Fermata Series

The Fermata Series

In music, the Fermata sign is an indication that we should take a little time to pause before playing on. The expressive impact can be significant.

Pianodao’s Fermata Series similarly offers an opportunity to pause, and aims to express big ideas in short, reflective blog posts.

The posts, which appear most Sundays, touch on all the main themes of the Pianodao site, applying to our playing, teaching and wellbeing, and exploring the intersection between them.

The inspiration of Daoist (Taoist) philosophy runs through the series. Fermata posts often use as their starting point quotes from philosophers, poets, musicians, teachers, and great thinkers past and present.

Fermata posts are generally limited to around 600 words, can be read in under three minutes, but just might inspire a longer period of reflection!

Introduction: Pause!

Explore The Series

When East Meets West

Music, albeit in many forms and styles, continues to offer a more universal vocabulary, one which can unite those separated by language, customs, heritage, geography and time…

“In the three moons of winter”

There is a real danger that our over-exertion in the early winter leaves us physically depleted, mentally and emotionally exhausted, and more susceptible to infection, illness and a general sense of feeling “run down”. We need to take stock…

‘Hanging on a Cliff of Sorrow’

Global Leaders in education suggest that our present obsession with graded exams and standardised testing amounts to “childhood hanging on a cliff of sorrow”.

Let’s carefully consider their impassioned plea…

Illuminating Diwali 2023

Wishing you an illuminating, prosperous and joyous Diwali.

My warmest wishes go out to my community of friends both local and online, and to all Pianodao readers, supporters, students and your families.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn is a time of dynamic change and possibility, the old giving way to the new…

Avoiding Excess, Cultivating Balance

The mastery of the piano, whether at elementary or the most advanced level, requires balance. We must avoid imbalances in order to develop as well-rounded musicians and cultivate a more authentic and enduring artistry…

The Supreme Good

On Pianodao, I often quietly apply the wisdom of Daoism to our piano playing journey, but what of its broader relevance? Faced with misery on multiple fronts, can Daoism offer any hope?

Where two or more are gathered

Where two or more are gathered together in the name of music, powerful things can happen! Let’s not forget the magic of live performance…

An Empty Vessel

‘The Fermata Series’ returns to Pianodao with this short reflection on the development and meaning of our musicianship…

Playing like the Winter Sun

Cherish the music you play. Dazzle with the easy! Stop thinking in terms of levels and progress, and start thinking about reaching the soul.

Play like the winter sun…

The Natural Musician

The Natural Musician is the one who has found ways to promote authenticity and balance in their playing…

The Practice Room Sanctuary

I can’t help feeling that, for all our efforts to “sell” music, we yet need to place greater emphasis on music’s transformative and balancing impact on those who truly engage with it…

Developing Fluency

The importance of hearing and rehearsing the whole piece, uninterrupted …

Are You a Fanatic?

“If something works for me, there’s a good chance it will equally work for others…”

Information Overload

Do you often get to the end of a day feeling exhausted from information overload?

Finding your unique voice

The advice of teacher Nadia Boulanger set Astor Piazzolla on a course that would allow him to be creative by being himself, and developing his unique personal expression.

Feeling Impatient?

One thing is certain – everything changes. But sometimes things can take longer than we hoped for, in stark contrast to the general pace of our lives today. Is it any wonder that we often feel impatient?


“Humanity grows more and more intelligent, yet there is clearly more trouble and less happiness daily. How can this be so? It is because intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom.”

Developing Gradually

This was the first post ever published on Pianodao when the site launched on August 1st, 2015.

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