Guest Blogger Mikako Endo Offers Piano Lesson & Performance Tips and Tricks

Piano Lessons

Formula for the Good, Better,  and Best Piano Performance

If you are just beginning to play the piano, there is a way to prepare a piece for performance that could be represented as a simple mathematical equation:

 

Satisfying Performance = (Understanding the techniques required to play this particular piece) X Practice Time

 What does this mean?Piano Lessons Piano Lesson

To achieve a satisfying performance you need to understand fully HOW this piece is played. This is all about body, arms, fingers. Our formula is just simple math — but since this is multiplication, each term makes a big difference.

 

So technical achievement is entirely proportional to the amount of time you practice. Of course. But without a solid understanding of technique, practice alone won’t help that much: you will probably get frustrated rather quickly, and start practicing less and less. But once you understand the fingering, rhythms, dynamics, tempo, etc., you won’t mind practicing more. And you will start noticing the musical details more too.

 

Well, how do we develop this understanding? There have been many piano method books published in recent years that could be helpful. These books show beginning piano students how to progress, step-by-step. (I wish I had encountered such books when I was starting out!) However, unfortunately, there is no Ultimate Method Book for you in this world. Because your background and interests are unique, the most effective way to learn, and to reach your personal goals, must necessarily be unique, too. This is where the teacher is required: to evaluate your physical and psychological character, to see your technical level, and then to show you new possibilities.

 

Once your technique has a sure foundation, the formula needs to move to the next level:

 

Beautiful Performance = (Knowing the Techniques + Imagination) X Practice Time

You might think “imagination” is too abstract a variable. But “image”, in music, is not really an individual or personal matter: it is not just your own. The feelings involved here can be recognized by all listeners — they are beyond language, race, gender, religion, and even the limitations of time.  And, because music is a communication, imagination and understanding come from both sides, performer and listener.

 

I still remember one performance, by a (not so technically sophisticated) student opera singer. She hadn’t fully developed her voice yet (and I don’t even remember her name anymore), but her performance of “Batti, batti o bel Masetto” from Don Giovanni by Mozart was exceptional. She had entirely become the character Zerlina. The sincerity of her apology (and knowing she will be forgiven using her young and feminine beauty!) was completely authentic. Tears came to my eyes, and I was not the only one so moved in the audience that night.

 

A truly memorable performance requires a further refinement of the formula:

Memorable Performance = [(Techniques + Imagination) X Practice Time]Intention

 

So now we’ve talked about technique; we’ve talked about practice, and about imagination. But — intention? Is that too vague, do you think?

Well maybe; but we humans can’t always be described in precisely defined terms anyway, right?

 

I had the opportunity to be at dinner with Mr. Robert Helps once. He was an extraordinary pianist, and a composer as well. At one point he said:

 

“Well, if you get a little recognition as a pianist, each time you perform people’s expectation become higher and higher.”

But a pianist is human, too. You maybe had a cold that day, or something interrupted your concentration. It’s not possible to be in the best of the best condition every time. But if you want to be a good pianist, you need the intention to be.  Even though critics and audiences are harsh, you can’t and shouldn’t be upset by little details every time. You have to think beyond the moment, about your whole life, past and future. And through all the ups and downs, you have to maintain your ambition to reach the top.”

 

I have never forgotten this statement, from one of the finest pianists I ever heard.

You can find more about our piano instructor Mikako Endo here. mikako

thetraderslines - June 9, 2016

Best Ways to Improve your Piano Teaching
It’s that time of year when many of us have just received our students’ exam results and sent out progress reports to parents. Tracking student progress is definitely an important activity, but what about our progress as teachers? Is the fact that our students are returning to us next year really enough feedback? you can learn more about piano at http://www.pianolessonvancouverbc.com
Just as our students are marked based on criteria, we too need a set of standards to hold ourselves accountable to. The criteria for assessing our teaching should be determined by our values.
What Are Your Teaching Values?
Teaching values that I strongly believe should be common amongst all teachers include:
• Actively engaging students in their learning – It is common knowledge amongst current learning and teaching theories that students learn most effectively through active engagement rather than being passive recipients of information. A common goal amongst all teachers is to make the learning process as effect as possible for the student. After all, isn’t that what teaching is all about?
• Seeking growth and development as a teacher – If you stop developing yourself professionally, teaching can quickly become stale, uninteresting, and disengaging. If you’re not inspired by your craft, how can you expect your students to be?
• Piano Teaching Feedback Process
• Your values and the qualities you associate with great teaching are the standards by which you assess your teaching. Below is an outline of the process I use.
Step 1 – Teach:
Think about your students’ practice sessions. Without deliberate intention, it is pretty easy for students to go through the motions of “practice” without actually achieving much . And we know as pianists ourselves how much regular, conscious, and intensive focus is needed for steady growth. The same can be said for teaching.
Every lesson we teach is an opportunity to practice and improve. We need to stay focused and engaged with action plans and ideas for growth. It is too easy to become complacent and go through the motions of teaching without staying conscious of how we are teaching. This can quickly lead to feeling disengaged and uninspired. Not the most conducive mindset for motivating and engaging students.
In order to teach by the qualities and values we hold dear, teaching is just the beginning…
Step 2 – Reflect:
While we are teaching, most – if not all – of our focus is on our student. This means that if we don’t set aside time outside of the lessons to reflect, we can never truly assess our teaching. Questions for reflecting may include:
• Did I engage my students and make our lessons fun/engaging/inspiring?
• Did I make the activities relevant to each individual student?
• Did I show patience, kindness, and support?
Also ask yourself:
• What did you do well?
• What could have been done better?
• What were your students’ reactions to activities in the lessons?
Step 3 – How Can You Improve?
The blogosphere makes it easy to access the latest thoughts, tips, and resources for teaching. Other sources of professional development include:
• Facebook groups
• Piano teaching magazines
• Piano pedagogy books
• Local workshops
• Conferences
With so much information available to us, it is easy to get information overload. Try to stay specific in your quest for new strategies by using your reflections on your own teaching to guide your attention to sources/articles/workshops that will help to meet your needs.
Step 4 – Implement & Experiment
Reading, watching, subscribing, and attending workshops only goes so far… A great idea without action achieves nothing. The main thing now is to choose one new thing that you would like to try, and – well, try it.
When deciding what new strategy to use, ask yourself how it serves the qualities you are hoping to emanate. If you’re looking for something fun and engaging and value keeping up with current trends, you may be drawn to technological advancements. If you’re looking for ways to nurture problem-solving skills, you might assess communication methods. If you would like to be more fun and creative, you may look for new games or improvisation tasks.
This step in the cycle is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing the unfamiliar. Don’t shy away from experimenting with new strategies and ideas in lessons. Don’t be afraid to use your students as guinea pigs and respond to feedback from them. One of the great parts of teaching is learning from your students in return.Learn the full course on piano and be an expert visit http://www.pianolessonvancouverbc.com

    tomas6750 - August 26, 2016

    Wow… great article!

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