piano technique

5 Piano Technique Mistakes You’re Probably Making

piano technique

Let’s face it, even the most experienced pianists make mistakes. Below, piano teacher Julie P. shares the 5 most common piano technique mistakes that both beginner and experienced pianists often make…

As a piano player, you’re always looking for easy ways to improve your playing. While there are no fast-tracks to becoming a great piano player, there are simple things you can do to better your skills.

In fact, you’re probably making some simple piano technique mistakes that are holding you back from reaching your full potential.

Below are the five most common piano technique mistakes. If you work on fixing these mistakes not only will you improve your piano technique, but you’ll also open up your ability to make greater improvements in the future.

5 Most Common Piano Technique Mistakes

1. Flat fingers

Many students play with flat or collapsed fingers when they’re first learning the piano. This means that either their finger is extending from their hand in a flat manner and/or their first knuckle is collapsing.

Flat and collapsed fingers slow down finger technique and usually cause tension. Play with your fingers in a curved position, as shown in the video below.

2. Sitting too close to the piano

If you sit too close to the piano, your arms won’t have enough room to extend in front of you. This limits the range of motion for your arms, which causes your wrists to contort in an effort to reach the right notes.

Sit on the edge of the piano bench and move it back until your elbows are extended slightly forward from your shoulders. Check out the video below for some additional tips.

3. Wrists too low

Your wrists should extend straight from your arms and shouldn’t collapse down. If your palms get close to the front of the piano, your wrists will likely collapse.

Wrists that are too low cause tension and strain in your arms and fingers, and also reduce the speed at which you can play.

If your wrists are low, your fingers are probably also collapsing, as discussed above. The picture below shows the right and wrong way to hold your wrists.

piano techniqueImage courtesy of Casio Music.

4. Not using your arm weight

The points mentioned above about arm position are important because we want to use the weight of our arms and torso when playing the piano.

Even though our fingers control the piano keys, students who push down the keys with only the strength of their fingers will not produce a very good tone.

Channeling our arm and body weight efficiently through our arms allows you to produce a wide range of sounds and tone colors. It also reduces the strain on your fingers.

5. Not establishing efficient fingerings

One of the best ways to learn a song quickly and reliably is to decide ahead of time the best fingering pattern.

Students who play with random fingerings that change every time they practice often get into a fingering jam, or have to search for the key they want.

If you know which fingers are playing which notes, and use the same fingerings every time you practice, you’ll know the song more securely and won’t be searching for the keys anymore.

If you can correct these five piano technique mistakes, you’ll be a much better piano player. Your piano teacher can also help you correct these mistakes as well as any other technique issues you may have in your playing.

Photo via Shalbs

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

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Family Affair-5 Creative Waysto Enjoy Music as a Family

Family Affair: 3 Creative Ways to Enjoy Music as a Family

Do you want to be more involved in your child’s music lessons? In this week’s guest post, our friend Lara L. at Piano Power shares five creative ways you can enjoy music as a family… 

In a world of earbuds and custom playlists, sharing music as a family “IRL” (or “in real life,” for those not hip to Internet slang) is more important than ever. Car sing-alongs and kitchen dance parties are par for the course.

To help you get more involved in your child’s music lessons or simply have some fun, we’ve outlined five unique music-sharing traditions. Read on for some fun musical inspiration!

1. Have a Family Karaoke Night

Love it or hate it, karaoke can be a true learning experience for kids. Reading lyrics, performing for an audience, waiting their turn, learning to respect others’ performances– there are major lessons to be learned beyond karaoke’s goofy fun.

If you’re not too shy to get onstage, kids can witness your own love for music, and see that mom or dad makes mistakes, laughs, and carries on.

(Also, you can introduce them to the amazing, karaoke-friendly world of Bonnie Tyler.)

2. Make it a Musical Game Night

Rather than “Name That Tune,” play a game called “Name That Artist.” The rule: When a new song starts, the first to identify the artist wins. This game presupposes that a.) Music is on at home, and b.) It is actively listened to.

Rather than background noise, music becomes an integrated part of life, requiring attention, memory, and close listening.  

3. Life is a Musical

Rather than speak in conversation, why not sing? This requires a bit of musical spontaneity on the parent’s part, but you can borrow the melody of a tune you both know, or make up something random.

Next thing you know, everyone will be singing instead of speaking in your home.

To discover the last two ways you can enjoy music as a family, head on over to Piano Power.

Guest Post Author: Lara L.
Lara L. is the communications manager at Piano Power, a Chicago-based music teaching group. Learn more about Piano Power here. 

