Sometimes as I practice I will realize that I’m allowing myself to become a bit sloppy. Maybe I’m practicing a scale or arpeggio at full speed and one of my fingers is brushing against a neighboring key, causing it to sound. Perhaps I continue to play wrong notes and a passage repeatedly, because my mind is wandering or I was concentrating on some other problem.
Steve Anderson once told me that if you mess up something that you ought not to be missing, just slap yourself on the wrist! Just this simple action can keep sloppy playing from becoming a habit.
This morning I was practicing sight reading from my old Methodist hymnal. At one point, I had to trade feet in the pedal part and hit a low Ab with my left foot. Over and over, I would hit Gb or Bb instead.
Then I slapped my left thigh pretty hard. It didn’t hurt or anything, but it was a physical reminder that I needed to wake up, turn on my brain, and stop messing up that simple note!