I just read a great article about having pieces "at the ready" to play. It spells out my experience as a classical pianist so well - the tendency to consider time at the piano as work; constantly working to get music up to performance level before performing it and moving on in favor something new. When I am continually learning new pieces, it is easy to feel as if I have nothing to play. Mastery happens just before performance and then gives way to the challenge of learning new music. Yet Andrew Eales argues that we should always have three pieces mastered and ready to play without music, at a moment's notice. And why shouldn't we?
Instead of being relegated to playing the first few pages of Fur Elise that I learned in junior high, or improvising a chord progression, why shouldn't I have a mini arsenal of enjoyable, challenging classical repertoire that I can proudly show off as I enjoy the fruit of my labor: seeing the pleasure on the faces of those I share it with?
As I take steps toward recording a classical CD this year, one of my goals is to develop a handful of pieces that I can play beautifully, skillfully, and without music. You can hold me to it! The next time you see me by a piano ask, "What can you play?"