Piano-Yoga® London Club – every first Wednesday of the month!

July 17th, 2015 — 6:00am

Genia_Playing_Julius_Beltrame_JGB_1687_monoPS

Due to popular demand, we are delighted to announce the launch of the Piano-Yoga® Club in London! The Club will give an opportunity to learn in-depth about the Piano-Yoga® method, and get advice directly from it’s creator, concert pianist and composer, GéNIA. Taking place in a heart of London at one of the oldest sheet music stores, Schott Music, the Club will take place on the first Wednesday of every month, starting from September 2015, 7pm until 8:15pm.

The activity of the Club will involve practical exercises tailored for pianists, together with a short presentation by GéNIA (please see the topic schedule), followed by a Q&A session. If you would like to find out more about piano technique, learn strategies for efficient practice, get tips on dealing with stage fright or learn how to keep relaxed during your practice, the Club will give you this opportunity.

Piano-Yoga® method is based on a synergy between the Russian School of Piano Playing and Eastern Philosophies, especially Yoga, and is suitable for professional musicians and amateurs. Whether you are an advanced pianist, teacher or just starting out, Piano-Yoga® has something to offer to everyone. The more advanced you are, the more you can benefit from the method.

We believe that with our simple and holistic approach, which takes into consideration an individual’s physical, psychological and energetic state, one can learn faster and more easily. Everyone is unique, and Piano-Yoga® takes this into account, by teaching you how to learn through utilising your strength, while gently working on strengthening your weaknesses. Whether you have tight shoulders, tension in your arms, rhythm problems, performance nerves or an inability to organise your piano practice efficiently, Piano-Yoga® can offer a variety of solutions, and teach you how to take charge of your own progress.

Attracting like-minded people, we believe that the Piano-Yoga® Club will be a great place for interactive, creative and non-competitive music making. We are looking forward to meeting you there!

Schedule:
2 September 2015: Why we believe in the efficiency of Piano-Yoga® method
7 October 2015: Why relaxation is so important and good for you
4 November 2015: How to make adrenaline your best friend
2 December 2015: Transforming concentration in 5 easy steps
6 January 2016: A simple formula for an efficient practice
3 February 2016: How your attitude can dramatically influence your playing and win over your audience
2 March 2016: Why Piano-Yoga® chooses exercise with straight fingers
6 April 2016: How correct handling of shoulders can transform your playing
4 May 2016: How to match your practice to your energetic state
1 June 2016: Utilising your body in piano playing
6 July 2016: Topic to be chosen by participants’ suggestions

Time: 7:00-8:15pm

Location: Schott Music Shop, 48 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7BB

Who will best benefit: Intermediate & advanced pianists, professional musicians & teachers.

Practical Advice: you are welcome to ask as many questions as the time allows; be prepared to take your shoes off for a full Piano-Yoga® experience and to play either a whole composition or a part of it on a day (maximum 5 minutes). Please tell us about your wish to play at the beginning of the evening, and we will do our best to schedule you in, although we apologise in advance, as we cannot guarantee it due to the number of requests we may receive.

Fees: £25 ticket per one visit to the club; £120 – pass for 6 visits to the club, valid for one year until September 2016 (£20 per club), £187 pass for the whole year (£17 per club)

Tickets can be purchased in advance via PayPal, telephone or online banking, or on the day via credit or debit-card or cash.

Contact:
e: info@piano-yoga.com
t: +44 (0) 20 7226 9829

‘It really does work . . . Many pianists have been helped with this unorthodox and unusual method.’ Piano Professional

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Congratulations to Safiya Williams for winning 2nd Prize at Dulwich Festival

June 19th, 2015 — 1:14pm

We are extremely proud of GéNIA’s student Safiya Williams for achieving second place at Dulwich Festival in grades 7 and 8.

This little star has already won first prize at Blackheath Festival in the duet class and second in the 9 and under class. An true inspiration to all the young talented performers and we look forward to seeing Safiya’s progress – watch this space!

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Recommend a friend for a piano lesson at the Piano-Yoga® School and once they have booked their lesson, you will receive yours completely free of charge! Click HERE for more details.

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How to Choose the Best Piano for you!

June 12th, 2015 — 9:48am

Very often people do not know where to start to buy the piano, as they feel completely overwhelmed by the choice available on the market. It is always good to have a professional whose advice you can trust. However, it is always better to know what you want before you embark on the piano search.

Here are some tips to help you make up your mind:

1. Decide on the type of the piano you want to have: grand or upright?

Whenever there is a choice, I would always advocate the grand, even if it is very small; as personally, I prefer the action of the grand piano to that of the upright. If you do go for the grand piano, decide what size would be most suited to you.

