Piano lessons from The Wizard Of Oz

Do you know the scene in the movie “The Wizard Of Oz” where Dorothy realizes that she just has to click her heels together and she’ll go home? I’ve always loved that scene! She’s spent the whole movie fruitlessly searching for a way to get home, and the answer was right there, easily accessible, the whole time! Now that she knows it, it’s easy. She clicks her heels together and is instantly transported home.

This scene is so important because a lot of life is actually just like this. We just don’t realize it. For instance, what if I told you that there was a simple way to practice piano that would make you a much better pianist in a very short time? You’ve been searching for this for a long time, and it’s been there the whole time, right in front of you. You just didn’t know it.

Here’s what you do:

Sit down at the piano and look at the sheet music you’re currently practicing. (You can practice improvisation like this too, but it’s easier to describe with written music.)

Begin by playing the first 4 measures of the right hand part. Only 4 measures, but finish the phrase if it goes for an extra beat or two. Now take a breath and change your perspective a bit. Don’t try to play it perfectly. Instead, slow down the tempo and tap into the “flow” of the music. That’s all you’re interested in for the moment, the flow. Feel your hand flow physically. Experience the music flowing with their internal momentum. Don’t worry if you hit a wrong note of two. Just “go for the flow.” Play the passage 4-8 times like this, always going for the flow.

Now do the same with the left hand part. No hurry, and keep coming back to the experience of the flow. Even if it’s rhythmic, there’s a natural flow you can tap into. It’s as if the music starts to take on a life of its own, and you’re just going along for the ride. Play the first 4 measures of the LH part 4-8 times.

After that, slow down the tempo and play both hands together. Feel the music flow. If you’re still playing wrong notes at this point, simply slow down more and focus more on the individual notes, but stay interested in the flow. Repeat the phrase 4-8 times.

At first this may feel a lot different than your usual way of practicing. After a few weeks, though, you’ll find that you’re playing music in much the same way that your musical heroes do, with an emphasis on “flow.” Good luck!

Take your left hand playing to a new level with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
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