Siz Destructive Beliefs

6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Siz Destructive Beliefs

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…


Mind Over Matter

Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.

Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.

Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good

As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them


1) “If only I had…”

We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.

Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.

But life doesn’t work like this.

Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.

Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.

Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.

Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?

Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”

Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.

Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.

Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?

Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”

It’s not easy failing, is it?

That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.

It’s terrifying.

We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”

But we do it anyway.

And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”

We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.

What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.

Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.

What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.

Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”

Jealousy is a strong emotion.

When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.

Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.

The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.

These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

ElizabethKanePost Author: Elizabeth Kane
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves helping parents get the music education their child deserves. She is the creator of Practice for Parents, where she discusses what to look for in a music teacher, why kids really hate practicing, and what parents can do to guarantee their child’s success.

Photo by Alex Masters


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thanksgiving songs for kids

10 Thanksgiving Piano Songs Kids Will Gobble Up

thanksgiving songs for kids

Are you looking for some Thanksgiving songs for kids? Below, piano teacher Alicia B. shares 10 yummy turkey tunes kids will love playing…

Whether it’s playing for friends and family around the table or at a school holiday party, Thanksgiving is an excellent time for beginner piano players to demonstrate their skills to a welcoming crowd.

Below are 10 Thanksgiving songs for kids. These piano songs vary by level and style, so there’s something for everyone.

1. Five Fat Turkeys Are We: Primer level

Veteran piano teacher and university professor, Gilbert De Benedetti compiles several arranged and original holiday-themed songs, including this primer-level piece, “Five Fat Turkeys Are We.”

It’s a great Thanksgiving song for kids, as it has kid-humor lyrics. For example, “Five fat turkeys are we, we slept all night in a tree, when the cook came round, we couldn’t be found, so that’s why we’re here you see!”

Find this and other free music at

2. Hurray, Thanksgiving Day!: Pre-reading level

Educator, Susan Paradis wrote this Thanksgiving song for kids as part of her teaching resources blog, which focuses on the pre-reading level.

It’s a great easy piano piece your beginners can learn in a day. The song even has lyrics for the cousin choir. Find this free piano piece on

3. Simple Gifts: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Originally a Shaker hymn (other interpretations include it as a dance song), “Simple Gifts,” is an American folk tune written by Joseph Brackett.

The piano song’s tone of wistful Americana makes it ideal for this time of year.

Many classical fans have heard the song as part of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” and today it’s used for several movies and television holiday specials.

4. Turkey in the Straw: Beginner, Intermediate

The American folk song, “Turkey in the Straw” dates back to the early 1800s and is comprised of themes from other countries, such as Ireland.

Given its steady eighth-note feel, it was originally popularized as a fiddle tune, but is now enjoyed by all instrumentations.

Find a version of “Turkey in the Straw” for piano players on

5. We Gather Together: Intermediate, Beginner

This hymn was originally taken from a Dutch folk tune. Composer, Adrianus Valerius added lyrics to commemorate the victory over the Spanish in the Battle of Turnhout.

In current day, the piano song is often heard around the Thanksgiving holiday, as its title and lyrics suggest a time to join and reflect on the year’s blessings.

The 3/4 time signature and dotted quarter note pattern is a great warm up for “Silent Night,” which shares a similar structure.

You can find Andrew Fling’s arrangement of this tune on

6. Thanksgiving Theme (A Charlie Brown Christmas): Advanced, Intermediate

Pianist and composer, Vince Guaraldi made an indelible mark on American culture when he composed a series of jazz-inspired pieces to accompany Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang for the 1965 television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Since that time, the laid-back jazzy tunes have become a staple of the holiday season, and “Thanksgiving Theme” is a wonderful example.

Its driving 3/4 time signature and cascading triplets beautifully juxtapose the busyness of the season and the beauty of falling snow.

This piece is available for purchase in many Charlie Brown songbook collections.

7. Teacher’s Pet  (School of Rock, The Musical): Intermediate

Now coming to Broadway, School of Rock (originally a 2005 movie starring Jack Black) inspired a generation of kids to get involved in music education through high-energy classic rock and soul music.

The upcoming Broadway cast is performing at the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which should inspire and invigorate your young pianists, as the cast is comprised of actual child musicians – and even features a rockin’ keyboard solo!

8. Autumn Leaves: Intermediate, Advanced

Well-known jazz standard, “Autumn Leaves” began as the 1945 French song, “Les feuilles mortes” (The Dead Leaves) by Joseph Kosma.

It was only after American songwriter Johnny Mercer added English lyrics in 1947, did it gain popularity as a pop and jazz standard.

It’s now often used as a teaching tool for beginner jazz pianists, as it illustrates a ii-V-i (2-5-1) chord progression pattern, a pivotal concept in many jazz standards and improvisation.

9. Largo and Scherzo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony: Intermediate, Beginner

Highly celebrated Bohemian (now Czech Republic) composer, Antonin Dvorak had always been influenced by his geographic surroundings.

It is of no surprise, therefore, that when he moved to the U.S. in 1892 he wrote his impressions in his 9th symphony, commonly known as the “New World” Symphony.

The Largo movement is a solemn march that takes direct influence from African American spirituals and Native American intervals and rhythms in the Scherzo.

Find a version of the Largo movement on

10. Mashed Potatoes U.S.A.: Beginner, Intermediate

This early James Brown classic is basically a rhythm and blues jam in which Brown lists every one of his favorite cities.

The song’s driving groove is perfect for the cooking mood and it’s a great way to practice some blues improvisation. Encourage your guests to chime in with the city in which they’re visiting, while giving shout-outs to their favorite side dish.

You can find a recording of this song, and many blues backing tracks to practice with on YouTube.

These Thanksgiving piano songs for kids will keep your pumpkin pi(e)anists practicing until Black Friday! Happy Thanksgiving and have a musically merry holiday season!

Untitled design 66Post Author: Alicia B.
Alicia B. teaches piano, violin, music performance, and more. She is a graduate of Miami’s Public Arts Programs, including Coral Reef Senior High and the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. Alicia has over 15+ years of musical experience. Learn more about Alicia here!

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piano solos

15 Easy Piano Solos That Sound Hard

piano solos

Do you want to impress your friends and family with your new piano skills? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares 15 piano solos that sound hard, but are actually fairly easy to learn…

Are you a beginner piano player looking for some new and fun piano solos to learn? If you answered “yes,” then you’ve come to the right place.

Chances are you’re eager to show off your skills with some popular piano songs. The good news is there are tons of easy piano solos out there that sound hard, but are actually pretty easy to play.

From piano pop songs to old classics, below are 15 of the best piano solos you can play if you want to impress your audience.

15 Easy Piano Solos That Sound Impressive

While these piano solos might not sound like beginner songs, they are fairly easy to master with some practice.

Browse through these 15 best piano solos and choose a few that grab your attention. Watching the videos is a great way to get a feel for each song.

1. All I Ask of You: Phantom of the Opera

This gorgeous theme song from the musical “Phantom of the Opera” composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber is a classic love song that will surely wow your audience. This great piano solo can be performed with or without vocalists.

2. Piano Man: Billy Joel

If you’re a pianist and a singer, this is a great song to practice both your piano skills and your vocals. Your audience will be impressed with how you can channel your inner Billy Joel with this classic piano pop song.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody: Queen

Looking for a rock solo to add to your repertoire? This piano solo is great if you want to practice slow and fast tempos, and the use of dynamics. You can make this song as easy or as hard as you want.

4. Heart and Soul: Hoagy Carmichael

Whether you decide to play this song solo or as a duet, you’re sure to have a blast! It has a very fun, simple piano rhythm in the left hand, with a fun melody in the right hand.

5. Fur Elise: Beethoven

If you’re looking for a classical hit to wow your audience, try this piano solo. It’s great for practicing arpeggios and showing off your classical technique.

6. The Entertainer: Scott Joplin

A classic ragtime piece, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” is a great piano solo that will show off your fancy finger work. There are many modified piano versions out there, so find one that fits your skill set.

7. Cannon in D: Pachelbel

A beautiful classical piece, this piano solo is perfect for weddings or any other formal celebration. It’s also a great solo to practice easy chords, and a simple bass line.

8. Ave Maria: Schubert

This simple, but impressive ballad is great for practicing arpeggios and chords. Because the song pretty much keeps the same pattern throughout, you should be able to learn it in no time!

9. Prelude to the Well Tempered Clavichord: Bach

This is one of my personal favorites to play on the piano because it sounds difficult but is very easy to play. It’s also great for practicing dynamics.

10. All that Jazz: Chicago

This piano solo is a fun jazz piece that sounds fancy, but is easy to play. The bridge and ending will make your audience think that you can bring the house down.

11. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wizard of Oz

Audience members will surely shed a tear during your performance of this famous song. It’s the perfect piano solo to milk out long legato phrases, and sounds pretty in any key.

12. Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast

One of Disney’s most sensational piano pieces, this piano solo is an easy piece to embellish the melody, add trills, and chord inversions if you feel like making the song extra special.

13. My Heart Will Go On: Titanic

This Grammy award-winning song will captivate your audience’s heart. In this ballad, you can really capture emotion with just a few chords, and repeating melodic phrase.

14. New York, New York: Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s hit, New York, New York is a crowd favorite. You can really build up the chorus section, which the audience will go nuts over because they will want to sing along.

15. What a Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong

This piano solo will melt your audience to pieces. This is a great song if you want to work on conveying emotion through different peaks and climaxes, especially in the bridge section.

These are all great piano solos you can start practicing today. I recommend starting with the piano book, “More Popular Piano Solos – Levels 1-4: Hal Leonard Student Piano Library,” to help guide you.

If you need more expertise on performing these popular piano solos, work closely with your piano teacher.

Photo by Kevin Ohlin

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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piano pop songs

100 Piano Pop Songs Everyone Will Love

piano pop songs

Do you need a break from classical music? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares 100 piano pop songs you can add to your repertoire…

Are you sick of playing the same classical tunes over and over again? It may be time to spice up your piano playing by adding a few piano pop songs to the mix.

Whether you’re into pop rock or R&B, there are tons of popular pop songs you can learn on the piano.

Not only will learning piano pop songs help keep you interested, but it will also improve your performances.

Its common for piano players to get requests for pop songs. Learning a few piano pop songs will ensure that you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Below is a list of 100 piano pop songs that everyone will enjoy. The following songs are broken down into various categories for easy browsing.

Choose a few of your favorite songs to add to your repertoire. Please note that some of these piano pop songs are more difficult than others.

If you can’t play one, just move onto an easier one until you’ve sharped your skills.

Easy Piano Pop Songs for Kids

  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Bob Marley
  • Go the Distance: Hercules
  • Mmm Bop: Hanson
  • Let it Go:Frozen
  • Happy: Pharrell Williams
  • You’ll be in My Heart: Tarzan
  • Accidentally in Love: Sherk
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
  • A Whole New World: Aladdin
  • Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen
  • I See the Light: Tangled
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Judy Garland
  • The Rainbow Connection: Kermit the Frog
  • My Girl: Temptations
  • Circle of Life: The Lion King
  • I Got You Babe: Sonny and Cher
  • Kiss The Girl: The Little Mermaid
  • Do You Want to Build A Snowman?: Frozen
  • Wouldn’t It Be Nice: The Beach Boys
  • Reflection: Mulan
  • That’s How You Know: Enchanted
  • YMCA: Village People
  • Part of Your World: The Little Mermaid
  • The Medallion Calls: Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Piano Pop Songs for Teens

  • Get Lucky: Daft Punk
  • Sexy and I Know It: LMFAO
  • Thrift Shop: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • Clarity: Zedd
  • Born This Way:Lady Gaga
  • Thinking Out Loud: Ed Sheeran
  • Before He Cheats:Carrie Underwood
  • Boyfriend: Justin Beiber
  • Single Ladies: Beyonce
  • Party in the U.S.A: Miley Cyrus
  • California Girls: Katie Perry
  • Trouble: Taylor Swift
  • I Want It That Way:Backstreet Boys
  • Bye, Bye, Bye: NSYNC
  • Waterfalls: TLC
  • Wannabe: Spice Girls
  • Hit Me Baby One More Time: Britney Spears
  • Ain’t No Other Man: Christina Aguilera
  • Lady Marmalade: Moulin Rouge
  • I Believe I Can Fly: R. Kelly
  • Rehab: Amy Winehouse
  • Uptown Funk: Bruno Mars
  • Rolling in the Deep: Adele
  • Hey Ya: Outkast
  • Torn: Natalie Imbruglia
  • Wonderwall: Oasis
  • Hero: Mariah Carey
  • Respect: Aretha Franklin
  • Shake It Off: Taylor Swift

Piano Pop Songs for Adults

  • The Piano Man: Billy Joel
  • Bennie and the Jets: Elton John
  • Dancing Queen: Abba
  • Hey Jude:The Beatles
  • California Dreaming: The Mamma’s and The Papa’s
  • Roxanne: Sting
  • Superstitious: Stevie Wonder
  • River Deep, Mountain High: Tina Turner
  • Natural Woman: Carole King
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love: Elvis
  • American Pie: Don McLean
  • I Can’t Make You Love Me: Bonnie Raitt
  • What a Wonderful World: Ray Charles
  • Do You Think I’m Sexy: Rod Stewart
  • Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: U2
  • Hotel California: The Eagles
  • Crazy:Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline
  • I Will Always Love You: Dolly Parton
  • Moondance: Van Morrison
  • Knockin on Heaven’s Door: Bob Dylan
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water: Simon and Garfunkel
  • Last Dance: Donna Summers
  • Stairway to Heaven: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
  • Big Yellow Taxi: Joni Mitchell
  • Born in the U.S.A: Bruce Springsteen
  • My Heart will Go On: Celine Dion
  • Material Girl: Madonna
  • Time After Time: Cyndi Lauper
  • Stop! In the Name of Love: Diana Ross
  • Lanslide: Fleetwood Mac
  • Wind Beneath My Wings: Bette Midler
  • Don’t rain on my Parade: Barbra Streisand
  • Don’t Stop Believing: Journey
  • Sweet Caroline: Neil Diamond
  • Smooth Criminal: Michael Jackson
  • I’ve Had the Time of My Life: Dirty Dancing
  • I’ll Make Love to You: Boyz II men
  • Un-Break My Heart:Toni Braxton
  • Killing Me Softly: Roberta Flack
  • Ironic: Alanis Morrisette
  • Kiss From a Rose: Seal
  • Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Pat Benetar
  • I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones
  • At Last: Etta James
  • Sweet Child of Mine: Guns and Roses
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Livin on a Prayer: Bon Jovi

Where to Find Piano Pop Sheet Music

Now that you’ve browsed through the 100 piano pop songs, chances are you’re going to need some piano sheet music. Below are some great websites where you can find sheet music for all of the piano pop songs above.

  • Piano Play It: From pop to Disney, this website has great piano sheet music for kids and beginners. The best part is it’s free! Check out the website here.
  • This website has a ton of piano sheet music. You can browse through categories, such as “playalong jam tracks,” “most popular piano,” and more. Check out the website here.
  • OnlinePianist: This website also has a wide variety of piano pop sheet music. What’s great about this website is that it indicates whether a song is beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Check out the website here.

Expand your repertoire with these fun piano pop songs. If you need help learning new techniques and styles, ask your piano teacher for some help!

Photos by woodleywonderworks and Jeff Dun

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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piano styles

Ultimate Guide to the 5 Most Popular Piano Styles

piano styles

Don’t know what piano style you want to learn? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares the five most popular piano styles to give you a better idea of what suits you…

Having the ability to play a number of different piano styles will help you become a better overall piano player.

What’s more, knowing the important composers, performers, and pieces of each piano style will assist you in your musical studies.

Below, I’ve listed the five most important piano styles, which include classical, jazz, musical theater, pop/rock, and liturgical.

Read through the various piano styles to see which one jumps out at you most.

After browsing, if you’re still not sure what piano style fits you, take the quiz at the end of the article to help you determine.

1. Classical Piano

Throughout 1750-1820, classical piano was performed for royalty and the upper class in Europe. There were three main composers who paved the way for classical piano composition: Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.

As the years progressed and classical music transformed from renaissance to baroque and romantic, other great pianists emerged, including Haydn, Chopin, Handel, Wagner, Debussy, and Tchaikovsky.

Classical piano is often what students study first because it forces them to have a very strong technique and knowledge of music theory.

Without having an understanding of the classical piano technique, it’s very hard to learn and pick up other piano styles. That’s because most music has stemmed from the classical style.

Famous Classical Piano Composers

Just because classical music was popular many years ago, doesn’t mean it’s not thriving today.

There are many classical piano composers who are still performing music from the greats as well as creating their own classical compositions, such as the following:

Van Cliburn: Cliburn was one of the greatest American piano players of our century. Each year, thousands of piano players audition to compete in the “Annual Van Cliburn Piano Competition.”

Phillip Glass: Glass had an extensive career in writing, recording, and orchestrating classical music ranging from symphonic orchestras to the big screen.

Eric Whitacare: A regular chart-topper, Whitacare often writes for choirs, and has released several classical music albums that have won Grammys.

Classical Piano Books

Bach, Mozart and Beethoven are crucial composers to know as a classical pianist. I recommend having these books around when you to start learning this piano style:

  • Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics “First Lessons in Bach, Complete Books I and II for Piano”
  • Alfred Series “Mozart: 21 of His Most Popular Pieces for Piano”
  • Dover Music “A First Book of Beethoven: 24 Arrangements for the Beginning Pianist with Downloadable Mp3’s”

2. Jazz Piano

1918 marked the big start of American jazz. Pianists such as Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, and Fats Waller are piano players influential in building the jazz scene around New York, Chicago, and New Orleans.

At the time, jazz piano was a rebellious type of music, as it deviated from the classic rhythms, harmony, and technique.

Jazz music incorporates swing, improvisation, ragtime, boogie woogie, and bee bop to create captivating melodies and rhythmic patterns.

People turned to jazz music during “The Great Depression” as well as in times of celebration.

It also became an important mark in history where African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Europeans were able to come together to create music in America.

Famous Jazz Piano Players

While Joplin, Morton, and Waller paved the way for jazz piano, today’s contemporary jazz players are keeping it alive.

I suggest listening to some of today’s most well-known contemporary jazz players, including the following:

Herbie Hancock: Hancock is an innovative American pianist and keyboardist. Popular albums include “Head Hunters,” “Maiden Voyages,” and “Possibilities.”

Michel Camilo: Camilo is a Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer from the Dominican Republic who specializes in jazz, Latin, and classical work.

Kenny Barron: An American jazz piano player, Barron is one of the most influential mainstream jazz pianists of the bebop area, currently on faculty at Juilliard School.

Essential Jazz Piano Books:

If you want to learn more about jazz piano style, then I suggest you check out these helpful books:

  • “The Jazz Theory Book,” by Mark Levine (Comprehensive guide to jazz music theory)
  • “Aebersold Play-a-longs” (Volumes with popular jazz standards with lead sheet notation, and CD play alongs to practice with.)
  • “The Real Books,” Hal Leonard (Volumes with 100+ jazz lead sheets, perfect for any gig or jam)

3. Musical Theater Piano

Piano plays a big role in musical theater. In fact, piano players are crucial for the development and success of musical theater.

Musical theater accompanists must be very good sight readers and versatile, as every musical theater production is different.

Musical theater pianists can find work performing in the pit bands of shows, and can serve as accompanist alongside singers at auditions.

Listen to some of the old Broadway composers and lyricists for inspiration, such as Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart, and Gershwin.

There are also many popular Broadway composers today–such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Steven Sondheim, and Steven Schwartz–who have used piano primarily in their writing for musical theater.

Well-known Musical Theater Piano Players

Below are some of my favorite pianists  who’ve made a strong impact writing and performing musical theater:

Jason Robert Brown: Known for his works “Songs for a New World” and “The Last 5 Years,”  Brown uses incredible chords and harmonies. He has a knack for knowing how to capture both piano and voice together.

Marvin Hamlish: This legendary pianist served as the composer of one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, “A Chorus Line.” Hamlish was very skilled at capturing dancers and the sound of the piano together.

Seth Rudetsky: An accompanist and radio talk show host, Rudetsky really knows how to work with singers whether it be for a cabaret performance, audition, or cruise ship!

