September is here, and we are all in need of brushing up our piano skills. Both teachers and students indulged with free summer restorative rest. Now it is time to start brushing up our piano skills.
In the same way that I recommend to take one day-off, I also advise our students to make a nice break during the summer. So don't feel guilty! We need to miss the instrument at least once a year to be then able to come back to it with renewed energies.
NOW COMING BACK TO YOUR PIANO!
Nevertheless, after a good break, our body and mind require some time to re-adjust to performing regularly. We need to start lingering to rehearse as we used to so.
Wanting -or not wanting- to study piano relates to the stage you are with your learning process. The more immersed we are in the learning process, the more emotionally involved we get and, therefore, the more we want to study. The issue is that it also works in vice-versa!
Our body and mind get in tune at different times and in different ways.
RECOVERING YOUR FAST MUSCLE RESPONSE
Our fast muscle response is the first thing that gets rusty after long periods of not practising. For that reason, it is good to start by working on technical exercises. When talking about warming up exercises, scales and arpeggios jump to the first rows!
It is essential to focus not only on moving your fingers but also on moving them with "finess". Your performance "finess" is something you need to recover, and it is undoubtedly the most critical sign of rustiness in your play.
Try and work on experimenting with different articulations and with various dynamics. You can, for example, play staccato and then try the same scale in legato. You will see that this will affect the piano movement you can use -wrist movement or finger movement respectively-. When dealing with dynamics, I suggest you play them from piano to forte and vice-versa. You can also play the entire scale forte and then try and play it only in piano. Make sure than you don't change the movement of your choice when incrementing or diminishing the intensity of your action.
GETTING USED TO -AGAIN- TO FOCUSING IN YOUR PLAY WHILE STUDYING
Maybe the trickiest thing of all, when coming back from holidays, is to learn -again- to focus exclusively on music while practising; at least, one or two hours a day.
We come from a period in our lives in which we were paying attention to many different and new stimuli. It is quite hard to start feeling comfortable while thinking only about one thing a time; in this case, music. The latter difficulty translates into needing more time to get "into the zone" than before. My advice: "try and work with scales during these warming up periods".
Then when you feel you start to enjoy your practice, try and work on learning about musical structure and technique -now when working on a piece-. The latter will help you optimizing your study-time and propelling your progress forward.
FEELING IT IS TOO MUCH...
This slightly more straightforward fact might be quite determining! Yes, you have to start with all your activities again, work, studying, family commitments and music. It is essential to be relaxed and don't allow yourself to feel overwhelmed by the weight of everyday life.
Your piano lessons, in this case, are your London escapade from city stress. They represent the moment in the day in which you connect with yourself, and you forget about life tensions.
Diving into the world of music can be the perfect counterbalance to your every day stressing duties.
The last but, a still significant fact, is the way your piano lessons time-table sit within your working hours. You need to come back to your musical habits. You might need to redesign the time-architecture of dairy and fit in not only piano-lesson times but also piano-practising slots within your ever-changing working time-table. Without practising consistently, we can't achieve any results. So, spice up your diary and ensure you you will always alternate your working hours with well-deserved piano-introspective time patches.