I am excited to announce the opening of music books Library within Music Academy Malta. The library contains music books for all levels. As often, the idea came from students themselves, who started to buy books for extracurricular piano play. Playing extracurricular pieces improves sight-reading and is fun!
“The real artist starts performance not from the first sounds of music, but the silence before them – the main silence.”
Natan Perelman “In the class of the grand piano”
Music is the art of sound. To improve the quality of your sound on the piano, try exercises recommended by famous piano pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus (1888 – 1964).
Listen to the “birth” of the sound creating the first possible pianissimo (pppppp) that you can hear. Slowly increase the force of the sound reaching the loudest border (fffff), after that no sound but only knocking is possible.
The next exercise is equally useful for training both the ear and the tactile sensation on the keyboard.
The sense of this exercise is to take every sound with the same force that resulted from the expiration of the sound before it. This exercise will help you to achieve “singing” on the piano.
Play beautiful melodic passages (e.g. of Chopin) in a very slow tempo similar to a slow-motion movie. Enjoy expression and melodic of the sound imagining yourself as if you are admiring a painting trying to see more of it as close as possible, maybe even through the magnifying glass.
I hope, you all are fine and are already looking forward to summer holidays!
Do you already know, how do you want to spend the summer time?
If not yet, maybe you would be interested in our Summer Piano Camp.
In a small group (max. 6 persons in total), we will learn how to play piano solo and duet. We will learn more about notation, rhythm, music styles, and famous composers. We will play games and make exciting competitions. And the best out of it: By the end of the summer time, we will present our performance to parents and relatives in style ala flash mob.
How do you feel about it? Would you like it?
If yes, I am looking forward to receiving your pre-applications.
The camp will take place on two days a week (e.g. Monday and Thursday) from 9.00am to 13.00pm.
Exact number of participants will depend on restrictions we will have at that time.
If you don’t have a piano at home, is no problem at all. You will have time and instrument to practice your performance in camp.
We will have boys and girls in the age from 6 to 12 years. We would love to have you with us!
We start on Thursday, 1st of July and finish on Thursday, 2nd of September.
The price for the camp is €190.00, payable on the first day of the camp. The payment via Revolut, bank transfer, or cash is possible.
If you need more information, call me or send me a WhatsApp message:
Piano lessons are definitely an investment of your time and money. But there are many good reasons for this investment:
First of all, your piano teacher helps you stay committed in the long run. Alone the fact that you are presenting your piano home work to another person can motivate you to practice more.
Your piano teacher helps you find easier way to overcome common difficulties in playing piano. He or she will give you exercises, tips, and tricks that will take you much sooner to your desired performance. Your piano teacher will trouble shoot, if you are stuck in a problem.
Through immediate and frequent feedback you always know exactly the state of your progress and what next milestone you have to reach.
Your piano teacher will open to you new music styles, and encourage you to try new ideas.
In the class of your piano teacher, you are likely to meet other piano students. It is simply fun to share the hobby with same-minded people, to exchange experiences, and to look forward to the same events like concerts or festivals. Music is a very social activity.
There are a lot of benefits of taking piano lessons. But not every student takes the maximum out of them. This is a pity, since those students move slower forward in their piano carrier than they actually could. If this happens, they might have a hard time to motivate themselves and to continue practicing.
What can you do to stay on track, to feel motivated, and to take the maximum out of your piano lessons?
Practice regularly. Piano is a handcraft. If you want to be good at running, you need to run; if you want to be good in drawing, you need to draw; if you want to be good at playing an instrument, you need to play your instrument, particularly your piano.
Plan a regular time at your piano home. If possible, you should practice at the same time of the day. We all are children of custom. You will have less motivational issues, if you have a custom to play piano at the same time every single day. And if you practice regularly, your piano teacher won’t need to repeat same information over and over again, but can move faster with your syllabus and repertoire instead.
Learn theory. To be literate, you needed to learn letters, to build sentences and phases according laws of grammar, until you could read, understand, and create meaningful texts, right? Now, imagine that you are learning a different language – the language of music. This means, that you need to learn notation, laws of rhythm, harmony, music intonation. And soon, you will be able to read, understand, and compose music.
By investing your time in theory, you raise your performance lessons on the higher quality level. Your piano teacher won’t need to explain basics of music to you any more, but can focus on your piano performance only.
Groom your identity as a pianist. Our identity is all what we really have. If you want to be a good musician, groom your identity of a good musician.
Hans Zimmer, the composer of music for movies Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King, Inception and many, many others told once in the interview that his success came only because of his strong identity of being a musician. “I didn’t have any other choice as to succeed,” he said.
Little things can help you to groom your identity daily. Those things can be for example wearing t-shirs with music design, following music websites, or participating in music forums. If you have to introduce yourself, don’t forget to mention among other things that you are playing piano. Piano teachers (same as all other teachers) love working with motivated students. They put more efforts and go an extra mile for those, who show the interest in and passion for their subject.
