Etudes isolate a single piano technique. Some etudes explore scale playing in a musical way, others such as the one above, work on arpeggios. The composers all believe that through careful training of basic techniques a stronger more musical student will emerge.
This is like how soccer and hockey coaching works.
A good coach understands that just running around the field or rink is not going to make a winning team.
Have fun, lean in.
If I can help you, call me.
How to sight-read at the piano or “Get Rid of Your Fear of Sight-reading Once and For All”
First, sight-reading is a skill not an inborn talent. Patiently working through the steps, will in short order improve your skills.
A short story, a student of mine years ago came to me barely able to read music even though he was working at the advanced intermediate level on piano. He resisted all my attempts at helping him improve because of his ability to play from ear. Then he goes to high school and takes up the sax. Each day in class he sight read music he didn’t know. They started simple. He was surrounded by his peers. By Christmas he was sight-reading at his level. By June he had surpassed his level. Why?
Classical piano students
If you sight reading is weak, you might start at level 1 Royal Conservatory of Music Books and work through the exercises. If you use a metronome at slow tempi, you will see results in short order.
They ask you a series of guided questions to teach you to see patterns, not individual notes. For instance, in level 1 cover the following concepts.
Jazz piano students
If you just play be ear, I would recommend following the classical piano student routine. If you are a good sight reader of written piano music but struggle with sight reading jazz lead sheets here are some suggestions and concepts.
Sites like www.musicnotes.com allow you play the first page of popular piano piece for free. Find your favourite piece, print out the free page. With the sound of the music in your head, work it out.
If I can help, call me.
This is your chance to practice playing beautifully.
In all cases I recommend using a metronome to develop the ear and ability to play music with others. In all cases listen carefully for good tone and rhythm. Bonus points if you occassionally record yourself on and listen back.
Novice: Five note penta-scales
Intermediate: one and two octave scales played hands separately
Advanced: four octave scales, hands together
See advanced, now explore different dynamics and articulations in each hand. Say, legato in one hand, staccato in the other.
If I can help, call me.
Piano at the bench
What to practice and why
Finally, be patient, enjoy the process.
If I can help, call me.
Practicing in the times of the Covid-19 outbreak is going to be a challenge for some.
Some lucky people will use the extra time to jump right in. For this group I suggest ramping up practice amount slowly to avoid injury. The book, “The Musician’s Way” suggests increasing practice time 10% per week to avoid problems. Warming up before hand with a short cardio and stretching routine will also be beneficial.
For those too stressed to practice and/or focus try these tips:
How do online piano lessons work?
These are unprecedented times! As many of you know, a third of my teaching studio involves individual lessons offered online. I run a full video studio with two cameras and professional sound equipment. My current online students range from young children to senior citizens, and from beginners to professionals, and from (place to place – include China, Mexico, US…).
Click here to see how online lessons work: https://youtu.be/dhH1dY8tzCI
How you set up for online lessons?
1. Open a free Zoom account on your laptop. Skype, Facebook, and Google work as well. With Zoom video recording is very quick and easy.
2. Position your (ok so what kind? Camera? Laptop? Etc.…) device just above the height of the keyboard, and to one side of it. Be sure it is on a stable surface.
3. We will spend a few minutes before beginning the first lesson to get it all running.
How it works.
1. Just like regular lessons!
2. My demonstrations are recorded and put up on YouTube with a private link sent to you.
Here is a link that demonstrates how it works: https://youtu.be/dhH1dY8tzCI Same video as above.
New prospective students can set up a free demonstration with me. Just call.
That is an overhead camera on the pole
“How good do you want to be?” Start with this question followed with: “how should I spend my time?”
Success will depend on the depth and breathe of your practice. My most successful students have made peace with time and possibility. Yes, time counts, but patience and realistic expectations count for more.
Learning has piano follows a well trodden path. You just must follow it to succeed. There is no secret. Just time and hard work. We must be realistic with the fact that course correction will be needed regularly. Life is messy.
Call me, I can help.
I've got happy students who practice more than an hour a day, others who practice an hour a week. Because their time matches their realistic expectations, they are happy. Could they all practice more? Of course. I could too.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.