• Sandra Howe

This One Phrase Improved my Piano Performance


As a young musician and student, I was impatient, and I had a low opinion of my ability. I was constantly trying to prove my ability to myself and my piano teacher.


With each piece that increased in difficulty I began to feel overwhelmed. It was a constant battle and one that I felt like I was losing each week. That is, until my teacher said something to me that changed my thinking and set me free…

It’s ok to play below your level

Mic drop. Mind blown. I was unable to comprehend for a moment what was stated. Slowly I began to realize what it meant, and I repeated it like a mantra. “It’s ok to play below my level”. I felt my whole body and mind relax. It was as if my teacher had given me permission to let go of my need to prove myself.

I then began the process of learning a piece below my level, something that I considered “easy”. Together we crafted a performance that I hadn’t been able to achieve before, and it opened many doors to my creativity, my expression, my technique. I was no longer struggling to improve, unable to reach the place I wanted – but I was now playing from the place I had always wanted to be! It was as if I was on a treadmill, and now I was able to run, walk and play outside!

Don’t let yourself fall into this trap of judging your ability so narrowly there is only one way to improve. Allow yourself to enjoy the process – you can’t always be climbing the mountain, sometimes you have to take in the view.

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