Tag: methods for piano


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

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

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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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!

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

Piano-Yoga® 30 Second Tips No. 3

April 12th, 2013 — 9:26am

In this video, Russian pianist GéNIA, the founder of Piano-Yoga®, demonstrates how important it is to understand the hand muscles and how they relate to piano playing. 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

Our next Piano-Yoga® Retreat is at Kings Place, London on the 21st April 2013

Click HERE to view Piano-Yoga®’s other videos.

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Piano-Yoga® 30 Second Tips No. 2

April 9th, 2013 — 10:00am

In this video, GéNIA demonstrates how to properly align yourself using various Piano-Yoga® techniques before you start playing. Recorded at the Piano-Yoga® Kings Place Retreat 2012.

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.

Our next Piano-Yoga® Retreat is at Kings Place, London on the 21st April 2013:
http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/music/piano-yoga-retreat-with-g-nia-0

Video Production & Audio Production: Richard McDonald

Click HERE to view Piano-Yoga®’s other videos.

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

Piano-Yoga® Retreat Competition!

April 3rd, 2013 — 9:43am

Win a ticket to our forthcoming Piano-Yoga® Retreat on the 21st April, 10:30am at Kings Place, London by answering the following question:

Q: Which museum has a plaster cast of Chopin’s hand?

Please email your answer to info@piano-yoga.com. We will accept submissions up-to midnight on Friday 12th April 2013. The winner will be selected randomly and notified on Tuesday 16th April 2013. The ticket is non-transferable.

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

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

Answer YES or NO to the following questions:

  • Would you like to hear from Piano-Yoga® and Kings Place about future events via post?
  • Would you like to hear from Piano-Yoga® and Kings Place about future events via email?

To view the event please visit the Kings Place website HERE.

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Piano-Yoga® Workshops at the Institut Francais, London

February 11th, 2013 — 9:50am

Created by Russian Virtuoso Pianist GéNIA, the Piano-Yoga® method is suitable for pianists of all levels and ages and offers a unique holistic system of playing which combines the fundamentals of the traditional Russian piano schools with principles from Eastern philosophies, especially yoga. The method utilises aspects of movement, gravity and breathing that creates a more natural and organic approach to piano playing, performing and teaching.

15.00 – 16.00 Combating Stage Fright (60 min)

This workshop would not only suite musicians, but also those who have a fear of public speaking or acting. The founder of Piano-Yoga®, Russian Virtuoso Pianist GéNIA, will be giving practical tips that can easily be implemented into your daily life.

16.00 – 16.30 Piano-Yoga® for Kids (30 min)

Did you know that a simple yoga belt can make your child practice for much longer, or that a coloured yoga block can make piano practice much more fun!? Bring your children to experience this amazing new holistic method!

16.30 – 17.30 Improving Yourself (60 min)

Did you know that a simple weakness of your left hand can indicate a problem in your character? Have you ever thought that piano playing can do more for your well-being than just providing musical development?

Click HERE to book tickets while they last!

Click HERE to visit the Institut Francais website.

Click HERE to view other forthcoming Piano-Yoga® events!

 

Comment » | Piano-Yoga®, Practical Advice

Piano Skype Lessons: Are they really a substitute for face-to-face tuition?

April 17th, 2012 — 10:28am
GéNIA

Skype Piano Lessons

I have been giving piano lessons for almost 20 years and when I first came across the idea of Skype Piano lessons, I admit, I was quite skeptical about it: doesn’t the student need to be in the same room with the teacher in order to really experience the full benefits of the tuition? Would not this be a bit artificial (particularly for us, the Piano-Yoga® Music School, since Piano-Yoga® promotes an holistic approach to piano playing) to rely so much on technology and the limitations of the computer screen?

However, due to my curiosity and inclination to explore new things, I decided to try this way of teaching by launching a Skype Piano-Yoga® Clinic. The result was better than I anticipated: people were ringing from all over the world, some asking about the piano repertoire that they needed to focus on, some on the details of the Piano-Yoga® method and some simply wanted specific technical help with their pieces. For example, with one student we spent quite a long time working on various trills and mordents, exploring the fingering that would work especially for her and at the end I was amazed with the efficiency of the whole process.

This is how Piano Skype Lessons were launched. This tuition method, which originally started as 10-minute online piano consultation sessions, has now been transformed into a well-established Skype Piano Lessons Online Practice as another branch of the Piano-Yoga® School. My students come from all over the world: Japan, Australia, USA, France and Germany. The feeling that you can communicate and work with someone on the other side of the world is absolutely amazing and rewarding and I guess, for those who like to study playing the piano through the Piano-Yoga® method, there is no longer the need to travel to London or follow my travel schedule.

Piano Skype Lessons can sometimes be even more focused than traditional piano lessons because all the communication is happening through the camera and therefore the direction of the camera and the size of the screen very much dictates the points that are discussed during the lesson. Somehow, talking about the weather and other pleasantries becomes less appropriate!

Sometimes we aim the camera at the particular hand in question, or at the student’s posture or face. On my side I am often adjusting the camera to show either my hands or do work on particular passages, or to discuss the whole posture issue. Because of this the process appears more intense (in a good way) and far more efficient.

