This week, I ask my students to do three things.
The first one is emotional /mental, second musical, and third technical.
1. Go all the way.
Go all the way out to express yourself. No reservation whatsoever.
When you go all the way, whether it be the tempo (accelerando or ritardando), dynamics (forte or piano, crescendo or subito) or simply emotion, you would express and feel something extraordinary, something you have never experienced before. It would open up a space so broad and a level so high that you would never imagine you could ever achieve.
2. Special moments.
Pick three spots in the piece and plan them well so that the audience will remember these unforgettable moments even after the performance. It’s like after you come back from a trip, you still recall a few special places you have visited.
Find your special moments in each piece.
3. Lift from your upper arm.
Focus your thought on lifting your hand and fingers all the way from your shoulder and upper arm. This is the only way to make the fingers and hand light. Think speed not force. There should be no weight under the fingers. Imagine you punch a sandbag (or someone!) :you use mainly speed (with certain amount of energy but not as much as you think), and right after the punch, you release the energy immediately without holding the energy in your fist. The same principle goes for hitting a note on the keyboard: you do not want to hold that much of the force after the attack even when you have to hold the note a bit longer. Use minimum amount of energy left from the attack to hold a long note so that your hand is light and ready for the next attack or transfer of weight to the next note.
So readers, this week, try these three things in your practice. If you don’t have that much time, just focus on the second principle: find your special moments. Drill them well and play for someone – a friend or your teacher – and see if s/he can hear them!