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piano exercises off bench

5 Off-Bench Piano Exercises That Will Transform Your Playing

piano exercises off bench

You don’t have to be sitting at the piano to sharpen your skills. Below, piano teacher Ryan C. shares five off-bench piano exercises that will help transform your piano playing for the better…

Playing the piano is a very physical activity, and like any physical activity, stretching plays an important role in keeping your muscles flexible and at their prime.

Not only this, but as any practiced pianist knows, the intense mental focus required for a good practice tends to make your body feel tired after a while.

In the article below, I’ll be outlining a few off-bench piano exercises and stretches that will help increase your flexibility and activate your muscles prior to playing.

Some of them are good for your full-body and mental health. Throughout all of these piano exercises, be sure not to over-stretch. Instead, only do as much as feels comfortable without strain.

5 Off-Bench Piano Exercises to Try

1. Arms Out, Palms Up

Simply put your arms out horizontally to your sides and slowly pull your fingers down toward the ground. You should feel this immediately in the muscles surrounding your elbow.

If you don’t feel it, try slowly lifting your arms up and stretching your fingers downwards. I love this piano exercise and do it fairly consistently. It also looks hilarious to anyone watching because it doesn’t look like you’re actually doing anything.

2. Extend Arm Forward, Pull Back on Finger Tips

Place one arm in front of your body with your palm down, take your other hand and grab the fingertips of the extended hand, then slowly stretch your fingers toward the sky.

This stretch helps increase flexibility of the forearm below the wrist on the palm-side. Repeat for both hands.

This piano exercise is similar to the “Arms Out, Palms Up,” but works different muscles. Rather than stretching the elbow and lower forearm, this exercise stretches the upper forearm.

3. Go Swimming

Seriously, this is probably one of the best exercises a pianist can do. Not everyone has access to a pool, but if you do, (and have a few extra dollars laying around), pick up a buoy.

You can use the buoy to make your legs float and focus solely on swimming with your arms. This is excellent for stretching your arms out before or after some intense piano playing.

Swimming works nearly all upper-body muscles, which makes it ideal for pianists. Additionally, a great workout may substantially increase your ability to learn faster. Check out this article for some insight.

4. Try Rock Climbing (Every Once in a While)

Rock climbing is really great for building strong hands and fingers. This is especially important for composers, like Brahms, who often composed music with big chords, octaves, and so on.

A few of my friends at school rock climb consistently and have incredibly strong fingers, which works great for some of the pieces they’re playing. However, rock climbing does cause your forearms and hands to get really tight for about a day afterwards.

If you’re going to start rock climbing to try to build your finger strength, I recommend you only go once, maybe twice per week at most. Anything beyond that becomes counter-productive and results in tight and fatigued forearm and hand muscles.

5. Finger Tips of Both Hands Together

Curve your hands and connect them fingertip to fingertip around an imaginary grapefruit (or softball, baseball, etc.) depending on your hand size. Apply very slight pressure to each fingertip and force your first knuckle to remain firm and not collapse.

Slowly lift one fingertip at a time (for instance, lift both your 2nd fingers off each other) then reconnect them to each other. Feel the pressure on each fingertip.

Repeat this process for every finger on your hand, and eventually start doing two non-consecutive fingers at a time.

This piano exercise is tricky and takes some practice, but the main goal here is to activate the muscles of the hand prior to playing. It’s actually a really great warm up too!

Your Turn!

These piano exercises and stretches are designed to help you warm up or recover from some serious piano practicing. I hope that they help you as much as they’ve helped me!

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions / comments, please feel free to post them below and I’ll respond as soon as I see them!

Photo via Pawel Loj

Post Author: Ryan C.
Ryan C. teaches piano, ear training, and music theory. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a B.M. in piano performance. Learn more about Ryan here!

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Feeling Bored? 3 Ways to Stay Motivated at the Piano

Are you getting bored or perhaps discouraged with playing the piano? In this week’s guest post, Allysia from PianoTV.net shares three ways to stay motivated at the piano…

We all know the drill with motivation. You listen to a great recording or live performance, and are filled with energy and enthusiasm. You rush to the piano and happily practice every day for a week, a month, or even longer.

But then maybe you get bored, or hit a rough patch, and suddenly you can barely drag yourself over to the piano. Practice seems like a chore, not a joy. Waxing and waning motivation is something that all musicians struggle with.

In today’s PianoTV episode, I wanted to sit down and chat about some solutions on how to stay motivated at the piano. Below are my top three tips for staying motivated. To catch the other five, check out the video below.

1. Find Inspiration

I’m inspired to play music by many things. One of them is probably pretty obvious, but worth saying: Listening to music. There are a few key albums that always fuel me up and leave me eager to get playing.

These albums and musical inspirations are different for everyone, so it’s worth taking note of those truly amazing albums that you  love. That way, if you’re in a slump, you can pull out the album or whatever it is, and remember why you love music in the first place.

Sometimes listening to a radio station is enough to fire me up. I hear a really awesome song, and suddenly I want to run over to the piano and play awesome songs.

But for musical motivation, I think it’s essential to listen to music on the regular, in whatever format you prefer. If you’re learning music, you have to immerse yourself in music to feed the fire.

2. Keep it Fun

Staying motivated at the piano means having fun while you’re there. If you hate doing something, it doesn’t matter how much inspiration you find – you still won’t want to do it. And if practicing is dull and painful, then you have to adjust it to feel fun and rewarding.

Yes, practicing piano is hard work. It’s a lot like exercising. You have to find a way to do it that you enjoy, or else it’ll never stick. For example, I absolutely hate jogging and lifting weights, but I love yoga.

Sometimes the last thing I want to do is hop on my yoga mat, but I’m always glad I did once I do it. Practicing piano can sometimes feel like that – you’re not always going to be happy-dancing to the bench, but once you get going, it should be enjoyable.

3. Build a Daily Routine

Sometimes staying motivated at the piano is simply building it into a habit. If I don’t exercise at least every weekday, I lose steam and fall of the bandwagon completely. It’s an all-or-nothing thing for me. I can’t just do it a few times a week, I need to do it every day.

Beyond that, I need to exercise at the same general time each day (late morning). I do the same thing with piano. If you aren’t practicing daily at more or less the same time each day, you’re working against yourself.

Building specific habits make it much easier to maintain a steady stream of motivation. Without habits, getting yourself to do something challenging (like play piano) can feel like swimming upstream, and on days when you’re not feeling too strong, you’ll probably abandon it entirely.

But habits allow you to run on auto-pilot. If it’s a built-in part of your day, you don’t need a lot of momentum to practice. You just do it.

Your Turn!

Good luck with your piano practicing adventures! If you enjoyed this post/video, you might enjoy my 32-page e-book titled, “How To Practice Piano (and like it!)”. You can find that on the PianoTV website.

Guest Post Author: Allysia K.
Allysia is an experienced piano teacher and creator of PianoTV.net. She’s been teaching piano to all ages and levels since 2005. Learn more about Allysia and PianoTV.net here.

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MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

So your son or daughter has just started music lessons. You’ve found a kind, knowledgeable teacher, set up a practice space, and bought an instrument.

There comes a point in time, however, when your son or daughter simply doesn’t feel like practicing.

To help you avoid endless fights and keep you from pulling your hair out, we’ve put together this collection of strategies from music teachers, bloggers, and child psychologists to help you motivate your child to practice.


Treat Music Like a Different Subject

Think back to when you were in school. You had your academic classes and your after-school activities. You knew your daily routine: Math, English, Science, etc. Then after school: piles of endless homework!

With so many different subjects, it’s no wonder adding time to practice music can seem like a burden to a kid. That’s where you come in — you can help shift your child’s mindset!

Rather than treating music like any other subject, create a distinction so your child sees music as something he or she wants to do. The best way to shift your child’s mindset is to let him or her play an instrument they’re actually interested in.

“If you want your child to be motivated to play an instrument, music needs to be different than other educational subjects,” says Bobby K. from Guitar Chalk. “Your child shouldn’t see music as a forced discipline, like Math or Geography. This ultimately comes down to choosing the right instrument, which is going to be the one the child is excited about and wants to play on his or her own.

“For me, that was the guitar, which had me practicing (voluntarily) three to four hours a day at 11 years old. That couldn’t have happened with piano because piano wasn’t “my” instrument. It was just another subject. But guitar was different in that it felt like play, not school work. Getting your child into a similar situation, where their instrument doesn’t feel like just another school subject, is absolutely critical. If it’s not happening, that might be a signal that it’s time to switch instruments.”

This also means you may need to be flexible. While it can be expensive to allow a child to start and stop several different activities, try to work with him or her to find one he or she enjoys and is intrinsically motivated to practice.


Put Your Child in Control

It’s no secret that when we’re told to do something, we don’t always want to do it. During the course of a day, there are several different people (parents, teachers, older siblings, coaches) telling kids what to do. Add music to that list and it’s no wonder motivation seems to dwindle!

