While I underscore the adult student population in this discussion, it’s not meant to omit students of any age who study piano.
Almost universally, those coming back to the piano after a significant hiatus, or those just beginning lessons in adulthood, have big expectations to “succeed” and progress at an imagined rate of “speed.” Such an accelerated time frame ideal spills into measure-by-measure playing. Yet an opposite frame of reference is desirable: practicing in the moment– breathing into notes as they spin out, with a neutral, open and flexible state of mind. Therefore, a “success” model prized by many adults that applies to their professional job endeavor, is inapplicable if it means completing a task rapidly by deadline.
Practicing slowly, hands alone, has intrinsic value. The process, carved out for each learning experience is the launch point for the next.
By example, here’s a short piece by Turk that many adult students might look askance at with its two line length. They might view this miniature as a passing-through journey to something more meaty and substantial. But within 8 measures there’s lots to explore, and delve deeply into.
Repeated melodic notes cannot be typed out, or played the same. Phrases need tapering. Eighth-notes leading to quarters require shaping and spinning motion, aimed toward principal melodic tones. Dynamic nuances even within a piano (soft range) are pivotal to a pleasurable outpouring.
The Bass notes need thoughtful phrasing, and their balance with the treble is another dimension.
So how could a student think that learning this composition could be a fast track journey?
Slow, ear-attentive practicing and muscle memory awareness awaken the mind and body to nuances otherwise missed.
It’s a mantra that discourages galloping efforts, or those invested in reaching the end of a piece, before it’s birth and development.
Video example of slow practicing:
“Children Playing” by Daniel Gottlob Turk (1750-1813)