Contact: 0438 044 871

    Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 10.25.01 am

    The 4th Finger…
    For a pianist, the fourth finger can be very troublesome, linked by a tendon to the 5th, it doesn’t have the lifting capability of finger 3 or finger 5. For anyone who is new to this, try placing all 5 fingers in a curved manner on a table and just try lifting finger 4 (the ring finger). See what I mean – not so easy!
    When learning to play 3rds or a 3-note chord C-E-G for example, many beginners find this position very difficult.

    Try this method from C.C. Chaung, The Fundamentals of Piano Practise:
    The finger independence and lifting (see below) exercises are performed by first pressing all five fingers down, e.g., from C to G using the RH. Then play each finger three to five times: CCCCDDDDEEEEFFFFGGGG. While one finger is playing, the others must be kept down. Do not press down firmly as this is a form of stress, and will cause fatigue very quickly. Also, you don’t want to grow any more slow muscles than is necessary. All the depressed keys must be completely down, but the fingers are resting on them with only enough downward force to keep the keys down. The gravitational weight of the hand should be enough. Beginners may find this exercise difficult in the beginning because the non- playing fingers tend to collapse from their optimum positions or lift involuntarily, especially if they begin to tire. If they tend to collapse, try a few times and then switch hands or quit; do not keep practicing in the collapsed position. Then try again after a rest. One variation of this exercise is to spread out the notes over an octave. This type of exercise was already in use during F. Liszt’s time (Moscheles). They should be done using the curled as well as all the flat finger positions.

    For the finger independence exercise, try to increase the speed. Note the similarity to PS exercise #1, b. Parallel Set Exercises for Intrinsic Technical Development. For general technique development, exercise #1 is superior to this one. The main objective of exercise #1 was speed; the emphasis here is different – it is for finger independence. Some piano teachers recommend doing this exercise once during every practice session, once you can play it satisfactorily. Until you can play it satisfactorily, you may want to practice it several times at every practice session. Practicing it many times at once and then neglecting it in subsequent sessions will not work.

    Share This:

    What is the secret to FOCUS?
    There are many distractions in life, often it becomes a barrage of information, lists of things to do, places to be, deadlines to meet. There is physical clutter and emotional clutter, all vying for our time , attention and energy.
    Every day I hear:
    “I’m so busy… we’re all so busy… I haven’t stopped… I just keep going…there’s no time to THINK.
    As a musician, I practice to STILLNESS and THINKING with FOCUS. It involves setting aside time and creating space for observing, understanding, sensing, listening, enjoying, playing or allowing oneself to BE with the music.
    If I choose to play a piece of music I can rush into it, start to finish, glossing over the notes and finger patterns, eager to create the sound I want or alternatively I can go GENTLY.  These days when playing a piece of music I CHOOSE to go gently, with patience and openness. Thousands of notes on the page to a novice may look like jumbled chaos, and finding the ordering of the notes, the correct articulation and phrasing combined with dynamic contour can be overwhelming.
    Next time you start a new piece of music, go gently, one note at a time, listen to how one melodic note leads to another. Notice the flow of tension or support from one phrase to another, and listen intently to the subtle changes in harmony. Repeat the smaller sections many times until it becomes automatic. Then add another layer, some refinement of articulation and colour with dynamics.
    It is the same with composing, it takes patience, time and listening, appreciating the beauty in the small, allowing yourself to enjoy your own time, your ability to interpret and understand.
    Go gently and the music will follow.  This is how I allow myself time and energy to nurture myself. In this I am not being overly BUSY, but FOCUSED in a healthful way.
    Three years ago I started my BIKRAM YOGA journey. For anyone who practices yoga in 40 degree heat, the mental journey is as hard as the physical one. Not before too long I realised that I had an ability to focus which became a source of curiosity. When people were falling out of postures, I would hold on strong, drawing upon inner strength and zoning out on what was happening around me. I just listened to the instruction, moved with the dialogue and held on beyond the pain threshold. After 12 months of classes, my instructor asked me whether I would like to compete in the state yoga championship!
    Whilst deciding it wasn’t the right time to launch into championship preparation mode, I recognised the connection between focus in music learning and the concentration required to perform difficult postures in yoga. The focus came from the same place – a gentleness, a softening, a surrender to time and space in an unforced way. The yogis that I really admired all had this calm presence about them, unhurried, focused and energised but without fuss and busy-ness.

