Stay Present

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
I've been playing piano for about a year now and have advanced well. I can play Chopin and some of the more easy Liszt now, but I feel that there is something missing in my playing. I think maybe its my phrasing or rhythmic drive or dynamic stratification. I thought another one could be that my fingers were still not muscularly developed. Do you have any advice on how to rectify any of these problems? Should I do Hanon or something like that? It would really be appreciated, or better yet tell me how you got so phenomenal?
Mark A.C. Warner

Dear Mark,

Phrasing? Rhythmic drive? Dynamic stratification? I couldn't tell you what needed the most work from a simple message, but if you are aware that these may be problem areas for you, then you're likely right.

The most straightforward advice I could offer is the following: BE PRESENT. Be in the moment, be aware, be centered, be you. It's the only way to really listen and concentrate.

The second piece of advice is a bit more clever, but essentially the same thing: play as if it were the last time you were ever going to play the piano. It's similar to the concept of living every day as if it were your last. There's something to that notion of "no second chances" that leads people to do what I wrote above: value the moment.

Somehow, Hanon has never inspired me to "be present" in the same way Chopin has. I've never practiced scales or exercises and I don't regret it. Call me spoiled, but I'd rather enjoy myself at all times than work hard for no reason other than the the payoff later. That's how I stay motivated.

Happy practicing!

- Greg