Best Musical Theater Piano Books:

If you wish to be a part of the Broadway scene, take a look at these essential books:

  • “The Big Book of Broadway-4th Edition,” Hal Leonard
  • “The Singers Musical Theater Anthology Series,” Hal Leonard
  • “Kids Musical Theater Collection (Volumes 1, 2),” Hal Leonard

4. Pop/Rock Piano

Starting in the ’50s, the piano was incorporated in many popular pop and rock songs. In the ’70s, the keyboard was heavily introduced because of it’s cool electric sounds.

Being a contemporary rock/pop piano player and composer is no easy task, but is one of the most rewarding piano gigs around.

As a pop/rock piano player you will probably find the most paid work, ranging from cover bands, wedding gigs, session recordings, and touring performances.

With this piano style, you’re free to explore new sounds, as the charts are always changing. What’s more, having the ability to both sing and play the piano looks and sounds great in performance.

Famous Pop/Rock Piano Players

Here’s a sample of some of piano pop and rock players who’ve made a huge impact on the genre. Listen to these folks to get inspired and maybe pick up a few performance tricks.

Elton John and Billy Joel: Both of these music veterans hit the top of their careers in the ’70s and ’80s. However, they still continue to perform to sold out stadiums today.

Alicia Keys: At the tender age of 16, Keys was already signed and recording her own original music. Her piano chords and melodies are in sync with her original vocals and lyrics.

Carole King: One of the most powerful women in songwriting, King is a singer/pianist from New York who’s written and recorded some of the most influential pop music of our time.

Essential Pop/Rock Piano Books:

There are tons of really great piano pop/rock books available. Below are just a few helpful piano books that will guide you:

  • “Let it Go, Happy, and More Hot Pop Singles 2014,” by Hal Leonard
  • “Piano Styles of 23 Pop Masters,” by Mark Harrison
  • “The Piano Songbook: Contemporary Songs Book 2,” by Faber Music

5. Liturgical Piano

Liturgical music originated as a part of religious ceremonies ranging from Catholic to Protestant to Jewish.

Almost every religion has their own unique sounding liturgical music that plays an important and meaningful role in its culture.

Liturgical music has been passed on from generation to generation, and today musicians are still performing and composing new music for religious services, performances, and recordings.

The piano is able to serve in all the various types of religious music. Many pianists start out by playing religious services professionally to make their living as a musician.

Notable Liturgical Piano Players

The composers and pianists below are influential in the liturgical music genre.

David Haas: An influential pianist and composer of the modern day liturgies in the Christian community.

Hector Olivera: An internationally acclaimed organist, watch his technique and how he brings the organ to life.

Jason White: White is a leading musical director and performer. He plays primarily gospel music on the piano, keyboards, and organ.

Liturgical Piano Books for Beginners

If you want to learn how to play this piano style, then check out these helpful books for beginners:

  • “Big Book of Hymns,” Hal Leonard
  • “Gospel Keyboard Styles: A Complete Guide to Harmony, Rhythm and Melody,” Mark Harrison
  • “The Practical Organist: 50 Short Works for Church Services,” Dover Music

I hope this guide to the five most popular piano styles will help determine what style you want to learn. Talk with your piano teacher on ways you can practice whatever piano style you choose.

If you’re still unsure which piano style to choose, take this fun quiz to find out!

Photo by André P. Meyer-Vitali

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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[Quiz] What Piano Style Are You?

Whether you’ve just started taking piano lessons or you’re simply thinking about it, chances are you’re curious about the different piano styles out there.

From jazz to classical to pop, there are tons of different piano styles that you can learn. It all depends on what music you’re particularly drawn to.

You’re bubbly personality, for example, might be best suited for pop piano. Or perhaps you’re an old soul who’s more into jazz.

Whatever your personality, there’s a piano style out there that’s perfect for you. To help you determine what piano style is best for you, take the fun quiz below.

What piano style did you get? Get started on mastering your piano style by working with an experience piano teacher.

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piano finger exercises

8 Piano Finger Exercises for Beginners

piano finger exercises

Having the proper finger positioning is essential for beginners, as it helps prevent injury and improve technique. Below, piano teacher Ryan C. shares some piano finger exercises beginners can do to help improve their skills… 

Sitting down at a piano and playing a few notes is a pretty easy task, right?

I mean, practically anyone can take a seat on the bench, place their fingers on the keys, and make some sort of sound come out.

However, the technique we use to control the muscles in our hands, fingers, arms, and shoulders plays a very important role in our ability to play the piano well.

Specifically, the muscles in our fingers play a very vital role in our ability to make, as well as control, our desired sound.

In this article, I will cover some basics about good piano hand position (which can be seen in greater brevity here).

I will also share some educational piano finger exercises that beginner piano students can use to give themselves a head start in their development.

What Does Good Piano Finger Technique Involve?

Great piano finger technique is based on the idea of playing “from the finger”–or using the fingers as our main driving source of power.

If you’re self-taught or new to piano, most of these ideas will be unfamiliar to you. If you’ve been playing for a long time and using different techniques, breaking bad habits may take a little time.

There’s no need to stress, as my finger technique was awful before I got into SDSU. Within a few months of being there, however, it improved substantially. 

If I can do it, I’m confident that you can too!

In essence, good finger technique utilizes the following four elements:

Fingers should not be flat or floppy–knuckles should generally not be straightened.

Typically, most fingers will be slightly bent at the knuckle closest to the fingertip. The exception is the pinky finger, which can be straightened at times.

The primary power source of most playing will actually come from the finger–specifically the knuckle at the top of the hand–rather than the wrist or arm.

Relaxation of the arm, elbow, and shoulder, and a very early preparation of the thumb and other fingers while playing.

Playing “from the finger” is incredibly important. Just think of how objects move; if you’re holding a pencil in your hand and want to move it extremely quickly, is the motion large or small?

Likewise, in piano playing, if you wanted to play an extremely fast succession of notes, would you opt for large-scale muscles or small-scale ones?

In addition, you wouldn’t use your whole arm and upper-body to rapidly move the pencil back and forth, so why would we do that when playing the piano?

With this notion in mind, it’s easy to understand why using good piano finger technique is incredibly important.

Common Piano Finger Technique Mistakes

I’ve been teaching piano for several years now, which means I’ve seen my fair-share of interesting alternatives to using proper piano finger technique.

Of course, before I knew the right way to play, I had many of these same habits. Here are a few mistakes that I’ve seen some of my beginner piano students do that should be avoided:

  • Rather than adjusting their piano hand position, my students sometimes compensate with their wrists by moving them very high or very low. In either position, unnecessary tension is added which reduces speed and accuracy.
  • Oftentimes, beginner students will play from the arm, rather than the finger, which makes for a very overly-rhythmic sound that tends to create accents on beats in which there are none written.

8 Piano Finger Exercises for Beginners

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite piano finger exercises that I use with my beginner students.

The following finger exercises should be done with a consistent tempo, even if it’s very slow.