2. Heavy, Medium or Light: Decide on the action of the keyboard.

I would always advocate for a heavy-touch piano, as it trains fingers better (they become stronger quicker) and, also, piano actions get lighter with the time.

3. Decide the sound you prefer.

If you want to go for the ‘black and white’ sound – so to speak – of a Yamaha piano, this sound is excellent for Bach and baroque music in general, as well as jazz. If you would like to go for a more layered sound, this sound is more appropriate for Romantic music like Chopin, Schumann and Rachmaninoff. Always have the number of pieces on which you test the sound:

  • A quiet one
  • A loud one (preferably with chords)
  • A baroque piece
  • A romantic piece
  • A 20th century piece, including French impressionists (Debussy, Ravel, Satie) and
  • A jazzy/modern piece, or something in your own style.

4. Decide on how loud you want your piano to be.

It depends on how big is the space where the piano will be staying. Remember that a loud instrument will only get louder with time. Also think how many hours of loud piano music you can peacefully tolerate. If you have low ceiling, I would strongly recommend against a piano with a bright sound, as it can make you tired quickly and interfere with your practice.

5. Decide on your budget: 

These days you can find a grand piano on the market from £3,000 to £103,000. There are many places to buy: shops, private sales and auctions. Each option has problems and advantages. In the shop, you will normally get a few years guarantee and the piano would be more likely to be in a good condition, however, the price would be higher. In a private sale the price will be lower, but you must make sure that you will get it appraised by the independent specialist. At the auction you may get a bargain, but the danger is that you might not be able to discover the condition of the instrument inside, as normally auctions do not allow independent assessment of the pianos. However I strongly believe that there is a piano for everyone, you just need to know what piano you want. The clearer you are, the more likely you will find the best one for you.

I would advise you to see as many instruments as possible and mark their performance on a scale 1 to 10 for each criteria from the above list! It’s like meeting new people and seeing who are you compatible with and how they make you feel! The piano is going to be your friend for a long time.

And, for those, who are strongly into interior design, think about the colour and texture of the polish that you would like to see on your piano, so not to waste your time.

Visualize it daily, and sooner or later the piano will manifest itself in your life!

Happy Piano Shopping!

GéNIA

Recommend a friend for a piano lesson at the Piano-Yoga® School and once they have booked their lesson, you will receive yours completely free of charge! Click HERE for more details.

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Piano-Yoga® Founder GéNIA releases video of ‘Paganini Jazz’ performance

May 13th, 2015 — 3:05pm

This video, recorded in September 2014 in Nice, France, is a great opportunity to see and hear GéNIA at her most virtuosic. Paganini Jazz is a demanding piece, and with a very clear view of the piano keyboard, the video offers a window into how GéNIA approaches this challenge. For those who want some insight into her technique, this is footage that can be carefully studied.

Paganini Jazz StillIt is also a chance to hear how GéNIA handles Jazz; something of a departure from both her classical repertoire and her songwriting. That the answer is ‘very well’ is evident from the way she navigates the contrasting moods of the piece, and manages to maintain such a smooth playing style even in the most up-tempo and dramatic of moments. It is also evident from the standing ovation she receives at the end of the song! A dynamic performance full of variety, it is certainly worth a few minutes of your time to investigate.

As well as being an outstanding rendition, GéNIA’s performance was on this occasion in support of UNICEF, and the funds raised from the concert meant that 560 girls throughout Guinéa, Mozambique, Togo, Malaisie and Madagascar received an education for a year. Good music for a good cause!

Alex Chalk

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7 Basic Steps to Perfect Your Sight-reading

March 19th, 2015 — 4:23pm

So many of us feel inadequate when it comes to sight-reading. Just the mention of it can make you start to feel uneasy!

So here are 7 simple steps to help you to perfect your sight-reading. (Bear in mind that these are not a substitute for regular practice, though!)

1. Identify the key of the piece (check the key signature and the last note in the bass).

2. Identify the time signature

3. Check the range of notes in each hand (the highest and the lowest) and find them on the piano.

4. Check the ‘musical words’ (i.e. something your eye can recognise as a word without spelling out each note, like repeated notes or scale passages).

5. Hum the tune to get a feel for the rhythm and pace (like a human heartbeat).

6. Do a quick check on accidentals, tied notes, dotted rhythms, articulation (legato/staccato) and basic dynamics (forte, piano, crescendo, diminunendo, subito).

7. AND OFF YOU GO! SMILE AND DO NOT STOP, NO MATTER WHAT! JUST KEEP GOING, while maintaining the most important thing: the pulse of the music!*

*If you transpose the tune to another key you will still be able to recognize it, but if you change the pulse of the piece, you may not recognize the tune!

Recommend a friend for a piano lesson at the Piano-Yoga® School and once they have booked their lesson, you will receive yours completely free of charge! Click HERE for more details.

