22. Summary of Method¶
This method is based on 7 major concepts: Hands Separate Practice (HS, 7. Hands Separate Practice: Acquiring Technique), Segmental Practice (6. Shortening Difficult Passages: Segmental (Bar-by-Bar) Practice), Relaxation (10. Gravity Drop, Chord Practice, and Relaxation & 14. How to Relax), Parallel Sets (11. Parallel Sets, b. Parallel Set Exercises for Intrinsic Technical Development, a. The Scientific Method.), Memorization (6. Memorizing), Mental Playing (6. Memorizing & 12. Learning Relative Pitch and Absolute Pitch (Sight Singing, Composing)), and Making Music (throughout book).
- Learn only musical compositions, no Hanon, Czerny, etc., but Scales, Arpeggios, Chromatic Scale (5. Playing Fast: Scales, Arpeggios, and Chromatic Scales) are necessary. Your first piano should be a weighted key digital; then obtain a quality grand as soon as possible; don’t purchase an upright unless you already have one.
- Listen to performances and recordings for ideas to practice musically. Imitation cannot decrease your creativity because it is impossible to imitate others exactly, and ideas are priceless.
- Practice old finished pieces cold (without warm-ups, g. Practicing Cold), to strengthen your performance skills.
- When starting a new piece, sight read to identify difficult sections, and practice the most difficult sections first; then
- Practice HS, in overlapping Segments (Continuity Rule, 8. Continuity Rule); switch hands frequently, every 5 seconds if necessary. All technical development should be done HS.
- Memorize first, HS, THEN start practice for technique; get up to speed as quickly as you can. Memorizing after you have learned to play the piece well does not work. Learn Mental Playing as soon as you start to memorize, and use it to acquire Relative/Absolute Pitch (12. Learning Relative Pitch and Absolute Pitch (Sight Singing, Composing)).
- Use Parallel Sets to diagnose your weaknesses; cycle (2. Cycling (Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu)) parallel sets to overcome those weaknesses and for getting up to speed quickly.
- Divide difficult passages into small segments that are easy to play and use these segments to practice for relaxation and speed.
- Play the last repetition of any repeated practice slowly before switching hands or moving to a new segment, or before quitting practice.
- Practice Relaxation at all times, especially HS; this includes the entire body, including Breathing and Swallowing (21. Building Endurance, Breathing).
- Play through mistakes; do not stop to correct them because you will develop stuttering habits. Correct the mistakes later using segmental practice around each mistake.
- Use the metronome to check the rhythm or speed briefly (typically, a few seconds); do not use it for “slowly ramping up speed”, or for long periods of time (more than several minutes).
- Use pedal only where indicated; practice without pedal until satisfactory HT, THEN add pedal.
- To learn Hands Together (25. Hands Together and Mental Play): practice HS until faster than final HT speed before starting HT practice. For practicing difficult passages HT, pick a short segment, play the more difficult hand, and progressively add notes of the other hand.
- Practice musically, without forte but with firmness, authority, and expression. Piano practice is not finger strength exercise; it is the development of brain power and nerve connections for control and speed. For FF passages, learn relaxation, technique, and speed first, then add FF. The power for FF comes from the body and shoulders, not the arms.
- Before quitting practice, play everything you just practiced slowly for ensuring correct Post Practice Improvement (PPI, 15. Post Practice Improvement (PPI)), which occurs mainly during sleep. The last thing you want for PPI is to include your mistakes (especially from Fast Play Degradation [25. Hands Together and Mental Play]).