I just want to write a quick note for all of you out there, who might be feeling a bit down or frustrated because you didn’t have the better result than you expected in your exam/concert/teaching/building your studio. Please read this:
You didn’t fail.
You tried your best (at that moment) and it wasn’t the result you wanted. (If you didn’t try your best then thats really your fault and you have no one to blame it for.)
You can try again.
But before you take that exam/performance/the next project, think about what went wrong.
Looking into yourself is very important, but most people don’t want to do it. Because it’s hard. It can be embarrassing to see why you made that mistake.
But you are only human.
What you can do now is to think how to move forward and be better next time around. And to reach that goal you need a much better planning this time.
Because most likely, what didn’t work last time will not work next time either. And if you are just going to do the same thing again, you are simply setting yourself up for error and mistake one more time. Who does that? Some people do. You don’t want to be one of them.
Now, get up and tell yourself, you are setting up for success this time. And you are going to do your best you know how for it – this requires very careful and detailed planning and execution of what your plan is.
Stick with your plan is very important, second to having a great plan. But even if you have a great plan, if you don’t do what you plan to do, nothing will work for you, so remember that.
Great reward comes from great effort with persistence and time. Nothing substantial is achieved within a very short period of time. Teaching and playing is building knowledge, that’s very similar to building wealth, no one can do it in one day or even a year. It’s constant work and struggle. I have had my fair share of work and struggle. I get frustrated myself sometimes. But every time I get beat up by life and I get back up faster and faster. Because I know deep inside me there’s no point wasting more time on anything even slightly negative and unproductive, that is not contributing to my growth and success.
So here I encourage you to just step back, relax, take a deep breath, and get back up on your feet. I know you can do this and you have that power within you to make this work.
Do you want to play scales faster? Do you have a problem with arpeggios? Are you preparing for your graded exam in April/May? Do you want some advice for your ATCL/DipABRSM exam preparation?
Now it’s the time to contact me!
I offer a one-off consultation session for any non-students of mine. So whether you are piano students preparing for your graded exam, or improve your basic piano skills, or you are piano teachers helping your students to be successful in their exams, I welcome you.
This service can be provided in person at my studio or via skype.
Contact me at email@example.com for scheduling and more details.
how to practice a fugue?
1.play each voice separately.
e.g. if there are four voices,
Step 1. play only soprano voice
Step 2. play only alto voice
Step 3. play only tenor voice
Step 4. play only bass voice
2. Play two voices together
Step 5. play soprano and alto voices
Step 6. play tenor and bass voices
Step 7. play soprano and bass voices
Step 8. play alto and tenor voices
It’s very important to hear firstly each individual voice before practicing them together.
The concept is very simple:
Imagine a fugue is played by a string ensemble, so it would be first violin + second violin + viola + cello. Do they practice together without practicing on their own? No! Only now YOU the pianist has to play every single line together yourself. Therefore, if you really want to know the voices well, you must practice listening and playing each of them separately. In the course of learning each voice, you get to understand how each of them works and how it sounds. Then, when you put them together, you would find it much easier to hear each voice and bring out whatever musical patterns you need to according to the importance of them respectively.
The same concept can be applied to practicing any polyphonic writing or simply, left hand-right hand situation. In order for the voices / two hands to coordinate well together in harmony and balance, they must be able to perform on their own terms first. And to be able to perform on their own terms first, you must train them to do so separately. Often that’s the solution students miss out on taking (“too boring!” “too much time!”), and that’s the main reason why they don’t get familiarised with the piece they have been working on even for a long period of time. Drilling without strategy on how to practice and precision on details will never get to the point where one truly knows about the piece albeit hours spent at the piano.
Here are some great references for anyone who is serious in learning more in depth about piano/keyboard music of the classical era:
CPE Bach’s treatise: Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen (Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments)
It’s available in German and French at IMSLP: http://imslp.org/wiki/Versuch_%C3%BCber_die_wahre_Art_das_Clavier_zu_spielen,_H.868,_870_(Bach,_Carl_Philipp_Emanuel)
For English translation: https://www.amazon.com/Essay-True-Playing-Keyboard-Instruments/dp/0393097161
Czerny’s Op. 500 Pianoforte-Schule
another historic treatise, in particular the second chapter concerning “the proper performance of Beethoven’s works”.
