Articles

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...
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...

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 a person that is what we call moral, with good standing in society, irrespective of their ability to play a music instrument , then...

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...

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...

Where to Study Piano?

In this world of vanity and self-importance, of affectation and false priorities, the place of study IS one of the most important factors that will determine your future. Many suggest that when you want to become a pianist the first and foremost thing that you need to choose  is the teacher who is going to...

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...

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...

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...

Is Being a Musician Worth It?

For pianists and other musicians! I have been asked this question many times from students, from friends and from people that hear me play the piano. In my opinion being a musician is great! I'm a pianist; I love music and I love the piano. I love instruments. I love the violin for its wonderful, piggy sound,...

Why My Piece Improves No More?

So, you've managed to play the piece that you always wanted to learn. You indulged in it's harmonic sequences and you grasped it's inner world. You loved everything about this piece, even trivial details, such as, who played it the right speed, which famous pianist messed up it's recapitulation or in which...

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 of 2000. The cicadas were filling the summer night with dissonant...

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...

Can Piano Make the World Better?

Indeed, piano be a tremendous force in making the earth a safer place. From the youngsters to the elderly piano can unite all and bring happiness and bliss to this world. And by pressing its breathtaking keys we can all raise the flag of love and compassion amongst our fellow men. I'm only kidding of course....

Playing with Others

Playing with others is always a good idea! And I don't mean cricket or Chess on a Sunday morning (Even though that would have been a wise choice for some of my fellow pianists). Yes you guessed it; I meant performing with other instrumentalists and singers! Ok, you knew I was kidding and didn't need to...

Can I Become a Famous Pianist?

DISCLAIMER: IN ORDER TO HAVE A CONCRETE UNDERSTANDING OF THIS ARTICLE'S STATEMENTS, PLEASE READ THROUGH TO THE END OF THIS ARTICLE. BY READING THIS ARTICLE YOU AGREE AND ACCEPT THAT THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN FICTION AND SOME EXAGGERATED EXPRESSIONS AND OPINIONS IN ORDER TO CREATE SUSPENSE. PLEASE READ AT YOUR DISCRETION....
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 a person that is what we call moral, with good standing in society, irrespective of their ability to play a music instrument , then...

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...

Is Being a Musician Worth It?

For pianists and other musicians! I have been asked this question many times from students, from friends and from people that hear me play the piano. In my opinion being a musician is great! I'm a pianist; I love music and I love the piano. I love instruments. I love the violin for its wonderful, piggy sound,...

Why My Piece Improves No More?

So, you've managed to play the piece that you always wanted to learn. You indulged in it's harmonic sequences and you grasped it's inner world. You loved everything about this piece, even trivial details, such as, who played it the right speed, which famous pianist messed up it's recapitulation or in which...

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 of 2000. The cicadas were filling the summer night with dissonant...

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 Piano Studies

After playing a few scales to warm up, our next step is to play a study or two. But not necessarily. It depends; if we had a concert deadline and we were in a hurry to get on with practising the pieces of that particular concert, it wouldn't really matter if we didn't play technically perfectly the 4th study...

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 are mainly tribal in nature, we exert satisfaction from all kinds of external...

Can I Become a Famous Pianist?

DISCLAIMER: IN ORDER TO HAVE A CONCRETE UNDERSTANDING OF THIS ARTICLE'S STATEMENTS, PLEASE READ THROUGH TO THE END OF THIS ARTICLE. BY READING THIS ARTICLE YOU AGREE AND ACCEPT THAT THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN FICTION AND SOME EXAGGERATED EXPRESSIONS AND OPINIONS IN ORDER TO CREATE SUSPENSE. PLEASE READ AT YOUR DISCRETION....

Slowly Does It, with Scales

So, it's now time to start practising. Similar to an athlete starting his daily training with a little bit of jogging to warm up, we need to do the same with our piano playing. By warming up we will avoid our muscles stiffening up. This way, we are going to be able to have a longer practicing session, a less...
staccatissimo

Staccatissimo and Its Differences to Staccato

In music we have two similar words to describe two musical pals, the staccato and the staccatissimo. Each comes with its own notion, of course, but sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish between the two, especially when we listen to a performer playing a piece new to us. Those two not so well-documented...

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...

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...

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?

  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...

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...
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 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,...

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...
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...

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...
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...

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...
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...

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...

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 are mainly tribal in nature, we exert satisfaction from all kinds of external...
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...

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...

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...

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...
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...
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 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...

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 may...

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...

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...

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...

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...
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...

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,...

Can I Become a Famous Pianist?

DISCLAIMER: IN ORDER TO HAVE A CONCRETE UNDERSTANDING OF THIS ARTICLE'S STATEMENTS, PLEASE READ THROUGH TO THE END OF THIS ARTICLE. BY READING THIS ARTICLE YOU AGREE AND ACCEPT THAT THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN FICTION AND SOME EXAGGERATED EXPRESSIONS AND OPINIONS IN ORDER TO CREATE SUSPENSE. PLEASE READ AT YOUR DISCRETION....
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...
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...