The first in a series looking at the most essential mental habits to practise at the piano that will give you the quickest and most profound progress. These are the things I refer to constantly when I’m teaching, and covers aspects of musicianship that almost all teachers consider unteachable- considered to be innate qualities in talented students. But I can show you how to develop this natural musicianship.  The first skill covered in this episode is by far the most important- I’m always reminding my students that it needs to be practised in every single moment of music-making! Listen to this episode to see if this is a skill you’re already working on!

Show Notes

  • [3:00] What is the #1 most important thing to always be prioritising in every single moment when practising?
  • [7:18] Look for what there is to love!
  • [8:25] How to look for what there is to love
  • [12:05] The most common problems my students have with developing this skill. Looking at psychological need for competency vs. relatedness (Self Determination Theory)
  • [19:32] Not practising developing this skill!
  • [23:12] Love is musicality
  • [24:30] Looking for what there is to love really is a skill that can be practised. Similarities with metta bhavana meditation
  • [29:45] Don’t fall into trap that your feelings towards the music are fixed. Practising this skill can prevent common burn-out from working hard with a lot of repetition & pressure on a piece we previously loved!
  • [30:50] Looking for what there is to love should not use a purely intellectual approach. I demonstrate examples. It might help to imagine times when you felt love for a person, where did you feel that in your body? This can be hard for men from Northern European cultures
  • [35:10] Importance of interoception. Interoception of the chest. How we can feel musical tension & release in the body. Emotions are in the body
  • [42:01] It’s cheating to just focus on what you don’t hate about the music!
  • [43:30] This is a skill with many layers, we can always go deeper, no matter how much love we are already playing with!
  • [47:01] You can also look for what there is to love in your playing- this is a useful antidote for perfectionism and nerves
  • [47:45] Keep exploring different nuances in the music & your playing so you can dig deeper for what there is to love. Don’t get locked into playing passages exactly the same every single time
  • [49:38] Looking for what there is to love makes it much easier to be motivated to practise! Playing with love means we can accept ourselves as we are, but also care for the music and work in a healthy way for it


Many thanks to the C. Bechstein Centre in Manchester for letting me use one of their soundproofed teaching/practice rooms to record this podcast episode:

My apologies for my husky breathless voice in this episode- I had just recovered from a nasty bout of coronavirus, and I hadn’t realised I probably should have let my lungs heal a bit more before recording a podcast!

The demonstration music played on the piano during the episode is from the ABRSM 2021-2022 Piano Grade 1 book: ‘A Toy: No. 193 from Fitzwilliam Virginal Book’, composer unknown

My YouTube channel:

The intro/outro music is my jazz arrangement of the Rachmaninov Adagio from Symphony #2, you can watch the whole thing here if you like: