Articles

The Piano Prison

...Or, the Dark Side of Encouragement and Motivation in Music I prefer to drink a pint of salted lemon juice, sprinkled with red pepper shavings, paprika, ample tabasco, a dessertspoon of dried garlic, and two spoons of cod liver oil, than hear the following expressions again: “Oh, I love the piano! After high school I’m...
procrastination in music and piano

Piano Procrastination

[Attention: Strong sense of humor required, before commencing reading this article] From the beginning of… umm… piano-time, procrastination was common in a pianist’s routine. Pianists consistently procrastinated, and that was good. Every now and then a pianist or musician would come and tell me that they felt guilty...

About Talent

Tackling the subject of "talent" in music always fascinated me. When mentioning that someone had talent I naturally meant that they were good in their field but I didn't necessarily mean that they were special; I knew that talent was possible for all of us. I would like to express that I am fed up with this unending...
how to afford a piano

How to Afford a Piano

This article enjoys first place on Google’s search results on how to afford a piano. It is not without reason. Please, join us today and keep learning about the piano.  Please, do not email this website regarding piano prices or where to buy a piano. I would suggest that you visit a local piano dealer and discuss your...

Instill Talent

In this article, I will experiment with the notion of creating talent "from scratch", as they say. It’s a hypothetical scenario of the highest order, but, why not? This is my article, after all. One of the pillars of my teaching philosophy is, that following the right strategy we can assign a random disciple to any chosen...

GUEST POST: How to Practice Piano: Tips for Exercises Off the Keys!

We all know how important practicing is for aspiring piano players! But sometimes it can be a challenge to fit into your schedule. Luckily, there are ways to practice your technique while you’re at work, in the car, or practically anywhere else! Continue reading this guest post by Spring Lake, MI piano...
choose the best piano edition

How to Choose the Best Possible Piano Edition

Choosing the best edition of piano music has been a chore for a lot of us pianists since piano music entered the realm of serious music; that means, well... perhaps from the beginning of keyboard history.  Because of editions, pianists had always had to put up with stiff-lipped opinions and judgmental experts, together...
best piano edition

What is the Best Piano Edition

In this article, we shall discuss – albeit in no depth whatsoever and try to give an answer to what is the best edition of any given piano work. Before I start, please, do let me ask you the following questions: Can it ever be an ultimate edition for a pianist to follow? Can it ever be an edition that will make every...

Pianist’s Block: How to Overcome It and Keep Practicing More Constructively

Pianist’s Block As in writer’s block¹, piano playing, by being a creative activity and hopefully not a monotonous typewriter-type routine, often encompasses its own share of stalling. So, the “Pianist’s Block” per se, is when you have run out of ideas of improving a piece of music, but also, when you’ve lost the...

Am I Allowed to Stop Liking the Piano?

In this article I will discuss one of the most dreaded questions a pianist could face. "Am I allowed to stop liking the piano?" Or, by paraphrasing, "what the cousin of my auntie's friend would think if I stop liking this horrible big instrument?" Have you ever asked those questions yourself? I would like to start by...

How to Become a Great Pianist in Just a Minute

[ Attention: Strong sense of humor required, before commencing reading this article ] In an age where vanity has reached new zeniths and pianists want to grasp the essence of pianism in quick fashion, I made the greatest discovery of pianokind. In a 'eurika' moment I found how to become a great pianist in just...

Piano’s Second Most Important Feature

In a previous article, I was discussing what could possibly be piano's most important feature. What feature could be the key to making us better pianists, when buying a new piano. I came to some conclusions, leaning towards that the piano's key-action could be a decisive factor in making us better pianists. Searching...

Piano’s Most Important Feature

Many people who want to buy a piano for the first time, wonder what to look for first on a new piano. Those people are probably new learners or parents of prospective students, and that consequently means that they have little experience when it comes to the key qualities of a piano. Here are a few things that the...
buy acoustic piano or digital

Buying an Acoustic Piano or a Digital Piano-Simulator?

Acoustic piano or digital? This is a question that pops ups very often in our piano lives. Whenever you want to do anything in your life, be it learning a hobby, studying for a degree or even choosing which pencil to write with, you ought it to yourself to use the best tools available. In order to do music, and in our...

Can I Teach Myself the Classical Piano?

Well, the easy but wrong in my opinion answer is that, yes you can teach yourself the piano. It's a wrong answer however, because you can't really teach yourself the classical piano, I'm afraid. It's true that there are many musicians that managed to build a successful career in music, and they were...

Practice Makes Perfect (Not)

In this article I am going to discuss if there could be infinite improvement on a piece of music. Arguably, a lot things in life have room for improvement; from trying to cook spaghetti aldente to creating a safe plane, humans apparently can infinitely improve things in life. Not the case with a piece of music...
which is the best musical instrument?

Which is the Best Musical Instrument?

In order to appreciate the following article, a good sense of humor is needed... Well... you guessed right. In my humble and unbiased opinion, the bestest, the beautifulest and the funnest musical instrument of them all, is, well... the piano. One of the main reasons as to why a piano is so great is because it can be...

Why Piano is Hard

Even though every instrument has its own difficulties to master, however, I believe that we do have to play one of the hardest instruments, albeit being second hardest to the triangle. So, here are some of the reasons piano is so hard: a) One of the usual answers as to why the piano is hard to play (let alone to master)...

Performance Anxiety in Music

Since the beginning of time performance anxiety was the norm in whatever we did as species; from an orator speaking in an ancient agora, to a lutist playing in the local market, humans had always had this issue to address. Through the centuries, the seeking of musical perfection and the rise of classical music...

Play Piano by Ear

Playing piano by ear has always been essential in a pianist’s tools-of-the-trade. I had to play by ear many a times in my pianistic life; for example, a day before a concert when I was requested to accompany two traditional songs for a singer, or when I was asked to accompany a ballet dancer to the music of...
Perfect Piano Repertoire?

Which Is the Perfect Repertoire to Teach Your Pupils

Few have been the unresolved mysteries of this world; mysteries that have tantalised humanity for centuries on end: “Where’s the Loch Ness monster located exactly?” “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” “Whatever happened to the illustrious composer Jacques du Prassi?” And of course, “Am I teaching the right...
online piano lessons

Online Piano Lessons: Thoughts and Challenges

Reader discretion is advised I hate online piano lessons, both as a teacher, but also as a pedagogue. There’s no way you will learn the piano properly with online lessons. Period. And if you eventually reach a certain level of pianism, imagine what you could have done in the physical presence of a trained instructor… I...

Student From a Former Teacher Etiquette

Warning: Reader Discretion Advised:   So, the phone rung one day, and you heard the following words from the other end of the line: “Hello! I’m Mrs Soen-So and I’m calling to enquire about piano lessons!” “Oh, hi! Yes, of course. How may I help you?” “Well, my son Junior was having lessons last term with Mr. Nikos...
Primary quality of a piano teacher

The Primary Quality of a Piano Teacher

Hm… what should be the primary quality, the most needed, the most desired quality, that would make a piano teacher fulfil their teaching duties to the fullest?  Could it that the teacher should be kind and accepting of the student’s individual pianistic customs? Could it be to be compassionate, or perhaps able to instil...
The old man and the sea and its pianistic symbolism

The Old Man and the Sea and Its Pianistic Symbolism 

Premise So, Santiago, an old-aged fisherman nearing his last days on the sea, goes out to fish after an eighty-four-day unlucky streak. He finally advances towards a huge marlin and wants to catch it. However, the marlin, strong as it were, entangled itself in the nets and is pulling Santiago’s skiff all over the place....

Should You Seek Your Students’ Approval?

Intro Approval seeking was always (and will always be) a common predisposition to mammals like humans. Humans seek and crave approval from the others in order to simply carry through with their existence. Approval-seeking can be found in all of our personality traits, and in all of our everyday doings. Together with this...

