Please click the image below to view the video via our Facebook page. A beautiful performance!
A wonderful video by TED-Ed explaining what happens when you learn a musical instrument!
One of the classic piano songs.
As I mention in the video, I often teach a simple version of Let It Be to students starting the piano (for those who are interested in learning chords).
This video is a lesson demonstration for advanced students, usually this content is taught and learnt over a 30-minute period. This is a compact version which goes for a brief 3-minutes. You may be an advanced student or you may be someone curious about what you can learn in the future.
| C | G | Am | F |
| C | G | F | C ||
This chart can be useful for those starting the piano: a minimal chart listing note and rest values.
Heart and Soul is a fun little piece.
It is played in a cycle and you can continue to play it forever if you choose!
It is often played as a duet, and in the second video below you will be able to play along to the lower piano part.
Begin by learning the melody written below. The notes that are underlined fall below the C where you start the song - see the diagram 'notes on the piano' at the bottom of the music. The last four lines are to be played twice hence the repeat signs. Feel free to use any fingers/ finger numbers. If you do want further guidance in terms of finger numbers try to use finger 3 on the first line, finger 3 on the third line, and finger 5 at the start of the sixth line.
Once you are comfortable playing the melody, listen and play along to the melody in this recording. It may take some time until you are able to play the song at this speed.
The last step is to play the melody with the bass part. Press play on the recording. Enjoy!
Here is a recording of Heart and Soul. Written in 1938 Heart and Soul was recorded by multiple artists in the 1930s.
I started Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic on Sunday evening and had finished it by Monday evening – which is a rare feat for me. It’s a heart warming piece that offers a fresh perspective on creativity, and living a creative life. I like that Gilbert views ‘creative living’ as following that which inspires you. Whatever that may be. Whether you are a professional writer of creative fiction or whether you are someone working in another field whilst pursuing your love of ice-skating on the weekends. Gracefully, Gilbert puts the same level of importance on both of these pursuits.
As someone who is heavily involved in music, I feel that this book allowed me to think about my pursuits in a more playful and healthy way, without diminishing their significance. I feel that this book would be a great read for someone spending a lot of time pursuing their art, but also, just as much, someone looking to start a new hobby, or someone looking to take a step forward in exploration. In the modern world we can tend to describe creative pursuits, paid or not, as frivolous and unworthy. But as humans, we were creating art on cave walls 50,000 years, while in comparison, significant advances in agriculture were only achieved in the last few thousand years. It is evident that art and creativity have been with us for a long time.
Creativity, and the inspiration urging us to follow this creativity, run deep within us. In you, and me, and the rest of us...
I hope you also enjoy reading this book!
See below for a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on a similar topic.
I am often asked which keyboard I recommend students to buy.
Ultimately it depends on how much money you are looking to spend, but I recommend a lower cost keyboard to begin with. It is worth waiting to see if piano lessons will be a long term commitment for yourself, or your son or daughter. For older school students and adults, if you would like to upgrade down the track, students will be able to make an educated decision when it comes to purchasing a more expensive keyboard after some experience playing the instrument.
I recommend the Yamaha NP 31 Keyboard
This keyboard covers all the required features (see below) as well as being low cost, light weight and it has a lovely piano sound.
Cost $300 to $350
This keyboard can be purchased from music stores, online or otherwise. You will also need a stand for the keyboard which can also be purchased, the X shape stand is the most commonly used design. Or you may have a table or desk at home that may be the right height. Please discuss with your teacher the sitting posture provided by your desk or table, if it's the wrong height it can encourage bad technique and can leave a student feeling uncomfortable and sore from practice.
You can watch a demo of this instrument by musician Jamie Cullum. He ofcourse would make anything sound good, but the it has a good sound for a low cost instrument.
If you already have a keyboard, would like to purchase a second hand keyboard, or would like to spend more money on a keyboard, these are the features I advice you look for:
Weighted keys refer to the resistance a piano key has when you press down on it to create a sound. If you press softly you will create a soft sound, and pressing the key harder will create a louder sound. This feature replicates an acoustic piano and is important in developing musicality and also strength in the fingers.
Size of the Keys
Make sure the keyboard has piano sized keys, that is large/ accurate sized keys. Some keyboards, often lower priced keyboards, have smaller sized keys which will not be useful to students as they become familiar with the piano.
Length of the Keyboard
A full length piano has 88 keys. A keyboard with 70 something keys, or even 60 something will be adequate and will take up less space in your home.
Buttons on the Keyboard
We only need the one sound when learning the piano. Keyboards with lots of buttons, which allow users to utilise different sounds or voices, are unnecessary. Although in saying that, early primary school students can enjoy playing a song once they have learnt it with various sounds, or can enjoy experimenting with different sounds. But don't seek out keyboards with an array of buttons across the interface.
