hand on piano keysThis story describes how a musician can acquire one of the fundamental elements she needs for confident performance: A reliable instrumental technique.

Sandra’s previous teacher had given her pieces that were way beyond what her technique could handle. She showed up at my studio extraordinarily tense at the piano, hunching over the keys, with her hands constantly trembling and her fingers raised above the keys instead of resting comfortably when they weren’t playing.

I took her back to square one—with much easier repertoire, practicing one hand at a time and looking closely at every small movement—so she could gradually untangle the tense habits in her hands. Her motivation to practice super slowly continually amazed me.

And then one day, it happened—she came to her lesson suddenly playing much faster, with relaxed hands. She had succeeded in creating new neural pathways—new messages from her brain to her hands—and the speed just came. She was free.

It’s an incredible moment for me when a student’s hard work pays off and they begin to look and sound like a real pianist. Especially because they actually begin to feel like one.

Sandra learned that being a good pianist wasn’t about practicing difficult pieces and getting all the notes. It was about having control of her hands and experiencing the flow of her own body really making music.

She explained her victory this way: “You can’t focus on the outcome. It doesn’t mean that the outcome isn’t important. But you don’t get there by focusing on it. The fastest way to get there is to not focus on it.”

Brava, Sandra! You did it. Thank you your hard work, and for trusting the process and trusting yourself. I’m so happy for you.