Tag: Retreat


How to Obtain the Best Sitting Position at the Piano. Part 1

May 20th, 2013 — 6:30pm

I am often asked what it the best way to sit at the piano, as various piano teachers recommend different approaches. When we watch famous musicians, we cannot help but notice how differently they sit:  Glen Gould with his unbalanced low sitting position, Arthur Rubinstein with his almost perfect and static way of sitting, Lang Lang who generously uses body movements and Ivo Pogorelich who is very minimal in his physical expression… So how can we decide what is the best way to sit at the piano?

According to the Russian Piano School that I have been taught, you need to sit closer to the edge of the piano stool, with the forearms parallel to the piano, ideally keeping about 90 Degrees between your upper arm and forearm. The distance from the piano should be equal to the length of your forearm. This way gives you a freedom to move your hands correctly and without a restraint.

However, after teaching a number of students over the years and performing myself on different concert platforms, I noticed that sometimes this is not enough.

Why? Because, all the pianos are different: some are loud and some are soft, some have a heavy action and some are light, additionally to that the acoustics of each venue vary from one another, ranging from ‘dry’, where the player needs to give more sound, to ‘wet’, where the sound needs to be carefully controlled, as otherwise the venue amplifies the sound.

On top of that students have different physique, where some are tall and limber, and some are petite and prone to rigidity. Sometimes the upper body is considerably longer than the lower part, or vice versa. All this needs to be taking into consideration when you play the piano. So how can one find the best sitting position?

 First of all there are some basic rules that apply to all body types, all kinds of pianos and all environments. This is my personal conclusion, reached after experimenting a lot on myself and with the help of my wonderful students. The method is represented in detail in my book,  “Piano-Yoga®: Transform Your Hands” in Chapter 1: Preliminary Piano-Yoga®, Exercise 6. However, here I will give you a quick outline: the main objective for finding the best sitting position at the piano, is that you need to feel grounded at all times. So what exactly does it mean, and how is this achieved?

Sit, as described above, closer to the edge of your piano stool, aiming to have your forearms resting on the keyboard parallel to the floor, with a 90 Degree angle to your upper arm. Make sure that your wrists are in line with your arms and hands, and not above or below them. Keep the forearm distance away from the keys.

Start from the feet – make sure that they are firmly connected to the ground. To do that you should keep you legs a hip-width apart, with feet parallel, close to the pedals, and sit with the back straight. Lift your toes, spread them, one by one if you can, and then slowly put them down. Then continue with you heals, lifting them as high as you can and placing them slowly down.

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

Then engage your abdominal area, as it holds the spine and keeps all the energy of your body (according to the eastern philosophies). Slowly draw your abdominals in, but not too much, as you do not want to prevent your diaphragm from expanding (breathing fully).

Next, make sure that your shoulders are down and back, if necessary.  To do this, stretch your arms, with the fingers widely spread, pointing to the floor and knuckles parallel and facing the keyboard. Hold this position for a few seconds and then turn your palms so they are now facing the keyboard. This will increase the stretch deeper, and facilitate lowering of the shoulders. If your shoulders are prone to be rolled inwards, then pull them slightly back; however, avoid over-arching your back (as this would add the additional pressure to your lower back)

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

Piano-Yoga® Sitting Routine

 

Finally, make sure that your neck is aligned with your body and is not protruding forward.

Pulling the neck forward can lead to heightened blood pressure, headaches and even blurred vision, as well as pains in the upper shoulders.

Once you master this sequence, it will take you about 1 minute to perform, but will considerably improve the quality of your playing and facilitate the best sitting position for you.

To be continued.

GéNIA’s Piano-Yoga® Oxford Retreat will take the place on the 16 June 2013 in Oxford at St Hilda’s College. With the programme covering Exercises for the Perfect Sitting Position, How to Create Individual Piano Technique, New Approaches to Sight-reading, Masterclasses and Exercises for De-stressing, GéNIA will be addressing each sitting position individually. For more information and to book a place please visit our website.

GéNIA’s Piano-Yoga® Book is available here.

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Piano-Yoga® Retreat: St Hilda’s College, Oxford, 16th June 2013

May 1st, 2013 — 11:12am

Piano-Yoga Oxford Retreat 2013

Click on the image above or HERE to book your tickets.
Click HERE to view the PDF version.

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Piano-Yoga® Kings Place Retreat | 12 Feb 2012

January 24th, 2012 — 12:06pm

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Piano-Yoga® Full eBook now 70% Off!

