Tag Archives: piano

Croaky Throat Rescue Remedies

It is the time of the year when all kinds of germs are circling around and it is so easy to catch a nasty cold or throat and nose infection. When you rely on your voice a lot, such as we teachers do in our profession or if you sing a lot. Best remedy is to rest and recuperate; however, we all know that, in today’s busy world, it is not always possible to take as much time off as would be necessary for a full recovery.

If you are feeling the need to be on the go while not fully well, there are different herbal remedies that you can try to self-medicate. We share our top ten list below:

1. Marshmallow Root: this herb contains a substance called mucilage that hydrates and soothes the throat when you swallow it.

2. Sage: this herb is antiseptic and has been found to relieve throat pain.

3. Echinacea: this herb is known for fighting infection and reducing inflammation.

4. Salt water: mixing about 1 teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargling with it can help clear a throat infection.

5. Licorice root: this herb similar properties to aspirin and can help reduce sore throat pain.

6. Lemon water: lemon is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that can speed up recovery from sore throats.

7. Ginger: ginger is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and so ideal to helping cure sore throats.

8. Cinnamon: this herb is high in antioxidants and provides antibacterial benefits.

9. Peppermint: Drunk as a tea, peppermint can help numb throat pain.

10. Chamomile: most importantly chamomile can help promote restful sleep which is crucial for a full recovery and it can also reduce pain and fight infection.

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‘Chopsticks’ on the Piano

Everyone who learns to play the piano (or at least nearly everyone!) will have come across ‘Chopsticks’ at some point – it is one of those pieces that everyone randomly learns either from others or from a book.

It is a fun piece to play but that’s not all – it is a actually technically a good piece to practice and it also helps you to build confidence in moving your right hand in particular on the piano/ keyboard.

If you haven’t got your hands on the sheet music yet, go to http://www.musescore.com, type in ‘chopsticks for piano’ and you can download it.

Here is a good tutorial for the piece as well:

Learn to Play ‘Endure’ by Ivan Castro

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Some pieces for the piano (and other instruments) sound more complex than what they are – once the technique behind them has been polished and the piece has been memorized well, they sound beautiful and more demanding than what they actually are.

An example of such a piece for the piano is ‘Endure’ by Ivan Castro. If you listen to it in the links below, you will see what I mean. Note patterns for the left hand are very repetitive and the right hand does a lot of scale and arpeggio patterns that sound fancy but are fairly straight-forward to learn.

Have a go and enjoy this beautiful piece!

Great tutorial by PeterPlutax:

Excellent version of the piece:

Great Youtube Channels for Piano Tutorials

Luckily nowadays we all have easy access to internet and so learning to play a musical instrument is made even easier given the great help and guidance that we can find on various websites!

When learning to play a piece of music, it is always good to listen to the piece regularly so as not to learn it the wrong way. This is where various youtube channels come in handy – and they are also handy if there is a piece or a song that you would like to learn and don’t have the sheet music for it.

Here is our top four most used youtube channels that we regularly check and follow for inspiration and guidance:

1. Peter Plutax – great mix of easy-ti-intermediate level piano tutorials with covers of current pop songs added regularly;

2. The Theorist – excellent site for piano tutorials on more advanced players with classics and more recent pop songs being added regularly;

3. ABRSM – this is the official site for the ABRSM examination centre and includes tutorials and clips on various aspects of their music exams; if you are getting ready for a grade exams, be sure to check this site out;

4. Trinity College London – this is the official site for the Trinity College of Music if you are following their exam system; lots of helpful clips and guidance to be found here to get you ready for your exam in style.

Music Theory Books for Beginner Musicians

When starting to play a musical instrument,many beginner students need a while to get their head around music theory and musical notation – this is completely normal as learning music is similar to learning a new language!

Luckily nowadays there are many good books for learning the basics of musical notation and theory – it takes some quiet study time on your own at home; but it is definitely worth investing the time into trying to understand the basics as then the rest will fall into place much quicker.

