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Why Is It Important to Practice the Piano Slowly?

One of the top reasons that most piano students get frustrated with their playing, is because they are trying to play their piano music too fast. The concept of slowing down in anything these days is not exactly a top priority. It's not that we just decide to bypass "go slower"; we simply don't even think about it. With so much information, connection through social media, email, and access to music and videos instantly accessible, we're just not that familiar with things happening slower. We call someone now by pushing one button. Years ago, we had to actually walk into another room, pick up the phone, and dial the number. There was no way to leave a voice mail, so if the person wasn't home, you had to wait to get your message to them. Going fast, and receiving what we need pretty much instantaneously is fine in some situations. There are certain things, though, that cannot happen fast, if they are to happen successfully. Learning the Piano is one of these things. Why? Read on! First of all, learning the piano can be compared to learning a new language. There are many different aspects of musical language that are included in learning the piano, in addition to learning the mechanics of the instrument itself. The language of music includes notes and also note reading, rhythm, tempo, key signatures, chords, harmony, and more. Applying this to the piano involves learning where the notes are on the keyboard, how to play specific articulations, how to play different dynamics, how to use the foot pedals, and more. Take note reading for example. The first thing one must do is learn where the notes are on the keyboard. Usually, the first note we learn the location of on the piano is Middle C. Then, one can learn to identify Middle C on the Staff while playing it on the keyboard at the same time. All of the notes can be learned this way in fact. The important thing to notice is that it is learned one step at a time. You can learn where the notes are on the Staff first, then identify where they are on the keyboard, or do it in reverse pattern. Practicing slowly, one step at a time is just the same and is the key to learning music and the piano successfully. Practicing begins from day one. Each time you sit down at your piano to work on something, you are practicing. The challenge is how to make that practicing the most productive it can be. Always, start slowly. Give your brain and body time to process what you are telling it to do and then to learn it. This is what we call muscle memory. If we try to play something before we're technically ready to, we send confusing messages to our brain and body and don't end up playing what we're trying to very well. Sending clear messages requires slower, concentrated communication, which simply comes from playing slower. It could be compared to speaking slower to someone who speaks a different language so that they can understand you easier. Once you speak/play slowly enough and the message is received and processed, you can then easily move your tempo up a bit more and more, without losing one bit of the foundational work that you've already put in. Think of it as a dialogue between you and your body, while you are practicing. Watch how well you are able to play what you are working on at the slow tempo and make sure that you have clarity in your thinking as well. The more you do this, you'll be actually amazed at how much faster you progress at whatever level you are in your piano studies.

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