Combat this problem by putting your child in control. Let him or her determine the practice schedule, that way they’re more likely to stick to it.

“Kids hear adults tell them what to do all the time; to catch their attention, let them plan their own practice schedule,”  says Nicole Weiss, LCSW Psychotherapist and Coach. “Start with the end in mind. Basically, you want to get your child to make the decision that he or she needs to practice so that he or she can play the way he or she wants to play. After the decision is made, the parent can help the child research and figure out how often a good musician practices. The child then sets a schedule based on the reality that, to be good, one must practice.”

Not only will this allow your child to feel a sense of control, it will also help him or her to learn the value of practice.

“The child makes the schedule, then the parent reinforces it,” Weiss says. “I’m sure many parents reading this would say…’yeah but will they do that day to day?’ That’s where you come in — but you have more weight in your reminder. It was the child’s desire to make the goal. Additionally, the reward should be for accomplishing little goals. For example: ‘practice every night this week and we can download that song you want.’ Reward the work.”

More: Motivate Your Child to Practice With a Reward System


Help Your Child Understand the Gift of Music

Show your child that playing a musical instrument is a special privilege and an opportunity that isn’t necessarily available to everyone. Teach your child to appreciate music and all it has to offer. Help them discover that music can enhance their life.

“I believe that we’re here in this world to do great things with the gift of our lives, and we’re here to serve others,” says Heather F. from Music for Young Violinists. “Learning to play [the violin] helps us in both of these areas — we’re drawn up into a level of greatness through the discipline required to study this art form, and in this process, we cultivate a gift that we can share with others.”

This also includes helping your child develop a love for music. Take them to concerts or shows, play music at home, and help them discover what they like.

Many adults wish they had stuck with a hobby or endeavor they started as a child, like playing a musical instrument. While this can be a difficult concept for young kids to grasp, teaching them to appreciate music can help them understand why practice is important.

According to this article from MusicTeachersHelper on motivating students to practice, “…I can’t count how many times I’ve heard adults say to me, ‘I quit taking piano when I was young and it was such a mistake. I wish I could go back and take lessons again.’ Parents can help children know the value that musical talent brings to society.”


Don’t Make Practice an Obligation

This one may seem a bit counterintuitive, right? After all, you’ve invested the money in an instrument and lessons, and you want your child to make the most of it. Plus, if your son or daughter wants to be good, he or she needs to practice!

The key here is to not make practice seem like an obligation, as compared to other fun activities. For example, if your son or daughter loves to play video games or play outside, don’t allow him or her to do this until after completing practice.

Using a fun activity as a reward will create the mindset that practice is the obligation that stands in the way of the fun activity, and this could create resentment or dread for practice.

As Why We Teach Piano suggests, “Don’t set an arbitrary amount of practice time, without specific goals, and then reward them with playtime or video games afterwards. This just reinforces the notion that playing piano is not fun and video games are fun.”


Plan Performances

When it comes to any sport, hobby, or endeavor, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The same thing applies when it comes to your child learning an instrument; your son or daughter has to have a goal in sight, otherwise, he or she may question the need to practice.

“If you want to keep students engaged and excited about their music education, make sure they’re performing consistently throughout the year,” says Anthony M. founder and author of The Music Parents’ Guide. “There are other profound effects on more scheduled performances for all school programs, as well. We, as parents and teachers, need to foster a growing curiosity and even an excitement about music in our children’s lives. Consistent performances are the best way to do this and continue to motivate our children.”

Not only do performances help to increase excitement, they also work to hold children accountable. Ask any music teacher — even the most unmotivated student will be more likely to practice if it means avoiding embarrassment at a recital!


Let Your Child Choose

Just because you loved playing piano as a kid doesn’t mean your child will love playing just as much. Your child may have other interests, and it’s important to allow him or her to explore different endeavors.

“First of all, I think it’s critical that the child choose the instrument they’re going to learn,” says Matt T. from Unlock the Guitar. “I’m a guitarist, and I’d love nothing more than my son to be interested in learning guitar, but he’s undeniably drawn to the piano. Plus, if an instrument is thrust upon them, practicing it will also be thrust upon them. Letting the child choose the instrument turns this on its head, and into your favor, even if they didn’t choose the instrument you would have liked them to play.”


Be Their Cheerleader

Let your child know you’re his or her biggest fan, especially early on when your child may feel frustrated or discouraged.

Eighty-eight notes school of music suggests listening to your child at home as often as you can and making encouraging remarks about their progress. Also, make sure to ask them how their lessons went.

Take a genuine interest in your child’s musical journey. Your son or daughter will be excited to play for you and show off new skills!