Another plus of these lessons is that they usually start and finish exactly on time, without wasting time on getting ready for the lesson and leaving the room, which can sometimes take up to 10 minutes on each side!

Are Piano Skype Lessons for you? Test yourself against the checklist below:

Many of my students, who I teach at Steinway Hall and Schott Music in London, are still apprehensive about Skype online piano tuition and think that Piano Skype Lessons could never provide an adequate substitute for a normal lesson. Therefore, I created this checklist that will help you decide whether Skype Piano Lessons are for you:

  1. Do you want to study with a particular teacher but find hard to travel to see them regularly?
  2. Do you have a limited amount of time and therefore can not study regularly, due to the amount of time it takes to travel to see your teacher?
  3. Would you like to have shorter sessions rather than the one-hour lessons which many traditional piano schools provide?
  4. If you said yes to question 3 (above), do you think that piano lessons shorter than 60 minutes are not worth your travel time?
  5. Do you find that when you are on holiday and finally have the time to practise, as well as greater inspiration, your teacher is in another country?

If you sad yes to ANY of the questions above then Skype Piano Lessons are for you!

What you need in order to start Skype Piano Lessons:

Before committing to Skype Piano Lessons you need to make sure that:

  1. You chose your teacher because you really want to study them specifically, and not just because they provide Skype Piano Lessons.
  2. You have a good, fast internet connection at the address your lesson is due to take place (at least 2mb download and 0.5mb upload).
  3. You have a good and workable computer with a decent screen resolution (see below).
  4. You have a good quality microphone and good speakers.
  5. You have an adjustable camera (either built into the computer – I usually use my laptop – or external), so you can direct it towards specific perspectives during the lesson.
  6. Your computer can face the piano keyboard (this is why laptops are generally more practical and functional)
  7. You can install the latest version of Skype and check that you can see yourself and the piano keyboard in the camera.

Computer Requirements:
Windows (XP – Win 7) or Mac OSX (Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion)
Minimum 1GHz Processor
Minimum 256mb of RAM
DirectX 9 or above

Screen Requirements:
Minimum of 1280×1024 resolution.

Choosing a Skype Piano Lesson Teacher:

At the end of the day, the efficiency of your lesson will very much depend on the teacher. The market is big and you need to find a teacher who is right for you (A separate blog on this will be coming soon!) Needles to say that the teacher needs to be well qualified, have good teaching ethics and, in general, suit your temperament, as well as share your goals and beliefs.

At our Piano-Yoga® Music School we offer many classes and lessons ranging from 20 minute individual sessions to full three-month courses (‘A’ and ‘B’):
http://www.piano-yoga.com/e-shop/lessons/skype-lessons.php
You can always give us a call for an informal chat via Skype on weekdays 9:00-13:00 (GMT) search for us at ‘piano-yoga’, if you want to find out more, or email us on info@piano-yoga.com.

In conclusion, I would say never stop developing and learning just because you do not have the time or means to travel to a lesson or person with whom you would like to learn, and if you are not a fan of technology do not dismiss the idea of using it to your advantage before trying it! You might be pleasantly surprised.

With all best wishes,
Namaste
GéNIA

Comment » | Piano-Yoga®, Practical Advice

Piano-Yoga® March Newsletter

March 16th, 2012 — 11:17am

Dear Students, Parents and Members of Piano-Yoga®,

Piano-Yoga® School

GéNIA at the Piano-Yoga® School

I hope that this newsletter finds you all very well.

I wanted to update you personally on our news and, in particular, on the recent merger of GéNIA MUSIC Piano School and Piano-Yoga®. The idea for this merger grew organically, since whilst the GéNIA MUSIC Piano School offers ‘standard’ tuition ranging from one-to-one classical piano lessons to jazz and theory courses, Piano-Yoga® works directly on the hands and body, helps to create the correct mindset and generates feelings of well-being. As a result of this merger, our new ‘Piano-Yoga® School’ now has a wide range of classes available:

- ‘Standard’ one-to-one tuition
- Assessment lessons
- Composition
- Theory
- Improvisation
- Playing by ear
- Aural training
- Sight-reading
- Grade preparation
- Personalised course
- Jazz
- Ensemble coaching

We also run a number of courses:

- Boot camp for beginners
- Boot camp refresher
- Three-month course A
- Three-month course B 
- Course of six lessons

For those of you who are interested in the holistic side of piano education we now run:

- Piano + yoga classes at Steinway Hall
- Piano + holistic therapy (in partnership with Neal’s Yard-Practitioner, Angela Allen)
And if you are not based in central London, why not try our Skype lessons? These have proved to be very effective with our students.

All our teachers share our philosophy and provide teaching of the highest standard.

If you are not sure which courses are best suited to you, take a look at the categories on our home page. Whether you are an amateur pianist, piano teacher, professional musician, conservatoire student, or you are looking into lessons for your children, we have made suggestions for the courses and products most appropriate for you.

Please see below for some other Piano-Yoga® news, and I look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you into our new community.

Namaste,

TEXT GOES HERE

 

GéNIA

To read the rest of the newsletter and find out about the Piano-Yoga® School Concert, Recording Facilities and our ‘Recommend a Friend’ Speciall offer, click HERE!

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