by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Piano players do not have the advantage that other instrumentalists and vocalists have. We cannot lug a grand piano everywhere we go. When we share our music with others, we play whatever keyboard is available.
I used to get freaked out by the difference in the piano or keyboard available whenever I shared my music with others.
And —if you are a new--or returning piano learner like me, you may struggle with the kind of keyboard you have or want at this particular moment.
Or maybe you dream of confidently sharing your music with friends and family. But when they ask you to play their keyboard instrument, you feel nervous and your confidence disappears because their instrument is such a different experience than when you play your instrument.
This is a common experience for new or returning piano players. I have been through this myself. I still go through it!
Today, I’m at my sister's farm in KY. Since I am a returning piano learner, my sister has graciously let me practice on her piano here. In today's Tuesday LIVE, I'll be talking with you while demonstrating this struggle with a different instrument as I will play her antique small baby grand piano.
I currently don’t own a grand piano. I have downsized from my Florida home to be with my elder mom as her live-in caregiver. I’m currently using my 88-key weighted-action digital keyboard in my condo in Lexington, KY.
When I play my sister’s piano, it will both feel and sound very different. I want to play my pieces confidently. But the difference between this piano and what I usually practice on is a big one.
But I want to be authentic with you. I know you are thinking that playing piano for other people--using an unfamiliar instrument--is something that makes you nervous. And you probably want to avoid that like the plague.
Well, me too! But I know there is a great benefit from doing this--which I'll share later... So I will plow ahead!
Here are some of my obstacles with my sister's antique baby grand piano I will be facing today:
I want to play confidently through my music! Yet I have a lot of obstacles because this instrument and environment are so different from mine.
I’m sure you can relate if you’ve tried to play for other people outside your usual piano or keyboard practice room.
But, remember I mentioned that there is a benefit from doing this!
It helps build your confidence as a piano player.
Dealing with stage fright is a real thing that many piano players face! For more on how you can skillfully tackle performance anxiety, watch my 12/6/2-21 episode Replay here:
How To Turn Your Nerves Into Good Energy
But as powerful a confidence boost performing piano music for others is—sharing music requires an instrument!
If you’re a new or returning piano learner, you may not yet have room or the commitment or budget for a high-quality grand piano. Or that perfect 88-key digital keyboard with all the piano sample patches you love.
Many piano players will never own a high-quality grand piano or even an acoustic piano. It may take time for you to get your dream keyboard.
But do not let that stop you from the enjoyment of music-making!
Approach music where you are with whatever means you have.
What kind of keyboard you need to start piano is a topic for another day.
If you wanna learn more about that and everything else you need for a successful start to playing the piano, signup here for my FREE Essential Piano Basics Masterclass in the New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook group on January 11, 2022.
During my years as a performing pianist and pianist/vocalist, I played on everything from old antique pianos with missing strings to top-notch 9-foot Steinway grand pianos.
I also lugged my own digital weighted-key action 88-key keyboard and PA speakers into many performances.
The reality is that when you start sharing your music with others--whether you do it just for fun, to build your confidence, or end up professionally performing as I did--you will experience a large variety of piano keyboard instrument quality.
Or the lack of.
As a piano player who has performed and taught piano for 30 years, I learned the value of playing different piano keyboards. How does this help you as a piano player?
Remember, I mentioned it builds your confidence? How?
You learn that you can play anything.
The reality for a piano player is that you cannot expect to walk into every situation and find a wonderfully suited-to-you, quality keyboard.
Learning to play on different keyboards builds your confidence that you can play on any keyboard!
I like to think of each keyboard as a personality. Each piano keyboard has its own idiosyncrasies, just like we do. I approach every piano instrument as if it were a person. I get to know it by playing it. By playing it, I learn to treasure its nuances and problems. Its uniqueness.
By exploring different keyboards, you will begin adjusting your piano skills as you accommodate these characteristics.
As you gain more performance experiences, you will expand your confidence as a piano player. The more chances you find to play different keyboards, the more solid you will become as a performer. That's the whole point!
I know it works for me.
Is it a challenge? You bet it is!!
But the challenge will push your musical growth! Your ability to focus on the music itself will strengthen--despite distractions. This kind of concentration is a critical skill for a performer. It is a kind of mindfulness that can become second nature once you have had enough performance experience.
You can do it!
Drop a comment to let me know if today's Piano Tip inspires you to share your music!
Tell me what music you will share with others soon!
If you have a specific question, a struggle with learning the piano, or you don’t know where to get started, please let me know in the comments.
Would you do me a favor? Please share this with others you know who may benefit from my piano tips.
Thank you SO MUCH!
Have a wonderful holiday week for those who are celebrating!
In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.