In the third episode, we continue looking at some of the most common mistakes and pitfalls made by amateur & beginner pianists, with advice and suggestions on how to avoid them!
Today, we talk about the difference that good practice habits can make on your piano playing, how to practice for much less time and get much quicker and more effective results, and the traps that most people fall into.

Show Notes

  • The #1 practice problem afflicting most amateur pianists- simply playing the piece over and over from beginning to end. [2:00]
  • Andy talks about some of the most useful practice techniques that enabled huge breakthroughs in his playing and enjoyment of playing piano. [5:30]
  • I introduce the concept of functional harmony and how this can help pianists at all levels to use dynamics in a more musical and natural way… to be continued in more detail in the future! [7:40]
  • The dangers of a rigid un-moving body when practising- usually caused by over-focusing and tension. Introducing movement into practising is a very powerful tool. Ideally, music is made from the body, not from the head. [12:30]
  • Good practising opens up a world of much more advanced pieces that are otherwise inaccessible. Virtually any piece at any difficulty level is achievable by most pianists given the right practice techniques. [19:40]
  • The importance of consistent fingering [27:50]
  • The fundamental importance of practising by breaking the piece down into very small chunks,
    repeating them slowly enough so that it feels very easy. Impatience is the enemy [29:05]
  • I explain my method of ‘shifting accents’ for very rapid learning of what can often feel like impossibly difficult passages of finger-twisting notes, and is also very useful for even finger-work and articulation. [38:10]
  • The difference between ‘flow’ and ‘deliberate practice’. Flow is ‘pleasure-led practising’, Deliberate practice is about targeting weaknesses and learning the hardest parts first. [44:20]
  • The usefulness of learning from the end backwards [50:40]
  • The trap of ignoring what’s on the page- just playing the notes is not enough! [52:00]
  • Practising swapping the 2 hats of ‘flow’ and ‘deliberate practice’ in every practice session. [54:40]
  • More about the benefits of learning/practising from the end backwards [57:10]
  • The danger of only learning/practising from beginning to end- relying on kinaesthetic memory that falls apart under pressure… the only way to recover being to have to start again from the beginning! [59:10]
  • The difference between knowing what you need to do- and actually doing it! [1:02:00]


Liberace plays his arrangement of Addinsel’s Warsaw Concerto(!):-

Me playing the Rachmaninov Prelude in C minor Op. 23 No. 7 that we spend some time talking about in this episode:-

An article about ‘deliberate practice’:-

All about ‘flow’:-