Category: Guest Blogger


Sight-reading: Eight Tips – a guest blog by Melanie Spanswick

April 27th, 2017 — 10:39am
Melanie Spanswick, pianist, composer, educator and blogger

Melanie Spanswick, pianist, composer, educator and blogger

‘It gives me a great pleasure to introduce a wonderful educator, pianist, pedagogue, blogger, author and international judicator, Melanie Spanswick.  

Melanie kindly offered to write a blog especially for Piano-Yoga readers, covering one of her ‘specialities’: the subject of sight reading.

 Melanie has also just published the first series of her new book ‘Play it again: PIANO’ with Schott Music. Here, she offers some useful tips for pianists who would like to improve their sight-reading.’ GéNIA

Sight-reading is a subject feared by many a pianist. Reading at speed is a real skill, and one to be prized; if you can read quickly, learning repertoire will be a much swifter and more pleasurable experience. Contrary to the often misguided belief that it’s a skill you ‘either can or can’t do’, I’ve found if students are taught and guided carefully in this respect, they can and do make substantial progress. The key is a slow approach with plenty of practice material, and time to devote to this cause.

I hope the following tips will prove interesting and useful for those who feel they need a practice method to which they can apply to every session.

  1. Sight-reading is all about the preparation. Begin by allowing at least two to three minutes of preparation time, looking at the score, and then separating the various tasks (as described below).
  2. On first glance, check the score for the key signature, noting the major and relative minor of that written; get into the habit of ‘spotting the key’ of every piece you read. Note the time signature (particularly if it changes during the piece), obvious note patterns such as scales, arpeggios, chords, octaves and the like (also aim to decipher fingerings for such figurations before you play).
  3. Separate the rhythm from the notes (this is very important). Focus on the general pulse; always start with very slow speeds when learning to read (perhaps a third or even a quarter of the intended tempo). Then tap the rhythm of the treble clef in the right hand, and the rhythm of the bass clef, with the left hand (at the same time), keeping in mind the slow pulse you have already set.
  4. Now play through the left hand alone (without adhering to any pulse), locating note patterns, hand positions changes and fingering (and remembering the key!). Then repeat this with the right hand. If you’re preparing for an exam, you will probably have just enough time to run through each hand separately in the 20 or 30 seconds allocated inspection time beforehand. However, irrespective of exam sight-reading tests, allow plenty of time for this vital part of the preparation process.
  5. Decide how you will keep time during the exercise. A metronome may be helpful (for ‘sitting’ on the pulse), but counting out loud along to your playing is also a reliable method (providing your count is rhythmical!). Try to sub-divide the beat (i.e. if crotchets are the main beat, count in quavers, but if quavers are the main beat, then count in semiquavers etc.). Counting a bar’s rest at the beginning can be useful too (for setting a firm tempo).
  6. Once you have spent time on the preparation stage, and are quite sure of the notes, rhythm, fingering and hand position changes, play your chosen exercise hands together, very slowly, reading ahead all the time, whilst aiming to play through your mistakes. It’s tempting to stop and correct errors, but by playing slowly, you will eventually be able to resist this urge.
  7. When reading, keep in mind the overall rhythmic structure and play the notes to the pulse as opposed to the other way around. This way, you can always keep going, missing out notes or chords if you can’t find them in the time (if this happens frequently, probably a slower tempo is required).
  8. Eventually, when you are comfortable playing sight-reading exercises slowly, gradually add speed.

This preparation will become quicker over time, as will your reading. Ensure you have a large collection of sight-reading books and materials; one or two books won’t be sufficient, as with regular practice, you’ll move through many practice examples as well as easier piano repertoire. Try to start with very simple exercises, moving to more challenging examples as and when you’re ready. If you can spend 10 – 15 minutes sight-reading at every practice session, you’ll be amazed at what can be achieved. Good luck!

Melanie Spanswick

www.melaniespanswick.com

Comment » | Guest Blogger, Music, News, Practical Advice

Melanie Spanswick publishes GéNIA’s guest blog ’11 ways to kick start your practice routine’

March 30th, 2017 — 9:19am
GéNIA, the founder of Piano-Yoga®

GéNIA, the founder of Piano-Yoga®

To celebrate World Piano Day, GéNIA was invited to write a guest blog for the website of renowned educator, pianist, composer, author and blogger Melanie Spanswick.

‘Have you ever had the familiar feeling that you really would like to do something but you just do not have the time for it? If only! In reality, very secretly, you know that you have the time, however you just cannot bring yourself into doing something.

Melanie Spanswick, pianist, composer, educator and blogger

Melanie Spanswick, educator, pianist, composer, author and blogger

I have news for you! For a start, thousands, if not millions of people, have had this feeling at least once in their life. It does not matter if it was about piano practice or learning a foreign language or simply starting a regular exercise regime. You know you want it, you even know need it, but still something is holding you back.

So what shall we do about it? How do we start? In this article I am going to concentrate on piano practice, however the tips can be applied to anything!’

To read about 11 ways to kick start your practice please follow this link on Melanie Spanswick’s website. Also check out other blogs from Melanie, offering valuable advice and tips on piano playing!

 

 

Comment » | GéNIA, GéNIA's Articles, Guest Blogger, Music Lessons, Piano-Yoga Lessons, Piano-Yoga®, Practical Advice

GéNIA writes a guest post for Melanie Spanswick’s website

December 14th, 2015 — 10:37pm

Geniaplaying_julius Beltrame_1629_8bGéNIA recently wrote a blog titled ‘Maintaining Concentration in Piano Playing and Practice’ for the website of the renowned pianist, teacher, adjudicator, author and blogger Melanie Spanswick.