Why It Is Hard to Unlearn a Passage

Learning and, especially, keep learning perpetually is what makes our species special according to the… “experts,’. I enclosed the word ‘experts’ in inverted commas in an effort to be sardonic, because firstly, I do not share this belief by the experts and secondly, because, repeatedly, “experts” are being proven wrong....
muscle memory piano

Muscle Memory on the Concert Stage

As with tennis players that can react to a millisecond in time and make the ball over the net, hitting it the right angle by responding perfectly to the opponent’s shot to produce a winner, equally, technical choices of a pianist will be reactively produced on the concert stage to save the day. Muscle memory, this inner...
procrastination in music and piano

Piano Procrastination

[Attention: Strong sense of humor required, before commencing reading this article] From the beginning of… umm… piano-time, procrastination was common in a pianist’s routine. Pianists consistently procrastinated, and that was good. Every now and then a pianist or musician would come and tell me that they felt guilty...

Instill Talent

In this article, I will experiment with the notion of creating talent "from scratch", as they say. It’s a hypothetical scenario of the highest order, but, why not? This is my article, after all. One of the pillars of my teaching philosophy is, that following the right strategy we can assign a random disciple to any chosen...

Am I Allowed to Stop Liking the Piano?

In this article I will discuss one of the most dreaded questions a pianist could face. "Am I allowed to stop liking the piano?" Or, by paraphrasing, "what the cousin of my auntie's friend would think if I stop liking this horrible big instrument?" Have you ever asked those questions yourself? I would like to start by...

How to Become a Great Pianist in Just a Minute

[ Attention: Strong sense of humor required, before commencing reading this article ] In an age where vanity has reached new zeniths and pianists want to grasp the essence of pianism in quick fashion, I made the greatest discovery of pianokind. In a 'eurika' moment I found how to become a great pianist in just...

Performance Anxiety in Music

Since the beginning of time performance anxiety was the norm in whatever we did as species; from an orator speaking in an ancient agora, to a lutist playing in the local market, humans had always had this issue to address. Through the centuries, the seeking of musical perfection and the rise of classical music...

Morality and Musicality

Do you have to be a moral person to be a good musician? Does character and personality count in order to be considered a successful musician? Well, if you define a good musician as a person who is what we call moral - with good standing in society, irrespective of their ability to play a music instrument - then great,...
piano competitions

Are Classical Music Competitions Becoming Irrelevant?

Back in the day, winning an international or even a national competition was a sure ticket for an artist’s road to stardom. Stardom meant more quality concerts, more acquaintances, more music, and more... everything. Competition winners were celebrated the world over, and their music was played on most...

How to Criticize Musicians

“Criticism!” No one likes this dreaded word! Nobody likes it when a fellow musician tells them “you should have done this”, or “you must do this”, or “I think you shouldn’t have done this in your performance”... As I said in a previous article (read here), criticism is great and must be loved by all musicians...

A Great Performer is Not Necessarily a Great Teacher: Myth or Fact?

So... if you are a “bad” performer that means you are a great teacher? Well, let’s not oversimplify things... It’s not really black or white. To start, we have two sides; the performer’s side and the teacher’s side. Let’s see what is happening in their lives. Let’s quickly define (as if that’s even possible)...

How to Love Criticism

When it comes to criticism, artistic people are notorious of having one of the greatest “talents”: to give it liberally but taking it hesitantly. What is criticism? Criticism is when you receive judgement on your work. Later, this judgement can be used to improve your work, if you wish. However, even though criticism has...

The Best Teacher is MY Teacher

Every time I discuss with a fellow piano aficionado I find it impossible not to hear the following line (I’m paraphrasing): “My teacher is the best teacher. He is one of the greatest, but unfortunately an unappreciated teacher.” Now, tell me, haven’t you heard this phrase before? I’m sure you have in one form...

Am I a Good Musician?

Am I a good musician? From the most humble and sincere to the most pompous and egotistical of us, we have all asked this dreaded question at some point in our lives. Even when we had a horribly snobby expression next to our fellow musicians or laughed ironically about an inferior performer to us, deep inside us we all had...

