Tag: Piano Practice


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

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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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‘How to ‘spring clean’ your piano practice’ by GéNIA

April 11th, 2017 — 12:27pm
GéNIA, founder of Piano-Yoga®

GéNIA, founder of Piano-Yoga®

Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the season: plants are starting to grow, flowers are blooming, the sunshine is becoming stronger and birds start singing earlier and earlier. Nature starts waking up and ‘smiling’ at us, and the same is happening with people; we feel that there are more new possibilities, new beginnings and, in general, life becomes ‘sweeter’ and happier, in comparison with the dark and cold months of winter.

However with regard to piano practice, many people feel that they would rather spend more time outside (whilst the weather is so beautiful) and less time inside, which in turn affects their daily piano regime. Many start feeling guilty for not practising enough.

Also this time is the time for holidays, Easter and Pesach, or just family time together. This is the period when we start thinking more about our lives, relationships and family matters. During these days it is very popular to do spring cleaning in the house, getting rid of ‘stale’ habits and banishing the darkness of winter. The good news is that you can do the same with your piano practice routine: learning new pieces, practising in a different way, start doing new piano warm up exercises; all these can contribute to rejuvenation of your piano practice.

So are you ready to renew your piano practice?Playing Hands (Non Classical) No White window

Below are some tips that will help you to do just that:

Drink a glass of fresh water (ideally with lemon or cucumber) before your practice, in the mornings or afternoons or even early evenings

or

Drink a glass of herbal tea (with honey or lemon, according to taste) before your late evening practice.

Do a few stretches before you start:

Stand with your feet parallel, a hip-width apart, engage your inner legs, draw your abdominals inwards, align your lower back (which often means bringing your hips slightly forward, to avoid creating a big curve in your lower back), keep your shoulders relaxed (lower them if necessary) and slightly back if your shoulders tend to turn inwards, stretch through your arms, as if someone is pulling your fingers down to the ground, make sure that your neck is not protruding forwards (if it is, you can end up with a lot of problems in your upper shoulders and neck, and even experience headaches and problems with vision).

Take a deep breath, inhaling all the way from your diaphragm, while lifting your hands over your head along the sides of your body, then start slowly breathing out whilst bringing your hands to the original position in the same way.

Keep thinking of maintaining your alignment (which means don’t feel sloppy).

Repeat 3 times.

On the 3rd time, instead of returning your hands to the original position, bring the palms together over your head on the in breath and, on out breath, slowly bring the hands together down through the centre line of your body.

Then take 2 breaths whilst keeping your hands firmly against your naval: palms pressed together on the level of your diaphragm.

This simple stretch will revitalise your body and help you to concentrate.

Choose a brand new exercise routine. 

Piano-Yoga® Book of Exercises

Piano-Yoga® Book of Exercises

I am a big advocate of doing exercises, as you can improve your playing dramatically by working separately on technical issues. Identify up to 3 of the weakest areas of your practice (scales, thirds, octaves, etc) and choose exercises that will help you to tackle these. Amongst my favourites are Clementi-Tausig ‘Gradus ad Parnassum’, H. Berens ‘Training of the left hand’, M. Long ‘Le Piano’ exercises, some pages from Chopin and Liszt etudes (it is absolutely fine to use those as exercises) and, of course, Piano-Yoga® exercises, as they promote not only the stretch but the strength in the fingers, especially in the bottom parts (proximal phalanx), and therefore allow you to do all the other exercises much more efficiently.

Choose at least one new piece.  I think it is very important always to work on something new, and especially during the spring. I love variation form, as then you feel that you are not just working on one piece, but on many different pieces. Some of the great examples are Beethoven Six Variations on ‘Nel cor piu non mi sento’ WoO70, Beethoven 32 Variations on an Original Theme’ in C minor WoO 80, Schumann Abegg Variations Op.1, Schumann Pappilons  Op.2 or Mendelssohn Variations Sérieuses’ Op.54 to name just a few.

Record yourself playing one of the pieces that you are working on and then give yourself a day’s rest. Afterwards listen to the recording with the sheet music and a pencil and pretend that you are listening to someone else’s playing and giving them a lesson. Mark all the places, with details and nuances that you think need improvement.

Set-up a goal.  I think it is very important to know why you are learning to play the piano, whether you just want to learn it for yourself or you are more ambitious and you’d like to do some public performances or/and take some exams. Your goal can vary from ‘memorising a piece of music’ and ‘performing in public’ to ‘establishing a practice routine’. Whatever you do, decide on the goal and when you intend to achieve it. This could transform your practice, as it will give it direction.

Get professional advice.  If you are not having lessons at the moment and practicing by yourself, it is a good time to see a professional musician (whether a piano teacher or a performing musician) to get some tips and advice, even if you cannot take regular lessons. If you are already taking lessons, consider signing up for a master class or a workshop, as it is always good to hear fresh new opinions, even those different from your teacher’s.

I always encourage my students to play at festivals and masterclasses, as not only do they get the experience of performing in public, but they also gain professional feedback which is sometimes different from mine, but is always useful.

Piano-Yoga Student Concert

Piano-Yoga® Student Concert

And finally… Set up a date for your ‘public’ performance.  Even if you are the most shy person in the world, it would do you a lot of good to play in front of someone else, as this is where your knowledge and skills will be tested. If you manage to keep your cool and play swimmingly through this, then you have learnt well what you have been working on, but if not, it means, that you still need to continue work on what you have been doing. And if you are an experienced player, then sign yourself up to an interesting performance opportunity, such as a local festival or masterclass.

Alternatively, you can make a recording that you can then give to all your friends and family as a present! Maybe for Christmas?  This will force you to be really thorough in your playing and practising.

I hope that you found these tips useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via my website www.piano-yoga.com or our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pianoyogaeducation/

Enjoy your practice

&  happy Holidays!

GéNIA

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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 Talks on BBC LONDON 94.9 Radio about The Piano-Yoga® Club

August 5th, 2015 — 7:17am
GéNIA talks to Jo Good on her show at BBC London Radio 94.9

GéNIA talks to Jo Good on her show at BBC London Radio 94.9

GéNIA was a guest on Jo Good Show at BBC London  94.9 Radio on Tuesday, the 4th of August, where she talked in details about the launch of  the Piano-Yoga® Club, what to expect, who is it for and when it will start. If you are considering of joining the Club this interview will give you a great insight (starts from 1:07): LISTEN HERE 

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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.

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At the Piano Video Series with GéNIA – Part 5 of 6

March 19th, 2013 — 10:03am

Frances Wilson, who blogs as The Cross-Eyed Pianist, interviews GéNIA, London based concert pianist and founder of Piano-Yoga® at Steinway Hall, London.

In this interview they discuss GéNIA’s forthcoming projects, favorite pianists, their thoughts on up and coming young pianists, GéNIA’s love of Rachmaninoff and the unmasking of several piano myths!

Websites:
http://www.piano-yoga.com/
http://crosseyedpianist.com/

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

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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!

 

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Perfecting the Piano Room. Guest Blog from www.houseplansandmore.com

January 7th, 2013 — 11:13am

Have you ever dreamed of having an enchanting music room? Whether you have a gorgeous grand piano or a friendly upright piano, it is essential to create the perfect space to enjoy the melodies. A piano definitely becomes a focal point of a room and provides an inviting atmosphere. It not only is a musical instrument, but also a work of art. The piano should be showcased in a properly designed space that increases its appearance and the quality of the music. If you are planning to purchase a new piano or already own one, you should be aware of the appropriate room conditions for the instrument.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article. 

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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

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