Some of the best moments in my musical life were when people whom I trusted cared enough about me to “push” me to play piano better than I thought I could play.
My jazz piano teacher, Billy Taylor, when he said, “You know, Ron, you start your phrases well but you don’t end them clearly.”
My Broadway mentor, Barry Levitt, when he told me my “Intros were wishy washy and vague.” He explained that I needed to focus more and improvise ballad intros that were as good as if they had been composed ahead of time.
The virtuosic pianist/arranger Peter Howard, who said that I needed to work harder to play tremolos that were more energetic. (This was while I was playing the piano music from the musical “Chicago.” Peter had arranged the piano part for the original sheet music!)
I’ll always remember and be thankful that these wonderful people, along with others before and since, cared enough about me to push me a little further than I was willing to go on my own.
And even more importantly in some respects, they were able to see things about my playing that I couldn’t see myself, and they were knowledgable enough to show me the next step to take.
Who’s “pushing” you, musically?