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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...

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...
Ethical Performing in Music

Ethical Performing in Music

“Grub first, then ethics” Bertolt Brecht ❦     Ethical performing… “Really, Nikos? What? Is there even a notion like that?” I hear you ask…   Well, almost twenty years ago, I was playing to Oxana Yablonskaya Liszt’s 10th transcendental étude in f minor. My performance? Not too horrific. As a matter of fact,...

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...
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...

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)...

What to Study

Choosing the subject of study can be one of the most decisive moments of your music career. Before applying to an audition you need to answer the following questions: 1. What type of musician would you like to be? For example, do you want to become a pianist (a performer) or an academic? Would you rather play...
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....
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...

Play to Others

Yes, play to others. I know that you might think: "oh, how am I going to do this", but playing to others is essentially what music is all about. Of course, you can perform in the privacy of your own room to an audience of one (yourself) and feel complete and fulfilled. That's absolutely great. However, we...
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...

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...

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...
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....

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...

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...

Our Mood Prior to Practising

Another very important factor that will make a difference in our practicing routine is our mood when we are practicing. We can only do so many things that could help prepare us psychologically prior to start practicing. Yet, due to our busy lives, we do not always have the time to prepare for practicing....
Accents on the piano

How to Approach an Accent

An interpretation of an articulation on the piano is only as good as the successful interpretation of both its preceding and succeeding passages. To explain this in a more simplified setting, it’s like when you aim to do, say, a successful pianissimo; to do that, you have to have already set clear dynamic boundaries of...
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...
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...

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...
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...

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...

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...

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...
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...
bach articulations

What Is Staccato

Nothing in music is set in stone, fortunately, and thus reading on paper and trying to make sense of the ever-changing attributes of a musical articulation is no mean feat; tradition passed through the capable hands of an instructor is always paramount here, but various means of passing knowledge are in vogue today, such...

Our Mood Prior to Practising

Another very important factor that will make a difference in our practicing routine is our mood when we are practicing. We can only do so many things that could help prepare us psychologically prior to start practicing. Yet, due to our busy lives, we do not always have the time to prepare for practicing....

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...
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...

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...

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...

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...

What Doesn’t Interest An Audience

We, the performers, often take for granted that people come to our performances to simply listen to us playing the piano.  We might assume that audiences simply come to us, for us. And so, since they come to us, instead of the other way around, they must unconditionally accept the things that we have to offer.  However,...

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...
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...

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...
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...
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...
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...

Scholarly Versus Voguish Phrasing

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

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