Why Piano is Hard

Even though every instrument has its own difficulties to master, however, I believe that we do have to play one of the hardest instruments, albeit being second hardest to the triangle. So, here are some of the reasons piano is so hard: a) One of the usual answers as to why the piano is hard to play (let alone to master)...

Bullying in Music

Disclaimer: if you are a sensitive individual, if sometimes you take what you read personally, if you ocassionaly become ever so slightly uptight about things you read, then please DO NOT read the following article. This article contains exaggerated opinions and harsh, disrespectful and informal expressions to facilitate...

The Two-Step Great Pianist (aka Can I Become a Great Pianist?)

Great pianists have been the awe of audiences for millions of years. One of the first things the first primates that walked the earth asked themselves was : "can I become a great pianist?". The answer was obvious from the start. No. Because in life there is nothing that is really great when compared to...

Record Your Lessons

Together with keeping notes, another way to acquire a sort of documentation of your lessons is to actually record your lesson using a digital recorder. There are many types of recording machines, such as Mini-Disk recorders, tape-recorders etc. Use you recorded lessons as feedback for practicing at home....

Should You Seek Your Students’ Approval?

Intro Approval seeking was always (and will always be) a common predisposition to mammals like humans. Humans seek and crave approval from the others in order to simply carry through with their existence. Approval-seeking can be found in all of our personality traits, and in all of our everyday doings. Together with this...
The Night Owl - Piano Practising

The Night Owl | How to Find the Strength to Practice Your Musical Instrument

Reader Discretion is Advised   Intro   “I will play the f minor Chopin Nocturne by the summer,” you said to yourself. “I’ll finish that novel by the end of the year,” you heard your friend saying in the cafeteria. “This year I will finally complete my 1st piano sonata. After all, it is on my new year’s resolution...
forte in piano music

What Is Forte and How Loud It Is

In this article we talk about what is forte in music. Then, after defining forte we shall attempt to describe how loud forte should really be.  ❦  Asking what is forte in music, is like asking what is sweet in baking. Being a pianist, and not a baker, if someone was to ask me what is sweet, I would probably answer that...
best piano teacher, Perfect piano teacher

Who Is My Perfect Teacher?

This article is dedicated to Nikolaos Smirnakis, eminent professor of piano in Singapore.  ❦ To cut to the chase, the one you already have or will have; this is your perfect teacher —end of article. Go back to practising. Just kidding; go have a coffee or watch a film on TV, or something. “Perfect teacher…” What an excuse...

What Is a Pianist?

A pianist is any mammal that can play the piano. "Really? Only that?" I hear you say. Yes, it's that simple. Sorry to all big-headed "virtuosos". Whether you play three blind mice with your right hand only or Lutoslawski's piano concerto at Carnegie Hall, you are too just a pianist. A pianist's purpose is to make music...

The Rule of Five

Terry hung up the phone. He’s had enough. He was disgusted, alienated, but most of all, scared. The events manager at the Palm Springs Hotel and Resort had just, less than a minute ago, urged him to, lo-and-behold, learn the Overture from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Well, as a matter of fact, not only learn, but, to...

Introduction

So, you want to become pianist. But maybe not just an ordinary pianist. You want to become a pianist that people will regard highly and fall for your musicality, for your effortless technique and for the Goosebumps they get when they listen to your playing! You dream of filling the concert hall with your...
procrastination in music and piano

Piano Procrastination

[Attention: Strong sense of humor required, before commencing reading this article] From the beginning of… umm… piano-time, procrastination was common in a pianist’s routine. Pianists consistently procrastinated, and that was good. Every now and then a pianist or musician would come and tell me that they felt guilty...
The old man and the sea and its pianistic symbolism

The Old Man and the Sea and Its Pianistic Symbolism 

Premise So, Santiago, an old-aged fisherman nearing his last days on the sea, goes out to fish after an eighty-four-day unlucky streak. He finally advances towards a huge marlin and wants to catch it. However, the marlin, strong as it were, entangled itself in the nets and is pulling Santiago’s skiff all over the place....
sustain pedal