    This is why music is my life, education is my passion and yoga is my discipline to keep everything balanced and in perspective.

    Go gently when you play music, allow yourself to BE.

    Share This:

    Today at around 11.00 a small message from a year 2 student popped up in my email:

    Hi Ms Ker, I can’t wait for my next piano lesson

    After so many years of teaching students, day in day out, year in year out, this simplest yet most innocent expression of joyful anticipation of a second piano lesson just made my day.

    In the mind of a young child, the excitement of starting piano lessons and being able to “do” something clever, to be able to make music, cannot be underestimated.

    I feel very blessed to be at the junction between the wonderful craft of making music and imparting this to beginners of any age.

    When my parents received a piano handed down from relatives, I was inseparable from it.  The wonder of it’s mechanics and it’s power to produce such complex sounds was a source of immense curiosity to me which has sustained me all my life.

    It still gives me great joy to see this wonder and awe in the conversations I have with students.  I feel that innocent connection to it this day, drawn to it, sharing the magic.

    Share This:

    Learning with Technology

    Enhance your learning experience through technology.

    Depending on the regularity and length of lessons, it is a good idea to bring a recording device, iPod, iPhone, or iPad to each lesson.  We may be listening to other recordings for interpretation or to record your lesson.  Bring a device and have the advantage of flicking back during the week to master any homework.

    Difficult passages are easily recorded at a slower pace for you to fully understand the geography of where to place your hands, how to execute the correct touch, (articulation), transition from one passage to another, and correct fingering.

    Lesson tips and tricks will be recorded in the record book which also serves as a reminder to complete your practice on a daily and weekly basis. Once you commit to a practise time its easier to stick to it. It takes 30 days to change a habit, but once established it will become easier and then automatic. It is more effective decide upon regular daily practice time than trying to cram an hour or two before a lesson.

    Try to find time after your lesson to reset your focus for the week, when the new strategies are fresh and easy to recall.

    Share This:

    The advanced student

    P1000398The advanced student….

    Many hours of practice, preparation and dedication are needed to ensure success at the advanced level. With a consistent approach to study and dedication to refining the final performance, the advanced student may choose a career in solo, group or chamber work, or education.

    How many hours do you think that takes?

    How much and what type of motivation do you need?

    According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, The Story of Success, it takes about 10,000 hours.  This was discovered much earlier by Ericsson.  But what type of practice does that entail?  Short intervals of practice that involve memory and recall are helpful in keeping a goal fresh.

    Share This:

    The Intermediate student

    P1000382  The intermediate student, learning independently.
    Once a student is ready, performing in front of an audience may be done in a friendly and supportive environment. With the correct preparation and practice, this can be a very enjoyable experience for the intermediate student, demonstrating their efforts and being openly rewarded.

    Choice of repertoire is essential to cultivating a passion for learning. Every student learns differently and has a unique curiosity about the music they enjoy and play.  The intermediate student may still need encouragement to set practice routines and this is when parents often feel some frustration about having to ask children to practise.  This is a very important time to keep going, keep on track with routines and reinforce the good work done.  In my experience, this is when many parents want to relinquish their involvement in monitoring practice, but it is essential to keep an interest, give positive and honest feedback.

    Share This:

    First things first

    cropped-Little-fingers.pngLittle fingers learning to play

    First things first…

    Beginner pianists need to know how to position fingers correctly on the keys.

    Watch for a gentle curve at every joint for best practice. The finger tip (not the soft part) must point to the key.

    Keep the upper part of the hand parallel to the keyboard like a bridge, to support the fingers.

    Make sure that young beginners have a comfortable position at the piano or keyboard for correct posture.

     

    Share This:

    New beginnings – 2016

    Welcome to play.live.music

     

    Here I will be posting my thoughts about teaching music, to help with tips and advice on how to practice effectively and stay motivated.

    I hope to bring you some of the valuable lessons learned over many years which have enabled me to build a rewarding career in music.

    Would you like some questions answered about learning the piano?

    Do you have a particular piece you’re having trouble with?

    Contact me here

     

    Thank you for dropping by.

    Share This: