How to Polish a Piano Piece For Performance

If you’ve been reading my articles for some time now, you know I’m all about ‘process.’ That is, I place more importance on being in the moment and experiencing the music first hand.

But… what if you want to perform your music for others? Or, what if you want to create a CD of your music? What then? You have to ‘polish’ your pieces! So, how do you do that? Let me explain how I do it.

First, I won’t begin to polish a piece until it ‘gels.’ This simply means that the piece, for all intents and purposes is finished. Once it’s at this stage, I go for slow practice and aim for working on passages or parts that give me trouble. I usually don’t have this problem because most music in the New Age piano style is relatively easy. But don’t let that fool you! Slow and easy pieces can be the hardest to play since what you’re going for is expression of emotion.

When I was working on my CD “La Jolla Suite,” for example, I would play the piece through 3 times without stopping. I would do this for all the music. Then, if I were working up to performance, I would play the music exactly as it would be live for people.

Make no mistake… working up music for a performance or a recording can be hard work. It can even get grueling as you subconsciously prepare yourself for the task at hand.

But the rewards are worth it. Once ‘polished’ you can now perform the music whenever you want – that is if you don’t take too long a break.

The cool thing about the New Age piano style is that it’s not nearly as difficult to do this as say, in the classical world where some practice for 12 + hours on end to perfect the music. As always, perfection isn’t the goal – communication is.