Boost your positive self-image. The quality of your identity and your positive self-image are crucial for your success in every area of life, also for your progress in piano. Your self-image, which is unconscious, is the product of your self-talk that you can steer consciously. And this is a Rockin’ good news. Because it is in your power to make your piano lessons more positive, resourceful and effective.
With the positive self-emage, you are not afraid of asking questions and trying new things. In such creative collaboration on the same wave-length with your piano teacher you will be able to take the maximum out of your piano lessons.
Try the following exercise to boost your positive self-image.
Go to your piano lessons in positive mood
Take a couple of minutes to stay undisturbed. Seat comfortably, relax, and think about following question:
What do you think about yourself while playing piano or listening to someone else playing piano?
Listen mindfully to your self-talk: If it is mostly negative, change it willingly.
If you say in your mind phrases like: “I will never play like this,” “OMG, it is so difficult,” or even worse: “I am not sure, I have a talent,” – you block your mind and yourself on your way to success.
Also, saying positive but not true phases, won’t be helpful: “I am famous,” or “I am the most talented.” These phrases are better than the negative self-talk, but still not very useful, because your unconsciousness knows that they are blaff, so it doesn’t react on them.
Instead, use phrases that boost your identification as a pianist, that are true, and feel right.
Your conscious and unconscious mind will adapt them and use to help you in reaching your goals.
Say yourself phrases like for example. “I am a pianist,” “I love to play piano,” “I love listening to music,” “I love meeting friends and discussing with them music performance”, etc. Choose only phases that are right for you. You will recognize them, if you feel relaxed and happy by thinking these thoughts and having this kind of self-talk.
As you can see, these tips are easy to follow, and they feel really good. By following them, you will make yourself feeling proud, you will become more motivated and
confident at your piano and on stage. And as a result, you will become more successful in your piano carrier.
But the best out of it is that you can apply these tips in other areas of your life. Try them and share your experience with us!
“She was able to sing a word before she could speak a word […]” How music can heal the human brain
On 8th of January, 2011, Gabrielle Dee Giffords – an American politician and gun control advocate – was shot in the head during her first public meeting directly with representatives.i Since the bullet injured her left hemisphere, she lost the ability to speak. The process of healing started through music. And one month later she sang her first word. How exactly can music develop the brain and how you and your loved ones can benefit from making music?
The bullet wound her left hemisphere of the brain. The left hemisphere is responsible for language. As a result of this injury, Giffords was unable to speak.
A month after the shooting, she still hadn’t spoken. Her friend Brad Holland borrowed an electric piano from her music therapist. “This nasty-ass little Casio, three DD batteries,” he says. She had a favorite duet, so he tried it on the Casio. “I went, ‘Okay, girlfriend,’” he said, “and sang, ‘I can’t give you anything but love.…’”
He held his breath, and it wafted right out of her: “Baby.”
“Her first word!” Brad says. And the nurse in the corner collapsed against the wall and went, ‘Praise Jesus!’ii
As part of her recovery, Gabby Giffords underwent music therapy. She trained to engage the right side of her brain to bring her speech back. And she did it by pairing words with melody and rhythm.iii
“She was able to sing a word before she could speak a word, and the damaged areas of her brain were circumvented through music,” says Concetta Tomaino, executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function.
The neuroscience community confirms the ability of our brain to change and that musical stimulation can cause those changes.’”
If the brain has lost a pathway, it is able to exit, to go around and to build another pathway to reach its destination, for example the ability to speak.
The brain’s ability to pave new pathways around damaged areas is called neuroplasticity.
Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, associate professor of neurology and director of the Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School states that an adult can relearn to speak – with the right training and a lot of practice.iv
Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music
“Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music,” said Dr. Oliver Sacks, professor of Neurology at Columbia University and author of the book, “Musicophilia.”
Through functional magnetic resonance imaging we can see that music activates visual, motor and coordination areas on both sides of the brain as well as areas deep in the brain involved in memory and emotion.
How do you and your loved ones benefit from making music?
Music provides structure
Music exists in time, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. By this, it provides structure that helps children to learn better how to organize their thoughts, how to find their daily routine and how to focus on the particular task. It makes them more successful in the school and in life.
Music increases the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter and helps you to regulate your attention, to increase your working memory, and to boost your motivation.
Children can use music to train their brains for stronger focus and emotional self-control in the classroom and at home.
Music teaches social skills
Music is from its nature a very social and highly interactive process. Through music you access your own emotions and you affect emotions of your audience.
Music is also highly collaborative process. Students participate in ensemble playing, write collaborative songs, and practice for an end-of-session performance.
The learning process during the e.g. a piano lesson is highly interactive and differs from student to student considering his or her individual interests, creativity and skills. Though this, the student remains active during the whole lesson. The learning process is more efficient and the outcome after 45 minutes lesson is impressive. Though this, the student experiences the feeling of success during each lesson. This boosts his or her motivation and self-esteem, makes him or her a more positive, satisfied, and happy person.