A Good Way to Internalise Music

A Good Way to Internalise Music

If you wish to play your instrument and make music more naturally and fluently then please invest 30 minutes of your life watching the video below by Dan Bennett about his concept of ‘Water Pianism’. 

He gives a masterclass about the Water Pianism approach to internalising music and learning how to play an instrument by refining 5 crucial aspects of your approach to listening to, learning and performing music. Although he uses the piano as an example the approach will work for any instrument, including the voice.  A link to his Youtube video and channel is given at the end of this post.

The goal is to liberate you and your inspiration so you can play what you really want and how you want it to sound – by acquiring a few basic skills in a very particular and practical way.

His approach is to engage the mind, then the body then the instrument when making music.  The concept is based on the realisation that we spend relatively little time practicing on our instruments and so it makes sense to learn how to play better without the need of having an instrument handy. 
By adopting his approach you will be able to learn any time, any where and any style – and not even annoy the neighbours!

So here is the approach:

The first aspect is how you ‘visualise’ or imagine your ‘internal’ version of your instrument. For example how in your mind you can imagine the layout of notes on a piano keyboard or guitar fretboard or fingering on the keys of a saxophone or whatever instrument you wish to concentrate on.  It’s important that you learn to do this so you are able to learn more without having to physically have the instrument with you.  Also you may wish to learn the piece on multiple different instruments. For example, I have learned to visualise the layout of the piano keyboard and the fretboard of stringed instruments tuned in 4ths. This enables you to explore and practice scales and chords in any key on your internal imagined instrument anywhere and at any time. Of course when you have a real instrument available you can practice on that, with the benefit of hearing exactly what you are playing.

The second aspect is your internal jukebox, this enables you to deeply absorb the sound and form of piece of music as a whole. If you haven’t absorbed that then you can’t possible ever ‘know’ the piece, so you could never play it fluently, improvising would become noodling. The important point here is to absorb good quality versions of performances of the piece, otherwise you will absorb mistakes made by others. Always remember ‘practice makes permanent’ so learning from the best examples we can find is most beneficial. An example for singers here is Ella Fitzgerald, not to everyones taste, but when she sings the melody it is usually very accurate.

The third aspect is the internal manuscript, which is the tune expressed in music notation for sight reading and so ready to transfer onto you instrument of choice.  You need to gradually gain the skill of associating the notes you hear with their position on an imaginary piece of manuscript paper, using 5 line staves, and your instrument.

The fourth aspect is the notion of time and rhythm, these are closely related but different concepts.  The basic skill is your own internal awareness and assessment of time passing.  How steady and consistent is your judgement of a period of time elapsing, say 5 seconds, or 10 seconds or 30 seconds? If you did that many times how consistent would your ‘time-feel’ be? Once you have practiced assessing and keeping time the next challenge is to superimpose rhythm over the elapsed time, such as a Bossa Nova, Salsa, Waltz or March. Now you have to learn to keep consistent time whilst using the rhythm to ‘swing’ or convey emotion.

The fifth aspect is your physical fitness, dexterity and stamina in readiness to actually play the instrument without injuring yourself e.g. avoiding repetitive strain injuries.  In effect your daily finger, arm and muscle ‘gym’ workout to keep supple in musically useful ways.

Dan is far too modest!  This approach to deep learning by self teaching can be used with any instrument. I’m using it to learn the bass, guitar and Linnstrument – which are all fundamentally the same when using this ‘internalisation’ approach to understanding the nature of a piece of music and how to fluently and naturally map it onto an instrument to play it.

There are other aspects which can be tackled once these 5 basic ones have been mastered. Such aspects might be: 

> smooth rhythmic flow in various styles,
> techniques for expression over shorter and
   longer passages of music, 
> the use of dynamics and energy to enhance expressivity
and bring out the form, 
> variation of chords, rhythm or melody to add spice
or maintain interest …

You can find Dan’s video on ‘Youtube’

I watched it several times to grasp the shear power of the approach. Its more an attitude of mind than anything else.
All I can do is recommend you give it a serious try over several weeks.  You will soon be rewarded.

Dan also has a vast number of lessons on his YouTube Channel and his Video Management Website, all available for free. 
Look no further for enlightenment …


  1. The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesnt fail me just as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I actually thought you would have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you could fix if you werent too busy searching for attention.

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