“Partner” Practice

Piano practice often seems like a lonely business. No partners. No other members of the band or orchestra with whom to make music. Yet, when you think about it, the hands themselves need to be partners. Unless they are a team, with each “member” playing its own role, the results may not be so successful. Although this may seem strange, “team” hands and fingers must be independent! The best way to achieve finger independence is to give each finger a chance to play with a good tone—“Plant the finger,” says Dr. Faber—and then relax. He demonstrates a practice strategy from Technique & Artistry Level 2A in which matching fingers in both hands experience “play, relax.” Playing the same pattern softly and more quickly, then, evolves into a smoothly directed gesture. “Owl in the Woods” by Ferdinand Beyer and “Melody for the Left Hand” by Ludwig Schytte each provide more opportunity for teamwork. The right hand, then the left hand, project a melody benefitting from the “play, relax” strategy. When the partner hand takes the melody, the other team player must take a quiet and supportive role. Cooperation and coordination can be achieved with slow, careful practice. This could be a fresh way of learning to play together!