Help Them Engage With Music

Your child is more likely to practice music if he or she feels connected to the process. Help your son or daughter develop an interest and curiosity for music.

To help your child stay engaged, become a part of the process. Whatever you can do to get involved is likely to increase their interest and motivation.

“Motivating your child by reward or punishment will stop working very quickly; instead, help your child get curious about music and develop an inner desire to engage with music,” says Jonas G., the founder of flowkey.”Let your child play around with different instruments. Listen to music and sing together. Your child will naturally want to imitate you, so a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents engage with music themselves.”


Create Challenges

Rather than telling your child to practice, help him or her set specific goals and challenges. This will help them progress faster because they’ll work on accomplishing specific tasks or mastering particular skills. This idea can be applied to any instrument.

Practiceopedia author and practice expert, Philip J., has a completely different take: “Don’t ask your kids to ‘practice’ — they won’t know what to do. Instead, give them bite-sized, clear challenges to complete: (1) Work out a fingering for measures 24-35 (2) Gradually speed up section B to 85bpm. (3) Be able to play the left hand of the coda from memory.”

Having trouble coming up with the right challenge? Check out Phillip’s website, thebootcampedition.com, for a huge collection.


Celebrate ALL Accomplishments

Learning to play an instrument is a long journey full of peaks, valleys, and plateaus. While you’ll definitely be proud when you watch your child perform, it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way.

While verbal praise is important, you may also want to create another way to celebrate achievements; familyshare recommends keeping a journal of your child’s accomplishments. When you put it in writing, you’re less likely to forget. If journaling isn’t your thing, you can keep a white board on the fridge, or make a chart that you can display in the house!

Celebrating the little victories will help your child keep a positive attitude when they’re struggling or having difficulty tackling a new concept or song.


Let Them Play Music They Like

While there are always certain signature songs and classics for various instruments, your child will lose interest if he or she doesn’t like the music they’re playing.

Work with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is playing some music they truly enjoy.

According to the Academy of Music and Dance, “As children get to be around 10 years old, sometimes younger, they start to develop preferences for musical style, largely influenced by radio, TV, and whatever they’re most exposed to at home. They will also typically gravitate to whatever their friends are listening to, especially for boys at around age 13 and girls around age 11.”

Use this as a motivational strategy; allow your son or daughter to play at least one familiar song as part of their weekly routine.


Make Practice Fun

This should come as no surprise — no one wants to practice when it’s boring! Incorporate fun games, activities, and challenges, and your child will look forward to practice!

According to PianoDiscoveries, “appropriate goals and positive reinforcement will make practicing fun and rewarding. Very few children are self-motivated in their practice. Most need incentives and reminders to keep them focused and moving forward.”

Ask your child’s music teacher for some creative ways to make practice more fun!


Find the Right Teacher

This brings us to our last strategy and one of the most important: find the right teacher! Although practice is done outside of lessons, if your child connects with his or her teacher, they’re much more likely to practice on their own time.

According to Music Central,”…finding the right teacher will make or break the whole experience. Don’t be afraid to try a new teacher if your child isn’t connecting. The best teachers are usually the ones who not only teach, but know how to be a good friend and mentor to your child.”

Find a teacher who understands your child’s learning style, and a person who’s able to teach concepts in a way that keeps your child interested. When your son or daughter likes his or her teacher, they’ll be more willing to take direction and practice consistently.

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Which of these strategies have been successful for you? Do you have other methods that you use to motivate your child? Let us know in the comments below!

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MO - Top YouTube Piano Channels for Learning Piano

Top YouTube Piano Channels for Learning Piano

MO - Top YouTube Piano Channels for Learning Piano

If you’re looking to supplement your piano lessons, then YouTube is a great option. There are tons of piano tutorials that you can browse through when you’re feeling stuck on a particular skill or simply want to learn a new song.

While these YouTube piano tutorials won’t entirely replace an experienced piano teacher, they do a great job answering any questions you may have in between lessons. Below are our favorite YouTube piano channels.

These piano YouTube channels featured high-quality videos that cover a wide range of topics, from piano fingering to piano scales and more. Check them out below!

Top YouTube Piano Channels for Learning Piano

1. Piano TV

Hosted by experienced piano teacher Allysia, pianoTV is filled with quality-produced piano tutorials.

In addition to piano tutorials, the piano YouTube channel features informational videos on different piano styles and composers.

Click on the “Popular Uploads” tab to browse through some of her most popular videos.

2. Piano Video Lessons

Do you want to learn some new pop songs? PianoVideoLessons is a great channel for beginners who want to learn popular piano songs without reading music.

