So you think you can play?
If you are here reading this page then you have probably been playing piano for quite some time now and you are looking to take it to the next level and really advance you skills. Let me just tell you one thing before you continue reading further. If you have decided that you want to become an advance player or seriously level up your skills, then this just might be the hardest thing you have ever tried to accomplish.
What do I need to do to get better?
How do you get better at piano than you already are? I mean you have got some pretty good chops and you can play most songs, but what is the differentiate factor that separates you from Frédéric Chopin, and Franz Liszt? Well, to tell you the truth I do not know exactly what separates you from them, because there are honestly so many different ways to become a virtuoso player. However, I do have some guesses on what might be stopping you so we will take a look at those.
Its all in your phrasing
You have yet to master your phrasing techniques, and do not yet have your rhythmic and Melodic phrasing down then you are probably going to run into some trouble right up front. It is now coming back to bite you on all of the short cuts that you have made. Well, I am here to tell you that is okay because no one is perfect, even me. There are just so many things that you have to master as a musician that some things tend to get neglected. I promise you, its okay and you can learn and adapt.
My biggest weakness was music theory for the longest time and with some hard work I was able to conquer it. To this day I am still not as good as I would like to be with my arpeggios. What I am trying to tell you is that even though your phrasing might not be up to par right now, that you can proactively work on your phrasing and with focus have it mastered in just a short period of time
Now is the time to train hard so you can play easy
I’d like to start of by saying that this is not my idea but it is one principle that has really helped me along the way of my music career. The idea is that you work very very hard practicing your scales, arpeggios, phrasing, repertoire, etc. So that when the time comes that you need to perform or you need to write that you already have pushed yourself so hard that whatever you are currently working on in the piano comes naturally.
I am not saying that it is easy to get to this point, but like I mentioned at the begging. You have to make a decision that you are going to do this not matter what the costs. If you are not willing to take it that for then you have probably already lost. Everyone who has ever set out to become a truly great player worked tremendously hard in doing so. Whats cool, I think, is that these greats were all human just like you. And what one person can do, another person can do.
This all sounds good in theory but what do I do?
Okay, lets get down to brass tax here and I am going to tell you what in my opinion is the fastest way to get results. And if you are anything like me, you will want some options. So without going to much more into theory and mindset stuff lets get down to it and talk about what can get you some serious results.
Step 1 – Pick your weapon
If you are going to truly master a weapon in the martial arts you need to choose to focus on just one at a time. Because if you are trying to do multiple things at once, it is very easy to get lost and give up. For this reason I am going to highly recommend that you choose one area and focus all of your effort on it. I will give you the choice of the 3, those three are Scales, Arpeggios, Phrasing.
Step 2 – Let the work begin
Once you have chosen what particular element of your playing you are going to work on it is time to actually start doing it. I personally like scales, So what I did in my earlier playing years was play the major scale/modes in the Keys of F, C, G with many different sequences and fingers as many times as I possibly could.
When it comes to phrasing, Id suggest that you make a top 10 song list of the most difficult songs you could imagine. Your best song right now should be at the end of the list. This is going to give you the opportunity to take your current skill level and push it! Honestly, I think growing your repertoire/phrasing is the most fun because it usually involves learning other pieces.
Last but not least are arpeggios, which happen to be my least favorite but I still do them. I’m sure if you are in the intermediate/advanced category of playing that you already know what arpeggios are. However, what I would encourage you do is learn some songs/listen to some backing tracks, and figure out the chords. Once you are able to figure out what the chords are, start slowly and play arpeggios with all of the chord changes and then speed up as you progress. Not easy, but the things that give biggest results never are. Do it!
Step 3 – Stay the student
As you progress you might find that you are able to just about able to play anything you want and will start to feel a sense of great accomplishment. I would encourage you take take on the role of the student and to continue your learning journey. I guarantee you that there is always something new that you can be working on. In fact, one of my biggest secrets for getting really good, is noticing when I start to get good at something, by stopping ans asking myself. “What can I do to take this to the next level?” You do that and you will never run out of things to work on.
I hope that this was insightful to you and that it helped to inspire you to take your piano playing to the next level. There are a lot of really great players out there, but what can you do to separate yourself apart to become a true virtuoso. I can tell you and show you what I did, but there are many ways to get to the same destination. If you would like to find out more, or just come in for a free lesson, please reach out today.