Articles

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

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

Am I Allowed to Stop Liking the Piano?

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

How to Become a Great Pianist in Just a Minute

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

Piano’s Second Most Important Feature

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

Piano’s Most Important Feature

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

Buying an Acoustic Piano or a Digital Piano-Simulator?

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

Can I Teach Myself the Classical Piano?

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

Practice Makes Perfect (Not)

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

Which is the Best Musical Instrument?

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

Why Piano is Hard

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

Performance Anxiety in Music

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

Play Piano by Ear

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

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...
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...

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,...
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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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 guide you in...

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....

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...

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...

Act the Virtuoso

Every one of us at some point in our lives have felt timid about going public and perform. We dreaded the time we would walk up onto the stage and face our "detractors". We hoped the audience would keep the yogurts and the eggs in their pockets if we played acceptably.   However, it is of extreme importance...

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...

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...
types of pianists

Types of Pianists

If you have ever played this dreaded and heavy instrument that's called the piano, chances are that you fall into one of the following categories: Read at your own discretion. The recreational pianist: A recreational pianist is a person that has studied the piano at some point in his life, probably while still at school,...

Tenuto, Tenēre, Tenure

One of the most misunderstood articulations in the arena of piano techniques, tenuto, traditionally suffers from lack of identity. “What am I? Who am I? What is my purpose in this life” asks tenuto, and often there are vague answers and contextual definitions that are often conveniently chosen by both teachers and...

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...

Which Passages to Practise Daily

Every part of a piece is arguably always subject to constant improvement. However, fine pianists practice the “right” parts of a piece every time. They know which passages to practice - They do not just practice the same passages over and over again! The "Right" Passages to Practise   Which are the right passages? I...

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,...
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...

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...

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...
best piano teacher, Perfect piano teacher

Who Is My Perfect Teacher?

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

What 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,...

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...
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 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...
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...

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 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...
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...

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...

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...

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...
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...

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...
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...
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...
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