Articles

Scholarly Versus Voguish Phrasing

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

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

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...

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...

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...

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...
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...

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...
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...

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...
legato on the piano

Pianistically… Legato

Since the beginning of time, (um… yes, why not) pianists had one thought and one thought only; how to play legato. Legato-playing became so accustomed to pianistic vocabulary, that, in the course of time, knowing how to play legato, somehow meant, ultimately, knowing how to play the piano altogether. We all remember our...

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...

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...
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...

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...

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...

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...
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....

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...
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...
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...

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...

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...
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...

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...

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...
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...

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...
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...
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...
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 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,...
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,...
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...

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...
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...

Choosing the “Right” Teacher

So, why having to chose the right teacher matters when we practice? It matters, because the teacher is the person that is going to show us how to practice at home. Therefore, they better have beneficial things to say when they are teaching us, since we do not want to misuse our time when practicing.   Teachers...

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...
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...
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