What is Your Pre-Performance Checklist?

Piano and FlyingWhat do you do before you play? Do you find that you or your students often start a piece only to ask half-way into the first measure what the tempo, dynamics, or character is? If so you may want to make yourself a pre-playing checklist. I use the term "checklist" because it's what a pilot does before takeoff - checking all of the elements of the plane to make sure nothing is out of whack. If you miss a step in your pre-performance checklist, you might not realize until after liftoff. Your … Continue Reading ››

Doing Something for Its Own Sake

Richard-feynmanWhy do we want our children to take piano lessons?

Is it to become world-famous artists? In most cases this is misguided. Only for a very small fraction of a fraction of a percentage of students is this a viable goal. The competition is fierce, the market is over-crowded, and the lifestyle is often far from glamorous, albeit exciting and artistically fulfilling for some.

Is it to have a career in music regardless of fame or fortune? This is a good option for anyone who truly loves music - and far more likely in … Continue Reading ››

How to Practice Every Day

"Play the Grand Piano."
Pardon me while I play the Grand Piano.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the role that habits play in our day-to-day lives. Developing skill at the piano, like so much else, is largely a matter of consistency over time - something I discussed in my post Practice Like a Personal Trainer.

Today I was thinking about this: things that we might enjoy can still be tough to get started on.

Last January I began the habit of going to … Continue Reading ››

How to Fix Notes and Fingerings

Claude_Debussy_portraitA huge part of playing the piano involves learning correct physical habits.

So what happens when a habit doesn’t lead to the desired result? And what happens when that bad habit tends to stick? Any teacher has experience how difficult it can be to change an already-learned fingering or wrong note. The habit, once ingrained, has a pesky way of coming back again and again.

There is a simple rule to remember when dealing with these instances: Any physical habit must first be performed with conscious awareness. Think about tying your shoe laces. After … Continue Reading ››

2015 Austin Piano Festival Is Fast Approaching!

Music in AustinWhile it may still be cold and windy in much of the country, I want to let Piano Blog readers in on plans for the fast approaching Austin Piano Festival this May.

Our Festival Piano Competition will be held on March 14th, drawing students from all across the state. Many of these students will have the opportunity to participate in festival master classes, perform in concerts, and appear on Austin's KMFA 89.5 as guest artists!

The festival itself will be held May 8-17, and as usual … Continue Reading ››

Focused Listening to Develop your Color Palette

chopinPeople who tend to err on the "big picture" side of things often find it difficult to develop a refined sound. They may splash around, missing notes, feeling a bit out of control and like everything is "tough" . . . they may especially notice that their sound quality suffers - they would except they are probably too busy trying to get to the end of the piece!

Yes, there is a problem with some musicians of getting bogged down in detail - losing touch with the musicality and life of a piece … Continue Reading ››

Practice Like a Personal Trainer

how to practice pianoHave you ever wondered why it is that personal trainers usually have great physiques? Probably you haven't, because the answer seems obvious: trainers have great physiques because they work out a lot.

But I think there's a deeper answer: personal trainers are in great shape because they have to be. In other words, most everything in their environment is geared towards keeping them fit and trim.

Personal trainers lose clients and money if they aren't fit, and they lose face in front of other trainers and gym-goers. On top of that, … Continue Reading ››

Getting Started with Your Studio Website

Build Your Website Today
Build Your Website Today
Over the last few years, especially since coming out with Music Studio Success, a lot of readers have asked me how they can go about getting a website of their own on line. Nowadays it isn't tough to have a quality website of your own, but many people don't know how to get started.

While delve into some particulars of online marketing in my book, I wanted to create a resource for those of you who are interested in getting online. This is the … Continue Reading ››

Resources for pianists, students, and teachers