January 19th, 2012 — 10:08am

Only £5! (RRP: £16.99)

SALE ends at midnight on the 22nd January!

More About the Book:

Piano-Yoga® “Transform Your Hands: A complete ten week course of piano exercises”, is a unique series of exercises that will do more for your technique than hours of practising pieces. The muscles of your hands can become much stronger and in turn your finger flexibility should increase. By the end of the first two weeks you may start noticing changes (feel your hand muscles getting stronger), and as the programme continues your span on the keyboard may also extend (increase). Your hands may even feel and seem larger! These exercises can be especially beneficial to people with smaller hands and you may even be able to start playing the pieces that you have always wanted to.

Includes ALL 4 stages:

Preliminary Stage: Foundation Piano-Yoga®;
Stage One: Core Piano-Yoga®;
Stage Two: Yin Piano-Yoga®;
Stage Three: Advanced Piano-Yoga®

Click HERE for more information
Click HERE to buy the book
Click HERE to view other SALE items

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Piano-Yoga® Retreats Return to Kings Place

January 18th, 2012 — 11:22am

Piano-Yoga® Kings Place Retreat

On the 12th February Piano-Yoga® – the miracle piano technique which allowed its creator, GéNIA, to return to the podium just 10 weeks after breaking her wrist – returns to the refreshing environs of the sparkling new world-class music venue, Kings Place, where Piano-Yoga® retreats were first launched earlier in 2011.  Russian virtuoso pianist GéNIA will be sharing the cutting-edge piano method that is Piano-Yoga® with pianists looking to transform their playing and gain a more in-depth insight into the Piano-Yoga® philosophy and lifestyle of well-being.

 

Click HERE to download the Press Release

Click HERE for more information

Click HERE to book tickets

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How to Get the Most out of Your Piano Practice

August 4th, 2011 — 11:08am

On our forthcoming Cyprus retreat we are going to cover many areas relating to the piano and piano practice, but if you cannot join us there, here is a little bit of something that may help you to improve your personal practice time.

Many pianists practise as much as they can, but often complain that they are not good enough or they just can’t get it right. Also, the majority of us simply do not have enough time to practise, full stop. Therefore we might think ‘if we have only 10-15 minutes a day, what’s the point?; It is not enough time to improve, so why bother?’ And this repeats day after day, with continuously growing frustration that we are not good enough and never have the time to practise, therefore we will never improve… Hence millions of frustrating pianists waking up every morning all over the world.

Here are several simple ideas that I hope will help you to deal with this issue, if you need to:

1. Accept that you do not have enough time to practise.

2. Commit to the belief that you want to improve, that deep down in your heart you know that you want to be better and that you are committed to it.

3. Change the quality of your practice time. Even if you have 10 minutes a day, you can learn a lot if you change your attitude and state of mind:

a) Ban all your negative thoughts from your head during the time of your practice.

b) Centre yourself before practice: ideally do some yoga, but if there is no time or you are not a yoga practitioner:

i) Drink a glass of water (room temperature, unless you’re feeling particularly hot!)

ii) Do the tree pose if you can for 1 minute on each side. If not, sit down with your back straight, close your eyes and start breathing deeply from your diaphragm. Try to breathe slowly and avoid breathing from the top part of your chest.

iii) Either meditate if you can, or try to imagine that your spine is like a stem growing from the earth up to the sky, and focus on it, whilst trying to lengthen it. Make sure that the crown of your head is directed towards the sky. Sit like this for 3 minutes. If time permits, 10 minutes would be even better. If you need to, support your back with a cushion.

iv) Once this is done, go to your piano. Plan in advance the time that you are going to spend on it and stick to it. Make sure that your phone is switched off, the room is warm and there is a plenty of soft light, so you don’t have to strain your eyes.

Now this is your practice time. If you get yourself in this state every time before you start your practice, after 10 days you will be able already to notice how the quality of your practice time has improved.

GéNIA reading score

And here is something else worth keeping in mind: for those times when you want to practice but don’t have access to a piano you still can do some great practice drawing on the ideas above and sitting with the music in front of you, doing the practice in your head rather then at the instrument. This is much harder, but is incredibly effective.

It is also important to know exactly what you are working on during each practice session, but this is a slightly different topic for a future blog…

If these topics are something that you simply must learn more about, you are welcome to join us on our Cyprus retreat on 19-25 September to get the full insight into our philosophy. Visit www.piano-yoga.com/retreats/cyprus-retreat.php for more information, call into our monthly Skype clinic or you can even book a Skype Piano-Yoga® session!

Enjoy your practice,

GéNIA

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