The Fastest Way To Go From Good To GREAT On The Piano

Lisa Witt  /  Practice / Aug 30

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It’s all about control.

What I mean by that is controlling your dynamics. That simply means being able to control the touch and volume of your playing.

Playing a song or piece of music at one constant volume is not nearly as impressive and beautiful sounding as using dynamics to bring out the emotion in the music. You can really take the listener on a journey through your use and control of dynamics.

It means being able to play every note EXACTLY as loud as you intend. There are no surprises.

But getting there takes practice. I have 3 great exercises to help:

Tip # 1 – The Five Finger Scale

It’s an old favorite of mine, but it’s a favorite for a reason. This is a great exercise for all levels, including beginners.

This exercise is about exploring the full range of volume you can get from your piano or keyboard. Play the whole scale as quietly as you possibly can, and then repeat the scale – getting louder each time.

Tip # 2 – Practice With Crescendos

I use this a lot. Crescendo means to get gradually louder. You can use the Five Finger scale again, but this time get louder as you’re playing the scale.

Tip #3 – Crescendos and Decrescendos (or Diminuendos)

Just like crescendo means to get gradually louder. Decrescendo means to get gradually softer. It’s also called diminuendo.

Now you’re going to practice getting louder AND softer while playing the scale. Start at one volume and build to a higher volume, before coming back to your starting volume at the end of the scale.

These exercises will help you get the ‘feel’ for how to play expressively and control your volume. Doing it repeatedly will instill it into your muscle memory, and allow you to go from good to GREAT in no time.

Have fun!

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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