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Musical Phrases and Their Initial Approach

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 be true, but even if we decide to talk in an...

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...

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...

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...

How to Start a Piece on Stage

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

Do we play for us or for the others?

Arguably, we, the people who associate ourselves with music, do play for the others. Well, we do play for the others in concerts, in classes, etc, but first and foremost, I think we play for ourselves.  What do you think? Since our species are mainly tribal in...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Scholarly Versus Voguish Phrasing

Initial Thoughts As with our verbal communication, musical communication demands appropriate phrasing to show with clarity what we are trying to convey. Since the day we are born we try to perfect the “art” of communication, both consciously and subconsciously....

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...

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...

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,...

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,...

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...

Perceiving The Sustain Pedal

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 depressed sustain pedal did the trick.” Me:...

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...

Approaching Fingerings

Two questions to choosing the correct finger: 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...

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 dessert spoon of dried garlic, and two spoons of cod liver oil, than hear the...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Am I Allowed to Stop Liking the Piano?

In this article I'm going to 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...

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...

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...

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...

Buying an Acoustic Piano or a Digital Piano-Simulator?

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 case piano, you need to choose a real,...

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...

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...

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...

Why Piano is Hard

Inspiring music... 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...

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...

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...

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,...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

The Show-Offy Pianist

Have you ever been a show-offy pianist? No? Are you sure? Well, let's see below. In this article we shall look at the show-offy pianist in classical music. The show-offy pianist thinks he is not everyday riffraff. He knows deep inside that he must act...

Changing Piano Teacher

I will start this chapter by asking you: Have you signed a long time contract with your teacher? If your answer is no, well you can let your teacher go at any time you wish. But even if it was common practice to sign piano-tutoring contracts, I'm sure that your...

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...

Understanding Piano Music

In our quest for being considered serious pianists we need to explore other fields in music that are related to each other. Studying theory of music for example will help us to better understand what is really happening in the core of the music that we...

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...

Listen to Yourself

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...

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...

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...

Starting a New Piece

We should start a new 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. When starting a new piece we might want to answer the following...

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!  ...

Which Pieces to Practise Daily

Even though this website is mainly intended to teach you how to do things to become a virtuoso pianist, practising the piano should always be seen as an enjoyable experience. Yet, hopefully, there will always be a reason for why you are practising a...

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...

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...

Record Your Lessons

Together with keeping notes, another way to acquire a sort of documentation of your lessons is to actually record your lesson using a digital recorder. There are many types of recording machines, such as Mini-Disk recorders, tape-recorders etc. Use you...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...