When practicing you sometimes come to a difficult section which slows you down or stops you. Instead of starting from the beginning of the piece again, take the difficult section and play it slowly 3 times without making a mistake. Should you make a mistake during any of the 3 times then start the 3 times again. Continue until you can play it the 3 times without making a mistake. The next day try again, and if you complete the 3 times successfully then increase the pace until you can play the section at the same speed as the rest of the piece.
The ‘game of threes’ is an excellent way to improve your concentration and accuracy. Remember that good pianists always go straight to the tricky parts of a piece and practice those first.
If you are going to perform the piece eventually then try playing the game of threes for the whole piece.
My all time hero. Horowitz was the consummate virtuoso. He was a throwback to the towering giants of the late Romantic era. He took piano technique to a new level in the 20th century. Audiences would be packed with pianists trying to work out how he could accomplish such feats.
He recorded prodigiously and his musical intelligence and sensitivity was beyond peer. His encores were a thing to be treasured. Here is perhaps his most famous, just over 3 minutes of barnstorming technical effortlessness, not a movement on his face, just concentration and all that keyboard power in authoritative control.
The ‘2015 Challenge’ is to set a target to learn or re-learn a large number of piano pieces in a year. You set weekly, fortnightly or monthly deadlines. You practice the piece and then either perform it to a friend or teacher, or record it.
The result may not be perfect but taking part can help to overcome the tendency towards procrastination and perfectionism. The concept is inspirational and builds ability while learning new pieces and having fun along the way.
It’s a great idea on two counts:
As a pupil it helps you focus and practice, and the performance at the end will go some way to overcome anxiety about playing in front of someone.
As a teacher it encourages me to learn new pieces, and removes the excuse that I’m too busy teaching. Hopefully it builds a platform of increased ability to learn more complex pieces in the future.