The easy-to-understand piano tutorials will teach you how to play today’s biggest hits from artists like Adele, Taylor Swift, and more!

3. HDpiano

Using game-like software, HDpiano helps users learn today’s most popular songs from artists like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith.

Need some practice tips? The piano YouTube channel also has a series of videos containing expert practice tips.

4. Piano in 21 Days

Developed by Jacques, Piano in 21 Days is dedicated to teaching students how to play popular songs on the piano.

In addition to piano covers, the popular YouTube piano channel features a series of piano chord videos that will help you learn both major and minor chords.

5. Living Pianos Videos

Created by concert pianist Robert Estrin, LivingPianosVideos has some great piano tutorials for all ages and skill levels.

The channel features an abundance of videos on memorizing music, mastering piano techniques, and practicing chords.

6. Hoffman Academy

If you’re a true beginner then Hoffman Academy is perfect for you.

The YouTube piano channel offers an array of videos that walk users step-by-step through different piano concepts, such as dynamics, intervals, and more.

7. Pianist Magazine

From the creators of Pianist Magazine, this piano YouTube channel has a series of videos geared toward all different levels.

If you’re a beginner, for example, the channel has a number of videos focused on the basics, such as slurs, rhythm, and sight-reading.

Check Them Out!

Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate student, these YouTube piano channels feature videos for every level.

Tell us… what’s your favorite piano YouTube channel? Or do you have a channel of your own? Sound off in the comment section below.

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MO - The Ultimate Piano Playlist for Spring

The Ultimate Piano Playlist for Spring [Audio]

MO - The Ultimate Piano Playlist for Spring

Do you have spring fever? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares her favorite piano playlist that will get you in the mood for springtime…

Spring is a great time to get inspired after a long, cold winter and learn some new piano songs. The piano is a beautiful instrument that does a great job of capturing spring’s musical elements.

Whether you’re looking for some fresh piano songs to add to your repertoire or you simply want to kick back and relax, this springtime piano playlist will surely inspire you.

Springtime’s Ultimate Piano Playlist

1. It Might as Well be Spring: Composed by (Oscar Hammerstein II – Richard Rodgers)

2. Spring is Here: Bill Evans

3.  Younger Than Springtime: Composed by (Oscar Hammerstein II – Richard Rodgers)

4. Waters of March:  Antonio Carlos Jobim

5. Someday My Prince Will Come:  Snow White

6. April in Paris: Bill Evans

7. Edelweiss:  The Sound of Music

8. Sunshine on My shoulders: John Denver

9. Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Pete Seger

10. Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

11. Sibelius’s Spring Song

12. Walking on Sunshine: Katrina and the Waves

13. If You Steal My Sunshine: Len

14. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Harold Arlen

15. Rainbow Connection: The Muppet Movie

All of the songs featured on this piano playlist incorporate springtime lyrics and joyous melodies that are appropriate to play at any springtime occasion. These songs can also be made into piano arrangements and accompaniment.

If you would like to further develop your piano repertoire for spring, speak with your piano teacher!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

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famous piano players

10 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players [Infographic]

If you’re learning how to play piano, chances are you’ve come across the works of famous piano players, such as Rachmaninov, Beethoven, and Chopin.

But do you know anything about these famous pianists?

Sure these famous piano players wrote and performed some of the most well-known classical music pieces, but their personal lives are equally just as colorful.

For example, did you know that Rachmaninov had enormous hands? Or that Beethoven went deaf at the age of 25?

Check out the infographic below to learn some more interesting facts about the world’s most famous pianists from different eras.

famous piano players

 

10 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players

1. Sergei Rachmaninov

Rachmaninov is described by many as a brilliant pianist, conductor, and composer.

It’s no wonder Rachmaninov was such a talented piano player, as it’s rumored that he had enormous hands that could span 12 piano keys.

2. Ludwig van Beethoven

Virtuoso pianist and talented composer, Beethoven composed dozens of famous concertos that have withstood the test of time.

He was known for improvising, but at the early age of 25 he lost his hearing, which caused him to hear constant buzzing.

3. Franz Liszt

19th century Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist, Liszt was known for his intense performances.

Much like the Beatles, Liszt had thousands of devoted fans who would turn hysterical during his performances.

4. Frédéric Chopin

One of the most celebrated pianists, Chopin has contributed many significant works.

Those who saw Chopin perform were extraordinary lucky, as the legendary pianist only gave 30 public performances during his entire lifetime.