Perceiving The Sustain Pedal

In this article we talk about the sustain pedal anyhow to approach implementing it on our pieces. ❦ Uhhh, that sustain pedal... — “Oh, I used one-quarter pedalling, in the finale of the Pathetique.”  — “Why not use three-quarters depressed pedal in that passage?” — “I did very well with this Mozart sonata. One-quarter...
online piano lessons

Online Piano Lessons: Thoughts and Challenges

Reader discretion is advised I hate online piano lessons, both as a teacher, but also as a pedagogue. There’s no way you will learn the piano properly with online lessons. Period. And if you eventually reach a certain level of pianism, imagine what you could have done in the physical presence of a trained instructor… I...
Real Dynamics in Music

Real Dynamics in Music

p - f - ppp - mp - pf - fff - ffff - fp - pp - mf - ppp...  … and the list goes on… and on…   REALLY??? Are you really telling me that a pianist could implement all those nonsensical dynamics on a piece of music? And, in our case, a pianist can differentiate between p, pp, ppp, pppp, or ppppppppp, in a single piece?...

Understanding Piano Music

In our quest for being considered serious pianists we need to explore other fields in music that are related to each other. Studying theory of music for example will help us to better understand what is really happening in the core of the music that we play and listen. Among other things, we learn how the...
How Much Should You Practise the piano

How Much Should You Practise?

  One of the most common questions I hear from students is how many hours to practise a day. The answer of course is very simple. You have three choices: None 24 hours Between zero and 24 hours. Yes, it's as simple as that! I'm only kidding of course. Many pianists would say that you need to practise at least three hours...

Performance Anxiety in Music

Since the beginning of time performance anxiety was the norm in whatever we did as species; from an orator speaking in an ancient agora, to a lutist playing in the local market, humans had always had this issue to address. Through the centuries, the seeking of musical perfection and the rise of classical music...
best piano edition

What is the Best Piano Edition

In this article, we shall discuss – albeit in no depth whatsoever and try to give an answer to what is the best edition of any given piano work. Before I start, please, do let me ask you the following questions: Can it ever be an ultimate edition for a pianist to follow? Can it ever be an edition that will make every...

Pianist’s Block: How to Overcome It and Keep Practicing More Constructively

Pianist’s Block As in writer’s block¹, piano playing, by being a creative activity and hopefully not a monotonous typewriter-type routine, often encompasses its own share of stalling. So, the “Pianist’s Block” per se, is when you have run out of ideas of improving a piece of music, but also, when you’ve lost the...

Pianistic Equipment

Did you know that In order to practice the piano, you would need a violin? I'm only kidding! You would need a piano of course. A real piano I am afraid. Not a "fake" one. However many people feel quite frustrated when the answer is so obvious. They would come and ask my advice about what sort of piano to buy...

What This Website is Not About

This website is not about advising you how to physically play the ever various technical passages of the vast piano repertoire (Articulations such as staccato, legato, accents, or ornaments such as trills, appoggiaturas etc.). Trying to explain how to physically play a passage from a piece is a very common...

I Love Piano But Hate Practising. Can I Still Become a Good Pianist?

You are still remembering the day you went to that piano recital and got hooked on the idea that you liked the piano. You thought that you wouldn’t mind expressing yourself with this instrument’s beautiful sounds and that you would love to have a go with this big, black piece of wood. You happily started piano lessons and...
which is the best musical instrument?

Which is the Best Musical Instrument?

In order to appreciate the following article, a good sense of humor is needed... Well... you guessed right. In my humble and unbiased opinion, the bestest, the beautifulest and the funnest musical instrument of them all, is, well... the piano. One of the main reasons as to why a piano is so great is because it can be...

Scholarly Versus Voguish Phrasing

As with our verbal communication, musical communication demands appropriate phrasing to show with clarity what we are trying to convey.

