I live and teach music in a college town. It’s a wonderful community, but we’re a bit overeducated. As the home of a major university, almost one out of ten people holds a doctoral degree!
Because of this academic environment, one of the things I struggle to convey to my younger students is that when learning music, brain knowledge is not enough. You can know everything about music, but unless you’ve learned how to use it, you’ll never create beautiful music.
The ability triangle
To be truly useful, musical knowledge has to live in three places – not just our brains, but our muscles and ears as well. Our brains, muscles, and ears form a sort of triangle of musical ability.
As we practice, we constantly reinforce the connections of the triangle, developing coordination, sensitivity, and ultimately, skill.
Practice is the key
Practicing your instrument develops:
- Muscle memory. The first time you play a piano chord, it takes a lot of concentration. The fiftieth time takes very little. As you repeat the finger actions, your brain figures out how to execute them more and more efficiently, until they become automatic.
- Sensitivity. As your muscle actions become more efficient, they are more controlled. Instead of “plunking” down piano keys, you develop the touch to play with just the right volume and key action, resulting in more sensitive playing.
- Your ear ability. As you hear the sounds of your playing, your brain connects your physical motions with the auditory response. Over time, you begin to anticipate what your playing will sound like, allowing you to play more on purpose.
Fluent Piano Chords and Fluent Piano Melodic, video courses from OurWorshipSound, offer not only the information you need, but also exercises and practice strategies. FP Chords will help you play basic chords, alter them to make them sound better, apply rhythmic strategies, and use inversions to smoothly play chord progressions. FP Melodic will develop your finger agility, rhythmic vocabulary, go beyond chords with melodic ideas, and ability to execute your musical ideas. Both courses will systematically develop your muscles and train your ears.
Always remember the importance of simply sitting down with your instrument and playing it. Developing the musical triangle of brain, muscles, and ears works like magic to help you reach your musical goals.