You know that delicious feeling that you get when you finally play that passage that you've worked so hard on correctly? Total...satisfaction.
But then...down the tubes it all goes the next time you sit down to play it. Sometimes we get not only frustrated about that, but even a little offended! After all that work...you finally got it just to not get it, the next time? Ouch.
There's a reason why that happened and we need to back up just a bit to see what it is.
Once. You got it right (and yay!) that one time. The temptation at this point is to think that it will continue to be right every time we play it after that; except that's usually not what happens. Many times we end up messing up again.
It's important to realize that playing it right once won't necessarily mean that it will be right again. It could be what I like to call a "break-through" time of playing it correctly. This is sort of like our bodies saying to us, "OK, I'm getting this" but then we don't hear the rest of the statement which is "but keep playing me so I really get it."
The truth is - it takes many times until a passage comes out correctly 99% of the time without us even thinking about it. This is not at all suggesting that anyone do mindless repetitions of the same notes or passages over and over again. This won't accomplish anything either.
What I'd like to suggest to you though, is that you can make it a fun challenge for yourself...almost like being your own personal health coach. What is the one thing that you hear from most fitness coaches? "Do one more!"
Take that passage of 16th notes that you want to ultimately play at a fast tempo - accurately and smoothly. Set a challenge for yourself each day - like this:
Each day you are going to repeat this process so that at the end of the week, you'll have played this passage correctly many times!
You can make up any number of different ways to challenge yourself in fun ways so that you give your body and brain the time needed to learn the notes, rhythm, theory aspects, and just get comfortable with any type of challenging passage in your piano music. It's important also to do repetitions in different ways so our minds stay alert and focused on what we're doing. The main goal here is to remember that you can always do it one more time. :)
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