1. 5 note pentascales using one finger at a time. (C D E F G)–one finger per note.

In this piano finger exercise, the student will play down one finger at a time and listen to the result.

I often have my students change dynamic ranges only using their finger muscles rather than their whole arms or shoulders.

It’s such an easy exercise, but also surprisingly difficult for those who may not have strong finger muscles.

2. Ascending and descending pentascales

After the first finger exercise is mastered, play an ascending and descending pentascale from the lowest to highest finger with both hands.

For instance, the left-hand pinky will play with the right hand thumb, and so on. Use the proper finger techniques discussed earlier.

3. Play in thirds (skip notes) between each note

After the second exercise is mastered, using a pentascales, play in thirds (skip notes) between each note. Train your fingers to play every note legato– connected.

 4. Play with firm finger position

While having your hands at about playing level though not actually on the keys, prepare (bend) the knuckle closest to the finger-tip as though it were playing.

Lift your hand while keeping the finger position, then let it fall onto the key. If the knuckle collapses, try again from a lower height.

In essence, this finger exercise prepares you for the sensation of playing with a firm finger position without adding any arm weight or tension to the scenario.

By dropping your hands and arm on the keys, it allows you to focus fully on getting a solid finger position.

5. Over-Legato

Play the notes in such a way that each note overlaps with the subsequent note.

For example, if you were playing a C major pentascales, you would hold down your thumb until you played your index finger, after which, you would lift your thumb and play your middle finger, etc.

This piano finger exercise is great for developing a great awareness of your fingers and learning to control each one individually.

It’s actually surprisingly difficult for beginner students to do this exercise well!

6. Hanon & Czerny Technique Books

These books are fantastic for getting student’s fingers to cooperate! Go through these with the techniques mentioned previously for maximum results.

Czerny is quite a bit harder than the early Hanon books, so keep that in mind when deciding on a finger technique book.

7. Full (1 or 2 octave) scales

Practice full (1 or 2 octave) scales while preparing the thumb well before it’s actually played.

For instance, in a C major scale, after you have played the first D with your right hand index finger, immediately prepare the thumb so that it is ready on or near the note F. Practice all scales in this manner.

This exercise in particular is one that I continue to use within my professional studies as a pianist.

If done properly, it will eliminate bumps in your scales and passagework, and allow you to play with greater speed and accuracy.

8. Play two notes at a time in one hand at a time.

For instance, the right hand thumb and middle finger play simultaneously while the other fingers relax.

It’s important to verify that the other fingers are, in fact relaxing, as they will often try to interact when they don’t need to.

The pinky finger is especially notorious for wanting to be a part of everything the other fingers are doing, even when not necessary.

In conclusion, using these piano finger exercises on a consistent basis while using proper finger-technique will greatly enhance your ability to play the piano with great accuracy and speed.

Remember that consistency is the key to changing older habits! I hope you find these piano finger exercises helpful in your piano study!

Photo by CristianAllendesPhotos

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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piano practice

50 Best Pinterest Accounts for Inspiring Piano Practice Ideas


piano practice

Are you in a piano practice rut lately? There’s nothing worse than having to practice or teach the same piano songs and techniques over and over again. It’s enough to drive someone mad!

Luckily, there are many resources available online that can help spark inspiration. Pinterest, for example, is a great resource for both students and  piano teachers. There are hundreds of pages dedicated solely to piano playing.

Since we know you don’t have time to sift through all of these pages, we’ve rounded up the 50 best Pinterest accounts for piano practice ideas, games, sheet music, and more.

Whether you’re a student or a teacher, these Pinterest pages are great for finding ideas to spice up your piano practice routine. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Piano Practice Tips


1. Hannah-Lee Ableson: “Teaching Piano” has a ton of piano practice tips both parents and teachers can easily implement. We particular love all the tips for parents, such as how to end piano practice wars and how to deal with never-ending excuses. Check it out here.

2. Chrissy Krahn: “Piano-Tips for Teachers” has a variety of how-to’s that are primarily geared toward teachers. However, there are some tips and exercises that parents can use to encourage their children to practice. Check it out here.

3. Laura Lowe: “Piano Studio” is another great board that boasts an array of piano practice tips students can use to improve. Everything from hand positioning to common music mistakes is featured on the board. Check it out here.

4. Beverly Cox: If you’re looking for a wide variety of piano practice tips, look no further than “Piano Stuff.” This board has kid-friendly tips about how to read notes, play scales, sight read, and more. Check it out here. 

5. Christy Young: From sight reading to proper posture, “Piano Practice Techniques” covers everything beginner piano players need to get started. It also has some great tips for teachers who are might be struggling to think of practice exercises. Check it out here.

6. Leila Viss: “Keys to Piano” features a ton of quality information for piano players, teachers, and parents. We particularly like all of the ideas for keeping kids motivated to practice. Check it out here.

7. Melody Payne: “Piano Teacher Articles” isn’t just great for teachers, but it’s also helpful for students and parents. The board has an array of information on how to make the most of one’s practice time. Check it out here.

8. Ashley Caldwell Brown: “Piano” features a variety of practical piano tips that will help kids stay motivated. We particularly like all of the advice for parents who want to help their child practice. Check it out here.

9. Gail Fischler: With four boards related to piano, Fischler has a wide scope of information related to piano. Browse through her “Piano Addict Tips & Resources” board to discover helpful tips you can apply to your next practice. Check it out here.

10. Emily Zook: Looking for some actionable practice tips? “Piano” has a bunch of helpful tips and activities that will help students improve their piano skills. Check it out here.

11. Carri Corbitt: From practice tips to sheet music, “Tickle Those Ivories Piano Studio” has over 200 useful pins for both piano students and teachers. We especially like all of the fun, free printables. Check it out here.

12. Rhonda Hunter: If you’re looking for piano sheet music, “Education/Piano Music” is the right board for you. This board has fun practice tips and sheet music every student will love. Check it out here.

13. Nichole Lookabaugh: Warming up is an important part of piano practice. “Piano Lessons” has some fun warm-up exercises as well as some technique tips to help assist students. Check it out here.

Piano Practice Games


14. Susan Paradis: From rhythm bingo to memory match, “Music Games and Worksheets” has everything parents and teachers need to keep their budding musician entertained. Check it out here.

15. The Plucky Pianista: “The Plucky Pianista” has over 100 useful pins for students and teachers, including a ton of fun and educational games. We especially like the warm up games for building strength and dexterity. Check it out here.

16. Claire Westlake: “Music Education” is a wonderful board that features an array of engaging games and activities for students, many of which are easy and cost effective to replicate. Check it out here.

17. Andrea Dow: “Teach Piano Today” has over 27 boards full of inspiration geared toward piano teachers. We particularly love her piano teaching games board, which features dozens of fun and education piano practice games for students. Check it out here.

