The many ways in which one of my adult students progressed in her two most recent lessons felt like they were unrelated to what we were doing that day.
Four amazing things occurred in her playing! We had worked on each step at various points in previous lessons, but not for the two weeks included in this post.
1. Consistent fingering
Two weeks ago, my student was able to stick to the same fingering throughout a piece for the first time.
After our discussion about how this would help from now on, I asked how she felt. She said she felt stuck, like she couldn’t move (from one location on the keyboard to another). I had no problem with that for a first assessment. She just hadn’t experienced the freeing aspects of using consistent fingering yet. She was trying too hard, so her hands were not relaxed.
2. More experience with consistent fingering
This past Saturday, she did it again! When I repeated my question about her experience, she said, “I feel like I know the piece.” I’ll take it!
3. Releasing a chord to arrive at the next
This was such a surprise! The right hand was playing a melody while the left needed to move from a 2nd finger C to an octave above with 1 and 3. She was able to do that, and I don’t think she even noticed. Moving early has always been difficult for this student. So seeing her accomplish that even when the other hand was doing something else was particularly gratifying.
Of course we discussed this, too. She said she could tell where she was headed. It just “looked right.” This is the first time she has been able to eliminate most of the 88 keys and see only the ones she wants to play.
4. Stretching for an octave, then contracting hand
One passage in the right hand included a 5th finger C, then a stretch to the thumb one octave lower, both quarter notes. Most of the time, my student’s hand would remain stretched, not relaxed. On Saturday, her entire hand moved to stay with the thumb!
How could all of this happen at once?
My thoughts go back to consistent fingering. When someone feels secure on the keyboard, then there is so much less to think about. Most of the self-defeating guesses were no longer necessary. (She normally uses a process of elimination. “No, it’s not C…”) She knew where she was.
I can’t wait until the next lesson! This student’s progress will most likely move much faster now that she can find her way around the keyboard more easily.