Michael's Blog

Please take a look at this guide to some of my important posts.

A piano game: Got It

Here’s a game you can play with a student (if you’re a teacher), or even with yourself (if you want to play both parts). I’ve named this game Got It.

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Rights for piano students

Maybe you feel like playing is too difficult. What your teacher is asking you to do just doesn’t make sense. You might say “this is too hard!” or “I can’t get it” or “I’m just bad at this”. You may get angry with your teacher, and wonder “why are you making me do this!?”.

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Tags: lessons, teaching

Playing the piano with confidence

When we don’t feel confident, playing the piano can seem very difficult. It can be hard to trust ourselves, hard to feel the music, and hard to get absorbed in the whole process. Paradoxically, it can seem impossible to actually progress, because it seems that confidence is the result of ability, but we also feel that we need confidence in order to practice well.

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Why should I practice scales on the piano?

Many piano student hate practicing scales. It is a stereotypical element of a tedious, boring piano lesson. Everyone knows this. So, why does your teacher insist that you practice them? Do you actually have to practice scales?

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Tags: scales, technique

How do I relax at the piano?

It’s no fun playing the piano when you don’t feel at ease. Many of us are told to relax by teachers who can see how much of a toll the stress is taking on our playing. This may lead us to ask “how do I relax while playing?” or perhaps “will relaxing actually help me?”

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Tags: tension

Should playing feel good?

When I play the piano, I strive to make it feel good. It is no fun for me to feel like I am struggling with my body while trying to play, and the music that results from that struggle is not something I would enjoy listening to.

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Analyzing music for performance

When your playing isn’t “right”, I believe it is important to distinguish between your analysis and your performance.

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How to correct mistakes (and why you shouldn't even try)

The word “mistake” is hard to define, and I think this is because it is a matter of perspective. Whether something is a “mistake” or not requires having a measure of “correctness”, and this measure has to be relative to the one doing the measuring.

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Looking for blind spots

In sharp contrast to the usual method of practicing, which is locating and correcting mistakes, my approach could instead be described as looking for blind spots. As always, I stress awareness over correctness. True change and improvement can only come from this place.

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What am I supposed to be focusing on while playing?

I am quite familiar with the experience of being a student in a lesson and feeling like I have no clue how to fix everything, how to please the teacher, or what the heck I’m supposed to be doing right now. Teachers don’t help matters by encouraging the student to focus on whatever the teacher or student is most worried about. So, it is no wonder that students often don’t have a clear idea of...

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