Tag: piano playing


‘The Kate Way’ – Guest blog post by Kate Lovell

May 25th, 2017 — 8:11am

Kate Lovell © Genevieve Stevenson-1-10Kate Lovell is a Yoga Teacher and Holistic Health coach based in London.  Kate grew up in a small town near Boston in a musical family where she learned to play the piano, but her passion for languages and Europe brought her to France, then Italy and eventually London to live and work.  While working in the media, Kate trained to teach yoga and studied nutrition and holistic health in order to turn her passion for well-being into a career.  She discovered Piano-Yoga® and my teaching approach quite by chance while looking for a piano teacher in London.  Kate loves teaching yoga to beginners and believes in making yoga accessible to everyone.  She equally loves offering support to her coaching clients to help them develop habits and awareness that feed a healthy approach to eating and living for the rest of their lives.  She weaves her insights into monthly newsletters and her blog so that more people can help incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Read on below to hear about Kate’s experiences playing the piano and visit her website for further advice on health, nutrition and well-being! GéNIA

 

It’s been a long time since I have been called upon to perform a piano piece in front of an audience, but I can remember the nerves and anxiety that accompanied my bi-annual recitals like it was yesterday.  I started playing the piano around the age of nine and performed in recitals up until the age of twenty, a time period that unfortunately preceded my many years practising yoga and studying nutrition as a means towards improving my well-being and reducing stress.  I have been teaching yoga for a decade and health coaching just slightly shorter than that, and believe that if only I had the tools and knowledge I do now to help me stay grounded and centred, I would have welcomed more opportunities to perform and perhaps have even enjoyed the experience.

 

I have always been interested in the food-mood connection and how what we eat affects how we feel.  If people drink coffee or consume sugar as a pick-me-up, then surely there are foods that also do the opposite?  And the opposite of feeling overly stimulated and jumpy is exactly what one needs to perform well.  I remember my piano teacher telling me to eat something that made me feel calm before a recital where I was playing one of my most challenging pieces yet.  She recalled an incident where she and a close friend who were performing a four-hand piano piece decided to have a coffee together before going on stage.  The performance was like a car crash – they couldn’t control the tempo and their hands were shaking from the caffeine.  Not all of us responds to caffeine with the same sensitivity, but often if our stress hormones have been activated and our autonomic nervous systems sent into fight-or-flight mode (for example, because of stage fright or fear of forgetting one’s music), consuming foods or beverages that are ‘yang’ (energetic) in nature just adds fuel to the fire.  Imagine Flight of the Bumblebee but inside your body!

 

With nutrition, there is no one way.  We are all programmed a bit differently and require different diets depending on our body types and lifestyles (as is taught in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine).  However, I generally I find that given our stressful lifestyles and the increasing demands placed upon us due to technology (in the case of city-dwellers especially), we are living in more of a yang (energetic) state than a yin (cool) state and thus require foods that are more calming or ‘sattvic’ in nature to balance these energies.  Calming foods are generally easy to digest, have nutrients that steady the nervous system and have textures and temperatures that are soothing to the body and mind.

 

So if, like me, you get really nervous, agitated and flustered before a performance, consider some yoga practices but also think about what foods you could eat to help reverse that feeling. Below are just a few suggestions that work for me:

  • Avoid any caffeinated beverages like coffee or tea, and opt for a herbal tea like chamomile and plenty of pure, room-temperature water to stay hydrated (but maybe not too much just before going on stage!)
  • Have a warm, nourishing and fresh cooked meal with root vegetables (because they come from the ground, they help you stay grounded!) before performing – something like baked sweet potatoes with some brown rice (contain Serotonin) or a warm porridge with nut milk, cashews, almonds and brazil nuts (their Omega 3 Fatty Acids feed the brain)
  • If you get a really upset stomach when you’re nervous a warm vegetable or chicken broth could just the thing to calm your tummy and feed your brain
  • I often drink a warm nut milk with a bit of ghee and some spices like cardamom to help sooth me before I sleep and find this is also good when I want to feel more grounded
  • Avoid refined sugar and high sugar energy drinks, instead have fruit like bananas (good for Potassium to support brain function) and kiwis (good for Vitamin C) but keep in mind that too many raw foods might challenge your digestion

Visit Kate’s website here for further information on health coaching, well-being and yoga.

Comment » | Guest Blogger, Practical Advice, Yoga

10 Piano pieces that you can pull out of your sleeve in no time!

May 11th, 2017 — 9:18am
GéNIA - Pianist, composer and founder of Piano-Yoga®

GéNIA – Pianist, composer and founder of Piano-Yoga®

Many amateur pianists often find themselves in the situation where they need to play something in front of an audience, but there is nothing ready and then they end up feeling disappointed: with all this practice, how come that whenever they need to perform, they have nothing to show?

First of all, don’t be so harsh on yourself! If you do take your practice seriously, then you must be in the right state of mind, with warmed up hands and your chosen piece in a reasonably good preparation state, ideally glued into your memory. These things do not happen easily. It is understandable that you may feel less than enthusiastic about performing in front of people, if these conditions are not met.

However, there are some pieces which I call ‘Crowd Pleasers’. Once you learn them, they stay in your memory and hands easily and can be picked up at any moment.

Here is a list of pieces that you can pull out of your sleeve in no time:

1. Philip Glass  ’Metamorhopsis  No 1′ (This is a great piece for testing your memory)

 

2. Frederic Chopin Prelude in E minor Op. 28 No 4

 

3. Eric Satie Gnossienne No 1

 

4. JS Bach Little Prelude in C minor BWV 999

 

5 Robert Schumann’. Kind im Einschlummern’ (Child Falling Asleep) from Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), Op. 15 (1838)

 

6. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Movement no 2 from Somata in C major K 545

 

7. Yann Tiersen Soundtrack from the film ‘Amelie’

 

8. JS Bach Prelude from Prelude and Fugue in C major Book 1

 

9. Ludovico Einaudi  ‘Nuvole Bianche’

 

10 GéNIA ‘Mon Amour’

Hope you find this selection helpful!

