Practice can be a hard slog, and sometimes progress can be slow, so do pause to celebrate the wins!
Sometimes a piece can take much longer than expected to master. Or while you can easily play hands separately, combining the two seems impossible. Or the different rhythms required in each hand baffle you. Or it seems as if you will never be able to achieve that elusive balance between the hands (melody line singing above the softer accompanying harmonies).
So day by day, or week by week, make sure to look out for and savour each little achievement.
This week at Stellar Music School, we have celebrated many of these small milestones.
Sophie began the daunting task of using the pedal. For the first week or two, it was so difficult for her to coordinate hands and the right foot, and there was often silence or a break where she wasn’t able to correctly add the pedal. After a few weeks, however, she has persevered and she is now pedalling with assurance, and her pieces are sounding beautiful and mature with the addition of the sustain pedal.
Adam had been working for months on hands separate scales, but to play two octaves hands together (with the correct fingering!) had so far eluded him. One concentrated practice session last week, after months of preparation, and he has now succeeded and time after time can play hands together two octave scales with the correct fingering. Of course, now that he has ‘cracked the code’ he is able to play almost any scale as most of the white note scales have the same fingering.
The girls in my Thursday class had suddenly stalled when their new pieces called for playing hands together, but different notes in each hand, simultaneously. We persevered, for weeks continuing on hands separate work and then duets, where half the class played right hand and the other half played the left hand part. Then eventually, success!
These are all wins, and should be celebrated. As in life, months of work generally precede a breakthrough, and each milestone and achievement should be recognized and appreciated.