18. Wendy Stevens: With 17 boards dedicated to piano, Wendy Stevens has everything a piano teacher or parent is looking for. Browse through her “Piano Teaching Games” board for piano games to inspire your next practice session. Check it out here.

19. Joy Morin: “Color in My Piano” features a great roundup of piano practice games for students. Even better, the board has a number of printable PDFs that you can download and use during your next piano practice. Check it out here.

20. Carla Lowery: With over 6,000 pins, “Music Stuff” has an abundance of tips, activities, and resources for both students and teachers. We love all of the different games that come with printables. Check it out here.

21. Chantelle Thaler: With over 467 pins related to piano, “Piano Studio-Inspiration, Games, Printables,” has everything a budding piano player needs, including a number of unique and education piano practice games. Check it out here.

22. Kathy Williamson: If you’re looking to engage your child or student, “Teaching Piano” is a great resource. The board has a number of piano practice games that are simple for parents and teachers to play with their budding musician. Check it out here.

23. Micheline Roch: Learning the piano doesn’t have to be boring. “Piano Studio” has an abundance of fun piano games that students can play, many of which use simple household items. Check it out here.

24. Julie Williams: “Piano Lessons Teaching Aids” is another board that features tons of fun, and engaging piano games for beginner piano players. We particular like all of the free printouts she provides. Check it out here.

25. Alicia Dunlap: “My Keys” is a great resource filled with piano games geared toward young, beginner students. From sound match games to finger patterns, this board has a variety of fun games. Check it out here.

26. Lana Hughes: Learning complex musical concepts can be difficult for beginners.”Piano Teaching” features a number of fun games that make these concepts easy for students to understand. Check it out here.

27. Katrina Grabham: “Piano Teaching” has a ton of kid-friendly piano games for students who have a hard time sitting still on the bench. Check it out here.

Piano Practice Sheets

piano practice

28. Kacie Zajic: “Teaching Piano” is a great resource for young musicians, as the board features several themed piano practice sheets. For example, she has some fun holiday-themed piano practice sheets for kids. Check it out here.

29. Patti Kolk: “Piano Teaching Ideas” has a wide variety of piano practice sheets for beginners as well as general music exercises to help little ones understand how to read scales and rhythms. Check it out here.

30. Debbie Lumpkin:“Music Board” is a great general music board for youngsters. The board features an array of practice sheets to help students learn rhythms, notes, and more. Check it out here.

31. Music Teacher Resources: With over 69 boards, “Music Teacher Resources” has everything from free, printable piano practice sheets to music theory assignments. We especially love how the boards are organized by age-group. Check it out here.

32. Shirley Cadle: “Love Teaching the Piano” is a wonderful board with everything from helpful time signature worksheets to metronome tips. Check it out here.

33. Bethany Parnell: Running out of ideas for practice time? “Piano Studio” has a number of helpful piano practice sheets as well as tips for keeping kids engaged during practice. Check it out here.

34. Marilyn Herrett: Whether you’re looking to work on sight reading or rhythm, “For My Piano Studio” has everything you need. We particularly love all of the holiday-themed worksheets. Check it out here.

35. Anjuli Crocker: If you’re looking for piano sheet music and practice sheets then look no further than “Kids Piano.” This board is filled with helpful tips and exercises. Check it out here.

36. Jenny Boster: “Piano Teaching” is filled with sample exercises and practice sheets students can use  to practice various piano skills, such as chord inversions and note naming. Check it out here.

37. Mary Miller: With over 1,000 pins, “School Stuff” has everything you need to keep your child engaged and learning during their piano practice sessions. Check it out here.

38. Inge Borg: While this board is primarily geared toward teachers, it has a ton of great practice sheets and tips for students. We especially love the wide variety. Check it out here.

Piano Practice Charts

39. Diane Hidy: With over 10 boards dedicated to piano, Diana Hidy has an array of practice charts, inspiration, tools, and ideas for students, teachers, and parents. We especially love all the helpful tips for teachers. Check it out here.

40. Barnes Piano LLC: Are you looking for some piano practice charts? “Piano Teaching Games” has an array of sample sheets and tips for how to structure your child’s piano practice. The board also includes some fun, educational games. Check it out here.

41. Sara @ Let’s Play Music:“First Piano Lessons for Kids” is great for beginner piano players, as the site has a wide variety of exercises, games, and charts. We particular like how many of the piano practice charts can be download for convenience. Check it out here.

42. Heather Nanney: “Piano Lesson: Practicing” has a ton of free piano practice charts and worksheets both teachers and parents can use to keep track of their child’s progress. The board also features several resources on how to make practice fun. Check it out here.

43. Tim Topham: “Piano Practice” has an abundance of resources and tips for practicing piano. We suggest taking a look at the practice charts for kids. Tim also has a number of other helpful piano boards you can browse. Check it out here.

44. Tracy King: The self-proclaimed “Bulletin Board Lady,” Tracy King has ton of music practice charts that can be applied to several instruments, including the piano. Check it out here.

 45. Kelly Nelson: Besides having an abundance of tips for teachers, “Piano Students” has a wide variety useful piano practice charts that are super helpful for students. Check it out here.

46. Shana Elliot: “Music Class Printables” has an array of practice charts and worksheets that are great for kids. We especially love all of the holiday-themed charts for Halloween, Christmas, and more. Check it out here.

47. Larissa Coleman: If you’re looking for piano practice charts and beginner piano sheet music, than look no further “Piano Lessons.” The board has a ton of great resources for beginner students. Check it out here.

48. Patty Johnson: “Piano Lesson Ideas” is filled with a ton of piano practice charts. Whether you want to work on rhythm or melody, this board has everything you’re looking for. Check it out here.

49. Kim Smith: With over 1,000 pins, “Music Classroom/Piano Lessons” has an abundance of entertaining practice sheets and tips. We particularly like the fun worksheets! Check it out here.

50. Tiffiny Almond Allen: Head over to “Piano Teaching” and browse through all of the fun worksheets and practice charts. You’re sure to find something that will keep your little one engaged while practicing. Check it out here.

51. LadyD Piano: LadyD Piano has a variety of boards for those learning how to play piano. For example, she has a board dedicated to music apps, books, and practice printables. Check it out here.

52. Ashely Danyew: “Piano Teaching” has an abundance of wonderful tips and tricks for both piano players and students. We especially love all the resources that help teachers motivate students. Check it out here.

If you’re bored with your piano practice routine or you simply want to mix things up, browse through these Pinterest accounts to get some inspiration. Remember, practice makes perfect!

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how to overcome stage fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage performance is a challenging art form. Whether you’re acting out a role in a musical theatre setting, giving a speech in front of a crowd, or even playing a solo at an open mic night, the experience can be nerve-wracking even for seasoned performers.

It can be even more anxiety-inducing if you’re a perfectionist, as that can breed a fear of failure… and from there, performance anxiety can feel even stronger.