Here is the extract from the article:

‘Often pianists mistakenly believe that many of their challenges manifest due to a lack of practice or lack of skills, rarely being aware that they could simply exist due to a lack of concentration. We all know about the cases where pianists work for hours, only to collapse later in their pubic performance, either playing for a group of people or just for one person! They blame themselves, and very often feel inadequate. With stress building up, and feelings of disappointment making them feeling ‘not good enough’, they do start playing even worse than they were playing before and, on some occasions, even stop playing altogether, while developing an ever-growing guilt complex. Little do they know that often this issue could be easily addressed, sometimes with only a very slight adjustment. All they need to do is just to be aware!’

To read the full article please follow this link.

We also recommend to visit Melanie Spanswisk’s website as it is full of the useful tips for pianists!

 

 

Comment » | GéNIA, GéNIA's Articles, Guest Blogger, Piano-Yoga®, Practical Advice

Piano-Yoga® & Healthy Living

November 8th, 2013 — 11:27am

Kate Lovell Blog

Inner Pace

Kate Lovell, experienced Yoga Teacher, Holistic Health Coach and friend of Piano-Yoga® has written a lovely reflective article on her experiences on learning the piano and her introduction to GéNIA and the Piano-Yoga® method. Here is a snippet of what she had to say:

 

A conscious yoga practice and a piano practice are very complementary – physically, emotionally and mentally – and meditatively.  I was thrilled when I discovered someone else had come to this realization and was working to share it with the masses.  During one of our lessons, GéNIA, the creator of Piano-Yoga®, gave me one of the most beautifully synchronistic pieces of advice when it comes to learning something new and working out a healthy practice schedule – always ever practice up to a point that leaves you craving to play again tomorrow.

You can read the entire article on Kate’s blog HERE as well as gain valuable insight into healthy living, a must for efficient piano practice and playing.

Click HERE to read Kate’s Blog
Click HERE to visit Kate’s Website, The Kate Way
Click HERE to find out more about the Piano-Yoga® method
Click HERE to attend Day 4 of our Piano-Yoga Certificate Course Day 4

Comment » | GéNIA, Guest Blogger, Piano-Yoga®, Yoga

South London Concert Series

September 13th, 2013 — 10:08am

South London Concert Series

Launching on the 29th of November, 2013

Founded and curated by harpsichordist, pianist and piano teacher Lorraine Liyanage and pianist, piano teacher and music blogger Frances Wilson, the South London Concert Series exists to promote the careers of emerging musicians living or studying in the UK by providing a central London venue and invited audience for classical and contemporary music concerts.

The first concert will be held at the 1901 Arts Club, a converted Victorian schoolhouse close to Waterloo Station, which recreates the ambiance and decor of a nineteenth-century salon. This wonderful venue offers a comfortable setting for concerts, and afterwards guests can enjoy drinks in the upstairs bar and elegant sitting room.

The series launches on Friday 29th November 2013, with a concert featuring pianist Helen Burford. Guest performers include Daniel Roberts, Emma Heseltine, Susan Pickerill and Mark Zarb-Adami.

Click HERE for more information and to join the mailing list.
Click HERE to buy tickets.

Comment » | Events, Guest Blogger

Interview with GéNIA on Memorising Music

May 28th, 2013 — 1:34pm

GéNIA recently gave an in depth interview to the blogger Caroline Wright on Memorising Music. Here is a snippet:

Do you actively memorise music and perform without a score? If not, why not? If so, why? When in your musical development did you start to memorise?

I learn very fast and always try to play without the score because it gives me a lot of freedom. Without the score, my senses are connected to my hearing and tactile sensations. I find the score a drag as it kills the music! The score can be very limiting, and is not always a good representation of what the composer intended. I would rather play without the score and make a few mistakes, than play perfectly with the score. Having said all that, these days I do use the score sometimes for contemporary music, if I need to play at a short notice or if I know that I won’t play the piece again soon.

You can read the entire interview HERE.
You can find out more about GéNIA HERE.
All of GéNIA MUSIC’s news and events can be found HERE.

Comment » | GéNIA, Guest Blogger, Interview

Melanie Spanswick’s thoughts on the Piano-Yoga® Retreat at Kings Place

April 25th, 2013 — 9:22am

ClassicalMel Melanie Spanswick

Concert pianist and writer Melanie Spanswick (aka: blogger ClassicalMel) came to our Piano-Yoga® Retreat at Kings place on Sunday 21st April 2013. Here is a snippet of what she thought:

A series of beneficial exercises were introduced; I have done Yoga before and ended up in terrible pain so I was interested to try GéNIA’s approach. I’m happy to report that I managed every movement and am still in one piece today! The gentle exercises were useful, relaxing and calming too, allowing the back, arms, and shoulders to stretch and bend. There is no doubt that this is an excellent way to practice correct posture at the piano which is vital for good playing.

You can read the entire article at Melanie’s blog HERE.

Comment » | Events, GéNIA, Guest Blogger

Perfecting the Piano Room. Guest Blog from www.houseplansandmore.com

January 7th, 2013 — 11:13am

Have you ever dreamed of having an enchanting music room? Whether you have a gorgeous grand piano or a friendly upright piano, it is essential to create the perfect space to enjoy the melodies. A piano definitely becomes a focal point of a room and provides an inviting atmosphere. It not only is a musical instrument, but also a work of art. The piano should be showcased in a properly designed space that increases its appearance and the quality of the music. If you are planning to purchase a new piano or already own one, you should be aware of the appropriate room conditions for the instrument.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article. 

Comment » | Guest Blogger, Piano-Yoga®

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