5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Who doesn’t think of classical music when they hear the name “Mozart”? While he might have been known for his musicality, Mozart was also famous for his toilet humor.

6. Franz Schubert

While Schubert had a short career, he made an astounding contribution to classical music, having written more than 20,000 bars of music.

Standing at a mere five foot one, Schubert was given the nickname “Schwammerl,” which means little mushroom.

7. Arthur Rubinstein

With remarkable technique and musical logic, Rubinstein was beloved all over the world.

He had the reputation of being a grand storyteller, and was also fluent in eight languages, including English, Polish, Russian, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

8. Glenn Gould

Known for his interpretations of Bach, Gould lived a very eccentric life. He was a hypochondriac with obsessive personality traits.

For example, he wore gloves and an overcoat no matter the temperature. He also insisted on performing on the same chair throughout his entire career.

9. Vladimir Horowitz

Considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Horowitz was best known for his performance of works during the Romantic era.

Horowitz’s father believed in his talent so much that he changed his age on his certificate so that he wouldn’t be enlisted in military service.

10. Claudio Arrau

Known for his interpretations of Beethoven, Arrau was a child prodigy. In fact, he could read music before he could read words.

These are just a few interesting facts about the world’s most famous piano players. Now that you know some piano trivia, share your new knowledge with your friends or piano teacher.

Did we miss any fun facts about your favorite famous piano players? Tell us in the comment sections below!

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MO - Top 7 Piano Myths Busted

True or False? Top 7 Piano Myths…Busted!

MO - True or False Top 7 Piano Myths Busted

There are a lot of myths about learning how to play the piano. In this week’s guest post, our friends from OnlinePianist.com dispel the seven most common myths about playing the piano… 

One way to understand how valuable or how popular something is to our society is to understand the fallacies and myths surrounding it.

Quite often, the more famous something is the more stories and pseudo-intellectual facts there happens to be about it.

The piano it seems is not immune to these elaborate false truths. In fact, there are bucket loads of myths.

We have come up with the 7 most famous myths surrounding the piano… and have officially busted them all!

Myth 1: “Children learn faster than adults.”

Not so fast, young grasshopper.

This one sounds like a doozy, except that it’s not true–at least not true enough. You see, according to scientific research, there is actually no discernible difference in terms of learning the piano between children and adults.

So no more excuses saying you “didn’t learn it when you were young so it’s too late now.” What may be true is that a child is less burdened by the stresses of life and thus tends to have less mental clutter.

As a result, when you can finally get them to sit down for more than two minutes without fidgeting, they can more easily focus their ability on learning music. This creates the illusion that children absorb new material faster than adults.

However, unlike adults, children often lack desire and motivation to play, treating piano playing as a chore rather than a pleasure. Thus, it’s this difference in attitude that makes all the difference between adults and kids.

Myth 2: “Long sessions of practice time are best.”

Must. Practice. Piano. And. Not. Move.

We have no idea who started this rumor. Perhaps it was mother goose who just wanted a breather. Probably not. In any case, we all have experienced some degree of psychataxia–or in common-folk language, a disordered mental state with confusion and inability to concentrate–while playing the piano.

The reason is that after about 15 minutes of an activity, the average person becomes mentally fatigued. Therefore, it is actually advisable, contrary to popular belief, to practice for shorter lengths of time rather than a never-ending marathon.

Short bursts of concentration repeated frequently are much more effective and produce optimal results rather than one long session. So, even if you only have 10 minutes to learn piano online, DO IT.

Myth 3: “I should never write in the sheet music.”

Uh…most of the time notes are good.

We understand that many centuries ago, paper was a rare commodity in the form of papyrus. However, we’re quite sure this myth came about long after paper became widely used.

Perhaps it was for the sake of the environment in order to get everyone to use the same piece of paper? Perhaps not. While writing on sheet music may make it look messy, as long as it’s intended for you, you should do what helps you learn best.

After all,  it’s better to have some cranky old lady frowning at your scribbled notes, than to forget the proper fingering at the time of a recital.

Plus, the notes will help drill the information into your brain faster, meaning that you won’t even be needing the doodled notes for very long anyway.

Check out “7 Piano Myths . . . Busted” to read the remaining four myths. 

Guest Post Author: OnlinePianist
OnlinePianist is the only animated online piano tutorial. Here you can find the biggest collection of free piano lessons. The site includes free piano sheet music and notes, piano chords table, lyrics and hundreds of piano songs.