Performance anxiety (commonly referred to as stage fright) can devastate a performer’s career and enjoyment of their craft, but it doesn’t have to — performance anxiety is a normal human reaction and a completely curable condition if given the right resources, patience, and support system. This article is a guide to learning how to overcome stage fright, for anyone who may experience it — musicians, actors, dancers, speakers, educators, and students. If you wish to understand and improve anxiety issues that are holding you back from giving your best performances, read on!

What is Stage Fright?

Let’s start with anxiety, which is defined as a feeling or worry, nervousness, or unease about an upcoming event. Most people have experienced some level of anxiety before, during, or after a performance, speech, sports game, or test. Anxiety differs from fear in that fear addresses a present threat, while anxiety is typically felt in relation to something in the future. Anxiety is a normal, healthy human experience and, in small doses, is beneficial in making decisions and in achieving peak success.

Performance anxiety (stage fright) in particular is nervousness or unease about a specific future event in which you will be required to execute a task, such as a song, a scene, speech, or test — and usually when you’ll be in front of an audience. Symptoms may be present during the task, for weeks or months leading up to it, and sometimes after the event is over.

So, how do you get over stage fright? Even most experienced performers feel anxiety, so it’s more a process of learning how to deal with stage fright. Here are the steps I recommend.

dealing with stage fright - step 1

Knowing if you are truly experiencing anxiety is critically important, as it’s the first step toward understanding and overcoming it. If you have experienced a few or many of the following symptoms before or during a performance situation, you are experiencing stage fright:

  • Excessive sweating (typically in the palms, feet, armpits or face, but could be anywhere)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chills, hot flashes, or sudden changes in body temperature
  • Shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, or hyperventilation
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Racing thoughts, obsessive fear of failure during the task
  • Inability to concentrate or process logical information
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urge to use the bathroom
  • Inability to make small talk or hold a basic conversation
  • Shakiness, especially in the hands
  • Sensitivity lights, sounds, or textures in the environment

As you can see, this list of sensations is not only unpleasant, but makes performing at your best nearly impossible. Fear of failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  • Look at the list of anxiety symptoms, and make a mental checkmark next to the ones that you have felt during performance situations.
  • Note when it happened, how often, and any other details you remember. Are your symptoms limited to a specific few, or all of them? Are there symptoms you’d like to solve first as a priority, before others?

Now go back next to each symptom that you’ve checked, and rate it on scale of 1-10 as to how severe it felt (1 being hardly felt it, 10 being you felt it so much you couldn’t concentrate on anything else).

If you are seeing numbers in the 1-4 range, it’s likely that you are experiencing normal, healthy jitters that can actually add to your performance by making you more focused. If you are seeing numbers in the 5-10 range, you are experiencing moderate to severe stage fright and should read on to discover strategies for improvement.

dealing with stage fright - step 2

Before you can properly map a route to overcome stage fright, it’s important to know where you’ve been — and what has caused stage fright in the past. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you are experiencing stage fright, how they might contribute to your present challenges, and how you can utilize them most effectively.

Start by asking yourself some questions about your performing career, starting from the very, very beginning, which might include childhood memories or more recent situations depending on your age.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  1. Recall the first time you performed for an audience, formally. Who was there? What thoughts and feelings do you remember? Were you happy with the outcome of the performance? Was it a positive or negative experience, was it stressful or relaxed?
  2. Recall the first time you performed and experienced anxiety (if different from above). What were the circumstances? Who was there? Did you practice or prepare, and how much? If different from #1, what do you think sparked anxiety if there were previous performances that didn’t?
  3. Recall the next few times that you performed, after #2 above. Ask yourself the same questions and look for patterns.
  4. Recall the 2-3 most recent times you performed. How recent was it? Have you purposely avoided performing in recent circumstances due to fear? Were you with a large group, small ensemble or solo? Were there any post-performance experiences worth noting?
  5. From the above questions, look for patterns. Are there any pivotal events that dramatically changed the course of your performance history? Are there any key people, venues, or pieces that contributed to where you’re at today?

dealing with stage fright - step 3

The next step is re-contextualizing key anxiety triggers so that they don’t continue causing problems. Most people can identify one or two key incidents that left a large impact on their self-esteem.

Maybe it was a teacher giving an aggressive critique, a family member telling you not to quit your day job, or a performance in which you froze on stage and ran off crying.

At the time you may not have realized the impact of this key event, but in hindsight you can see that it has undermined your confidence and affected your ability to perform ever since.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

The mind is powerful and can distort memories, making them seem bigger and nastier than they really were in real life. As far as exercises that can help you deal with stage fright, this is a great one to try. Pick one of your key incidents that is particularly painful or memorable and jot a few notes about it to the facts:

What venue were you performing in?
What piece were you performing or practicing?
Who was watching?
What feedback were you given, either verbal or non-verbal?
How did you react? Did you shout, cry, freeze up, or laugh it off?
If you responded verbally, what did you say?
What did you do after the event?

Re-Contextualizing the Event

Now let’s bring some imagination to it: sometimes taking the gravity out of a memory and bringing it into a lighter, if not humorous, context can be extremely healing. By re-contextualizing this event, you are not dismissing it or minimizing its impact, but re-framing it in a more positive, lighthearted perspective. By giving your brain a new way to interpret it, you will begin to move past it and no longer allow it to block your present performance opportunities. Jot a few notes in response to the following:

If you could go back and re-live this event, what would you do differently?
Is there anything positive that has come out of the negative memory?

dealing with stage fright - step 4

We’ve spent the preceding sections of this guide processing your past. Now it’s time to move into the present and start thinking about what you can do now, and in the near future, to overcome stage fright.

There is no magic formula, unfortunately; you must expose yourself – you must perform, perform, perform, and this is known as exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a fancy name for the common-sense approach known as “facing your fears,” a technique commonly used by psychiatric doctors to treat phobias of all kinds. However, there is an art to exposing yourself to your fears, and it should be done in careful, small, planned doses that gradually lead up to a major milestone.

Create an Exposure Ladder

Exposure ladders are a technique used widely by the medical psychiatric community to treat generalized anxiety, panic disorders, and phobias of all types.

An exposure ladder is a list of activities that lead you gradually to a big goal (such as performing on your city’s biggest stage, for example), with activities ranked from least to most anxiety-provoking. An individual will work up the steps of the ladder, moving on to the next step only after mastering exposure to the current step with little or no anxiety.

You’ll need to create your own customized exposure ladder, starting with #1, which is your first, tiny little step toward performing — something that you could handle right now, today, with little or no anxiety symptoms. Then you’ll move on to #2, and so on, gradually making steps more anxiety provoking as you go, until you’ve reached a final step which is your final performing goal. You can make your final step as big or small as you want, just be honest with your true performing goals.

One precaution: be careful not to create too big of a jump between steps on the exposure ladder. You can repeat a step as many times as needed, in order to master that level with little to no anxiety. Depending on how often you are working on the steps, it might take months or years until you feel you’ve mastered a step, and that’s just fine. Study the example below to help you brainstorm ideas for your own ladder.

