I’d love to say I was one of those people who could sit down and practise for hours on end. Sometimes simply getting behind the piano can seem like a lot of effort. Life has an amazing way of getting in the way!
So how do you keep inspired to keep practising and keep your bum on the piano stool? Here are a few tips to help you keep the music flowing.
- Go live! Nothing beats live music to give you the drive to practise more. A good performance is electrifying. You don’t have to spend a fortune travelling to the large concert halls all the time – why not check out what’s happening in your local area? Remember that a perfect performance is very rare, but it’s the essence of joy that you get from a live performance that you want to recreate when you play.
- Listen. If you’re working on the same piece for a long time (perhaps for an exam) try to find different recordings of it and see if you can spot the difference between performances. Altering the tempo, phrasing or interpretation by the smallest amount can turn a piece from a trudge into a joy.
- Try something new. I do have a slight music buying problem, but when I’m lacking the drive to focus on one piece I can guarantee a look through a new book will keep me glued to the piano. Again, it doesn’t need to cost the earth, why not check your local charity shops? This is also a great sight-reading exercise that doesn’t feel like work.
- Play what you love. There’s no point tearing your hair out with pieces that you absolutely hate. I do give students pieces that I would describe as being ‘good for them’, and it is always great to challenge yourself, but if you can’t find something interesting or rewarding about the piece, or if you find you’re avoiding the piano completely because you hate it, then stop.
- Get a great teacher. No matter what level of playing you’re at, we could all do with a guiding hand from time to time. A good teacher is worth their weight in gold and a great teacher can make the world of difference. Tutors get you thinking about pieces in a different way and often offer suggestions for difficult pieces that you might not have thought about.
- Turn off your phone. Will something interesting happen in the next 30 minutes? Probably not. Will someone post a picture of their lunch? Probably.
- Go outside. A breath of fresh air is perfect for refreshing the mind and a change of scenery can be great to let your thoughts flow around any difficult music problems
- Put the music away. For me, inspiration to play often comes through noodling and trying out new things on the piano. Let your hands go for it and see what happens.
Born and raised in York, Rachael now works as a full time composer, music teacher and performer based in Hertford. Over the years she has written a broad range of pieces in a broad range of styles for ensembles of all shapes and sizes. As a tutor she loves to write works that are educational and challenging yet build up on the foundations of musical knowledge that most possess. Her works always encapsulate emotive figures and many piece contain visual elements during the performance as well.
The highlight of her career so far has been premièring a new work for solo saxophone on a tour around Italy and discussing her work as a female composer. Rachael’s style could be described as a fusion of musical genres. She brings together her musical passions for classical, jazz, ska and folk to create new music that is widely accessible as well as hauntingly beautiful.