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MO - 5 New (and Fun) Piano Practice Warm-Up Routines

5 New (and Fun) Piano Practice Warm-Up Routines

MO - 5 New (and Fun) Piano Practice Warm-Up Routines

Are you in search of some new piano practice warm-up routines? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares some fun piano practice warm-ups you can try before your next practice…

You wouldn’t go for an hour-long run before properly warming up. So, why wouldn’t you warm-up before an hour-long piano practice session or lesson?

No matter what instrument you play,  it’s extremely important that you go through a series of warm-ups before you start playing.

In this post, we will discuss why you should take the time to warm-up before your piano lesson, as well as some fun warm-up exercises you can try.

Why is it Important to Warm-Up Before Piano Practice?

  •  Prevents harmful injuries

Just like an athlete stretches before practice, pianists must also stretch their fingers, wrists, hands, arms, shoulders, and elbows before playing extensively.

If you forget to warm-up your muscles, you could end up with a painful injury (i.e. carpal tunnel, tendinitis, arthritis, etc) that could take you out of the game for weeks, or worse, months!

  • Repetitive muscle memory

Your fingers, wrists, and hands must be accustomed to the different motions you use while playing. If you haven’t practiced the piano for some time, the motions may feel very strange and awkward.

Warming up will help get your muscles accustomed to playing fast and slow tempos, long and short phrases, and challenging melodic patterns, or chord changes/inversions.

  • Improves ear training and harmony

As a pianist, you must be aware of music theory and be able to analyze what you’re playing. Warming up with scales and chord progressions are a great way to start training your ear.

The more you warm-up with different scales and chords on a regular basis, the better your knowledge of music theory will become.

5 Fun Piano Practice Warm-Up Exercises

1. Sing along with intervals

When warming up with intervals, try singing along to a familiar song. From Ascending to Descending, there are many songs that you may already know.

Singing these songs while you practice and recognizing intervals on the keys will help. Below are some examples:

  • Minor 2nd Ascending: Jaws, Pink Panther, White Christmas.
  • Minor 2nd Descending: Fur Elise, O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, Jurassic Park.
  • Major 2nd Ascending: Happy Birthday, Silent Night, Frere Jacques.
  • Major 2nd Descending: Mary Had a Little Lamb, The First Noel.
  • Minor 3rd Ascending: So Long Farewell (Sound of Music), Lullaby (Brahms), The Impossible Dream (Man of La Mancha)
  • Minor 3rd Descending: This Old Man, Jesus Loves Me, Misty.
  • Major 3rd Ascending: Saints Go Marching In, Morning Has Broken, Kumbaya.
  • Major 3rd Descending: Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Summertime, Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me.
  • Perfect 4th Ascending: Here Comes the Bride, Amazing Grace, Auld lang syne
  • Perfect 4th Descending: O Come All Ye Faithful, George of the Jungle, Hallelujah from the Messiah.

2.  Chromatics

With a partner,  practice the Chromatic scale, ascending and descending in different keys. While your partner closes his or her eyes, play the scale, skipping a note of your choosing.

Your partner will  have to guess which interval/note you were playing. Do this multiple times, skipping different notes. Then switch positions and have your partner challenge you.

3. Major/Minor

With a friend or your piano teacher, create  your own bingo/roll the dice game. On the board game, label pictures of the major and minor scales and chords without it’s scale name.

You will then have to recognize which scale or chord it is, and play it on the piano. Challenge yourself with both major and minor scales, and then reward yourself with something fun like stickers, candy or trading cards!

4. Rhythmic

Create your own rhythms first by clapping, and then playing them on a single note on the piano. For instance, “two eight notes, then a whole night, then a four sixteenth notes.”

Then grab yourself some staff paper, and divide bar lines, and transcribe what comes to your ear. Once you’ve created a short 8 bar rhythm, play the whole rhythm. Then add a specific melody, and you’ve got yourself an original song!

5. Favorite song

Pick a song you know well, perhaps a song that you’ve performed before. Some of my favorites in the past have included, Fur Elise, Prelude to the Well-Tempered Clavichord, The Entertainer, and The Piano Man.

Use this song as your mantra or meditation before and after your piano practice. Analyze the song by envisioning the chords, inversions, voicings, melodic and rhythmic patterns, scales, and modes.

Pay attention to the dynamics and tempo markings in the form of the song. Once you have analyzed your favorite piece, challenge yourself to memorize the piece measure by measure.

Then once you feel comfortable, play the entire song each practice session by memory. This will not only help you keep up with your theory, but also with your performance skills.

Now It’s Your Turn!

I hope you will find these piano practice warm-up exercises fun and useful! Next time you have a few minutes before your practice session, try one of these exercises.

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Photo by Tulane Public Relations

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