Tag: best piano methods


Win a free Piano-Yoga® session!

June 1st, 2017 — 10:58am

genaWin a 45 minute Piano-Yoga® session in Central London or online with GéNIA! The session can be redeemed between the 1st-31st July 2017 by answering the following question:

Q: Which famous composer’s wife was also a great pianist and composer?

Please email your answer to info@piano-yoga.com. We will accept submissions up to midnight on Thursday 8th June 2017. The winner will be selected randomly and notified on Friday 9th June 2017.

To be eligible for this competition please include the following information:

- Your Full Name and Postal Address
- Your Contact Telephone Number
- Choose from the following that best describes your musical level: Beginner | Intermediate | Advance | Teacher | Professional Musician

You can find out more about Piano-Yoga® on our website.
- Please note that the name of the winner will be announced on our blog, Twitter and Facebook.
- The session is non-transferable.

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Holistic Day for Pianists with Melanie Spanswick & GéNIA in London on Sunday 16 July 2017

May 18th, 2017 — 4:02pm

Following numerous requests, we are delighted to announce Holistic Day for Pianists, which the founder of Piano-Yoga® GéNIA will be bringing to you together with the pianist, educator, composer, author and judicator Melanie Spanswick.

Melanie and GéNIA met in 2012, and immediately recognised their shared beliefs; helping piano students to realise their true potential by offering holistic technical and musical guidance, and thereby encouraging a different approach to piano playing. Subsequent workshops and projects have followed, and now we are delighted to present a complete holistic piano day which will explore several important elements; incorporating the physical flexibility and relaxation techniques employed in Piano-Yoga® with the mental mindfulness required in memorisation and sight-reading.

Holistic Day for Pianists is an exciting all-day event for amateur pianists, music students, piano teachers and young musicians from the age of 13. For the schedule of the day, further information and to find out how to book please visit our website or click on the poster below.

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Piano-Yoga® sessions in Paris competition: Win a free session!

May 4th, 2017 — 8:37am
GéNIA, the founder of Piano-Yoga®

GéNIA, the founder of Piano-Yoga®

Win a Piano-Yoga® session in Paris with GéNIA! The session can be redeemed on Tuesday 16th May 2017, between 10:30-18:30 at Paul Beuscher Shop, 17-27, Bd Beaumarchais,75004 – Paris by answering the following question:

Q: Which Russian composer had infamously large hands?

Please email your answer to info@piano-yoga.com. We will accept submissions up to midnight on Thursday 11th May 2017. The winner will be selected randomly and notified on Friday 12th May 2017.

To be eligible for this competition please include the following information:

- Your Full Name and Postal Address
- Your Contact Telephone Number
- Choose from the following that best describes your musical level: Beginner | Intermediate | Advance | Teacher | Professional Musician

You can find out more about Piano-Yoga® sessions in Paris here.
- Please note that the name of the winner will be announced on our blog, Twitter and Facebook.
- The session is non-transferable.

Comment » | Competitions, Piano-Yoga®

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

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Special Offer on Assessment Lessons!

October 20th, 2015 — 4:00pm

We are happy to offer a special discount on Assessment Lessons with GéNIA for this autumn. The offer is valid until the 30th of November 2015 and is also available through Skype.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about Piano-Yoga® and would like to get feedback from GéNIA directly about your piano playing and practice, an Assessment Lesson could be perfect for you. It is designed specifically for pianists wanting a one-off induction with the founder of Piano-Yoga® herself. The session will focus on the development of a bespoke personal practice plan to help you achieve your aims; whether you are a professional pianist, amateur, conservatoire student, teacher or the parent of a budding young pianist, Assessment Lessons offer something for everyone:

‘I’d highly recommend it… GéNIA is an inspiring teacher and gifted pianist – I couldn’t wait to play piano when I retuned home’

Karen Marshall – Music Teacher Magazine

 

Click here for more information and to book your ticket. 

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Piano-Yoga® student Philip Alexander Balkan receives Eton Honorary Music Exhibition

August 21st, 2015 — 1:29pm

Philip wins Dulwich Piano Festival

An Announcement in The Times advises us that Philip Balken (one of GéNIA’s pupils) has been awarded an Honorary Music Exhibition by Eton College from September 2015, which entitles him to use the letters ‘ME’ after his name. These letters (standing for Music Exhibitioner) are a title held during the pupil’s time at the school.  His name will also appear on Westminster Under School Honours board for having won the Eton Honorary Music Exhibition.

