Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Connecting to the Audiences

April 5, 2011

In the past few weeks, I have been preparing for several performances, putting together program notes, rehearsing and teaching quite a bit. As I prepare for this upcoming events, I often question myself, “Should I talk about the pieces I am going to play?” I think it’s important for the audience to know a little about the work so they will be able to connect with the performer, giving of course the appropriate circumstances of the performance. I usually like to prepare program notes with insights about the piece and/or the composer and whenever necessary, in addition to talking and adding a few other thoughts that weren’t mentioned in the program.

So, today I encountered a very interesting article that explains why it’s important for classical musicians to talk to their audiences. If  popular musicians do it all the time, why does classical music have to be different? Why does it have to set itself apart? At the end, it’s all about sharing ideas, experiences and entertaining other people.

We in the classical music world need to learn how to talk to audiences for two reasons:

1. It helps you connect with those who have come to see your performance. Let’s face it, the traditional concert situation is more than a little awkward these days, with a room full of audience members who may be largely uncomfortable with the experience of going to see music live and, to make matters worse, keep quiet all the way through. They often feel like they’re supposed to merely observe, although they’re not certain what they’re supposed to appreciate. When you speak to them, you can break through that distance right away, and if they find you engaging, you can start the process of winning them over before you’ve even played a note.

2. Audiences for the most part really, really want to like classical music, to understand and appreciate it. But since it’s not a part of current popular culture, many people feel a kind of distance between themselves and the music, and perhaps more than just a little intimidated around the high culture that allegedly goes with it. Finding the right tone and words to introduce a work of music (preferably without sounding the slightest bit high-minded) can reassure the audience that they may just have the ability to appreciate the music on your program and want to look further into the world of experience that classical music can provide.

Regarding what you’re actually going to say, it’s always best to find the words that come from a place of genuine connection rather than what you feel you’re supposed to say. It might even be a worthwhile idea to talk about your own personal journey and how as a performer you connect with the music you’re about to play rather than throwing around complex musical terminology. Try it. Your audiences will thank you.

Click here to read the full article: “Why Talking To Audiences Is Essential When Playing Classical Music”

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Accompanist Clone! – Yes, Now You Can!

August 19, 2010

If you are a pianist/accompanist and you will totally relate to this video!

Really hilarious!

6 Easy Tips For Reading Music

August 7, 2010

Over the years of teaching and performing, I have encountered people who were often quite amazed how musicians are able to manage so many skills at once. “How can you understand all these black dots on the page? How do you know what they mean and what you are supposed to do?”, they asked.

Music reading may seem very difficult and intricate, but it is actually quite simple once you understand the nuts and bolts. It is certainly possible to play music without knowing how to read music, just like it is possible to speak without knowing how to read or write. However, musicians need to be very versatile in today’s world, and it is very important to know as many skills as possible. So, learning to read music should be definitely is on the top of the list.

If you are a musician at a professional or amateur level, learning to read sheet music can help you to be aware and identify music theory, help you to communicate your musical ideas to others on rehearsals and performances, allow you to play music you never heard before and even write your own music.

Music reading is a skill that could take sometime to master, but it is definitely doable and I’ll be covering some of the important foundations in a series of 5 blogs to get you started: “Staff”, Clefs“, “Keys Signatures“, “Time Signature“, “Pulse and Rhythm“, and “Grouping All Together“. Finally, I will be giving some further resources and websites you can use to find more information and practice your reading music skills.

Stay tune for the upcoming blogs!

Music Media Monthly Blog

July 13, 2010

Today, I found a very interesting blog Music Media Monthly, which cover releases of new CDS and downloads, recommendation of upcoming and reprints of music related books, videos, articles and music websites.

Definitely worth checking it out, if you haven’t yet:

http://musicmediamonthly.com/

Do Musicians Hear Better than Anyone Else?

July 7, 2010

Studies presented at the 2009 Society for Neuroscience, shows that music training can greatly improve your hearing abilities. Researchers discovered that musicians have a better tendency to perceive and remember sounds not only because of their “good ears”, but greatly because of their years of musical training. The study shows that music can help your auditory system to connect to the world around by “tuning” more from all the experiences with sound throughout your whole life.

A different experiment also tested musicians and non-musicians with their abilities to quickly respond to sounds, while staying focused. The results showed that musicians were actually able to react to the sounds faster and more correctly while keeping their focus for much longer. “Musical experience can change how our brain interacts with sounds,” (…) It’s almost like the brain is better able to pay attention to sound and [to] better extract meaning from sound”, says Dana Strait, a doctoral candidate for the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University.

A third study also demonstrated that even musicians who had hearing loss, were also able to identify different sounds more accurately, while non-musicians with similar hearing impairment were not able to. Dr. Mark Jude Tramo, a professor of neurology at Harvard says, “you think about the brain and the hearing system as if they were muscles. (…) Tennis players tend to be good arm wrestlers because they have strong forearms.” Similarly, a musician who exercises certain parts of the brain “is going to be able to do better on any task that involves auditory concentration”, he says.

