David Hicken ~ Pianist & Composer

Advice For Pianists

In order to play the piano really well, you must have a strong belief that you can play really well.  This makes all the difference.

All too often I hear comments such as "oh, I'll never be able to play like you!"  - well why not?  Put in the same amount of time and effort and why shouldn't you achieve the same or similar results?

I also hear things like "well I'm going to try to learn this piece that you've written, but it may not be very good" - try?  Don't try to play something, because you've already set yourself up for potential failure.  Choose that you will or you won't master the piece.  Don't play it for anyone until you feel that it is good.  There's never any guarantee that you won't make mistakes.  It's how you overcome those mistakes that makes the difference.

When I perform live, I know that I can hit a wrong note at any time, however I know with certainty that I will be able to quickly get back on track without skipping a beat.  I know this because I have played the piece hundreds, if not thousands of times in preparation for the performance.  I have already made thousands of mistakes in advance of my performances, so I know what to do with them when they happen.

Students lack confidence before recitals and examinations mostly due to lack of preparation.  If you have played a piece enough times, you know that you can play it successfully anywhere, anytime, in front of anyone, under any circumstances and even on an an instrument that is less than ideal.

I've had situations where my music was blown away in the wind, as well as an earthquake in the middle of a performance, but I kept going and didn't flinch because I was fully prepared for anything.

When I was a student, I constantly heard amazing recordings and live performances, and it never entered my head for a moment that I couldn't do the same.  No matter what piece of music I heard and decided that I wanted to learn, I just knew that I could master it, even though it was beyond my current ability.

When I was thirteen, I took a piece of music to my teacher and asked if I could learn it.  He laughed at me and said "it's far too difficult for you".  So I went home, and over the next four months, I learned it by myself one note at at time.  It was an organ piece by Charles Marie Widor called "Toccata from the Vth Symphony".

I was asked to perform in a concert at my school, and I wrote down that I would perform this Toccata.  When my teacher found out, he went nuts and said "you can't play that", to which I replied "yes I can!"  His next utterance was "show me!"  I played the whole piece from memory, and the look of him gathering his chin up from off the ground is something I will never forget.  I still remember him saying "oh, well I guess you can play it then - well done!"

This incident was a major boost for my confidence, but I was already confident anyway.  The piece was way beyond my ability, but I rose to the occasion and improved my ability to play pieces like it.

When you see your favorite pianists blazing through the cadenza of a piano concerto, do you think for a moment that they ever considered that they couldn't do it?  Of course not.

You can play anything as long as you have patience and discipline.

So stop whining and get on with it!  Become the best pianist that you can be because there are far too many mediocre ones out there.  Make the difference and believe that you can.

Happy practicing!!

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.