The Key To A Great Piano Performance

Here is a question: What makes a great piano performance? Is it not messing up on reading the music notes? Is it playing everything right? A GREAT piano performance is much more than just doing things right.

Playing piano is much more than just pressing the right keys and following the rhythm correctly. Playing piano should be a creative outlet for your emotions. That should be your purpose to play. It should be more than just creating some sounds and looking impressive. It should be a way to unleash your energy!

Playing piano should be an experience. Playing a song you have played a billion times should not be something that you feel like you do on autopilot. I’ve played through the same songs a billion times and it is always more enjoyable when you treat every experience as… an experience! Instead of thinking “Yes, I’ve played this song before” and just go through the motions, treat every performance uniquely where every time you play it, you’re trying to express how you feel at that point in time.

Great music is filled with emotions and the end mission is to let people be able to feel your emotions. Your emotions being felt through your performance is the line between a good performance and a mediocre performance. What are some of the ways to enhance your piano performance?

Keep reading.

1. The difference in note duration says a LOT about music.

Listen to songs such as “My Heart With Go On” without Celine Dion singing (see video below). It sounds like someone is humming, expressing everlasting love. The long drawn out notes and the repetition of the song gives this effect.

Another song that makes a great example is Canon is D by Pachelbel (also below). This song is traditionally played at weddings which expresses love and happiness. You notice that similar to “My Heart Will Go On,” you get the long drawn out notes in the bass clef. You also get the high climatic experience in the middle and then it evens out towards the end.

Using the sustained pedal can give you these drawn out notes even if the tempo is a bit faster. It can make the difference between sounding like a MIDI sound file to a grand symphony.

2. Utilize every opportunity to personalize your music.

Often times, you can see the rests notes and the crescendos and where to play loud or play soft. These can highly influence what your piano playing will sound like. There are notations to tell you when to slow the tempo down or when to speed up. There are tie notes where you hold a note throughout a whole measure. Check out this video that really nails the personalization I’m talking about.

These are things you can personalize to be how YOU play it. I once asked my piano teacher at a ritard how much I should slow down. He said that these are kind of things that can make how you play the song unique and how much emotion you are expressing when you play.

3. Get fully engaged in the song you’re playing!

When I was a little kid, I used to sway a lot when I played piano and my first piano teacher would tell me to sit still. It wasn’t until later when I got better piano teachers did I realize that this was okay to do. If you really get into your music to where you’re feeling all those emotions running from your heart out to the piano, it will show in your music. Sometimes even if you visualize the emotions pouring out, that helps.

This may sound wonky but if you can have the piano be your voice, be how you show your audience that this is what you feel when I play this, listening to you will be a unique experience!

As a closer to this, check out this guy totally rocking out and enjoying himself playing the piano. Notice his enthusiasm and that he’s not just sitting there like a statue!