For more information, visit:
Institute for Music & Brain Science.

Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University.

Say What?! Musicians Hear Better.

Researchers Probe How Music Rewires the Brain.

©2010 Spokane Piano Studio

A Summer Night to Remember!

July 7, 2010

Looking for some great music to listen this Summer, while enjoying your long and warn evenings?

Here are five wonderful works for you to enjoy this Summer:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111595310

Connecting Music and Arts on the Streets!

June 24, 2010

In 2010, many places around the world will have a chance to see the “Play Me – I’m Yours” project, which combines music and artwork in urban settings. The project has been touring internationally since 2008 and it was created by artist Luke Jerram. The largest exhibition will happen in New York for the next two weeks this Summer. The project will feature 60 pianos around the streets of New York, including locations such as parks, train locations, bus shelters, sidewalks and street corners for anyone to play.

The pianos are painted by different artists and each piano acts as a reflection of the community in which they are placed. The installations attracts a wide range of people closer to the arts, from individuals with no music experience to experienced performers.

Music and arts are a vital part of our society because they give us an opportunity for self-expression, which helps us to find significance in life. This is a wonderful project because it not only promotes the arts, but it brings your everyday people closer to them. By keeping these important elements alive in our daily lives, we will be building and developing stronger and healthier communities. Music and arts should know no boundaries or barriers and they should be seen limitlessly.

For more information, videos, pictures and highlights of “Play Me – I’m Yours” project, visit:

http://www.streetpianos.com/

©2010 Spokane Piano Studio

Top 5 Reasons Why Is Music So Important

June 14, 2010

Have you ever thought about what it would be to live in a world with absolutely no music? Music is constantly our daily lives and it is part of our fast paced and dynamic environment. Without music, the world would be a very quiet and tedious place with no outlet for our creative energy and expression. It directly reflects a picture of different societies, express a wide range of feelings and it is capable of delivering messages that words cannot express.

Here is the top 5 reasons why music is so important:

  1. Music is an universal language: It is capable of inspiring common human feelings and bringing people from different cultures together.
  2. Music enhances learning: Playing an instrument requires the use of many different brain functions such as motor control, eye-hand coordination, sight, hearing, memory and creativity. Recent studies have shown that music uses both left and right sides of the brain, contributing not only for the child’s academic development, but also their physical and emotional development.
  3. Music is a channel for expression: It evokes a wide range of feelings, touching people’s lives and and help them to express and channel what is inside of their hearts. It speaks to both the conscious and unconscious levels in our minds.
  4. Music is spiritual: Many cultures and religions use music to state their values, beliefs and as part of their rituals.
  5. Music as a simple pleasure: It can be just for your own enjoyment and fun! You don’t necessarily need to go to a concert nowadays to enjoy music, although that also could be an entertaining experience. You can listen to music while driving in your car, doing your work out, at work, or for pure relaxation.

“Music express that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.” (Victor Hugo)

©2010 Spokane Piano Studio

5 Successful Tips for Piano Practicing

May 31, 2010

Learning to play the piano can be an extremely fun experience for children and adults. It will certainly require a lot of dedication, determination and patience, but the results can be incredibly rewarding. I think one of the keys to getting better at your instrument is to learn how to practice effectively. Knowing how to practice will not only maximize your time, but it will considerably improve your playing in a shorter amount of time. There are many strategies that could be used to improve your playing, but I am only highlighting five that I consider the most fundamental:

1. Listen to yourself. Pay attention to what the music is requesting from you. What are the dynamics, articulations, tempo markings, etc.? Are there any spots that need more attention with rhythm and counting? There is no way around listening to yourself if you want to be a good musician.

2. Learn the style first, then learn the notes. Make choices from the early stages what do you want to do with the music. Mark these choices with a pencil, so it can be changed later. Decide how you are going to shape the phrases, adding any dynamics, crescendos, decrescendos, etc. Remember to keep the original intentions of the composer and within the style as well.

3. Don’t just play “the notes”; use your imagination. Think on what the music would sound like if it was played by a different instrument other than piano. Play the melody, for instance, if it was played by a violin, a cello or even by a singer. This will make your practice more fun and it will boast your artistry level. Remember, if you think like an artist, you will be one!

4. Don’t play “through” the piece every time your practice. Start from the “trouble” spots and play it slowly. Once you start feeling more comfortable with the passage (s), you should up your tempo gradually. If you reached a tempo, but still there are mistakes, you should take it at a slower tempo until you are able to play with no mistakes. You could also practice with hands separate, even starting with the left hand. Also, try small sections, slowly and with hands together, and move on to the next one only when you have mastered the previous.

5. Be consistent. The best way to achieve success in piano study is through correct and consistent practice habits.

©2010 Spokane Piano Studio