Pedaling at the Piano

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Performance Anxiety

Have you ever said “I could play it better at home.”?  If so, you probably know all too well that performance anxiety can cause all sorts of distractions, including clammy hands, sweating, itching, shaking hands and feet, and difficulty thinking clearly.  Before my final piano recital in undergrad, I even had a nightmare in which the grand piano and bench were tilted at a 45 degree angle on stage, and I kept sliding off the bench as I tried to play my pieces.  Performance jitters can strike unexpectedly in the middle of playing a piece, or the anxiety can build for days in anticipation of an audition or recital. The good news is that over time, this extra energy and awareness can help us to focus and play our best, rather than be a distraction. One of the most...

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Will A Metronome Help Teach Me Rhythm?

Somewhat!  A metronome is a tool that can provide the sound of a steady beat at a specific speed, but the musician must hear the beat and follow it.  It’s the following part that gets complicated, as it requires quite a bit of multitasking to play music and also pay attention to something external that is making sound.  Rhythm is something that we all feel and generate internally—we all have rhythm, but our abilities to master complex rhythms and finesse the nuances of tempo in playing music are learned skills.  That’s where the metronome comes into play. The metronome has multiple uses.  One is to give us an external beat to work with while we learn a rhythm pattern, such as switching from duple to triple.  The metronome helps establish a specific speed for a...

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