Remember that piano is there to be enjoyed by you and the people around you.

With love,

GéNIA

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

Pupil of Piano-Yoga® wins Trophy from Woodely Festival as the most promising performer!

April 28th, 2016 — 2:33pm

WoodelyFestTropheyCongratulations to Catherine Lieben, a student of Piano-Yoga® and a pupil of GéNIA, for winning the Wendy Wilson Trophy from the Woodely Festival of Music and Arts 2016. The trophy is awarded to the most promising performer in the adult class. Catherine was performing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in B minor, Op.32 No. 10.

Catherine has been studying with GéNIA for over five years and regularly takes part in many music festivals across the UK.

For more information on the Festival please see their website www.woodelyfestival.org.uk

The next Piano-Yoga® students’ concert will take place on the 23d of July 2016 at Schott Music, 48 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7BB at 6:30pm. At the concert there will be an opportunity to listen to many students studying the Piano-Yoga®method, including Catherine Lieben, and meet them after the concert.

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Comment » | Events, GéNIA, News, Piano-Yoga Lessons, Piano-Yoga News, Piano-Yoga®, Piano-Yoga® School, Student concert

Piano-Yoga® Christmas SALE 2013!

December 12th, 2013 — 11:19am

Piano-Yoga® would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! To celebrate the festive season we are offering a Complimentary Piano-Yoga® Online Seminar on ‘How to Revitalise Your Piano Playing’, which takes place on the 29th December at 6:00pm UK time. The Piano-Yoga® founder and concert pianist, GéNIA, will be giving in-depth talks on articulation, advanced technique, yoga inspired posture advice and will answer any piano related questions. Places are limited, so we recommend that you book well in advance.

We are also offering a Complimentary £10.00 Gift Voucher towards any lessons (including online) at the school, available only to our members! Additionally, all the Piano-Yoga® books (Paperback & eBooks) will be available at a special discount rate during the festive season.

Click HERE or on the image above to find out more.

Comment » | Christmas, Events, GéNIA, Piano-Yoga®

Interview with GéNIA on Memorising Music

May 28th, 2013 — 1:34pm

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

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

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

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

Comment » | GéNIA, Guest Blogger, Interview

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.

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

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.

Comment » | GéNIA, GéNIA's Articles, Practical Advice

How to Improve Your Rhythm in 1 Hour

April 10th, 2013 — 8:01am

There are many books which attempt to solve the mystery of rhythmatic problems. These problems could be caused by, for example poor coordination, or inability to feel the rhythm, or some particular medical condition. Thus it is very hard to find one approach which works for everyone.

However, I have a strategy which, when implemented correctly, could help with this issue and improve your sense of rhythm fairly quickly.

It is very simple. It is based on my understanding that every person, in fact, every living being (animal, insect, even plant), has their own tempo-rhythm: the way they breath, move, speak, etc. . . .

Tempo-rhythm also changes according to what state we are in: if we feel agitated or excited, our breathing becomes faster, we move and walk quicker whilst, on the other hand, if we are tired or traumatised, all our actions slow down. This state usually changes throughout the day and even during sleep, depending on the dreams that we are having.

Every piece of music also has it’s own tempo-rhythm. If it is a Waltz, it is in 3/4 time, if it’s a March, it is in 4/4, if it’s a Tarantella, it’s in 6/8 and so on, each having it’s own very strong identity. It is important to recognise this. In fact, did you know that, if you change the key of the piece, it still will be recognisable, but if you change the rhythm, then you may not be able to recognise the piece at all?

Therefore, if you would like to master the rhythm of the piece, you need to do this in 2 stages:

Stage 1: Adjust the tempo-rhythm of the piece to your personal one. This is obvious, as when you start learning the notes and fingering, you cannot immediately play the piece at it’s final tempo-rhythm with the effortless and steady rhythm that it requires. You need extra time to learn many elements, and very often at the beginning, you play much slower than the required tempo, and your rhythm may not be consistent.

However, once you have mastered these problems, then you start

Stage 2: Adjust your own tempo-rhythm to the one of the piece.  What it means is that you need to feel the beat, and the easiest way to do that is to adjust your breathing. Try to breathe ‘in’ to coincide with a specific number of beats, and the same for ‘out’ breaths. (For example: 1- 2 ‘in’ and 1 – 2 ‘out’, or 1- 2- 3 ‘in’ and 1 – 2- 3 ‘out’). The breathing should be natural and not forced. After a few seconds, your body will adjust itself and after a few minutes you may even forget that you breathing this way.

Note of caution: make sure that you do not breathe from the upper part of your chest, as this will cause hyperventilation, which, in turn, can lead to all sorts of problems like dizziness, headaches and high blood pressure. Breath lightly from your abdominal area, and see how the piece flows. To practice this, just put your palm on your abdomin and take a few breaths in and out.

In the whole of my teaching practice, I have only seen one student who was incapable of doing so. He was in his late 60th and found it very difficult to control his breathing. For him this method did not work.

However, the majority of people have found this way of working immensely useful. Why not give it a try? It may solve all your rhythm problems in an hour as, with correct breathing, your phrasing will change and your playing will become more stable and consistent. Your whole body language will become aligned with the rhythm and style of the piece.

Do let me know how you get on!

Written by GéNIA

For more tips on how to improve your rhythm visit 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. 

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

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.

Comment » | Events, Piano-Yoga®

Back to top