Play Piano Today With Dr. J

Posts Tagged ‘multi-sensory experience

Do you want to get better at your piano playing?  There’s really only one way to get better and enjoy your playing more and more every day and that is to invoke the first “P” word – practice.  If you do something in a concentrated focused fashion on a daily basis, you will get better – and that includes playing the piano.
Once you have achieved success you need to share your new found piano skills and that is the second “P” word – performance.  Share your piano music with your friends, your family, or with the world via YouTube.

The two “P” words – practice and performance – the two important words in the study of the piano.

From time to time, I use a recording device in my piano teaching.  It has been met with mixed results for my students.  Some students enjoy hearing themselves play and are amazed at their progress.  Other piano students are appalled at their lack of progress and their shoddy playing.

The students who find the recorded piano lessons helpful are usually those who follow good practice routines and who diligently and carefully prepare repertoire within their abilities.  These students accept the level of their playing prior to hearing their recordings.  They have a soundscape in their mind that is close to their actual abilities and skills.

These students are usually pleasantly surprised by the quality of their piano playing and are eager to accept feedback.  They more quickly make changes and want to record themselves again and again to hear the improvements they have made.  These students mirror their teacher’s experience with a recorder as a device to learn from and design ways to improve their piano playing.

The students who find the recording of their piano lessons stupefying at best and simply awful at most are those who have attempted to learn pieces beyond their current abilities.  These students “hear” themselves playing on a much higher level than in reality they are.  The recording points out flaws on the most basic level – note inaccuracies, incorrect rhythms, and great flexibility in tempo to compensate for lack of the technical skills needed to play the repertoire they have chosen.

These students sadly realize they have not been applying good piano practice techniques to repertoire more suited to their abilities.  Hence, their goals and their ways of achieving those goals have to be redesigned.  This is difficult for many beginning adult pianists. However, once the student has overcome the shock of actually hearing the sounds they are creating in real time, they are usually eager more open to pursuing their goals in a more appropriate manner.

To record or not record a beginning pianist’s lesson?  It is exaltation for some and peril turning to discovery and skill building for others.  Recording is a wonderful tool for a beginning student of the piano.

Playing the piano is a multi-sensory experience.  It involves three of the senses – tactile, visual and aural.  To really create music, a pianist must engage each of those senses to be successful.   And, to learn to play the piano, it is equally as important to engage all the senses from the first day of study.

Learning to play the piano using the pentatonic scale is a method of study that appeals especially to adult learners.  Why?  Because it is immediately gratifying and because success comes easily through a multi-sensory learning style approach.  Playing the piano is a multi-sensory experience.  It involves three of the senses – tactile, visual and aural.  To really create music, a pianist must engage each of those senses to be successful.   And, to learn to play the piano, it is equally as important to engage all the senses from the first day of study.
Adults just coming to the piano for the first time, have preconceived notions of what they should be able to play.  They have the sounds of great music in their ears, they know good piano playing, and because they are adults, they are convinced they can and will easily learn to play the piano.  Unfortunately, traditional methods for learning the piano can quickly turn an excited beginner into a frustrated upset adult who will probably never touch the piano again.

The pentatonic method works best with an adult who is ready to play, is ready to discover how to create songs and is ready to develop technique to play those songs quickly.  The pentatonic method uses only five notes – in fact these keys are visually very easy to find as they are the five black keys on a piano.  Tactilely, the hands easily cover all five of the keys in a relaxed natural position.  And, best of all when simply creating music by just letting the fingers “wander” over the keys, everything sounds right.  There are no “clinkers” – just beautiful sounds – pleasing especially to that person who is attuned to their aural sense.  This is the perfect method for the adult learner – for the learner who wants and needs to be successful quickly – who wants to make music now – and who wants to play songs on the piano today.



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    • bhundley1: I'm interested in your elaborating on the "fingering" aspect of practice. Are you a fan of Czerny, for instance, in terms of building up dexterity wi
    • promotionmusic: Thanks for your response. Congratulations to you on the work you are doing in the piano world.

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