 This is a wonderful achievement, and we are delighted that all Philip’s hard work and dedicated practice have been so notably rewarded.

Want to know more about Piano-Yoga®? Why don’t you visit the Piano-Yoga® club, every 1st Wednesday on the month in London. Click HERE for more details.

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Piano-Yoga® Club Launch in London!

August 14th, 2015 — 2:27pm

2nd-September-Newsletter-Picture-Larger

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Back Release Mini Series by GéNIA: 3 Minute Tension Release

May 13th, 2014 — 7:49am

After playing piano professionally for 30 years and teaching piano for the last 16, I have noticed that due to regular piano playing some people can experience similar physical and psychological problems. After observing students, colleagues and, of course, myself I have come to the conclusion that these problems can be alleviated if dealt with before they manifest.

There is a popular misconception that compared to the work of a dancer, a pianist’s work is mainly intellectually based. However pianists use the physical body as much as the mind – without both elements the expression of music would not be possible.

The most common physical problems for pianists are stiffness and pain in the shoulder girdle and lower back, stiffness and tension in the hips (mainly due to long hours of sitting), muscle fatigue in the hands, arms and right leg (due to pedaling), and a general feeling of blocked energy. As well as dealing with physical strain many pianists, especially those at a professional level, have to deal with the psychological stress of public performances.

Music students are expected and encouraged to practice a lot, some classical pianists practice up to eight hours a day. However, driven by the will to succeed they often ignore these issues continuing to practice and continuing to be deprived of the desired results because of the state of their physical and mental well-being.

After studying yoga for a number of years and then training to be a yoga teacher, I started implementing various yoga postures and exercises into the breaks between my piano playing sessions and found that the quality of my practice and my well-being improved tremendously.

The exercises outlined in Back Release Mini Series are designed to help pianists during and after their sessions by helping to rejuvenate and stretch the body, particularly working on the upper back. You can do each exercise individually between your piano practice sessions or do them together as a sequence.

Try to take notice and observe the way your body is feeling and choose the exercises that feel suitable for you. Also remember that all breathing during these exercises is done through your nose, with the mouth closed, unless you feel blocked and congested. In this blog I am introducing 3 Minute Tension Release:

 

3 Minute Tension Release

BENEFITS: Stretches the spine. Opens the hips. Warms up the upper body. Rejuvenates tired muscles. Restorative.

Props: Using a Grand Piano as a prop can be useful for stretching and releasing your back after a piano playing session. This exercise can also be done by placing your hands on a wall and then walking yourself backwards but is a little less effective. Recommended for adults only.

  • Place your feet parallel and hip width apart
  • Place your hands with your palms facing down on the lid of a grand piano (Do not do this with an upright as the height would not be appropriate).
  • Start slowly walking backwards while keeping your hands on the piano until you find yourself in an L-shaped position
  • Hold position for a few minutes and engage abdominal muscles by drawing them slightly inwards to support the back
  • To come out of the stretch, slowly start to walk towards the piano while keeping your palms pressed on the lid until you reach an upright position

 

Photographer: Pamela Troni
Model: Trudi Oliveiro
Photos: © Piano-Yoga Ltd

If you like to learn this exercise directly from GéNIA click HERE to book your place on the Piano-Yoga® retreat at King’s Place on 18th May in London.

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

How to Obtain the Best Sitting Position at the Piano. Part 1

May 20th, 2013 — 6:30pm

I am often asked what it the best way to sit at the piano, as various piano teachers recommend different approaches. When we watch famous musicians, we cannot help but notice how differently they sit:  Glen Gould with his unbalanced low sitting position, Arthur Rubinstein with his almost perfect and static way of sitting, Lang Lang who generously uses body movements and Ivo Pogorelich who is very minimal in his physical expression… So how can we decide what is the best way to sit at the piano?

