Tag: education


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.

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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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Piano-Yoga® Sessions in Paris

April 19th, 2017 — 8:40am

Due to popular demand, after the success of Piano-Yoga® sessions in London and Nice, GéNIA will be bringing Piano-Yoga® sessions to Paris! The sessions will give an opportunity to musicians and amateur pianists to learn in-depth about the Piano-Yoga® method and get advice directly from its creator, concert pianist, pedagogue  and composer, GéNIA. Taking place in the heart of Paris at one of the best piano stores, Paul Beuscher, the Piano-Yoga® sessions will take place on Tuesday, 16 May.

GéNIA- Piano-YogaSessions in Pariis

What is Piano-Yoga®? Piano-Yoga® is a unique method of piano playing, performing and teaching designed for all levels of pianists. It has been created and developed by Russian virtuoso pianist and educator GéNIA.

This multi-dimensional method combines the fundamentals of Russian piano schools with Eastern philosophies, particularly yoga. The aims are focusing your piano practice, improving concentration, effectively building strength in the muscles which work the fingers and hands, establishing good posture at the piano and conquering performance nerves amongst other topics.

Piano-Yoga® radically improves technique and unblocks tension. The method promotes noticeable progress on the piano by utilising the principles of movement, gravity and breathing thus forming a more organic approach towards piano playing. It can also be used as a stress management technique. In the heart of the method lies Piano-Yoga® book ‘Transform Your Hands:10 week course of piano exercises’.

Piano-Yoga® draws on specific methods which encompass the holistic personal development and well-being of the player and as a result helps to open and connect both mind and body.

Who would most benefit? Professional musicians, piano teachers, amateur pianists of the intermediate and advanced level, young people from the age of 15 upwards and children with the supervision of parents.

How can Piano-Yoga® session help you? Prior to the session we would encourage you to fill out our Piano-Yoga® Assessment Form, which will be sent to you once we confirm the booking. The form will allow you to focus on your most important pianistic questions, which could range from technique to post trauma rehabilitation issues, also performance nerves, organisations of piano practise or a simple tiredness during and after your practice.

About GéNIA: Described by The Times as ‘an outstanding musician’, Russian virtuoso concert pianist and composer, 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 & Trinity College of Music in London, where she received numerous awards and prizes. GéNIA gives masterclasses, workshops and Piano-Yoga® retreats worldwide, whilst running her Piano-Yoga® studio in Central London. Her Piano-Yoga® has been featured in most music publications in the UK. In 2012 she launched live series of Piano-Yoga® lessons on BBC London Radio 94.9.

Location: Paul Beuscher Shop, 17-27, Bd Beaumarchais,75004 – Paris

Booking: Tickets can be bought in advance via our website or by giving us a call on +44 (0) 20 7226 9829. For further information email us or Skype ‘piano-yoga’. Please note that sessions are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

‘Piano-Yoga® makes best use of your specific anatomy, strength and flexibility to help your playing’ 

Pianist Magazine, UK

 

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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!

FullSizeRender

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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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.

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How to Obtain the Best Sitting Position at the Piano. Part 2

May 23rd, 2013 — 6:43am

Please read Part 1 of How to Obtain the Best Sitting Position at the Piano before reading the following:

GéNIA playing with Trinity College Orchestra

GéNIA playing with Trinity College Orchestra

To finalise the perfect sitting position for yourself, however, you would need to answer the following questions:

1. Are you a

A. Beginner or
B. Intermediate/Advanced Player?

2.  Are you establishing the sitting position for

A. Your daily practice or
B. For performing purposes?

 

 

3.     What is the acoustic of the space?

A. Dry
B. Wet

4. What is your body type?

A. Tall upper body
B. Short upper body.

Here are the answers to the questions above:
1A.  For the beginner, you will be unlikely to need to produce a lot of sound or exhibit strength in your playing, so all you would need is to sit correctly, trying to match the 90 degree angle between your upper arm and the keyboard on the length of the forearm, so your fingers are gently resting on the keys and your wrists are in line with your arms and hands. Keep your feet parallel, with legs slightly apart. This is very important, particularly for women players, who are taught from childhood to keep their legs close together, which is appropriate in daily life, but creates tension in the hips if you are playing the piano, and hence negatively affects the playing.

1B. For Intermediate and Advanced players, you would need to analyse what pieces you are playing.

If your music has a lot of fast passages or/and big chords, it would be easier to play it sitting slightly higher, as it is less physically exhausting and makes the playing easier, however, on the downside, it will tend to encourage a few wrong notes, as your ‘grounding’ will be affected and therefore your control of the instrument will be disturbed.

If you sit lower, you will be safer from the control point of view, but it will be more tiring to play. Also, you would need to watch out that your wrists don’t go lower then the hands (for more then a few seconds), as this could lead to all sorts of hand problems.

2A. If you are sitting in your practice studio, then it is good to challenge yourself and work from the traditional position described above.

2B. However if you are playing in the concert hall, it is OK to work with the acoustic of the space: sit higher if you need to produce more sound, as your whole body will contribute to producing more sound (very useful for people with a small frame), or sit lower if the keys of the piano are too light and the acoustic of the space is ‘booming’, forcing you to be extra careful not to play everything loudly.

3. Please refer to the 2B answer above.

4. This is very interesting point:

4A. If your upper body is quote long, then your chair would be always placed in a lower position then the chair of someone with a shorter upper body. This is important to remember if you are performing in a concert or exam, where you are not the only person who is playing.

To be on a safe side, particularly if you do not have an opportunity to rehearse on the instrument before performing, make sure to reproduce the seating position that you adopt at home (the height of your sitting position in relation to the instrument) and try to recreate it at the new venue. You may not be able to react to the factors like the touch of the instrument or acoustic of the venue, but at least you will feel more grounded, which is so essential for a confident performance.

4B. Please refer to the answer in 4A.

At the end of the day, establishing the best seating position is a very individual factor, as many of us have unbalanced right and left sides, different physique, various hearing abilities and many other factors, so it is always very interesting and rewarding to find the position that works best for you. This is why various great performers sit completely differently. The correct seating position could considerably improve the quality of your playing without you even practicing! If you follow the guidelines above you will definitely be on the right track.

Here is an excellent example of the optimum seating position -  Artur Rubinstein.

Happy Practising & Enjoy Finding your Unique Position!

GéNIA

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.

To read further on how to obtain the best sitting position here is the very informative blog from Classical Mel, with which we could not agree more!

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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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How Playing Piano could have an astounding effect on your well-being and self-realisation

April 17th, 2013 — 6:46am

Our busy society today runs at a fast pace: we have endless tasks awaiting our actions and decisions, and we are expected to be reached or respond practically on an immediate basis, thanks to mobile phones, emails, and other social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The way society operates has changed. And, in general, this is a good thing! Now people can do collaborative work together whilst being on a different continents, one can feel close to family and friends and be in touch with them almost on daily basis due to the delights of Skype and Google, to name just a few. You have the opportunity to do more things, and to do them faster.

The side-effect of all of this is that we become so ‘bogged down’ with our TO DO lists, that we forget about ourselves, our needs and priorities. We sometimes forget to differentiate between what is important and what is not, going through life in a dreamlike state, and been awoken only during major events, such as a birth of a child, or, sadly, the loss of someone. Usually during those times we feel really present. We are made aware of our own mortality and feel that we are alive now.

A few years ago I was due to give 12 concerts in 10 days with 6 various programmes. The programme ranged from Baroque music (Scarlatti, Bach) through classical (Mozart, Beethoven) and romantic repertoire (Chopin, Schuman, Schubert), neo-classical, impressionists and 20 century (Buzoni, Ziloti,Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Debussy, Satie and Philip Glass, to name just a few).

The moment I finished one programme I had to get ready for another one in a very short space of time. One day, whilst playing on the stage, I suddenly realised, not only that there is no point in thinking about the past pieces I had played (a very common destructive problem for many musicians), but it is also harmful thinking about what might happen in the future pieces (another common problem that makes musicians worry, and which negatively affects their playing), as all those thoughts only distract me from the NOW and do not help with either of those issues. There was also no point thinking of what was going on in the audience, as this was also a distraction, as the only thing I ought to do when I am on the stage is TO BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. It sounds almost trivial, but suddenly it hit me – the past is the past and the future we will never know for sure. The only thing we do know and can control, to certain degree, is our present. The more we are fully ‘in the moment’, experiencing every second of it through our skin, body, eyes, brain, etc., the more enjoyable and fulfilling this experience is.

How often do we do something in life whilst thinking about something that happened in the past or might happen in the future, completely missing where we are right now, and therefore missing the most beautiful moments of our lives? If you think you are one of those people, I would strongly encourage you to play any piece of music in front of other people (you can also try to record it, but this might be less effective) or, if you an actor, present a monolog in front of an audience and try to be ‘fully present’. You may need to do it five to ten times, as this is almost like a ‘muscle’ that needs to be activated, but the effect of this could be mind blowing. It could have an astounding effect on your well-being and self-realisation. It can feel like putting on a pair of glasses for the first time for someone who has had a problem with the their vision, but never worn glasses before.

Give it a try, and if you do suffer from performance anxiety, think about this as a life test that, once overcome, will help you to understand who you are and what you do in this world.

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.

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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