Welcome to Pianodao!

Site Owner:  Andrew Eales

I’m so pleased that you’ve found this site, and hope that you enjoy exploring the 300+ articles here, written to inform, encourage and inspire you on your piano journey!

Pianodao grows weekly, and as well as being my own online journal, the site features posts by some of the world’s most popular and respected writers about piano playing and music education.

Built around the metaphor of piano playing as a lifetime journey, you will find plenty of articles about playing, teaching, and broader lifestyle issues, along with interviews, stories, and my recommendations of great new resources.

And you can contribute too, by leaving comments, questions, even sharing Your Story  here!

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The Pianist’s Anxiety

The Pianist’s Reflections Series

“Leave your thoughts in a place you will not visit …”

Most of the pianists that I have met are easy to describe as “deep thinkers”, and I would argue that an aptitude for analytical thinking is an essential skill for the advanced piano player.

But the jump from analytical thinking to overthinking is a small one. And here’s the problem. In recent years, we have become increasingly aware that overthinking any problem can break rather than solve it, and can often lead us to bizarre conclusions. Overthinking is inextricably linked to anxiety.

If we overthink an upcoming performance, this can undoubtedly contribute to performance anxiety. And in the same way, if we overthink life in general, this can have a significant and debilitating effect on our whole lives.

A growing body of research supports our suspicions that many physical health problems are rooted in the activities of the mind. Overthinking can be associated with anxiety, fear, paranoia and mental instability, all of which can have serious physical as well as social consequences.

Continue reading The Pianist’s Anxiety

Emanuel Rimoldi on Qigong

World Exclusive Interview

Born in Milan, pianist Emanuel Rimoldi first studied in the Conservatory of his home city with Vincenzo Balzani , and then studied at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow with Elissò Virsaladze from 2009-2015. He is presently continuing his doctorate specialisation at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien in Hannover with Arie Vardi. In addition to his official studies, he has completed a series of master- classes with famous pianists such as Dina Yoffe, Boris Petrushansky and Vladimir Askenazy.

Emanuel has won several international competitions in Italy including the ‘Ettore Pozzoli’ in Seregno and the ‘Città di Cantù’. In 2013, he won the 1st prize at the “Top of the World” international piano competition held in Tromso (Norway), and in 2016 he won the Grand Prix and the ‘Ivo Pogorelich Prize’ at the first Manhattan International Music Competition.

Emanuel’s performances have lit up stages from the Carnegie Hall in New York to London’s Wigmore Hall, and from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Moscow.

Emanuel Rimoldi 8

Prior to his last performing trip to the UK, Emanuel very kindly wrote an insightful guest post for Pianodao, following on from which we got chatting and I found that he is a keen practitioner of taichi, an interest which coincides with my own interest in ‘piano qigong’.

I am delighted that Emanuel agreed to talk about the impact his taichi practice has had on his development as a pianist in this world exclusive interview for Pianodao.

Continue reading Emanuel Rimoldi on Qigong

How to Warm your Hands

Piano Qigong Exercises

Here’s a short video in which I explain and show you how to warm your fingers using a simple, gentle qigong massage technique:

Explore Piano Qigong:

Breathing at the Piano

Piano Qigong Exercise

Are you sure that you breathe when playing the piano?

It might seem like an odd question – of course we continue to breathe while playing! But to what extent are we aware of our breath, and how it affects our technique, musicality and comfort at the piano?

Continue reading Breathing at the Piano

Sit up and Shut down

Piano Qigong Exercises

Here is a simple qigong practice that provides an easy hack for diminishing the effects of anxiety in our lives. It can help before performing, taking an exam, or simply enable us get through the basics of daily life.

Anxiety. It seems to be the curse of the modern age, inflicting and blighting so many of our lives. As pianists we often talk about “performance anxiety”, but the truth is that our anxiety about performing is often one element of a bigger picture, and shouldn’t lightly be isolated…

Continue reading Sit up and Shut down

Opening the Chest

Piano Qigong Exercises

“Opening the Chest” – the second movement from the 18 Taiji Qigong Shibashi form – is a great extension to the “Open and Commence” movement previously shared here.

“Opening the Chest” can be used to expand your own Qigong routine as well as to help students who have previously benefitted from “Open and Commence” build on that progress.

Before practising “Opening the Chest”, be sure to master “Earth Posture” and “Open and Commence“.

This next exercise assumes that you are familiar and comfortable with both.

Continue reading Opening the Chest

Open and Commence

Piano Qigong Exercises

The “Open and Commence” movement from the 18 Taiji Qigong Shibashi provides a wonderful way to mindfully reconnect with the sensations in the wrist area, developing supple flexibility.

Continue reading Open and Commence

Earth Posture

Piano Qigong Exercises

Earth Posture is a very simple Qigong stance which combines many of the most basic benefits of qigong practice, and offers a great entry point to qigong.

In this exercise you will focus on posture, alignment, balance, breathing, and release of tension. These are all crucially important for qigong practice – and for piano playing of course! Earth Posture also offers a fabulous way to quiet the mind prior to mediation, or as a meditation in itself.

Continue reading Earth Posture