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Appreciation

By |December 18th, 2018|

Hi! I sometimes find myself going about my daily activities and suddenly I’ll want to say “Hi.” Yep, that’s it – just to say ‘Hi.” It’s sounds a little silly, doesn’t it, but the fact of the matter is that I really appreciate you reading this. You love music, you aspire to develop your skills at the piano, and perhaps most of all, you want to enjoy playing piano as much as possible. And as you go about your life, you “check in” with your musical self throughout each day, or at least as much as you can. So here [...]

“Enjoy the process” because after all, we have no choice!

By |December 17th, 2018|

We hear the words “enjoy the process” so often these days that we sometimes begin to tune them out. Or we say “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know… enjoy the process” while we secretly think, “ I really just want to accomplish this and get it over with!” But the truth is that life isn’t like that, and this is a good thing! Take a good meal, for example. Would you REALLY want to experience the satisfaction of having finished a gourmet dinner without first having the pleasure of actually eating the food? No, of course not. (Semi-pun almost not intended!) [...]

Mountain climbing and piano practicing

By |December 10th, 2018|

It's entirely possible that walking slowly up a mountain will get you to the top faster than if you tried to sprint. Take a moment and think about how this applies to your piano practicing. Are you trying to sprint when you'd be better off walking? Enter your email here to get your free copy of my ebook, Pop and Rock Accompaniment for Piano * indicates required Email Address *

Understanding the learning process and your development as a pianist

By |December 7th, 2018|

As a piano teacher, I’ve become more and more fascinated with the learning process. I guess I’ve always been fascinated with it, but over time it’s grown to almost an obsession because I can hear someone play piano and immediately understand what they need to do in order to play piano better. And this directly involves how they learn piano. I spent decades practicing piano in an ineffective way. Yes, I practiced a lot and enjoyed every minute of it, but if I knew then what I know now about how to practice, I would have improved exponentially faster during [...]

Self-imposed barriers

By |December 5th, 2018|

We don't say "I'm no good at eating, so I won't eat lunch today." But do you sometimes avoid the piano because you don't think you're "good enough?" Why deprive yourself of this nourishment? (bon appetít!) Enter your email here to get your free copy of my ebook, Pop and Rock Accompaniment for Piano * indicates required Email Address *

Letting musical Influences emerge in our piano playing

By |December 1st, 2018|

We all have people who’ve influenced us. Parents, friends, neighbors when we were growing up, and even celebrities. Have you ever made a comment about something and realized that you said it just like your favorite actor would have said it? This has happened to me, and I was surprised at the unexpected influence. Then I chuckled and moved on with my life. It’s the same way with our music, and we shouldn’t try to avoid it. Keith Jarrett has a good perspective on this type of influence. He basically says that the more we be ourselves, the more we [...]

“Faking” confidence at the piano, in the best possible way

By |November 30th, 2018|

When you’re performing, you have to learn how to “fake” confidence. Pretend to have confidence. Not necessarily to the audience (because you’re appearing confident already, right?) but to yourself. What exactly is confidence? I’ve found that many aspiring musicians, and some professionals, get mixed up by what they think confidence is. Confidence is not “I know this will go perfectly.” After all, no one can say they know their performance will go perfectly, no matter how good they are or how much they’ve prepared. And to hope for this will set us up for self-defeat and disappointment. Instead, the confidence [...]

On A Turquoise Cloud with Duke Ellington

By |November 23rd, 2018|

What feeling are you aiming for when you play ballads? In any style, ballads can go in many directions and the great musicians tend to go to extremes regarding this. For example, do you want to play forcefully, like Bruce Springsteen? Or passionately, like Sarah Vaughan sang? Or delicately like the great jazz pianist Bill Evans? Duke Ellington often expressed a feeling through his ballads that I sometimes call “floating on a cloud.” I probably got this idea from Ellington himself, through the title of his wonderful 1947 composition “On A Turquoise Cloud.” The orchestration uses extremely sophisticated techniques to [...]

The flip side of practicing piano to “improve”

By |November 22nd, 2018|

If the desire to "improve" motivates you to sit down at your piano and practice, the by all means, go for it! But don't let the inverse happen. Don't stop practicing on those days when you don't feel you're improving. On those days, view practicing piano like you're eating a meal. For nourishment rather than "improvement." Enter your email here to get your free copy of my ebook, Pop and Rock Accompaniment for Piano * indicates required Email Address *

“Winging it”

By |November 20th, 2018|

I hope you always keep experimenting and trying things. Most of the time we want to know each step of the way before we get there, and we forget that all of the great composers and improvisers we admire were "winging it." Beethoven didn't have anyone tell him to begin a symphony on a dominant 7th chord, and Debussy and Stravinsky were definitely making up form and vocabulary as they went along. Charlie Parker played notes that no other sax player in jazz was playing. And nobody had written a song like "Penny Lane" before Paul McCartney did. These musicians [...]