Observations from Masterclass in Rome Conservatory of Santa Cecilia

Jaak Sikk

Jaak Sikk at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia

Greetings from the magnificent and culturally extremely rich city of Rome. I have been giving a masterclass for pianists here in the famous conservatory Santa Cecilia. The subject is improvisation and creativity. While working all together as a happy and friendly group many interesting ideas came up and several universal obstacles people encounter were revealed.

The Reason Why We Play Piano

There were several moments when after playing a bit of music the student looked at me with a shy attitude to get my evaluation about whether she/he had been good enough.

At first glimpse there seems nothing wrong with the situation. But for me there is a conceptual error in this kind of behavior. Why? Actually one of the first things I told to the group of students was “I am actually not a teacher and you students, I am here just to help you to teach yourself”. So when a teacher gives a task, before executing the task the student should:

    a) understand the idea why a task was given;
    b) see a personal reason, why the task has a benefit;
    c) be able to create an image of how to execute the task (mental modeling);
    d) be able to evaluate herself/himself whether the execution went well or not.

With a good teacher all of the four points are present automatically. The student is encouraged to look inside and see the task as her/his own logical next step how to go on. A reason to please someone else is never a reason that would activate students brain in a healthy and balanced way.

Piano Students

Students of the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia

Having a Clear Mental Vision

The next very important topic, which seems to need an endless talk and emphasize is having a clear mental vision, plan, idea (or however you want to call it) before playing. This artistic image in our mind and its clarity is a contact place between your creativity and the actual piano playing. When the imagery is very vague, the playing process can only be just as vague. Content and the execution cannot be separated from eachother in the terms of playing an instrument well.

Everything I have written before is combined with an expressive artistic courage. What is courage in this case? It is a complex of the following components:

    a) having a clear mental vision of something inner going on;
    b) being focused on the inner vision as much as possible;
    c) executing the inner vision with all needed resources and energy you have;
    (And for adding more quality, I would also say) d) being with very open ears towards ones own playing.

Despite the fact that these observations are based on work with university students, I still teach same principles and ideas in my piano course for adult beginners.

Thank you Rome, thank you Conservatorio Santa Cecilia, and thank all the wonderful students I had the luck to meet!

Are My Hands And Fingers Too Stiff for Playing?

It is a normal process that when we age our body and its abilities degenerate. Also as playing piano is a very specific way of moving we are not using these specific chains of muscles in everyday life. So as we age and do not use piano playing motions it is very normal that our body might feel stiff and the motions needed in playing the piano uncomfortable in the beginning.

But the improvement starts the moment you start working with your piano playing. Things that might seem to be nearly impossible when you first encounter them become normal and an organic part of your piano playing. I have experienced this kind of change for many times and I have also seen how my own students who are much more mature than me (many are over 60) change and get multiple times more flexible than they were in the beginning.

I will bring out a few points why you should believe that the stiffness will retreat and be replaced with an improving capability of playing (when you practice regularly of course).

    1) In the lessons of the free online course for adult beginners the body parts that you need in playing the piano are mapped. Also their function in the playing process is discussed. That way you will discover many new ways of using your body efficiently. Several body parts will suddenly work independently and in ways you were probably not aware before. Therefore new and more efficient muscle using chains are formed and developed.

    2) The body is able to change. As you start working, your body will become more flexible and capability of playing rises.

    3) Your thinking will change and you will discover many useful ways how to make piano playing more logical and ergonomic. It will lessen the amount of unnecessary and tiring motions.

    4) When you join the free course, you will see that loosening up tensions and increasing the abilities of your fingers and hands is possible and actually quite easily achievable, you will very likely believe more in yourself and will model a more positive and bright picture of your future plans as an adult beginner pianist.

As a conclusion I would say that your fingers and hands are not too stiff to progress and you can definitely learn the pieces you would like to play. Do not force yourself though nor expect huge changes overnight. But if you go step-by-step the outcome will reveal itself faster than you would expect in the beginning. In addition, a very positive aspect of joining the piano course and going through it (and playing piano in general) is starting a reversal process of degeneration both mentally and physically. Several exercises and mental activities are especially helpful in these terms. To know more about it I invite you to join the free piano course.

Thank you for reading. I hope it gave you some insight. If you have any ideas, comments, questions please contact me and let me know.

E-mail: jaak@playingpianoblog.com
Skype: jaak.sikk.jr

Read Answers to Other Frequently Asked Questions:

Is It Too Late for Me to Start Learning the Piano?
Am I Talented Enough to Learn to Play the Piano?
What Equipment Do I Need for Joining Jaak Sikk’s Adult Beginner Piano Course?
How Much Do I Need to Practice Piano?
I Cannot Sight-read, Can I Join the Adult Beginner Piano Course?
11 Proven Concepts for Effective Piano Learning Used in the Courses
Are My Hands Too Small for Playing Piano Well?
I Do Not Have a Piano, Which One Would Be the Best for Me?
When Will I See the First Outcome When I Follow The Adult Beginner Piano Course?
How Does Personal Feedback for Classical Piano Course Students Work?

1 2 3 4 5 21