Lesson #6. Gentle Piano: STAGES OF PIANO SKILLS DEVELOPMENT. Memorization and Mastering Tips
Memorization. How to and when?
Here are some stages that EVERY BEGINNER passes during their learning process with Soft Mozart:
1. LOOKING FOR NOTES AND KEYS stage.
Yes! Even with all the visual aids, beginners still have to build their skill to grasp a note and find it on the keyboard.
At this stage you may make as many fingering suggestions as you want, but... the beginner simply won't have enough "room" to hear you.
The score at this stage is usually as this: missing many notes on the left and a very large amount of missing the timing on the right.
2. BUILDING EYE/HAND COORDINATION stage
If the timing on the right side of the screen is significantly decreased, it means that beginners are progressing to this stage. They make fewer and fewer mistakes, are capable of keeping their eyes on the music score most of the time, but still struggle with developing their fine motor skills, trying to cooperate with visual hints.
At this stage beginners are not ready for fingering suggestions either. Their minds are preoccupied with the goal of making their fingers more responsive to the notation.
At this point there are fewer and fewer mistakes on the left and the time figure is getting closer to the number of notes played correctly. The beginner is not just capable of caring about playing with the correct fingers, but still hardly hearing, is he playing music or just trying to press some keys?
You may compare this to learning how to drive a car the first time in your life: you have to look at all mirrors, control the gas and brake pedals - and... enjoy the view outside the windows.
3. ADDING AUDIO PERCEPTION TO ESTABLISHED EYE/HAND COORDINATION.
When the number of correctly pressed keys and the amount of time are about the same, beginners have enough "room" in their minds already to process audio information more attentively.
At this point singing the melody of the piece in Solfeggio is very stimulating because it promotes rhythm in the beginner's performance. When learning at this stage, a student still doesn't have a music "flow" and plays some parts of the music faster (when the coordination is less challenging) or slower (when he/she is facing some difficulties).
4. EYE/HAND COORDINATION + AUDIO PERCEPTION + MEMORIZATION OF MUSIC.
When the number of correct notes is close to perfect and the timing drops below this amount, the beginner is at the stage, when it is time to make some suggestions about appropriate fingerings.
By getting to this point, you will be truly surprised that the beginner will figure out the fingering mostly on his/her own! This works especially well if your student has been practicing our scales and exercises as we suggest in our curriculum and guidelines!
WITH SOFT MOZART IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DEVELOP "BAD HABITS" IN MANAGING CORRECT FINGERS BECAUSE WE USE MANY DIFFERENT SENSES IN LEARNING AND DON'T PROMOTE DEPENDENCY FROM THE MUSCLE MEMORY.
Therefore, our students are more flexible in using different fingering positions and their fingers are not fastened to certain keys.
I have watched Soft Mozart students on stage and have noticed a very interesting quality of their performance: they never panic and forget their place because they can create many reasonable and professional combinations since they are free to use all their senses.
You may compare it with people who fluently speak a language and give a speech - as opposed to people who have just memorized couple of phrases and are trying to recite them in front of audience.
POLISHING STAGES IN PLAYING PIANO PIECES
5. MEMORIZATION. ALL PREVIOUS SKILLS + SPEECH MEMORY
When you or your child/student is ready to memorize the piano piece with our program?
After getting stable results with almost no mistakes on the left and timing that is close to 0 (don't try to have 0!!! You are not a machine!) it is time to start memorizing the piece.
My students memorize piano pieces in segments or as a whole, with separate hands and with both.
They first play R and RH, L and LH and P with PH.
To make the memorization painless and more effective, I often ask them to sing the note names with the "sounds of music" or solfeggio. Such enhancement helps the beginners to have another point of support, which is the speech memory.
6. WORKING ON PIANO TECHNIQUE OR A SONG'S FLOW
The goal of this stage is to teach beginners to keep a steady rhythm and build the song's flow.
First, I do it in class by pressing the metronome or the rhythm section and play with my student together like this:
But now we are developing the TEACHING VIDEOS section *available for free in our Academy*, where you can find your piece, place it in front of you and start practicing by follow the lead. Here is our student Rachel (4 year old) working on "The Entertainer" using our video with the metronome:
7. POLISHING THE PIANO PIECE FOR PERFORMANCE
If you do not have a piano teacher, we created the videos, where you can learn proper artistic playing with us. Well, even if you DO have a piano teacher, our videos are still very helpful!
You will find it FUN to find many piano players on You Tube performing your piece. You can get some new ideas on how to improve your performance and become creative in interpreting your music.