Playing the piano is simply sitting down at the instrument and recreating what you were already able to do. It is often for relaxation, enjoyment, and exploration.
When playing the piano, the focus is on the joy of music rather than technical improvements. When playing, it is common for pianists to start from the beginning and to gloss over mistakes without making meaningful corrections due to the emphasis on being easy going, playing up to speed, and being expressive and free-spirited,
Playing is good for your wellbeing, your heart, and your mind. It is the essence of being a musician. Seasoned musicians who constantly only practice are encouraged to make room for play. Enjoy your skill level and your victories through play. Remember how important it is to appreciate what you can do at your current skill level through play.
Practicing involves working on specific technical or musical challenge in a methodical and deliberate way a certain number of successful times before moving on to the next goal.
Practicing means breaking a piece of music down into small sections, starting from different parts in the music, playing with one hand at a time, playing way under tempo, studying the dynamics and finger numbers, learning the form, the theme, the keys, the chord progressions or other concepts and patterns in the music.
Practice means having the piece sound very taken apart instead of put together. Because of this reason, a lot of musicians are self-conscious when practicing because it may sound very elementary and deconstructed to anyone listening in. The deconstruction of the music is just a part of the process of learning in a way that is technically efficient, meaningful and can result in an impressive level of understanding, expression, and mastery in a short amount of time.
Performing at the piano is the act of presenting a piece of music to an audience with the goal of entertaining, inspiring, or moving them emotionally.
Performing involves a heightened level of stage presence, expression, and interpretation. The focus is not only on technical precision but also on conveying the emotions and meaning behind the music. This type of playing requires a great deal of preparation and practice, including working on dynamics, phrasing, and musical interpretation.
It is important to note that performance skills are developed through practice and include some very exciting and fun ways of being on stage, breath control, how to mess up, how to hold and interpret music, and more.
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Jodi Ann Russell, Ed.D., M.M., B.M., N.C.T.M. is an expert piano instructor who emphasizes mindfulness, relaxation, creativity and technique in personalized piano lessons and master classes online.