• Jennifer Iovanne, Piano 03.12.2009 Comments Off on Picture-Perfect Posture: Piano

    Ah, nothing like alliteration to kick things off!  In this article, we’ll be discussing the ins and outs of posture and its role in piano lessons.  It’s often overlooked, and for good reason: it’s just not that exciting.  But it is important and plays a vital role in playing comfortably and effectively through the years, so it’s best to learn and apply these techniques early on.

    • Don’t sit too close to the piano.  I see this all the time – students nearly hover over the keys.  Sit in the center front area of the piano bench, and scoot the seat back until legs are at a 90 degree angle with the floor.
    • Relax!  Relax your shoulders, your jaw, your neck.
    • Keep hands loosely rounded, not flat.  Imagine a small tennis ball is underneath each palm.
    • Keep wrists off the piano – keep them relaxed, but don’t let wrists droop.  This causes unnecessary tension in the hand and usually causes us to play with flat fingers.
    • Sit tall, but comfortably so.  Office chairs often have special ergonomic features to prevent unnecessary strain for this reason.  When sitting at the piano, keep your back straight and neck tall but remember to stay loose and relaxed as well.

    For most of us, this posture won’t begin feel natural and normal for some time.  That’s okay – just remember to pay attention to it each time you practice, and before long it will become second nature.  The benefits?  You’ll avoid unnecessary strain, and you’ll gain better control over the keys, helping you develop as a stronger, more effective musician!

    Piano Lessons Portland / Clackamas | Piano Teacher Seattle | Piano Lessons Renton / Bellevue

  • Jennifer Iovanne, Piano, Practice 29.07.2009 Comments Off on Making the most of your piano practice

    As with any instrument, practice outside of lessons is very important for continued progress.  For most kids, parental encouragement and support is necessary to ensure practicing is done regularly throughout the week.  During the school year, aim to build practice sessions into your child’s regular schedule – or into your own schedule!  During the summer, take extra measures to keep practice sessions fun, exciting and productive – Rachel’s article below is a great resource in ideas to help stay engaged during these summer months!  Want other ideas on how to help yourself (or your child) make the most of their practice outside of lessons?

    First, be sure to review the weekly lesson log – these are passed out to piano students in each lesson with information on pieces to practice and other things to work on during the week.  Be sure to practice assigned material – it is also great to spend some time just playing around on the piano and making your own music, but don’t sacrifice one for the other.

    Come to the piano as relaxed and focused as possible.  Try to eliminate distractions and other noise if possible – TV, conversations, etc.   For a lot of students, having a cool drink at the piano and taking a moment to take a few deep, relaxing breaths can help to focus the mind and encourage creativity!  Think of “putting away” any frustrations or worries you may be holding, and let the piano be a place where you can stop multi-tasking and let yourself be in the moment as completely as possible.  The more you can encourage your child – or yourself – to treat practice sessions as fun AND productive, the better.

    If you or your child gets discouraged in piano lessons, remember to think of progress in baby steps — no one became a piano virtuoso overnight!  Encourage progress and acknowledge frustrations but don’t let them stop you.  Each practice session helps build a stronger, more confident piano player – keep it up, you CAN do it!

    ~ Jennifer Iovanne

  • Buyers Guides, For Parents, Piano, Purchasing an Instrument 22.04.2009 Comments Off on Keyboard & Digital Piano Buyer’s Guide

    As a beginner or someone who is shopping for their very first digital piano or keyboard, there are four main categories from which to choose.

    $30-80 Keyboard for Kids

    Usually less than 61 keys and NOT touch sensitive. Touch sensitivity means that the harder you press the key the louder the sound of that note. Only children under the age of 7 should consider these keyboards as they are an inexpensive way to see if your child is really interested in sticking with piano lessons for more than a couple months. If you feel pretty sure your child will be taking lessons for longer, don’t even consider one of these.

    $80-$200 Portable Keyboard

    In this price range you will generally find Casio and Yamaha brands are the best quality and value. Most of these have 61 full-sized plastic keys. This is the minimum that you really want.  Make sure to get a “touch-sensitive” model.  Touch sensitivity means that the harder you press the key the louder the sound of that note.  This is the most important thing to look for.  It is how a real piano works.

    Many of the keyboards in this range have lots of extra sounds and beats built in.  These can be fun but are not necessary to learn to play.  In fact you might choose to get the simplest keyboard so that you aren’t temped to waist time instead of practicing.  Practice is the only thing that will make you a better player! Make sure you like the “Piano” sound that the keyboard has to offer.  That is the sound that you will spend most of your time listening to.

    $350-$700 Digital Piano (Our Top Recommendation for Beginners)

    For around $450 or so you can get what many teachers believe to be the best value in terms of playability and sound. Again Casio and Yamaha rule the roost.  We have had excellent luck with the Casio PX series or the CDP-100 keyboards.  Here is a link to Guitar Center where you can shop around for them. www.guitarcenter.com We have many of these at our school and absolutely love them!  They feel great, are very small in total size and sound really nice.  88 full-sized weighted keys give these the feel and range of a real acoustic piano.

    $700 and up!  Digital Piano.

    There are so many options available in this price range and you can spend thousands on the state of the art models that literally play themselves but what fun is that?  In all seriousness, the extra high end features are not necessary to learn the instrument.  After you have played for a while and decide you want to score a symphony you can always upgrade to one of these beauty’s that have every sound in the orchestra, band, concert hall and more!

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about purchasing a keyboard or digital piano for yourself or your child.

    4/4 School of Music, LLC
    Seattle | Kirkland | Lynnwood | Everett | Bothell | Redmond | Renton Wa.

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