You learn a song when you can play it right. You master it when you can't play it wrong.
Let's say a pianist can play a piece all the way through roughly 85% of the time with no mistakes, and mistakes made in the other 15% are minor ones. How might said pianist master this song so that it's correct playing becomes second nature?
For context: I am relatively new to piano (so my approaches are probably beginner ones), and generally really enjoy the process of mastering something. That being said, the piece I'd like to master is a beginner one (Minuet in G). Some things I've been doing to really ingrain its correct playing are:
- Play with eyes closed; certain parts of the piece feel much more difficult without sight. This difficulty indicates areas where my muscle-memory and/or feel for distance between certain notes is not well honed enough.
- Increase the speed of the metronome. If I can play the piece (or a part thereof) three times without mistakes at that speed, increase the speed again. See at what speed/where in the piece I have a difficult time playing.
- Focus on the other hand. I have a tendency to focus on what my right hand is doing, but if I focus on the left hand, it becomes much more difficult to play without mistakes.
- Play the song very slowly. Sometimes, when playing very slowly, it becomes much more difficult to remember the next note—as if the muscle-memory moving me to the next note relies on playing it a certain speed.
- Play w/ everything shifted up or down an octave or play w/ the keyboard set to a different instrument. Even though it's the same song, sometimes the difference in sound trips me up in certain places.
- Of course, play the piece over and over (though this feels as if it has diminishing returns).
These are all methods that, I think, help me isolate where in a piece I'm weakest. What other exercises, ways of thinking, research on the piece itself, etc. can one do to head towards mastering a song?