Example Exposure Ladder

1. Imagine yourself performing.
2. Perform alone.
3. Record yourself performing a scene or song and watch it without critique.
4. Perform for a supportive partner or friend.
5. Perform a duet or ensemble in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
6. Perform solo in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
7. Perform a duet or ensemble at a venue that is higher caliber, like a talent show for your class at school, a neighborhood barbeque, or karaoke at a bar.
8. Perform solo within the same circumstances in #7.
9. Perform with a semi-professional ensemble, such as an audition-only community chorus or community theatre.
10. Arrange an opportunity to perform solo for your peers or an audience, within the group you’ve identified in #9.
11. Enter a competition.
12. Continue finding opportunities similar to #11 with gradually higher caliber venues (or even paying gigs!).

dealing with stage fright - step 5

Once you start working the steps on your exposure ladder, there are going to be successes, and also setbacks. It’s important to arm yourself with relaxation techniques so that when setbacks occur, you have a strategy in place to deal with them in a healthy way. Try these:


Find a quiet space, sit or lay in a position that is comfortable enough to sustain for 10 minutes minimum, close your eyes, and stop thinking. It’s as simple as that; meditation is simply a state of thoughtlessness. Your mind will wander, and when it does, just bring it back to a blank space. If you can commit to meditation as a daily practice for 10-20 minutes, over time you will be able to push aside thoughts that distract you during performances, including anxious thoughts.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Find a quiet space and lay down with your arms naturally at your sides and legs fully extended. Close your eyes. Prepare with three slow, deep breaths. As much as possible, focus all of your attention on the task at hand; don’t let your mind wander. Tense your forehead muscle, holding it as tight as you can for about five seconds. As you do this, inhale and hold the breath while the muscle is tense, and then exhale and breathe normally as you let the muscle relax. Enjoy the relaxed position for about five seconds.

Repeat the above process with the following muscle groups: your face/cheek muscles, neck muscles, shoulders (pull them up and tight), back muscles (pull your shoulder blades back and in), abs/stomach muscles, arms and hands (make a fist while you do this and tense it all the way down to the fingers), glutes, thighs, calves, and then finally feet.

dealing with stage fright - step 6

Acceptance is a final and critical step in learning how to overcome stage fright, as resistance will only make a problem grow stronger. It’s important that you stop criticizing or judging yourself for having fears or challenges on stage, as it is one of the most common types of anxiety, and you are definitely not alone!

Acceptance is not declaring that stage fright is “just a problem you have” and that you’ll have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Acceptance is realizing you have some uncomfortable symptoms that are occurring and allowing the process of change to unfold, even if the process is difficult. Acceptance is allowing setbacks to happen, refraining from self-criticism when they do, and celebrating the small successes along the way.


Public speaking and performances of all types continue to be the number one fear of most adults. By reading this article, you have embarked on a journey that very few are brave enough to take – congratulations are due just for starting!

Your reading has given you initial tools for understanding what stage fright is, how you experience it personally, how your past is affecting your present, and beginning to learn how to deal with stage fright.

Performing is one of life’s great joys and you too can enjoy sharing your unique gifts and stories in front of an audience, free of fear, paralysis, or uncomfortable feelings. Don’t give up, and remember that psychological change is a gradual process. Good luck, and happy performing!

Readers, what other ways have you learned how to overcome stage fright? Let us know in the comments!

How to Overcome Stage Fright Infographic

ErinRPost Author: Erin R.
Erin teaches acting, singing, speaking voice, and more in San Diego, CA. She holds a B.A. from University of Minnesota in Vocal Performance, a M.A. in Education from National University, and has been teaching since 2007. Learn more about Erin here!

Image credit: Kian McKellar

piano jokes

50 of the Best Piano Jokes, Quotes, and Puns

piano jokes

Pianos have been a musical staple for centuries. The piano inspires more than just musical sounds; it also makes for a great punch line.

Below are 50 of the best piano jokes, puns, and quotes of all time. Share this list with fellow pianists or your piano teacher.

While we admit some of these piano jokes are a little “out there,” they’re sure to put a smile on your face.

Let the laughs begin…

Best Piano Jokes

Everybody loves a good piano joke! Next time you meet with your piano teacher, start by telling him or her one of these clever piano jokes and see if he or she can’t guess the right answer.

Have you heard about the musician who leaves a message for his wife? Answer: Gone Chopin, have Liszt, Bach in a Minuet.

Why are pianists fingers like lightning? Answer: They rarely strike the same place twice.

The audience at a piano recital was appalled when a telephone rang just off stage. Without missing a note, the soloist glanced toward the wings and called, “If that’s my agent, tell him I’m working!”

What do you call a goat that plays the piano? Answer: Billy Joel.

B flat, E flat, and G flat walk into a bar. The bartender stopped them and said, “We don’t serve minors.”

piano jokes

What do you call a snowman that plays the piano? Answer: Melton John

piano joke

What’s one of the hazards of being a pianist? Answer: People drop money in your drink.

piano jokes

What happens when you play Beethoven backwards? Answer: He decomposes.

piano jokes

What do you get if you enroll in a liberal arts program and the only subject you do well in is music? Answer: A natural major

Funniest Piano Puns

There are a ton of piano puns to go around. Below are a few of our favorite piano puns. Share these with your musical friends and have a laugh.

What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft? Answer: A-flat minor.

Why is an 11-foot concert grand better than a studio upright? Answer: Because it makes a much bigger boom when pushed off a cliff.

Why did the two pianists have a good marriage. Answer: Because they were always in a chord.

Old pianists never die, they just adagio away.

To climb to the top of a tall piano, you must scale it.

Piano is not my forte.

Don’t date a piano technician, he’ll just string you along

Gimme’ a fifth of Beethoven on the Rachs.

Inspirational Piano Quotes

Need some inspiration to get you through a tough performance or practice session? Below are some inspirational (and humorous) piano quotes that will help keep you motivated.

“Piano: A cumbersome piece of furniture found in many homes, where playing it ensures the early departure of unwanted guests.” – David W. Barber

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” – Thelonious Monk

“Everybody told me this ‘girl on the piano’ thing was never going to work.” – Tori Amos

“The piano has been drinking, not me”. – Tom Waits

“When she started to play, Steinway came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano.” – Bob Hope talking about Phyllis Diller’s playing

piano jokes

“Life is like a piano. White keys are happy moments and black keys are sad moments. But remember, both keys are played together to give sweet music.” -Unknown

piano jokes

“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts-such is the duty of the artist.”- Robert Schumann

piano jokes

“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.”- Beethoven

piano jokes

While difficult at times, learning how to play the piano should be fun. Lighten up the mood with one of these hilarious piano jokes, puns, or quotes.

Did we leave out any of your favorite piano jokes, pun, or quotes? Share them with us in the comments below!

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