According to the Russian Piano School that I have been taught, you need to sit closer to the edge of the piano stool, with the forearms parallel to the piano, ideally keeping about 90 Degrees between your upper arm and forearm. The distance from the piano should be equal to the length of your forearm. This way gives you a freedom to move your hands correctly and without a restraint.

However, after teaching a number of students over the years and performing myself on different concert platforms, I noticed that sometimes this is not enough.

Why? Because, all the pianos are different: some are loud and some are soft, some have a heavy action and some are light, additionally to that the acoustics of each venue vary from one another, ranging from ‘dry’, where the player needs to give more sound, to ‘wet’, where the sound needs to be carefully controlled, as otherwise the venue amplifies the sound.

On top of that students have different physique, where some are tall and limber, and some are petite and prone to rigidity. Sometimes the upper body is considerably longer than the lower part, or vice versa. All this needs to be taking into consideration when you play the piano. So how can one find the best sitting position?

 First of all there are some basic rules that apply to all body types, all kinds of pianos and all environments. This is my personal conclusion, reached after experimenting a lot on myself and with the help of my wonderful students. The method is represented in detail in my book,  “Piano-Yoga®: Transform Your Hands” in Chapter 1: Preliminary Piano-Yoga®, Exercise 6. However, here I will give you a quick outline: the main objective for finding the best sitting position at the piano, is that you need to feel grounded at all times. So what exactly does it mean, and how is this achieved?

Sit, as described above, closer to the edge of your piano stool, aiming to have your forearms resting on the keyboard parallel to the floor, with a 90 Degree angle to your upper arm. Make sure that your wrists are in line with your arms and hands, and not above or below them. Keep the forearm distance away from the keys.

Start from the feet – make sure that they are firmly connected to the ground. To do that you should keep you legs a hip-width apart, with feet parallel, close to the pedals, and sit with the back straight. Lift your toes, spread them, one by one if you can, and then slowly put them down. Then continue with you heals, lifting them as high as you can and placing them slowly down.

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

Then engage your abdominal area, as it holds the spine and keeps all the energy of your body (according to the eastern philosophies). Slowly draw your abdominals in, but not too much, as you do not want to prevent your diaphragm from expanding (breathing fully).

Next, make sure that your shoulders are down and back, if necessary.  To do this, stretch your arms, with the fingers widely spread, pointing to the floor and knuckles parallel and facing the keyboard. Hold this position for a few seconds and then turn your palms so they are now facing the keyboard. This will increase the stretch deeper, and facilitate lowering of the shoulders. If your shoulders are prone to be rolled inwards, then pull them slightly back; however, avoid over-arching your back (as this would add the additional pressure to your lower back)

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

 

Finally, make sure that your neck is aligned with your body and is not protruding forward.

Pulling the neck forward can lead to heightened blood pressure, headaches and even blurred vision, as well as pains in the upper shoulders.

Once you master this sequence, it will take you about 1 minute to perform, but will considerably improve the quality of your playing and facilitate the best sitting position for you.

To be continued.

GéNIA’s Piano-Yoga® Oxford Retreat will take the place on the 16 June 2013 in Oxford at St Hilda’s College. With the programme covering Exercises for the Perfect Sitting Position, How to Create Individual Piano Technique, New Approaches to Sight-reading, Masterclasses and Exercises for De-stressing, GéNIA will be addressing each sitting position individually. For more information and to book a place please visit our website.

GéNIA’s Piano-Yoga® Book is available here.

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Piano-Yoga® 30 Second Tips No. 4

April 18th, 2013 — 10:23am

In this video, GéNIA demonstrates how important it is to always engage the Thenar Muscle (thumb). Recorded at the Piano-Yoga® EPTA Workshop 2011.

These bite sized videos contain essential advice on piano playing from the founder of Piano-Yoga® itself, virtuoso concert pianist GéNIA, with all the material taken from the large database of Piano-Yoga® workshops, retreats and presentations that took place in the last few years.

Video Production & Audio Production: Richard McDonald

To  attend the masterclasses and lectures given by GéNIA visit the Piano-Yoga® 1 Day Retreat with GéNIA at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG, on Sunday, the 21st April 2013 at 10:30am-5:30 pm in London. View the webpage of the daily schedule here.

Comment » | Piano-Yoga®, Practical Advice, Video

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