Achieving Hand Independence – The Foundation (Part 2/4)

In the previous post, I gave some general advice about practicing and achieving hand independence.  In this post, I’ll give more specific advice and exercises. Practicing hand independence begins with a rhythm, pattern, idea or concept – something you want to work on.  It could be stride piano, a walking bass line, bossa nova, the […]

Achieving Hand Independence – General Advice (Part 1/4)

Achieving hand independence is one of a pianist’s top priorities; it’s a common pursuit among students. It’s also one of the easiest to attain; hand independence only requires two things: Structured exercises and practice. Students have difficulty improving hand independence because they 1) don’t know how to craft the proper exercises, 2) aren’t disciplined enough […]

More on Balanced Practice

I’ve recently written about achieving balance in practice. To recap, we should always be observing our physical and mental thresholds to prevent injury and burnout.  Also, to avoid hitting a wall in our development, we should consider a more holistic approach to practicing. I’ve since read Dr. K. Anders Ericsson’s 1993 publication The Role of […]

Rethinking Technique

Concerned students frequently ask me about improving their technique. I tell them two things: First, if they want to learn how to play harder faster stronger, they should find another teacher; I’m not a technique specialist! Second, I ask why they want to play harder faster stronger. They never answer: “Because I’m hearing music and […]

Teachers and Students – An Underappreciated Relationship

New students know that my first lessons are more like interviews. Where are you from?  What’s your story?  What do you like?  How do you learn?  Whom do you listen to?  How do you like UofT?  And on and on… