When we watch a talented pianist, his/ her hands seem to go everywhere. The sheer number of notes they hit are unbelievable. How does one person remember all that? It's AMAZING! But believe it or not, there is a way to organize all of those notes in your head that makes all those notes a lot more manageable...and at times...even...almost (can I say it?)... EASY! Now, don't blow me off. Hear me out. Those talented keyboardists simply process differently, and when you learn to process that way the "intimidation" monster's teeth start to fall out. Often, when I see my local students' desperately trying to memorize an overwhelming amount of chords, I point to one of the signs on my wall: BASS FIRST! BASS FIRST comes from 4 foundational music theory concepts: Everything starts with bass. The melody, chords, progression, and improvisations all must follow the bass note. The right hand can and does soooo many different things. The bass note is usually one note. Every now and then, the musician may play two, and in rare occasions three, but 90% of the time it's one note. If you keep those concepts in mind, you realize that the bass note actually gives you cues of what to do with the right hand. It narrows down the options so that over time, another musician can hold up fingers representing the bass note she is playing and you will know what to do. Over time, you will be able to tell the "number" position that the bass note is playing. That is the seed of your ear training. You know you are on the right track. But for now, start by getting your left hand ready before the right hand. Good things happen there.
This series of posts features framed “sayings” that are posted on the wall of my local piano instruction studio. They give mental insight and reminders to my students. These sayings address common “mental” mistakes that I have seen over and over throughout my years of teaching. These predictable mental “rabbit trails” can sidetrack students, breed frustration, and choke out their confidence. These signs are also influenced by two of my favorite books on Music Psychology: “The Inner game of Music” by Barry Green, and “The Perfect Wrong Note” by William Westney.