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Preparation and Attitude
Tim P Manger - Piano Teacher

Preparation and Attitude

It's all about You

Your mental and physical approach to learning the piano is arguably the most important aspect to performing and playing.

It is vital that you prepare yourself for each session, whether you are practicing, performing, or taking a lesson.

As a piano teacher, Tim believes the best way to achieve this is to warm up effectively, focus on what you want to accomplish during the session and most of all, enjoy the experience.

If you are able to focus your thoughts on the outcome, then the results will be immeasurable.

Warming UpWarming Up

When you first sit down at the piano, you need to prepare several physical elements.

  • The first of these elements is to adjust your playing stool or chair, both the height (if possible), and the distance from the actual piano manual.
  • The second element you need to prepare is your acceptance level. Sitting with a straight back (rather than hunched over), will signal that you are both willing and accepting of the task that lay ahead.
  • The third element is to place both feet flat on the floor beneath the piano manual. If your feet are crossed or raised, the signal being sent might be misinterpreted as relaxed, rendering you unprepared for the task that lay ahead.
  • The fourth element is to reduce your tension, stress or anxiety level. You can do this very simply by raising your shoulders in a shrugging motion, holding the position for 5 seconds (or so), and then relaxing your shoulders (you can repeat this several times). You may also want to roll your head gently, closing your eyes and clearing your mind at the same time.
  • The fifth element is to do a few facial exercises, and to be conscious of the expression that you are projecting. Since a portion of your attitude is displayed in the expression on your face, by creating simple nuances (such as smiling, raising your eyebrows, frowning etc) can have dramatic effects on your playing results.
  • The final element is to prepare your fingers. This can be done by rolling your wrists several times, clenching your fists to relieve tension, clasping your hands and massaging your palms, or stretching and massaging your fingers.

The above preparation may sound like a long-winded approach to the simple task of actually playing the piano, however if you dedicate a few minutes before each practical session to physical preparation, the ongoing benefits will be rewarding.


The most difficult part about playing the piano (from a mental perspective), is dealing with the myriad of 'noise' and activity that can distract you from achieving your session goal. The best advice Tim can give you, is to relax and focus.

  • Close your eyes for a moment and focus on nothing but your breathing. Slowing your breathing down and controlling the speed at which you exhale, will help you to achieve a calmer state.
  • Think about the first note you are about to play, the way the note will be played, the velocity, the dynamics, the pitch.
  • Place your hands gently on the keys and relax you entire body, your facial muscles, shoulders, arms, wrists and fingers. When you have achieved a totally focused state, then you will be ready to sound your first note.


If you have prepared both mentally and physically for your piano playing session, then you will achieve positive results right from the outset.

However, playing the piano is not meant to be an exhausting experience. It is meant to be enjoyed and embraced, giving both the pianist and the listener a heightened experience.

When playing or performing any piece of music, try creating a context for your piece or work. Rather than simply thinking about the technical requirements of a given musical piece or work, consider what the music makes you imagine or feel. Focus on that feeling or emotion, and work towards underpinning it so that you experience it lucidly.

The physical preparation and mental preparedness discussed above will help you achieve this heightened contextual experience, not only giving way to a better interpretation and fulfilling playing session, but also by helping to entice pianists back to the piano, not only just for today's session, but far into the future.

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