Here is a few suggestions on suitable beginner books – some of these are applicable for any instrument; some specifically for the piano:

– MUSIC THEORY FOR YOUNG CHILDREN by NG, YING YING (ABC Books, UK)

This one is a great introduction to the basics of music theory with fun sticker and drawing activities

– MICHAEL AARON PIANO COURSE GRADE 1 by Michael Aaron (Belwin, UK)

This books is suitable for children and adults alike and covers all basic music theory and note-reading comprehensively.

– HAL LEONARD ADULT PIANO METHOD by various (Hal Leonard, USA)

For adults, this book covers basics for the piano well. It might be challenging for younger learners, but if one has played another musical instrument before, this might still be suitable.

Once you get the basics right, you’ll be a happy musicians 🙂

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Aural Learning vrs Photographic Memory

We all have our individual and unique ways of learning and approaches to new tasks at hand. Our preferred learning styles are the cumulative result of what we have learnt at school,and out of school – and our general approaches to learning new things.

Some of us learn better by looking at something – for example, they can easily memorize something after reading it or seeing it written down. This is often referred to as photographic memory.

Some of us learning easier by hearing something or listening to someone explain something to us – for example, by another person playing something on an instrument and then copying it with one’s own instrument.

No matter what your learning style,luckily nowadays there are suitable teaching approaches and resources to everyone. For teachers, it is important that they communicate their preferred way of learning to their one-to-one music teacher so that the teacher can adjust the lessons accordingly. Don’t be shy about stating your preferences as that way everyone gets the most of the lessons!

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What Happened to Overall Development as a Pianist and Musician?

We live in a competitive society where exams are taken for all sorts of abilities and skills. This is true nowadays at least in most European countries. Young people grow up with competitive mentalities and under pressure to perform – this can be good; but in excess it can also be damaging.

This mentality also applies to music education. The graded exam system for musical instruments, singing and music theory has become increasingly popular over the past years and the majority of students want to do them. This is good for getting used to performing in front of others – as well as learning the materials for the exam – and receiving proof of one’s level of ability and learning.

Yet, the exams seems to be overtaking the learning process so much (at least with some students!) that the overall learning process gets sidelined and the sole focus is on passing the exam. But what about developing your skills and ability on general level and, as a result, becoming a confident and capable performer?

I always advice students to do roughly one instrumental exam per year – I strongly feel that everyone needs a fairly good amount of time for developing their overall musicianship abilities and becoming confident and capable musicians. This makes getting ready for the exams so much easier as well – you don’t feel like you are having to learn something very hard but rather you feel that you are at the right level for learning the exam material. What I have witnessed many times is that students just want to pass the exams and so just focus on the exam materials, but then they struggle as they are not yet at high enough level to learn the materials well.

As a teacher, I feel that I need to guide them in not just focussing on exams, but also their overall musicianship skills and, most importantly of all, their enjoyment of playing a musical instrument as well as providing them with a creative outlet.

Here is to enjoying learning to play music and not to stressing over exams!

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Piano Cover of Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’

Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ is a piece that has become very famous over the past 100 years. Although initially composed for a full orchestra, it is equally beautiful on single instruments and for smaller ensembles.

We have been working on this with different students on and off for the past year. Recently, we rediscovered it after a teenage student heard it on the Alton Towers TV advert and wanted to learn it.

We discovered a couple of excellent tutorials on youtube – see below and have a go a home! The piece is highly addictive so be prepared to get hooked!

Miley Cyrus ‘Wrecking Ball’ – Piano Cover

This week we are working on Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’. The piano cover of it is very beautiful – the melody lines come out nicely with a strong baseline in the left hand. Once again, Peter PlutaX has an excellent piano tutorial on youtube:

Piano Tutorial For John Legend

John Legend has some very beautiful songs – and as we all working with the piano know,he also loves featuring his piano playing skills in his videos!

For our all time favourite John Legend song ‘All of Me’, go on youtube and search for Peter PlutaX – he has an excellent youtube channel on piano tutorials – here is a direct link to his piano tutorial on ‘All of Me’: