Double checking your work at the piano

By Robert Estrin


This newsletter’s subject is about how important it is to double check your work when practising the piano. If you’ve ever seen any of my videos on how I practise, you know I break things down to the smallest parts. I take small sections and study the notes carefully, just in the right hand. I figure out the rhythm. Then I count to make sure everything is secure and figure out the best fingering. Then I study all the other details, the expression, the slurs, the staccatos. I look back and forth dozens of times until I have it securely memorized.

Then I do the same long process just with this tiny phrase on the left-hand part until that is secure, going back and forth, double and triple checking. Finally, I play both hands together. That’s the hardest part! Naturally, there’s a lot of back and forth in that process making sure it’s right. Then I go on phrase by phrase until I have the whole piece memorized connecting phrase by phrase as I go. After all of that, I go back and study the score again! I take my foot off the pedal and play through really slowly to double-check my work. And yet, with all of this, I still discover things I didn’t catch in the score!


I recommend going back and forth a great deal, particularly in the formative phase of learning a piece.

As I’ve said so many times before, unlearning is much harder than learning. So you must constantly reference the score at every stage of your practice. Even when you think you have a piece beautifully memorized on performance level, go back to the music and play excruciatingly slowly. I bet you will find things you didn’t know were there. After all, there are tens of thousands of details in even a short piece of music. When you consider notes, rhythm, fingering, phrasing, and expression, it’s mind boggling that we can learn music at all! That’s why I recommend the method that I just described.


Try it for yourself!

So, any of you who have pieces really solid, go through your score as I just mentioned. Go slowly, using no pedal, reading every detail, and see what you discover in the process. I think it will be richly rewarding. Better than that, be sure to double, triple, quadruple check your work as you learn so you don’t have to unlearn things later. It will save you vast amounts of time in the long run. 


Now watch my video!



I hope this is helpful for you! If you enjoy exploring pianos and piano playing, joining my Patreon family Living Pianos Patreon channel! It will offer you even more videos and the opportunity to be part of the creative process.