I began learning Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 during my freshman year of college. When the piece started to gain tempo in certain passages, these passages felt difficult when I knew they shouldn’t, and for the first time, I started feeling like I was reaching some kind of physical “ceiling” in my playing. This realization first consciously occurred to me while practicing the Chopin in a music department practice room. Since no part of this ceiling was mental – I was able to fully comprehend the music in real time and I literally felt like my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain – I felt certain that there ought to be a way for me to overcome it. After all, the pianists who played the piece in all the recordings I owned certainly didn’t sound like they were struggling. Why should I?
After thinking about this for several minutes in silence in the practice room, it occurred to me Continue reading