English translation: http://imslp.org/wiki/Pianoforte-Schule,_Op.500_(Czerny,_Carl)
Second chapter on it’s own here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/356510
Rosenblum’s Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music
This is the go-to reference for all aspects of historically-informed performance at the piano Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Performance-Practices-Classic-Piano-Music/dp/0253206804
Brown’s Classic and Romantic Performing Practice: 1750 – 1900
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Classical-Romantic-Performing-Practice-1750-1900/dp/0195166655/ref=pd_sim_14_4?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCN6Dra0L&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&psc=1&refRID=MZ31B06KHX63PDSB2767 .
Malcolm Bilson’s DVDs on performance practice:
(If you don’t know who he is, go learn here )
And his recordings:
Special thanks to our guest teacher Mr Polanski for this note.
I am thrilled to announce that my second book, “Piano Technique Transformation Exercise Book” is also published and available for sale now! You can find them on the following platforms:
You can also purchase it on my website here.
With this book and my other book “Piano Freedom” – on top of my YouTube channel and of course my teaching! – I can assure you that your piano technique and playing will be better forever. Most importantly, you will enjoy your playing and music in a new way you would never imagined you could ever achieve. I can promise you just that.
Any question about the book and its application please do not hesitate to write me!
Choosing a right programme for your piano diploma exam sets the right path for ultimate success.
How do you choose your programme then? And how do you know if the programme is right for you and the exam purpose?
1. READ THE SYLLABUS
Follow the guidelines strictly is the first and foremost key to success in your piano exam.
You must read the syllabus carefully.
If you are the teacher, read the syllabus!
If you are the candidate, read the syllabus too! Do not rely on your teacher to do the work. There are so many details in the syllabus that your teacher just cannot explain everything to you in your lessons (although of course the teacher is equally responsible here).
The details include the prerequisites to enter each diploma exam, the time limit and choices of the recital programme, the word count and format of the programme notes etc etc. Always refer to the syllabus for clarification. And you get get a physical copy from the board itself – they will mail it to you upon request.
2. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE RECITAL PROGRAMME
Some candidates may choose to play all of the pieces from all four different musical periods, while others three out of the four, depending on timing as well as one’s preference, musicality and technicality. So if the programme has three pieces, it is typically (but not confined to) Baroque- Classical-Romantic or Classical-Romantic- 20th-century.
You should bear in mind that it is not only the period that differentiates one piece from the other. It also depends on the genre and the style of the piece. Generally, you would want to include a bigger sonata piece as the centre piece of the programme (it is not compulsory but common choice). Then from there you think about how to balance it with pieces of other styles/periods/varieties.
3. CHOOSE THE PIECES ACCORDING TO YOUR ABILITY
In order to achieve the best result in the exam, you must choose the pieces that shows different spectrum and the best of your technicality and musicality.
Do not just choose some pieces because they are “easy” to handle so you can practice less, or “difficult” only to show how fast you can move your hands. The programme must show your best ability in delivering substance and variety of skills and understanding in the playing and music.
How do I choose for my students then?
I always like to choose for my students a lighter shorter piece to start the whole programme, something with separate sections/movements that stops in between, to gently ease themselves into the recital process. If the student is of higher level of technicality, I would choose a more technical and fun short piece at the end to show off their virtuosity. If the student is more musically expressive, I make sure s/he has a piece to showcase that side of playing ability as well.
The choice is limitless. But you must choose accordingly.
I welcome any questions regarding the piano diploma exams.
Are you always frustrated with constant practice but not enough improvement in your playing? Do you know you actually have so much more potential to grow and progress? Do you want to play so well that you surprise and surpass your old self (/old teacher) ?
Here is the ultimate solution to change the way you play, to pass the exam you want, and to reach your utmost potential.
(The same goes for your children).