Pedals are an important part of the piano as they continue the sound of a note once the player's hand has left the key. This allows the player to smooth the notes together adding musicality to pieces, a must have for advanced students. Often primary school students cannot reach the pedals so there is no urgency to acquire a pedal. Once students have learnt for a few years, or are in High School, it is important to use a pedal. You will need to purchase one that looks like this rather than a flat square 'pad like' pedal which often comes complimentary with keyboards.
Terminology: Keyboard vs Digital Piano
The terms keyboard and digital keyboard are used interchangeably although they technically do mean different things. A digital piano refers to an electronic replica of an acoustic piano. This is what we are looking for in an instrument with the features noted above. The term keyboard can refer to a smaller instrument with smaller keys, or an instrument that has a lot of buttons on the interface allowing users to activate different sounds or voices. If you are aware of the features noted above you will find these described as either as a keyboard or as a digital piano, but it is good to be aware of the different terms.
All the best with your purchase!
Learning and being familiar with an instrument is such a privilege. It really is. Although it does comes with hard work. But for those who do know how to play the piano, the guitar, the saxophone, or the xylophone: they always seem to describe it as being worth the effort!
As a teacher I would like to give you a few suggestions as to what you should consider if you want to learn an instrument, and I also want to touch on a method recommended by psychologists to help you stick to your new hobby!
Suggestions from a piano teacher
To begin, aim to have lessons for at least six months, any shorter period of time and you won’t get much from the music lessons.
Aim to get to your instrument most days of the week, even if for a short period of time. Please read the article below which outlines why I ask my students to get to the piano for five minutes a day, most days of the week.
You don’t need an expensive instrument to begin. I encourage students to begin on a low cost keyboard. This means that students will be knowledgable about their instrument by the time it comes to purchasing a more expensive one down the track, and they will make an educated decision. And secondly, if a student never falls in love their chosen instrument as they had planned, it won’t be simply an unsuccessful love affair that has dashed your pockets. Please see the blog post above 'Buying A Keyboard: A Brief Guide' that I have prepared for students.
A suggestion from Psychologists
There are probably endless recommendations by psychologists to help one commit to their goals and activities that they want to pursue, but I am going to focus on simply one of these today
Psychologists say that we are more likely to commit to a task – such as practicing an instrument, or exercising more – if we form the intention to do it when we encounter a cue.
A cue can be anything. For example, by planning to practice the piano in the morning after you have dressed, or otherwise planning to practice the piano in the evening after your meal, means that you will be more likely to follow through with an action compared to if you didn’t rely on a cue.
Having a cue helps you integrate the task into your day-to-day; otherwise the task may not be achieved at all.
If you were to implement a cue for your daily practice, what would be your preferred time of day be to practice? Do you have a preference to practice in the morning? Or in the evening?
Here's some further thoughts on New Year's Resolutions by Doctor Mike Evans
Often when a student begins piano lessons they ask their teacher how long and how often should they practice. After teaching for many years, and after discussions with many students, I’ve come up with a figure that I believe is realistic and achievable.
5 minutes practice, most days of the week.
While learning an instrument, if we demand a twenty-minute window every time we practice it is unlikely that we will practice most days of the week.
What is likely to happen is that students will fit in two, possibly three, practice sessions a week, and on the other days of the week, unable to put aside enough time for practice, students will walk past their instruments filled with a sense of guilt.
First of all: Students should always feel GOOD that they have chosen to learn the piano. Learning an instrument is a challenging task that takes time and effort and it is a wonderful thing when students welcome music into their lives.
Secondly: We all have busy schedules. Students aged from seven to seventy-seven have many commitments during the week. Most of the time, planning long practice sessions isn’t the best way to ensuring regular practice.
Thirdly: Long practice sessions can be daunting. Students may feel overwhelmed by long stretches at the piano, and long stretches at the piano can be both exhausting and demotivating for a student.
As a teacher, what I feel is best for students is short practice sessions most days of the week, that is, short practice sessions often.
I ask my students to aim for five minutes practice. If the student is enjoying the content, feels mentally strong and clear, and has more time up their sleeve, students can practice longer than the set five minutes.
Students following this method are more likely to practice most days of the week, are more likely to feel pleased when they regularly exceed their practice goals, and are more likely to find learning an instrument an enjoyable process. Furthermore, a student following this method is more likely commit to their instrument for longer, and like learning a language, learning an instrument works best when it is done so over a long period of time.
As a teacher I have found this to be the best approach to practice and I often have positive feedback from students regarding this method. But don’t only take my word for it - research suggests that this style of learning, which could also be described as distributed practice, is a effective learning method, especially when compared to long practice sessions less often, which could also be described as massed practice.
Are you curious about this approach? Why don’t you try it yourself and see how you go? Following this method do you find that you practice most days of the week? And furthermore, do you feel good about your practice?