I suppose I put in a little more time at the piano today than I have in recent days. I usually limit myself to one or two movements of Mozart and one of Mendelssohn's "Songs Without Words," but today I got a bit carried away because playing the piano has become my latest exercise in irresponsibility. I guess I played two whole Mozart Sonatas, and then, just for fun, I played some Haydn.
The beautiful thing is that it's just about me and the music, and I can play as slowly as I like. When I make mistakes, I go back and correct them simply so that I get to hear the right notes in the right order. I'm not practicing when I play the piano. I'm playing.
But I am getting better at playing, and I find that I don't need to look at my hands as much as I used to. I also don't tense my shoulders anymore, and I find that I can breathe normally while I am playing.
Don't get me wrong: I love practicing the viola and the violin, but I crossed the threshold of responsibility years ago. Now it is always a responsible act, and practicing does often feel like hard work (not that there's anything wrong with hard work).
Now that I have developed my daily piano routine, I look at music differently when I am away from the instrument. I look at piano music much more physically. I imagine myself playing it, and consequently I hear it more clearly in my head as piano music rather than as notes and chords.