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Articles

The Que Será, Será Syndrome

“If you always give, you will always have.” Chinese Proverb   A few years back my friend AJ experienced an incident so peculiar, that made me think deeply about the things that affect my priorities as a musician, and the space those things should occupy (if any), in my everyday musical and personal life. As the song...

Notes From The Lost Diary Of A Piano Teacher

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

The Forbidden Question

“Alarmbells are ringing uncontrollably” driiiiiiin!!!! Drooooooonnnnn!!! Draaaaanggggg!!! “Ambulance sirens are tearing the skies in a maniacal fashion!!!” Piiiiiuuuuuuu!!! Piuuuuuuuu!!!!! “People are running away like mad, from their seats in the cafeterias, having left behind their laptops on their social media...

The Brain Virtuoso

Claude hang up the phone. His vain request to be accepted as a student at the Jopper Music College, went astray once again.  “They're right”, he mumbled.  “I'm fifty-eight years old! What do I expect? To play at Carnegie hall with the New York philharmonic?” His face had the hue of an overripe peach. His eyes? His eyes...
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...

What Exists Between Two Music Phrases

Some Initial Thoughts   Arguably, every music piece consists of phrases. We’ve all heard of how to do phrases, and how to shape a piece of music. Our teachers continuously talked about phrases and phrasing and they kept showing us on the piano that this phrase should be played like this, but the other should be...
piano fingering

Approaching Fingerings

Two questions to choosing the correct piano fingerings: Often, during a lesson, I receive the familiar question (familiar, I would presume to all of you fellow teachers): “Sir, what finger should I use to play this note?” This question quickly resolves to me showing the “correct” fingering to the student, but this action...

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...
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...

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...
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...
piano phrases. How to play phrases on the piano

Musical Phrases and Their Initial Approach

Phrasing in Piano In this article we talk phrasing in piano and how to approach the phrasing of a new piece. ❦ As with speech, musical phrasing must convey… well, something. Now, you might argue that often our desire is not to convey a particular message or thought with our speech —we could just talk aimlessly. That could...
Ethical performing in Music (Part 2)

Ethical Performing in Music (part 2)

As in everything we do in life, ethics can make or break our plight. We constantly make decisions in our own everyday lives — from the smallest, trivial matters, such as which carton of milk to buy from the supermarket, to the more important ones, such as which is the best nail salon for our friend’s wedding. We take...
What is a piano student?

What Is a Piano Student?

Reader discretion is advised.   Q: Is a piano student someone who wants to learn the tuba? A: No.   Q: Is a piano student someone who wants to learn to paint? A: No.   Q: Is a piano student someone who wants to learn to play the piano? A: Yes.    Q: Is a piano student someone who wants to learn to play...

Is the Quality of a Piano Performance Subjective?

What do you think….? *with a snobbish expression on my fat face* Is the quality of the performance of a piano piece subjective? Indeed, is the cooking calibre of the female partner in a newly established couple less than great? Of course, not. It’s fantastic. Only after a few years of marriage, the now husband could...

Psychological Support from the Others

Support from the others cannot be confined to commends and critique on your piano playing. Another type of support vital to a pianist's development is the psychological support. We, being musicians, need approval for our performances and we need the others to reassure that we are going to make it, that we are...

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...

Will a Better Piano Make Us Better Pianists?

What an imbecilic question! Will a better piano make us better pianists? Really? What a preposterous notion to even ask this question. However, needless to say, that thousands of piano teachers believe, at least subconsciously, that a better piano doesn’t make better pianists. Well, in my opinion, definitely an electric...

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...
piano metronome

The Metronome Effect

The metronome is this lovely machine that keeps the tempo for you boldly without allowing you to deviate from it. as a matter of fact, we all owe to have one, so if you can afford a proper old-fashioned one, just buy an electric one. However, as you know, music is not always played in inflexible tempi and needs to swing...

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...

How to Start a Piece on Stage

So, the day has come to play on stage. Our hearts are pumping fast, our hands become surprisingly sweaty and we feel deep inside, that this is by no means an ordinary day. This is a special day. Everything feels so different than normal. And all we know, is that things are only going to be ok once we’ve finished our...
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...

Starting a New Piece

We should start a new piano piece as we do with everything that we want to take seriously in life; methodically and gracefully. A new piece needs to be treated as a newborn child - with care. Reason   When starting a new piece, we may want to answer the following questions: What is the reason for learning that...

