Super video demonstration but...
Let's consider the assumptions he is making about you the student/listener.
What is my job?
I prepare students to understand and execute what he is talking about. The first thing we will do is assess your situation and then we'll draw up a logical plan.
BTW: in 2017, I studied with Peter Martin in Rome Italy. He's a great guy and a very skilled musician. When I grow up, I want to play piano like him. FYI. I was in Rome studying jazz drumming with Greg Hutchinson. Greg played in Ray Brown’s last group.
How amateurs might up their game in rehearsals
Jazz jamming is fun. Sight reading tunes each week is ok, but it is often difficult for the ensemble to improve because there will not be enough week to week repetition. So, I’m putting forth these suggestions.
The idea is that with weekly repetition, improvements can be heard. Bonus: folks will know what to practice between “jams” while flipping over two pieces each week will keep it fresh.
Learning tunes from a fake book is the hard way to go about things. Here is the Bill McBernie method of jazz practice in which you play by ear to multiple recordings.
I could recall the basic outline of the tune "A foggy day" from playing it years ago. That helped. (If you don't know the tune, you must listen until you can sing along.) Below are the recordings and the order in which I played them. Some were played numerous times as I recalled more of the melody and figured out the key. The song was played in the keys of F, C, Eb, and Bb. I played along on vibes, not piano. I focused only on the melody . As the practicing progressed, I began to recall and understand the chords.
Today I was playing it on the piano, from memory, with the chords.
Here is one profile of a successful student who thrives on boundaries, discipline, and competition.
Mei diligently practices the following activities:
If I can help your Mei; please give me a call.
Piano students often ask me, “what should I focus on in my practice sessions?” Here is my reply.
Pieces, etudes, theory, sightreading, ear training, history, technique, ensemble skills
One of my adult students was asking tonight for some help planning his practice time. He is preparing for his Grade 8 piano exam. He is an engineer, a spreadsheet kind of guy. I'm sympathetic. Here is what we discussed.
Warmup with sight reading. Use a metronome! Get into the zone.
Now start practicing
Technique with a 2-minute timer. Switch activities every 2 minutes = 15 minutes
Practice one short section to perfection =15 minutes
Theory =10 minutes
Ear Training = 10 minutes
Review completed piece or pieces 10 minutes
BOOM! one hour of accomplishment
This may work for you.
Revised August 2022
Revised August 2022
In the 1921 teaching manual “Principles of Pianoforte Practice” by James Friskin, he asserts that most students “simply do not hear all the sounds they produce”. I concur. I'm sure Friskin would be amazed at the ease with which a student can now record their practicing for self-evaluation.
Now the hard part, learning to love how we sound. I'll be honest, in the early days it will take a certain amount of fortitude. But push on in faith. You will be the first to hear the improvement and progress as you accumulate and listen to hundreds, even thousands of practice recordings. (In 13 years of playing drums I’ve 248 Gigs of mp3 recordings. It’s both humbling and gratifying to hear how one sounded a decade earlier, or even last year.)
If I can help you learn to practice effectively, call me.
Revised August 2022
What should I practice at the piano?
What to practice is the perennial question? Here are some of the thoughts gleaned from decades of personal practice and observing countless students.
If I can help, call me.
revised August 2022
What is practice math? Kim practices 10 minutes a day and Rachel puts in 60 minutes a day.
…and a year goes by.
Now let’s compare experiences.
Kim is having the time of his life, he’s learned a few pieces, played in a recital, showed off to his non-playing friends.
Rachel is also having the time of her life, she’s learned a few pieces well, played in a recital to great family fanfare, and showed off to her non-playing friends.
They are both a success. Everyone is happy, including the piano teacher, because there was clarity of purpose explicitly communicated by parents to the teacher and the child at the commencement of lessons.
Jazz is primarily about rhythm and articulations, those tricky bits that are impossible to notate. Harmony is like math, fun for many and much easier to get your head around for most than rhythm and articulation. Or so beginners believe. But when the moment of truth arrives at a jam session theory goes mostly out the window and instinct kicks in. Adam Maness explores this theme in his video "Why do I still suck".
Jorge Mabarak, on Facebook, puts it well, theory is a tool. I propose that rhythm is the key. And ear training is the secret.
Here is a practice time breakdown that may work for you:
If I can help, please call me.
Revised September 2022
These ten activities will simplify the process of learning a new piece of music.
Revised September 2022
Revised September 2022
See you in September.
Revised October 2022
Lockdown 2.0 Oh boy!
The article above supplies some great ideas to keep us practicing. I invite you to click the photo to read the article.
It is two months before the big date. What do you do? How do you practice?
Listen to great music. A musical truism: "we are who we listen to".
Try this on your next new piece.
How do I become a great pianist?
An honest question if a tiny bit naïve. If you are in a great hurry, it is going to be difficult. If you are looking for a “hack” or some shortcut, I don’t know any.
For centuries pianists have followed a standard set of proven practices.
I'm available to help and encourage you on your journey. Just call me.
Classical piano Grades 1-2
Is it possible to make progress in 10 minutes? Of course. At some point longer practice sessions will be required, but with planning and focus you can accomplish a lot in a shorter time. Remember playing an instrument is fun when we succeed at it. And can clearly see our progress over time.
What practice is:
Learning through thoughtful repetition how to play our instrument so that over time we progress towards our goal however modest or lofty that may be. The goal is to accomplish a micro step forward each time we sit to practice. The size of this micro step varies on the time available.
What practice is not:
Messing around playing stuff we know is not practicing, it is playing. This is not a negative, but the reason we practice in the first place. In conclusion don’t feel guilty messing around, just don’t confuse it with practicing. Fool around without guilt. Have fun.
The "breakfast piano minutes" are usually created in about 10 minutes 1st thing in the morning.
Students often believe that I must have started early in life with lots of natural talent. Let me clear this up.
I am proof practice works.
I made it into Berklee with 4 years of piano under my belt, but it included 2 years of professional gigging in rock and country bands in the North Bay region. A lot of gigs. Plus, my basement jazz band. That made the difference I figure. But who knows, recordings do not exist.
I got through Berklee as a composition major. I thought about being a performance major, but that required serious practice. Something I was not interested in. But I continued playing gigs during those years. A lot of gigs. Some exciting gigs. I was a busy journeyman. I could sight-read just about anything. I showed up on time ready to play. I was pleasant to be around. Where did that put me in the Berklee pecking order? Turns out near the top. I made it one year to the number 2 band.
So, when did I learn to practice?
Signed up for my Grade 10 exam. My very first piano exam ever. I couldn't fake it. I had to play it. I put a couple of thousand hours of focused practice in. I read every book I could find on how to practice. How many books? Chapters bookstore sent me Christmas present. That is how many.
Have Fun, see you in September.
How many hobbies can one-person juggle?
Depends. I juggle one. I had two, but Covid19 put an end to that.
I’ve students who try to juggle 3 or more while holding down jobs, spouses, children, and life. They often looked stressed. How do my less stressed students do it? Here are some tactics they follow:
Do you remember why you were attracted to piano in the first place? Put up a post it note on the piano to keep it front of mind.
"Have a plan, work the plan" Sage advice
A plan is great if you can find your materials when it's time to practice. A plan is great if you can have some quiet alone time to focus and have fun.
Here are ten tips on one aspect of success: an organized workspace.
Have a productive session.
An Ideal Practice Session
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:
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.