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How to Improve Your Rhythm in 1 Hour

February 24th, 2015 — 5:11pm

There are many books which attempt to solve the mystery of rhythmatic problems. These problems could be caused by, for example poor coordination, or inability to feel the rhythm, or some particular medical condition. Thus it is very hard to find one approach which works for everyone.

However, I have a strategy which, when implemented correctly, could help with this issue and improve your sense of rhythm fairly quickly.

It is very simple. It is based on my understanding that every person, in fact, every living being (animal, insect, even plant), has their own tempo-rhythm: the way they breath, move, speak, etc. . . .

Tempo-rhythm also changes according to what state we are in: if we feel agitated or excited, our breathing becomes faster, we move and walk quicker whilst, on the other hand, if we are tired or traumatised, all our actions slow down. This state usually changes throughout the day and even during sleep, depending on the dreams that we are having.

Every piece of music also has it’s own tempo-rhythm. If it is a Waltz, it is in 3/4 time, if it’s a March, it is in 4/4, if it’s a Tarantella, it’s in 6/8 and so on, each having it’s own very strong identity. It is important to recognise this. In fact, did you know that, if you change the key of the piece, it still will be recognisable, but if you change the rhythm, then you may not be able to recognise the piece at all?

Therefore, if you would like to master the rhythm of the piece, you need to do this in 2 stages:

Stage 1: Adjust the tempo-rhythm of the piece to your personal one. This is obvious, as when you start learning the notes and fingering, you cannot immediately play the piece at it’s final tempo-rhythm with the effortless and steady rhythm that it requires. You need extra time to learn many elements, and very often at the beginning, you play much slower than the required tempo, and your rhythm may not be consistent.

However, once you have mastered these problems, then you start

Stage 2: Adjust your own tempo-rhythm to the one of the piece.  What it means is that you need to feel the beat, and the easiest way to do that is to adjust your breathing. Try to breathe ‘in’ to coincide with a specific number of beats, and the same for ‘out’ breaths. (For example: 1- 2 ‘in’ and 1 – 2 ‘out’, or 1- 2- 3 ‘in’ and 1 – 2- 3 ‘out’). The breathing should be natural and not forced. After a few seconds, your body will adjust itself and after a few minutes you may even forget that you breathing this way.

Note of caution: make sure that you do not breathe from the upper part of your chest, as this will cause hyperventilation, which, in turn, can lead to all sorts of problems like dizziness, headaches and high blood pressure. Breath lightly from your abdominal area, and see how the piece flows. To practice this, just put your palm on your abdomin and take a few breaths in and out.

In the whole of my teaching practice, I have only seen one student who was incapable of doing so. He was in his late 60th and found it very difficult to control his breathing. For him this method did not work.

However, the majority of people have found this way of working immensely useful. Why not give it a try? It may solve all your rhythm problems in an hour as, with correct breathing, your phrasing will change and your playing will become more stable and consistent. Your whole body language will become aligned with the rhythm and style of the piece.

Do let me know how you get on!

Written by GéNIA

For more tips on how to improve your playing visit our Piano-Yoga Masterclass® with GéNIA at Pizza Express Jazz Club, 10 Dean Street, London W1D 3RW, on Sunday, 8th March 2015 at 10:30am-12:30 pm. View the webpage here for more info.

Russian virtuoso pianist, GéNIA, is an acclaimed pioneer on the classical music scene, with numerous TV and radio appearances. The founder of Piano-Yoga® , ‘the first entirely new piano technique to emerge in over 50 years’, GéNIA was taught by her great-grandmother, the renowned pedagogue Regina Horowitz (sister of pianist Vladimir Horowitz) and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her eclectic repertoire embraces classical and multimedia projects. With releases for Black Box and Nonclassical labels, she worked with numerous key figures in the music industry. A visionary pedagogue, GéNIA also founded the Piano-Yoga® Music School in London and gradated  from the Life Centre, London in 2008 as qualified BWY Yoga Teacher. 

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Recent News from Piano-Yoga®

February 2nd, 2015 — 10:39am

Recent News From Piano-Yoga2014

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GéNIA Featured on Mark Tully’s BBC Radio 4 Program

January 12th, 2015 — 11:47pm

bbc-radio-4Piano-Yoga® GéNIA was recently featured on Mark Tully’s BBC Radio 4 program that includes Mr Iyengar’s interview and music from Yehudi Menuhin, Ravi Shankar, Beethoven as well as GéNIA playing Gabriel Prokofiev. You can listen by clicking the link http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04xkgsv

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GéNIA Student Philip Balkan Wins 1st and 3rd prizes in November.

