The Enormous Role of the Pianist’s Mind

The Mind Game in Piano Lessons

Whether you just signed up for Bay Area piano lessons, and you’re eager to get started playing Chopsticks or Greensleeves; or you’re a professional musician searching for a high-end digital Yamaha piano to create a new type of orchestral work, you must spend some time focusing your “mental game.”

No matter what you want out of the instrument, you must cultivate certain mental skills and habits to maximize your performance and the joy you get. Piano psychology, however, is fiendishly complex. Debates rage in the professional piano educator community about which mental approaches work best for preparation, playing, and dealing with high pressure situations.

Before you dive into various theories, step back and begin with the “purpose question.”

WHY are you playing the piano? What do you hope to get out of it?

If your goal is to perform at very high level, pressure cooker type recitals, you will need to mentally train yourself for those big performances – much like an Olympian needs to train for big competitions.

On the other hand, if you want to play jazz piano, you will need a very different set of mental tools. For instance, you will need to hone your ability to listen to other instrumentalists’ ideas and react accordingly in the moment.

If you hope to compose fantastic works, you will need to train your mental toughness, stamina, and ability to work in a relatively solitary environment.

Step one is pretty clear: Figure out how you would like to perform, and then work backwards to figure out the proper mental tools for the job.

For instance, if you hope to play major recitals, train your mind by engaging in vivid visualizations. Right after you wake up in the morning and right before you go to bed at night, imagine yourself at the recital, playing wonderfully. Try to experience the emotions and conjure up the success image using all five senses. What would the keys feel like underneath your fingers as you perform at your best? What would the stage look like? What smells are in the air? The more vivid and emotionally engaging you can make this visualization, the more your subconscious mind will channel your energies towards making that vision a reality.

You can’t shortcut the hard work. You still need to engage in extensive deliberate practice to hone your skills and get “the technical stuff” right. You also need to engage in the appropriate mental calisthenics to get the most out of your musical adventure.

For help finding the right Yamaha piano for your mission, connect with the knowledgeable team here at Pianos Plus. For over 40 years, we have helped musicians like you connect with wonderful, well-priced instruments.