The great masters have always said that in playing the piano self-listening is one of the most importan skills (and a difficult one). But what should you listen to? How to listen?
It is very important that things do not stay very general but start making sense and become concrete. If tasks and ideas become clear it is possible to work with them with full awareness. And I am trying to open up the theme a bit.
Briefly – you can only knowingly change things that you are aware of. But any kind of development needs change and mostly intelligent change. So without awareness there is no intelligent and knowingly directed development.
Even if you improve through unconscious practicing – how can you be sure that the skills (they would be mostly mechanical here) would remain in time if you are not aware of them?
In my opinion awareness is the key to constant and stable development process.
If you can see the situation from outside and you are not too overwhelmed by emotions or whatever unstable forces, the picture that you see is much clearer. In a way observing the situation as one wide whole connects the piece of music (art) with very different parts in your brain – rationality, experiences, emotions, physical movements and so on. While observing you can compare and connect the piece with your whole mental being.
Divergent thinking as a basis for excecuting and experimenting different ideas and ways of playing can lead you to unexpectedly good discoveries and results. You can probably find better and fresh solutions to problems. The idea of divergent thinking says that there is not one and only right way to do things and the richness and variety of different equipment and techinque can be an even better way.
If to try to skip the process or the journey between actual events and only concentrate on these events (in this case for example between depressing the keys), only the skeleton of actions remains. Most of joy from moving your body and expressing your inner self in every second is lost. Oppositely, the more you sense through every moment in your action the more you are present. Your abilities rise and the creative directing of yourself in the learning process gets a lot better.
Of course, absolute freedom is impossible. But if you move your hand through the air for example, you can do it very freely and also with a very high tension. Because playing the piano is a huge system of habits and contains so many different details, the “complexity” could lead into habits of using lot of unnecessary tensions. If these tensions become your natural habits, you do not sense that anything is “wrong” because you are too used to this. But knowingly widening the picture and getting out of the “habit zone” can open up fields that can completely change your piano playing and make it more enjoyable.
Of course the starting energy for the piece is the vision of the piece. You start playing according to the vision of the piece in your head. Also the habits you have mastered while doing the handicraft – again according to the musical imagination – play an important role. So the aim of the video is to give you some ideas how you could clear and sharpen some attention channels that are essential to stay musically adequate and accurate while playing the piano.
Of course the act of performing itself is very important and it is essential to be adequate and confident while doing something. At the same time the preparation process often defines the result. Artur Schnabel and many other great masters of the piano have said that music is between the notes and keys. The meaning reveals itself – every note sounds just the way how you move to it.
If you have a vision of the piece in your head, the vision can be in a way called as a perfect material or a perfect idea. Now the problem is how to transform the vision into music? One very helpful approach is minimizing the energy level that you use for playing until a level where you can control everything. Bring down the tempo, volume, release tensions etc. Everything that is more than your “cable” is able to transform turns into tensions or chaos.
The most dangerous moments while performing a piece on stage are concentration gaps. If the piece is memorized and you know it well you could be quite confident while playing to the audience. But after playing several minutes in the deep concentration level your brain might need a moment for resting. Then a concentration gap can occur where connection with your memory is much weaker. Here in this video there is a technique how to improve confidence and minimize risks on stage.