Tea Room Tips from the Pianodao Tea Room
As is often mentioned here on Pianodao, learning to play the piano is the journey of a lifetime! And the further we travel, the more insight we gain, and the deeper our skills develop.
But… suppose you could turn the clock back to when you were a teenager… What do you really wish you had known and understood about piano playing back then?
This was the latest question I posed in the Pianodao Tea Room community, and as I suspected the answers given were many and varied. Each member contribution is, complete in itself, a heartwarming and insightful story…
Here for your interest are a selection of those contributions…
And please feel free to leave your own answer as a comment below!
Continue reading “If only I had known then…”
Tea Room Tips from the Pianodao Tea Room
Announcing our latest discussion event for Pianodao Members, I asked the following questions about sight reading:
- Do you find it easy or difficult to play at sight?
- What approaches have helped you to improve?
- Do you have advice that might help others develop their sight-reading fluency?
Here are some of the highlights from the discussion which followed, which offer a wealth advice both for piano players and teachers…
Continue reading Tips for Playing at Sight
Frances Wilson is a pianist, piano teacher, writer, concert reviewer and blogger on classical music and pianism as The Cross-Eyed Pianist. She holds Licentiate and Associate diplomas in performance (both with distinction) and currently studies with acclaimed teacher, pianist and writer Graham Fitch.
Here she shares her piano story…
Continue reading Your Story: Frances Wilson
The Pianist’s Reflections Series
Guest post by Frances Wilson
The life of the pianist is, by necessity, solitary (and I have written before about The Pianist’s Solitude). For many of us, the solitude is not an issue: we crave a sense of apartness to enable us to do our work and to create special connections with audiences when we perform, and we need quietude to allow time for self-reflection and evaluation.
The sequestered nature of the pianist’s life also calls for great self-reliance: we must be self-starting, motivated, driven and focused to ensure our work (practising and preparation) is done each day. Most of us draw pleasure and satisfaction from knowing our work is done and done well, but without other colleagues and musical companions to interact with, it is easy for self-doubt to creep in, for us to question our role or our value, to ask “am I good enough?”.
Continue reading The Pianist’s Self-Compassion
Interview by Frances Wilson
This interview includes material that originally appeared on Frances Wilson’s site The Cross-Eyed Pianist, and is reproduced here with her kind permission.
Continue reading Andrew Eales: an interview
The Pianist’s Reflections Series
Guest Post by Frances Wilson.
“The loneliness doesn’t worry me …
I spend most of my life alone, even backstage …
I’m there completely alone. I like the time alone …”
British pianist Stephen Hough, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs programme
Continue reading The Pianist’s Solitude
Guest Author: Frances Wilson
Whenever we have a thought or physical sensation thousands of neurons are triggered and get together to form a neural network in the brain.
“Experience-dependent neuroplasticity” is the scientific term for this activity of continual creation and grouping of neuron connections in our brains which takes place as a result of our personal life experiences. With repetitive thinking, the brain learns to trigger the same neurons each time, and neuroscientists and psychologists have found that the brain can be “trained” to build positive neural traits from positive mental states.
The trouble is, the brain tends towards the negative and is very bad at learning from good experiences and very good at learning from bad ones. This negativity bias was very important in keeping our ancestors alive during times of great hardship and danger, but in our 21st-century brains it can be a block that prevents positive experiences from becoming inner strengths which are built into our neural structure.
As musicians most of us are very familiar with “the inner critic”, that destructive voice within that can sabotage a practise session or performance and damage our self-esteem with negative self-talk.
Continue reading 10 Ways to turn “I can’t” into “I can”
Guest Article by Frances Wilson
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was created in California in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. The name makes a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”), and behavioural patterns learned through experience (“programming”) which can be altered or harnessed to achieve specific goals in life. Popularly known as “the study of human excellence”, NLP uses the criterion “does this work?”, and gives us the tools and processes to deconstruct how we do things to discover the key elements of a positive strategy that enables us to do something more successfully. Equally, it can highlight negative issues and help us to discard unsuccessful actions and impulses.
In NLP the word “strategy” is used to describe how we organise sensory representations – external and internal images, sounds, sensations and feelings. This determines how successful we are in doing something, assuming we have the relevant skills.
Continue reading Accentuate the Positive: Music and Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Guest Author Frances Wilson interviews pianist Tobin Mueller
Composer and pianist Tobin Mueller has recently completed a trilogy of recordings in which he explored three eras of Western music through adaptive arrangements, reinvention and original composition. Each album took one year to develop. The Masterworks Trilogy included jazz interpretations and new works based on:
- the Impressionists (Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Fauré, Carpenter)
- the Baroque period (J.S. Bach), and most recently
- the Romantic movement (Frederic Chopin).
The albums by title are :
- “Impressions of Water and Light”
- “Flow: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller”, and
- “Of Two Minds: The Music of Frederic Chopin and Tobin Mueller”.)
Not only have these double-CD albums highlighted the elements of modernity found in these forebears, they have allowed Mueller to discover a personal kinship with each composer.
Tobin’s personal journey has also been colored by the challenges of dealing with a compromising illness. This relationship between the composer and his illness is what we wanted to discuss…
Continue reading Tobin Mueller and the Influence of Illness on his Music
Following on from her well-received post “Am I Really Good Enough“, guest author Frances Wilson turns her focus to the impact that social media can have on our view of ourselves…
Continue reading Social Media and Feelings of Inadequacy
Guest author Frances Wilson considers a question we all ask ourselves from time to time, sometimes more frequently than we should…
Continue reading Am I Really Good Enough?
I am delighted to publish a guest post from Frances Wilson, who blogs as The Cross-Eyed Pianist
Much has been written about the young French pianist Lucas Debargue, a finalist in the 2015 edition of the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition. The concept of him being “self-taught” (until relatively recently) has been debated across a number of articles, together with his rather unusual technique (“Scales played with only the thumb and index finger and his pinkie sticking up as daintily as Hyacinth Bucket’s” – The Spectator, 18/7/15) and glorious sound. He’s not out of the traditional mold of the international competition winner (commences piano studies at a young age, undertakes rigorous study with a master teacher and progresses to the “Three C’s” of Conservatoire, Competition and Concerto) – and he didn’t even wear a tie during the final!
Continue reading Why Lucas Debargue should be allowed to develop as an artist.