David Hicken ~ Pianist & Composer

Advice For Pianists

Playing the piano can be a very solitary activity, unlike playing an orchestral or band instrument which usually allows the performer to belong to an ensemble.

One advantage of belonging to an ensemble is that you can see and hear the trials and tribulations of other music students.  For example, if you play the flute in an orchestra and notice how the oboe player struggles in a particular measure, not only might you develop more patience and understanding for your own difficulties, but it might also boost your confidence a little by seeing that you're not the only one who has trouble.  It can be somewhat comforting to see other musicians make mistakes, because it is perfectly normal and we all make them.

Piano students usually don't have this luxury and can often be too hard on themselves.  If you're like most piano students, your playing might only be heard by your teacher, close family members as well as your cat and dog.

You are developing a skill that ultimately will be shared with others, so don't wait until you feel that you are "good enough" to perform for an audience - do it now!

Here are just some of the benefits of performing in front of people:

  • It develops confidence
  • You will bring joy to others
  • Positive feedback is good for you (as well as constructive criticism)
  • Experience gained by performing on different pianos
  • Experience gained by performing in different environments
  • Experience gained from failures
  • Experience gained from successes

This is yet another advantage of having a piano teacher rather than trying to learn on your own, because most piano teachers hold regular recitals.

Piano recitals give you a chance to hear where everyone else fits in compared to yourself.  You may be inspired by the more advanced students, and wish to learn the same pieces that they are playing.  You may sympathize with the beginners and remember the time when you were playing the same piece that they struggle with now.  It's all very good experience for you, because you will constantly analyze what everyone else is doing.

If you are thinking back to a time when you performed in a piano recital as a student, and you were absolutely petrified, it could well be that you were expected to memorize your piece, and I cannot for the life of me understand why piano teachers insist on torturing their students in this way.

Having students memorize their music for a recital is not only completely unnecessary, but causes much anguish for so many students.  For some, the experience of a bad performance can put them off ever participating again.  Additionally, the job of a piano teacher is to have the student become fluent readers of music notation, so why would they ever take away the very thing that you are trying to become proficient in?  There is little benefit in memorization in the early stages, and it can wait until you are far more advanced (such as playing piano concertos).

If piano recitals are not possible for you, then offer to play for anyone and everyone who visits your home.  Even if you are learning a simple nursery rhyme, you should say to your visitors "hey, can I play a piece for you that I have been working on?"  Who would ever say "no"?

Better yet, consider giving a short performance at your local nursing home.  They often have pianos, and the residents will be more delighted than you can possibly imagine.  Utilize the gift of music to bring joy and happiness into the lives of others.  This is something that you can do today, and is not a job relegated only to great performers.

Happy performing!

David Hicken

All of the concepts that I write about here are detailed in my eBook "Secrets To Better Piano Playing" .  Click the image below to find out more.