I remember my days at the Oberlin Conservatory pumping out meaningless Schmitt finger exercises, often holding notes down, while a selected persecuted finger had to brave the pain is gain ritual. (tap, tap, tap, tap, and move on to the next unlucky digit)
Looking back, it was a wasted effort which had NO relationship to fluid, beautiful piano playing. Yet so many “Performance” MAJORS hammered away through paper thin walls of stacked CON practice rooms hoping to build a SOLID technique.
NO doubt these Ex-CONS (at graduation) would surely find it a challenge to survive the rigors of mechanical drills outside prison confines, with injury being the price of senseless repetition and overuse.
And to think my beloved piano teacher, Lillian Freundlich that I left behind in NYC to attend her Alma Mater, had sent me off to do hard labor. (My apologies to Oberlin classmates who might have had exposure to better teaching methods in the LEARNING and LABOR school)
To provide an example of how I emancipated myself from the no pain/no gain paradigm so respected back in my ancient student days, I’ve made this 9-minute video exploring how to learn a devilish fast passage, by organizing, blocking, singing and shaping the line. (No POWER DRILLS, if you please!)
It’s a NO sweat approach to playing a tricky phrase from Haydn’s HOBOKEN 52 Sonata in Eb (Finale: PRESTO)