What an Audience Wants

When audiences come to us — that is to say, attend our performances — they come for a reason. They seek, and they demand. And rightfully so, of course, because let’s not forget that they have already honoured us first and offered us one of their most precious properties; their time. So, we have to honour them back, if I...
sustain pedal

Perceiving The Sustain Pedal

In this article we talk about the sustain pedal anyhow to approach implementing it on our pieces. ❦ Uhhh, that sustain pedal... — “Oh, I used one-quarter pedalling, in the finale of the Pathetique.”  — “Why not use three-quarters depressed pedal in that passage?” — “I did very well with this Mozart sonata. One-quarter...
Getting Back to Piano After A Long Break hiatus

Coming Back to Piano After a Long Break

  Coming back to piano after a long break is refreshing, is exciting and, undoubtedly, is a brand new experience. But in order to return to piano, something happens inside us. We felt the need to hear ourselves playing this marvellous instrument and we anticipate the warmth of the keys underneath our fingers....

Can I Teach Myself the Classical Piano?

Well, the easy but wrong in my opinion answer is that, yes you can teach yourself the piano. It's a wrong answer however, because you can't really teach yourself the classical piano, I'm afraid. It's true that there are many musicians that managed to build a successful career in music, and they were...
choose the best piano edition

How to Choose the Best Possible Piano Edition

Choosing the best edition of piano music has been a chore for a lot of us pianists since piano music entered the realm of serious music; that means, well... perhaps from the beginning of keyboard history.  Because of editions, pianists had always had to put up with stiff-lipped opinions and judgmental experts, together...
The Peter principle in Musical Performance

The Peter Principle in Musical Performance

In this article, I explore the belief that different branches of knowledge often correlate, and, in our case as pianists, can potentially show us how to perform the piano. The notion of morality, for instance, which is amongst others a philosophical and cultural subject, not only can it help us excel in our everyday...

Piano’s Second Most Important Feature

In a previous article, I was discussing what could possibly be piano's most important feature. What feature could be the key to making us better pianists, when buying a new piano. I came to some conclusions, leaning towards that the piano's key-action could be a decisive factor in making us better pianists. Searching...

The Piano and the Others

Essentially, the place of practising should be the most sacred place of all for you. Remember! You wanted to become a pianist, so in order to come closer to this notion you need the best possible place to work on.   Like with most things we do in life, whether we are gardening, sleeping, participating in...
How Much Should You Practise the piano

How Much Should You Practise?

  One of the most common questions I hear from students is how many hours to practise a day. The answer of course is very simple. You have three choices: None 24 hours Between zero and 24 hours. Yes, it's as simple as that! I'm only kidding of course. Many pianists would say that you need to practise at least three hours...

Practice Room “Atmosphere”

Prior to start practising we should create a comfortable atmosphere in the practising room. First, we should to have a warm and comforting temperature inside the room. It should be neither too hot nor too cold. This might sound a trivial a subject but, make no mistake; the right temperature will ensure longer...

Being Next to Your Piano

After you have established where the piano should live in your house you should start thinking about how to coexist with it. No doubt you would spend hours sitting in front of it, in rain, in sun and in snow. It is going to be tired of you playing with wrong notes, awful technique and tedious sound, and you...

Why Piano is Hard

Even though every instrument has its own difficulties to master, however, I believe that we do have to play one of the hardest instruments, albeit being second hardest to the triangle. So, here are some of the reasons piano is so hard: a) One of the usual answers as to why the piano is hard to play (let alone to master)...
compare to other musicians

On Comparing Ourselves to Other Musicians

If music ever makes us feel uneasy or weary, it’s not because of its own “fault”; It will always be because we wanted music to fit our own small-time callings.  Music is never at fault. It has a life of its own and can never be chained to ambitions by mere mortals, as we all are. Music is the one who decides upon us, I’m...

The Piano Prison

...Or, the Dark Side of Encouragement and Motivation in Music I prefer to drink a pint of salted lemon juice, sprinkled with red pepper shavings, paprika, ample tabasco, a dessertspoon of dried garlic, and two spoons of cod liver oil, than hear the following expressions again: “Oh, I love the piano! After high school I’m...
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