Don’t Think! Play, Listen, Feel, Breathe

Recently, I sprang upon a schemata that was an immediate turnoff. It amplified all the nitpicky processes that the brain performs while an individual plays the piano.

Almost without thinking, I copied the colorful map, sending it to my crop of adult students, many in their senior years. As expected, the first reply was a gut punch to the over-analysis of what should otherwise evolve as a natural, developmental process in learning the piano. (somewhat akin to the progression from being born, to rolling over, to pulling oneself up, to standing, to walking) The baby does not need a chart to awaken what nature has planned in various stages.


The student who had decades of piano study under her belt, responded to the emailed diagram with wrenching honesty:

“Glad I never saw that before I started playing at age 40!!”

I feted her avoidance, while regretting my autopilot mouse clicked mass message to those I mentor in a far healthier environment. (No charts of the cerebrum or cerebellum, if you please!)

My students are told to THINK less and LISTEN/FEEL more, with a free-flowing RELAXED BREATH.

In this spirit, Leon Fleisher’s mantra, “Hear it before you Play it,” makes sense as it resonates with my own philosophy of music-making.

While I can wax poetic about the imagination and how it fuels tonal expression, (without a second THOUGHT) it’s best that I share today’s relevant lesson in progress.

Though it diverges a bit by centering on the beauty of silence (the rest) as it moves seamlessly from what precedes, to what follows, the triad of LISTENING, FEELING and SPACING, replaces THINKING!

3 thoughts on “Don’t Think! Play, Listen, Feel, Breathe”

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