that Mozart sonata beautifully. Now you’re ready for Beethoven.”

Although this approach will aid the march to complexity, it can also send the unintended signal that “it’s never good enough.”

Let’s look at it another way:

“Congratulations on learning your first 5 notes! Now it’ll be easy to play a few more fun songs without having to learn more notes!”

“That was a good start. Now let’s slow down the tempo and play it more legato. Pretend you’re singing the notes through your fingers.”

“You play that Mozart sonata beautifully. Let me share my all-time favorite Mozart piece with you now. It’s a little easier than the one you just played, and it’s really beautiful.”

See the difference? It doesn’t mean that you won’t keep progressing. On the contrary, you’ll probably progress faster with this method, and stick with it much longer.

The main thing is that you’re playing each lesson fluently and without having to make a strenuous effort. Just like a kid playing catch. It doesn’t matter if every throw is fast or completely accurate. As any sports-loving child knows, you’ll continue to improve over time just from the act of getting out there and throwing the ball on a regular basis. It’s completely unproductive to expect that every throw will be faster and longer than the previous one. So why do we approach learning piano with this attitude?

Just sit down at your piano and play with the spirit of “playing catch.” Sounds like fun, right?

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