The waterfall technique
The waterfall technique is designed to solve all technical problems at the piano. This means all issues regarding fingering, speed, comfort, control, forearm rotation, dynamic control, weight distribution, posture, everything. That is a bold claim, I know.
But, the waterfall technique is not like other piano practice methods. It is based on mindfulness meditation, and it is both counter-intuitive and weird.
The path to mastering the piano can be a long one. That’s why this will be a short post.
Before you read this, please read my article on how to play a piece.
When we practice, we want to learn to play both correctly and easily. These are the results we are looking for.
We want to figure out a way of playing that works at both a slow tempo and at a fast tempo. This way will be both correct and easy. This is the target of our practicing.
When you do this technique, you play fast to learn how to get out of your own way. Then, you go slower. Now you are working on being correct. Then, you go fast again, to see if you can still be correct even while you are staying out of your own way. The object is: can you do both at the same time?
- Choose a piece, and decide how many beats there are per measure.
- Set your metronome to the maximum tempo.
- Play the piece by dropping your arms on the keyboard, once per beat.
- Ask yourself, “is this how I want this piece to sound at this tempo?” If the answer is yes, go back to step 2. If the answer is no, decrease the metronome by 1 click and go back to step 3.
Make a decision about when to stop. You can either stop after a certain period of time, or you can stop when you are satisfied with the results. Do not stop because you are bored or frustrated, as this will cause problems in the long run.
You won’t always play “well.” What works at a fast tempo might be a mess at a slower tempo. What works at a slow tempo might be impossible at a fast tempo.
I strongly urge you to try this technique, rather than simply skimming the article and moving on with your life. There are deep things going on here, some of which I will write about in future articles, and some of which I am still discovering. You need to have an experience to understand what I am talking about. If you do try it, I would be really curious to know about what comes up for you.
My guess is that every single bit of technical advice printed in any book on piano technique can be self-learned relatively quickly through consistent application of this method. Am I certain? Absolutely not. But this is my journey, and maybe you would like to join me.