January 6th, 2015 — 2:21pm

Philip Balkan 1st stage of London EPTA Piano CompetitionGéNIA’s Student Philip Balkan won two prizes in Autumn last year.

He won 1st prize (Medal + a Special Prize awarded by the Kensington Chimes) at the Around the Globe Piano Music Festival (in a Recital class - age 13-14)  on 22 November 2014. On 16th December he claimed his 2nd win in November by winning 3rd prize at the West London Annual Pianoforte Festival in the under 16 category.

Congratulations Philip!

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How to “un-pollute” your ears

December 31st, 2014 — 3:24pm

Usually, we don’t notice the vast array of sounds that we process on a daily basis. Noise from the radio, blaring televisions, even the noise of traffic and conversations between commuters bombard our ears from the moment we wake up. In a big city, all kinds of noises are absorbed by our ears – from the music on building sites playing to no one in particular, to the rubbish collectors announcing their presence noisily in the morning. At times there seems to be no escape.

Do you sometimes wonder why you occasionally feel inexplicably tired?

According to the House Research Institute (www.hei.org)  ‘Normal conversation is measured at a moderate noise level of 50-70 dB [i], while the extreme noise level of a rock concert might be measured at 100-120 dB. Over-exposure to high intensity sound is a leading cause of damage to the sensory “hair” cells in the human ear. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB may cause permanent hearing loss. Some examples of loud sounds that can cause NIHL (Noise Induced Hearing Loss) are: Motorcycle/Hair dryer/Lawn mower/Leaf blower  – 85-90 dB; Wood shop/Firecrackers (small) – 100-110 dB; Rock concerts -100-120 dB; Ambulance Siren/Jet Engine at Take-Off/Pneumatic Drill – 119-140 dB.’

According to http://familydoctor.org/ ’Whether noise harms your hearing or not depends on the loudness, the pitch and the length of time you are exposed to the noise. The loudness of a sound (measured in decibels, or dB) and the length of exposure are related. The louder the sound, the shorter the exposure can be before damage occurs. For example, 8 hours of exposure to 85-dB noise on a daily basis can begin to damage a person’s ears over time. Using power tools (which measures around 100 dB), listening to loud stereo headsets (about 110 dB), attending a rock concert (about l20 dB) or hearing a gunshot (at 140 to 170 dB) may damage the hearing of some people after only a few times.’

On top of all those sounds, we are all regularly exposed to the sounds of mobile phones, we use earphones to listen to the music and our ears are pretty crucial to communication in most modern technologies.

So where does it leave us? Shall we just ran away from the busy cities and hide ourselves in woods or desert? Of course not! But we certainly can exercise some control over the sounds that penetrate our life on daily basis and minimize their harmful influence.

Here are some simple and practical tips:

  • Switch off all the equipment that you do not use (radio, TV, washing machine, basically anything that makes sound) and try not to use them all at the same time.
  • If you feel tired, switch off the light. Some lights produce a dull constant noise, which with prolong usage can make you feel strained and lethargic Remember that there are sound frequencies which you may not consciously hear that also affect your hears. To refresh your ears try to place yourself in the dark quiet room for at least 10 minutes.
  • Put some beautiful soft calming music that would ‘take’ you to another dimension: it could be any style (classical, folk, jazz and even pop), as long as it is quiet and switches your mind off.
  • If you are accustomed to using mantras [ii], start repeating it at least 108 times: for example, “NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO,” (Buddhist Mantra) or any mantras that you are familiar with.
  • Take a candle-lit hot bath with relaxing oils and just listen to the sound of water.
  • Go to the countryside, or if you can’t get there, your local park. Let the wind and fresh air clear your mind (having said that, make sure that you ears are protected and warm).
  • Do some yoga poses that involve some slow forward bends. These exercise your lower back and help improve blood pressure.
  • Have some tea – either black or herbal in the dark room or in a natural light.
  • Lie down with the eye mask in a dark room.
  • Do several deep breaths, concentrating on breathing out – if you know the ujjayi breath or lion breath, these could help a great deal.
  • Create your own space when you are among the crowd. Imagine a white light surrounding you and protecting from the crowd, or just concentrate on the task that you are doing, trying consciously to shut the world away.

In general, endeavor to control how much sound you are exposing yourself to. If you live in a busy city, using earplugs can be helpful (although personally I do not like them that much). With a little bit of self-discipline and care, you can start noticing the noise pollution around yourself and, therefore, preserve your ears and your well-being!

Happy chilling,

GéNIA

This blog was written in a busy French Metro, while the author was stuck underground for some time.

Recommend a friend for a piano lesson at the Piano-Yoga® School and once they have booked their lesson, you will receive yours completely free of charge! Click HERE for more details.


[i] Sound pressure levels are measured in decibels (dB)

[ii] In Hinduism Buddhism any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power

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