Piano Lesson Insights: Do You Practice To Play Or Play To Practice?

7 August 2014

Piano -poolWhat has swimming got to do with playing piano?


Though an unlikely source of inspiration to a piano player, much of what Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe has to say on the subject of training / practice is something that can greatly benefit not only swimmers, but piano students too.


Many who watched the recent interview Thorpe did with Michael Parkinson may have been surprised and/or preoccupied with the revelation that he is gay. Certainly the media have focused on little else that was discussed.


To be honest, I am not a great fan of sport in general and I have no interest in Thorpe’s personal life, but I ended up watching the interview as, frankly, there was not much else on t.v. that evening at that time.


To my surprise, in the interview, Thorpe said something that really struck a chord (pun intended) with me.


Parkinson was asking him about his connection to the water which is apparently described in great detail and in “almost mystical” fashion in the first chapter of Thorpe’s recent book (which I have not read, by the way).


What Thorpe said was (in paraphrase), that most swimmers train to compete at various races / events. In other words, for the majority of swimmers, it’s mostly about the winning.


But Thorpe says that he competes so that he can train. In other words, for Thorpe, the greatest joy and fulfillment is in the continuation of training itself.


What a great lesson that is!


Having studied, practiced, performed and taught piano for many years, I can tell you that for most pianists / keyboard players, it is the same.


At least sometimes, if not all the time, most of us fall into the temptation to reduce the time we spend practicing piano to a means to an end.


For every piece we start learning, we want to get to the end of the learning process so we can finally perform that new piece we have been working so hard on, whether for an audience or just for ourselves.


Of course, the problem with this approach is that it can easily make practice a tedious chore.


As I gradually become a little older and (I like to think) a little wiser, I am discovering that the best part of playing piano is not the occasional performance where one gets to rattle off what one has learned in front of others.


Rather, for me, it is in the process of learning and discovering new things, not just about the pieces I practice, but about myself and my abilities and/or limitations.


When practicing piano (or keyboard) one really is communicating with the instrument. Each keystroke creates a particular sound in response to your movement, and you in turn respond to that sound through further finger movements, wrist and arm gestures, your breathing — and your mind and emotions.


As you practice, if something is not quite sounding the way you want — for example, if some notes in a scale passage are partly blurred — the process of listening for what exactly it is that you want achieve or change in the result you are getting, and the adaptation and experimentation of your approach to elicit your preferred result is a profoundly uplifting, at times transcendental journey of discovery and growth.


Perhaps when playing that elusive scale passage you might try concentrating your focus solely on just the white notes, or maybe just the black notes, or perhaps every fourth note or every seventh note. The possible approaches are endless.


Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that practice is not about playing things perfectly — or beating yourself up if they are not perfect. It is about ‘playing’ — as in toying with, experimenting with, entering into a dialogue with — the music.


Unlike performing, there is no pressure when you are practicing — just infinite opportunity to let your spirit soar and to rejoice in the joyous discovery of new insights into the music and into countless little things that help you become the best version of you.


So next time you practice, don’t race to get it over with. The opportunity to practice piano (or keyboard) is a priceless treasure that you have the privilege of taking to extraordinary and wonderful heights.


If you (dear reader) have not yet experienced the tremendous joy of learning and practicing piano, I warmly invite and encourage you to consider taking your first steps on your piano lessons journey here with Musiah — by taking our Free Online Piano Lessons 14 Day Trial  — available for a strictly limited time.


If you have any questions about Musiah's online piano lessons, please feel free to email me directly at [email protected].


Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment.


Til next time, 


Brendan Hogan

Piano Teacher & Musiah Inventor


P.S. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others by putting a link to it on your facebook page, blog or website.


Please — Tell your friends / relatives about Musiah


Earn cash rewards with our Referral Rewards Program


Enroll Now




Related Articles



Reflection On Piano Lessons With Musiah: First Two Weeks — Absolutely Dumbfounded

Video Presentation: Online Piano Lessons — A Fun Way To Learn Piano 16 Times Faster

What Is A Real Piano Lesson?




