Let’s face it: Pianists are often told that the mere act of producing sound on a piano is “too easy”! It is certainly true that pianists do not have to be concerned with breathing or intonation. However, much effort is directed towards becoming physically involved with sound production. Pianists often include these aspects when discussing music. Technique study for pianists involves intense listening to enable a singing line that includes breaths in appropriate places. It includes hearing harmonies, voicing, and discriminatory listening for tone and timbre. We speak of linking notes with the fingers for the development of a seamless, supported legato. In short, we strive to hear our repertoire in a symphonic sense, borrowing generously from the language used by our fellow instrumentalists and singers.
Shockingly, when we look at some of the most elite musicians in the world, we find that they aren’t necessarily practicing more but, instead, more deliberately. This is because they spend more time focused on the hardest task and focus their energy in packets — instead of diluting their energy over the entire day, they have periods of intense work, followed by breaks. Not relying on willpower, they rely on habit and discipline scheduling. Studies have found that the most elite violinists in the world generally follow a 90-minute work regime, with a 15- to 20-minute break afterwards.