School of Just-Don’t-Do-It

There comes a time when, whatever you do, whatever you try, things just don’t seem to get any better. The recital/exam is looming in the not-distant-enough future, and there is this tremendous urge to practise, practise, practise, until it comes right.

But it doesn’t. And it won’t. And while the reason is obvious, it takes a huge amount of self-discipline (and self-belief) to do what is actually necessary.

Which is nothing. Do nothing. Or at least, go and do something else. Summon up the willpower to go completely away from the piano and take a rest, have a nap, vacuum the house, fill in next year’s tax return – anything so long as it’s not what you’ve been doing. What is mysterious (but does it matter why?) is that when we come back to the piano our subconscious has so often solved the problem.

Of course the School of Just-Don’t-Do-It is not only for pianists. It’s just as relevant to any activity which combines mental activity with a practical skill. But as far as I know only pianists read my posts, so we’ll stick with them.

If that pending recital/exam weighs so heavily on you that you find it impossible to lift yourself off the piano stool, well then at least play something different. Better still, learn something entirely new. If a heavyweight Romantic work is being problematic, Haydn can be very refreshing. If Haydn is proving worrisome, maybe a little Debussy will do the trick. Guaranteed to work in all cases is a good blast of Bach, the more complex the counterpoint the better!

Now if only I can find a way for my subconscious to take care of that extra 10% ….