Musiah Review By Celebrity Music Maestro — John Foreman

Video: Musiah Online Piano Lessons Review By John Foreman Celebrity Music Maestro


Musiah Review By Young Student

Musiah Review By The First Ever Student To Complete The Musiah Course


Musiah Reviews By Parents Whose Kids Are Learning Piano With Musiah

Learning Piano Online — A Musiah Review by a Mom from Utah U.S.A.

Musiah Online Piano Lessons Review By Mum Of Three

Review: Why Musiah Piano Lessons Work Wonders For Kids And Adults

Musiah Review By A Mum Who Is Learning With Her Son (external blog)

Musiah Review: Family Of Musicians “Highly Recommends” Musiah Piano Lessons

Musiah Review: Keyboard Instruction And Music Theory In A Fun Format

- More Musiah Reviews By Parents


Musiah Reviews By Adult Students

Musiah Online Piano Lessons Review By An Adult Student

Musiah Piano Tuition — A Candid Review By A Young Man from Melbourne

Musiah Review: A Piano Tutor Who Brings Out The Best In You

Musiah Review Compares Musiah To Other Piano Lessons

Musiah Review: "I'm Addicted To Musiah. It Is Superb"

Musiah Review: Musiah Blows Other Online Piano Lessons Out Of The Water

Musiah Review: Musiah Is My Hero – Incredible, Remarkable Software Says Renowned Puppeteer

Musiah Review: Musiah Piano Lessons Enrich Life Says Ohio Woman

- More Musiah Reviews By Adult Students


Musiah Reviews By Mature-Age Adult Students

Learning To Play Piano Online With Musiah: Review By A Retired Teacher

Meet Our Newest Musiah From Ohio, USA

Musiah Online Piano Lessons Review: Mature-Age Piano Student Sees Genius In Musiah

Musiah Piano Lessons Review: This Is The Best Program I Have Seen

- More Musiah Reviews By Mature-Age Adult Students


Piano Lessons Articles

Best Free Piano Lessons — Why Learning Piano With Musiah Is Better Than Free Piano Lessons

Best Piano Lessons

Best Piano Method

Can You Really Teach Yourself Piano/Keyboard Online?

How To Learn Piano 16 Times Faster

Learning To Play Piano: The Greatest Benefit You Never Heard Of

Online Piano Lessons Software

Piano Lessons — A System For Rapidly Learning Piano Pieces

Piano Lessons Or Keyboard Lessons — What Is The Difference?

Piano Practice Tips: The 12 Most Common Piano Practice Mistakes And How To Correct Them

The Damage Caused By Online Piano Lessons And How To Avoid It

Why Learning Piano As An Adult Is Easier Thank You Think


More Articles

Posted in: Learning To Play Piano




Return to Blog Home

Comment on this post


(your email address will not be displayed with the comment)


Note to Spammers: All comments on this blog are subject to approval before they are published. Only genuine comments will be published.

* Required

Free Trial

Try Musiah
Online Piano Lessons NOW
FREE for 14 Days

Start my free trial
  • 100% FREE Trial
  • No contracts
  • No risk

Tell A Friend

Or Follow Us



Article Categories


Tag Cloud

A.I.  Benefits  Practice Tips  Reviews  Free  Adults  Beginners  Kids  Parents  Learning  Software 




What people say about Musiah


Before starting Musiah, I had only put the keyboard on to play a song for me. I tried to learn from mum's computerised keyboard, but it was too hard. Even as early as the first session on Musiah, I found it quite easy to learn. I have been learning with a teacher once a week now, but Musiah is fun and I can do this at home in my own time. I am getting so good now, I have even played some songs for my family, including Jingle Bells at Christmas. Thank you Musiah, I can't wait to learn more.


Gypsy B (age 10) - Laverton VIC, Australia


Gift Certificates

The Gift of Music is a
lifelong gift. Give it to
someone you love with
a Musiah Gift Certificate.


Receive Musiah Updates


Piano Video: Online Piano Lesson #123 For He's An African Fellow played by Michael


View more student videos


Musiah Latest News

Musiah for iPad Status Update – Overall progress is good despite some delays. Our brand new web site and the official release of Musiah for iPad are now on track for mid-March.



RSS Feed