The second 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.  When my students practise regularly using this second skill, their musicality is transformed, and they learn new pieces so much more easily!

Show Notes

  • [3:05] Adult students generally have a giant sense of effort & striving. How most students tend to learn & practise a new piece- and why this is not going to be effective
  • [6:35] Details about the #2 skill- feeling deeply in the body- imagining that somebody has cast a magic spell, and you can suddenly play with absolutely no effort. Deeply immerse yourself in this experience in your imagination. Playful, with no intellectual analysis!
  • [10:50] IMO good technique is the laziest way to get the sound that you want
  • [12:30] How the magic spell technique gives people a much better idea of what & how they need to practise. Some demonstrations and examples using a Bortkiewicz piano piece of practice techniques that come from the goal of aiming towards the effortlessness I would feel if under a magic spell including shifting accents, & sometimes learning a fast piece up to speed right from the beginning
  • [23:50] The balance between analytic technical practice, and the psychology of effortless flow
  • [26:25] When imagining we are playing under a magic spell- letting our bodies naturally move & really feel enjoyment of the experience, rather than just immobile like a bored lump. Curiosity of how everything feels- interoception.


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:

The demonstration music played on the piano during the episode is the Etude op. 15, No. 9 in F# minor by Bortkiewicz

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: