Tag: Melanie Spanswick


An inspirational Holistic Day for Pianists with Melanie Spanswick, myself and our students

July 24th, 2017 — 2:26pm
GéNIA teachers Piano-Yoga® at Holistic Day for Pianists in London

GéNIA teachers Piano-Yoga® at Holistic Day for Pianists in London

This is just a little blog entry from me about the Holistic Day, that I led with renowned educator, blogger and teacher Melanie Spanswick recently in London. I wanted to share with you how wonderful it was to spend the whole day concentrating on Piano-Yoga® and other aspects of piano playing and technique. Melanie’s talks were inspiring; she offered wonderful tips on memorisation and sight-reading, making students practise various things there and then.

I offered a slightly different approach, concentrating on how to obtain the best energy, so you can get the best our of your practice and/or a performance, especially when you were tired or, opposite, too excited to concentrate. Through the various exercises and talks about different energy states, we spent a wonderful afternoon exploring. I concluded my part of the day by going through the details of each stage of my book ‘Piano-Yoga® Transform Your Hands’: 10 Week Course of Piano Exercises.

We had a wonderful variety of students, which included amateur pianists, piano teachers and professional music students.

The atmosphere of Jaque Samuel Pianos, was equally inspiring; we were surrounded by at least 100 pianos and had 4 Fazioli grand pianos in our studio, where we taught.

Melanie Spanwick teaches Sight-Reading Class at Holistic Day for Pianists

Melanie Spanwick teaches Sight-Reading Class at Holistic Day for Pianists in London

The students were very receptive and eager and after the day we received wonderful comments such as ‘A most inspiring duette with many useful tips’ from Edi and ‘One of the most interesting days in my life. Thank you so much!’ from Charles.

We look forward to bringing you more events and if you’d like to invite us to come to your area with the Holistic Day Programme please do not hesitate to get in touch!

With love,

GéNIA

 

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Why Body Work is so important for musicians

July 5th, 2017 — 9:59am
Pianist GéNIA demonstrating yoga exercises for pianists

Pianist GéNIA demonstrating yoga exercises for pianists

Every professional musician knows the drill: if you want to be good you need to practise. For classical musicians there are many hours of strict practice required, for jazz and other musicians there is a different kind of practice, but in any case, you always need to practise more rather not less. Talking about  technique, which is best developed when we are children, if you want to be good, you are encouraged to practice at least three to four hours when you are a child, with a gradual increase in hours as you get older, especially if playing piano has the potential to become your profession.

 

I personally studied at the School for Gifted Children in the Ukraine, then at the Music Conservatoire (Kharkov State institute of Arts), before embarking on Postgraduate Studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and finally a Masters Degree at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Throughout all these years, I have been encouraged to practice as much as possible, sometimes up to 8 hours a day. It was not surprising that at the age of 15 I suffered muscular tension due to over-practising. What was astounding was that, at no point during my entire studies, was I ever advised on how to look after my body in order to avoid over-practising (meaning over-using it) nor taught how to practise efficiently; how to avoid strain whilst keeping my body relaxed.

By my early 20th, I found myself suffering from  chronic back-pain, and was forced to see a back specialist on a regular basis. After about six months of such visits, I realised that this could not go on. I had to learn how to start caring for my body in order to stop having to see a doctor, as I was became addicted to these visits.

 

This is when I started to explore. It was suggested I should try yoga, and after the first few sessions I got ‘hooked’. Yoga allowed me not only to get rid of my pain, but I noticed that my body slowly started to transform, my muscles became leaner and I even felt taller!

 

Additionally, I noticed that, apart from fixing my back problems, yoga was really good for my piano playing: my fingers became stronger and the challenge of playing larger chords became less of an issue. Following this discovery, I deliberately started incorporating yoga stretches into my practice routine. It felt great; I felt refreshed and balanced.

 

The following year I was faced with the challenge of performing Rachmaninoff ‘Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini’, which I had been told by my teachers, I would never be able to play. I loved this piece and felt that I could play it, so I was determined to do everything possible to master this piece.

All I needed was to find a specific programme or a set of exercises that would develop my hands. After extensive research and trying out various exercises, I realised that what I was looking for was not available, and if I wanted to work on my hands, I would need to create this programme myself. Starting with various experiments, I came to the conclusion that the answer was … in my yoga practice. By trial and error I created the piano-yoga exercises that helped me to master this piece, and this is how Piano-Yoga® was conceived.

 

So what is Piano-Yoga®? It is a method of piano teaching, performing and playing available to musicians of all levels, amateurs and professionals, from beginners to advanced. The more advanced you are, the more you can benefit from it. One of the aspects of Piano-Yoga® method is ‘body discipline’, teaching those who play and practise for more then an hour a day to take care of their body by showing how to use it in their playing as well as how to relax at specific times and how to prevent injuries. Alexander technique offers wonderful teaching that covers some of these aspects, but Piano-Yoga® offers something different; firstly precise work on hands and arms in order to increase the strength of fingers and hand span, secondly, the discipline of taking care of the body on a regular basis, thirdly, various tips on piano playing established through body work and finally prevention and /or post injury rehabilitation programme. By incorporating the ancient yoga teaching, the method aims to create a feeling of well-being on a physical, emotional and intellectual level. For those following  spiritual practices, it offers something as well. It is up to the student to take as much or as little from Piano-Yoga® as he or she wants.

 

Holistic-Banner-Genia_Melanie

The main message of this article though, is that playing piano for more then an hour a day inflicts demands on your body and, if are regularly doing this, you must know how to take care of it in order to avoid an injury or a simple back pain and get rid of stagnation in your body, as sitting for a long time is not good for our health.

I hope that you find my story helpful and if you have any questions I will be happy to hear from you via info@piano-yoga.com.

with love,

GéNIA

GéNIA, the pianist and composer and founder of Piano-Yoga®, will be demonstrating the main principals of Piano-Yoga® teaching on Holistic day for pianists in London on the 16th of July, in the event created in collaboration with the renown educator, blogger, pianist and author Melanie Spanswick. Please follow the link to see more details.

 

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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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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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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!

 

 

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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!

 

 

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Why come to the Piano-Yoga® London Open Day?

June 26th, 2013 — 12:02pm
GéNIA by the Piano

GéNIA

Very often when people hear the term ‘Piano-Yoga’, they ask me “is it yoga done while you are playing the piano or is it something that should be done on the piano?” It seems that the name ‘Piano-Yoga’ gives rise to a lot of misconception.

The aim of the Piano-Yoga® London Day is to give Londoners and guests of the capital an insight into the Piano-Yoga® concept with various aspects of this holistic method.

The day offers free taster classes for children: ‘Piano-Yoga® for Kids’, a lecture on Piano-Yoga® with the story behind its creation, a talk on ‘Combating Performance Nerves with Piano-Yoga®’, which could be applied to any other discipline or anyone who has a fear of public speaking, and also offers taster (one-to-one) Piano-Yoga® sessions which any member of the public can book.

Kate Lovell

Kate Lovell

Being an encompassing holistic discipline, Piano-Yoga® always welcomes outstanding professionals from other disciplines to contribute to the method. This time we are thrilled to have guest speaker Kate Lovell, health food coach and yoga teacher, talk about what to eat in order to play and perform at your best. Eating the right food can greatly improve the quality of your work, not even mentioning improving your well-being! Gaining the knowledge provided in this talk can really change the way one plays and functions in general.

 

Melanie Spanswick

Melanie Spanswick

For anyone who wants to know all about playing the piano, ranging from which instrument to choose, which teacher is the most suitable, what are the first important steps, we are honored to have the wonderful concert pianist, author of newly published “All you Need to Know about Playing the Piano”, adjudicator and blogger Melanie Spanswick, giving a talk with valuable and rare information.

In the evening, the students of our Piano-Yoga® School will give a concert with various pieces ranging from Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann & Tchaikovsky to Arvo Part to name just a few. The evening will culminate in a Party, where Londoners are welcome to join us and meet all our teachers and students.

So, what is Piano-Yoga®? Piano-Yoga® is a method of piano playing, performing and teaching that promotes an holistic approach to education. Based on the interconnection between the Russian Piano Schools and yoga and other Eastern philosophies, it takes into consideration the mind, body and energetic capacity of the individual and offers a unique approach to learning. The method could easily be applied to other disciplines, not only to music.

The common misconception about Piano-Yoga® is to consider it as a new-age ‘trendy’ wave, which was launched just to ‘fit the current market’. However, created as a pure necessity for myself as a means to improve my piano technique, Piano-Yoga® actually has deep substance, as its teaching is based on the teaching traditions of the Russian Piano School and Yoga, both most serious established disciplines. Starting from just the one Piano-Yoga® Book “Transform Your Hands: 10 Week Course of Piano Exercises”, today Piano-Yoga® has a School in Central London, offering one-to-one classes, lectures, masterclasses, workshops, online tuition and world wide piano retreats. In September 2013 Piano-Yoga® is launching its first Certificate Courses at Kings Place: Piano-Yoga® Foundation Course and Piano-Yoga® Course One.

The Piano-Yoga® London Open Day gives an opportunity to Londoners to come and experience the Piano-Yoga® method for themselves. Please see the programme below:

Programme

2:00pm – 2:30pm | ‘Piano-Yoga® for Kids’ presented by GéNIA
2:30pm – 3:00pm | ‘All You Need to Know to Start Playing the Piano’ presented by Melanie Spanswick
3:00pm – 3:30pm | ‘What is Piano-Yoga®?’ presented by GéNIA
3:30pm – 4:00pm | ‘Combating Performance Nerves’ presented by GéNIA
4:00pm – 4:30pm | ‘Eating Right to Play and Perform Your Best’ presented by Kate Lovell
4:20pm – 6:20pm | Piano-Yoga® One to One Complimentary Sessions with GéNIA
6:30pm – 9:00pm | Piano-Yoga® Concert and Party
Address: Schott Music, 48 Great Marlborough Street, London W1 4BB.
For more information please see our website: http://www.piano-yoga.com/events/piano-yoga-school-concert.php

Looking forward to seeing you at our event!

GéNIA

Russian virtuoso 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. Her eclectic repertoire ranges from 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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Piano-Yoga® London Day & Concert, 29th June 2013

June 18th, 2013 — 3:27pm

Piano-Yoga London Day & Concert, 29th June 2013

Click on the poster above or HERE to find out more!

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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.

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