Recital

Pianicity's Spring Recital will be held on Saturday, May 18 at 3 pm at Lone Star College Kingwood. Attendance is optional but highly encouraged. All students will perform on a 9 ft concert grand piano onstage at their recital hall, which is a beautiful facility. There is no extra charge for the recital. Over the next couple of weeks we will be choosing which pieces each student will play. They should be extra diligent in the practice of these pieces as I prefer they play them from memory. As the time draws closer we will send another email with more information and details.

The Difference Between Lessons and Practice

The Difference between Lessons and Practice Sometimes it seems that there is some confusion about the differences between weekly lessons and practice, so I wanted to address that briefly just so people understand. I think the confusion stems from the idea of "practice" in sports, where you go to practice every other day, if not every day. In sports, practice is where improvements are made, and for that to happen an entire team needs to assemble. In piano, practice is also where improvements are made, and it also happens every day (or should). The difference is that piano practice is done at home. The actual weekly lessons should NOT be where practice happens, but rather where mistakes are corrected, technique is improved, and new material is learned. 

Some Facts About Class Piano

Some Facts About Class Piano Here are some facts about piano as taught in a class setting: --Class piano first came into widespread practice in Europe around the beginning of the 19th century --Class piano was used as a teaching technique by some of the greatest pianists of all time, including Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, and Anton Rubinstein.  --The first class piano programs were launched in U.S. public schools in 1913, and were widespread by the 1930s --By the 1970s, the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) began to provide training on how to teach piano as a class --Class piano is taught in 643 colleges in America

Why Piano Study is a Good Foundation

Why Study of the Piano is a Good Musical Foundation All instrumentalists and singers can benefit from learning to play the piano, for many reasons. First of all, the piano has an extremely wide range (wider than the entire orchestra, in fact). For this reason, music for the piano is written on two clefs, treble and bass, whereas almost all other instruments use only one. Mastering these two clefs means the student will have become quite adept at reading notation. The piano is also capable of very complex harmony, far more so than other instruments. This leads to an intuitive understanding of theory, or the mechanics of music. I often tell the story of my first year theory class in college - all the pianists easily mastered the concepts, while most other musicians struggled. This is why all non-pianist music majors…

Choosing an Instrument

Choosing an Instrument When it comes to choosing a piano or keyboard, most will find the amount of choices overwhelming and possibly confusing. Keyboard? Digital piano? Acoustic piano? How do you choose? It should be said that first and best choice for an aspiring pianist (or any pianist) is an acoustic grand piano of at least 6 feet in length. Having said that, the last thing we would expect is for all new students to go out and make a 5 figure purchase. So short of that, what are the best options? Well, unlike 30 years ago, there is a wealth of options to choose from, and most of them are amazingly good. Short of an acoustic piano, a good digital piano is the next best choice. These are typically freestanding instruments that have 88 weighted keys (weighted meaning slightly harder…

What is the point of recitals?

What is the point of recitals? When students come to class week in and week out,  it's easy to start thinking that piano lessons are an end in themselves. They become routine, like going to work or school. This is why it's easy to forget that simply attending piano class is actually a means to an end, and that end is the performance of music. Now the word "performance" implies a stage and a crowd, and indeed we have both at our recitals. But the performance of music can also mean simply playing for yourself, or for your friends, or for family at Christmas. In fact, this is usually what it means.This is what learning to play the piano is all about. It's about playing music and enjoying it. This is why we have recitals: to remind students that learning to…

What is the point of learning to read music?

  Like me, you've probably heard many stories of someone's aunt's cousin's brother who "plays by ear" - it seems people who play by ear are everywhere. With so many people playing by ear, why does anyone learn to read music? The answer is quite simple: in reality, very very few people truly "play by ear." To truly play by ear would mean playing advanced classical music in full (not simplified) having heard it only a few times, or maybe even only once. It is true that there are people in history who could do this. The 19th century's greatest pianist/composer, Franz Liszt, was famous for it. Georges Bizet, composer of the opera "Carmen," could do it as well. But people with ears of that skill and the piano skills to use them only come around a few times per century.…

Some Practice Tips

Recently we were talking about how progress at the piano is made by daily practice, so I thought I'd share some practice tips for students. 1. I'm often asked how long students should practice each day; the real answer is that the actual length of time spent practicing isn't as important as daily consistency. In other words, 10 minutes every day is far better than an hour once a week. The brain processes information best in small bits over a long period of time, and this is how progress is made the fastest. 2. What exactly is practice? Practice means playing what you went over in class, remembering as best you can the teacher's instructions. Sometimes the student will have problems remembering a correct note or rhythm - this is ok. That's why you return to lessons the following week, where…

The Curse of “Talent”

There is no more overused word in the English language than "talent." I see it all the time - a young pianist will play very well, maybe even astoundingly well. A pitcher will throw a mind-bending curveball. A gymnast will do an amazing series of flips and end-over-end stunts. The response will invariably be "What talent!" In reality though, talent is only half the story, and most of the time it's far less than that. When you see a pianist doing things at the keyboard that are so impressive that it seems superhuman, what you're seeing is about 10 percent talent, and 90 percent work. You see the amazing results, but you don't see the thousands of hours of practice that went into perfecting those results. The legendary pianist Ignaz Friedman once gave a performance of the Chopin Etude in thirds…

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