Keeping Notes

When in class with your teacher it is important to take notes in our little notebook that we have kept especially for the piano lessons. We need note-taking because quite often important things that have been said or thought in class can slip from our minds by the time we practice again later. Thus, the more...
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...
piano correct posture

Do Bodily Positions Matter in Pianism?

Attention: Not for the sensitive and sincere individuals. If you’re easily offended, please exit this website at once. This text is not politically correct. It is vulgar, insensitive and contains harsh and disrespectful expressions to facilitate an enjoyable read. Read at your own discretion.  ❦ In an era when personal...

Playing vs… Talking

By reading this article you agree and accept that this article contains fiction and some exaggerated expressions and opinions in order to create suspense. Please read at your discretion. For pianists and other musicians. ❦ It was August 2000. The cicadas were filling the summer night with dissonant reminiscences of...

Following Our Piano Teacher

Blindly following teacher or doing our own thing? Do we have a say when it comes to interpretation? Could our opinion of how a piece should go have merits?   For Pianists and Other Musicians. We all wanted to become virtuoso pianists at one point or another in our lives. We couldn't go to sleep thinking...

Do we play for us or for the others?

Arguably, we, the people who associate ourselves with music and the piano, do play for the others. Well, we play for the others in concerts, in classes, etc., but first and foremost, we play for ourselves. What do you think? Since our species is mainly tribal in nature, we exert satisfaction from all kinds of external...

Notes From The Lost Diary Of A Piano Teacher

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

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...
Ethical performing in Music (Part 2)

Ethical Performing in Music (part 2)

As in everything we do in life, ethics can make or break our plight. We constantly make decisions in our own everyday lives — from the smallest, trivial matters, such as which carton of milk to buy from the supermarket, to the more important ones, such as which is the best nail salon for our friend’s wedding. We take...

What Is Good Pianist in Classical Music

Reader Discretion is advised Who’s your favourite pianist? A very common question amongst piano afficionados, wouldn’t you say? When you ask this question to someone, they will mention some of the normal names that come up in the everyday pianistic lists: to all those questioned, all these famous pianists will possess...

The Brain Virtuoso

Claude hang up the phone. His vain request to be accepted as a student at the Jopper Music College, went astray once again.  “They're right”, he mumbled.  “I'm fifty-eight years old! What do I expect? To play at Carnegie hall with the New York philharmonic?” His face had the hue of an overripe peach. His eyes? His eyes...

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...
sitting at the piano

Sitting at the Piano

In this article we talk about how to sit at the piano, which is one of the most important factors in our quest to conquer pianism. ❦ ... At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you position yourself to play this wonderful instrument of ours, the piano; Even if you sit at a perfect distance from the keys, on the most...
piano stage stopped playing mistake

How to Get Back to Your Piece on Stage

How many times were you playing a piece that was going very smoothly, only to lose your grip of it in the most unexpected place, throwing you off and making your performance go downhill? I don’t know about you, but not too few times for me to be honest. At least now though, I can brag that I, mostly, have overcome this...
non-legato on the piano

Non-Legato Conundrum

Non-legato is a common articulation found in a pianist’s pianistic vocabulary. It goes without saying that non-legato is poles apart to legato, but it is also different to its “shortened” relatives, such as the staccato and tenuto. Staccato, for instance, is more commonly understood and honoured, but non-legato on the...

How to Pass the Piano Audition

How to pass the piano auditionThis article enjoys first place on Google’s search results on the piano audition. It is not without reason. You don’t want to miss out learning about the auditions etiquette. Please, join us today and help this site grow.     Since I am a piano teacher, every now and then I get asked...
good piano teacher

Why Having a Good Piano Teacher Can Be Bad for You

From the beginning of [piano] time, having a good teacher was always…  well… good. Every teacher (including myself) is arguably an avid supporter of the notion that a good piano teacher is an essential tool in a student’s pianistic journey. But, what is a good teacher? How do we judge that a teacher is what we laconically...

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...
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...

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...
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...

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...

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...
piano phrases. How to play phrases on the piano

Musical Phrases and Their Initial Approach

Phrasing in Piano In this article we talk phrasing in piano and how to approach the phrasing of a new piece. ❦ As with speech, musical phrasing must convey… well, something. Now, you might argue that often our desire is not to convey a particular message or thought with our speech —we could just talk aimlessly. That could...

Following Our Piano Teacher

Blindly following teacher or doing our own thing? Do we have a say when it comes to interpretation? Could our opinion of how a piece should go have merits?   For Pianists and Other Musicians. We all wanted to become virtuoso pianists at one point or another in our lives. We couldn't go to sleep thinking...
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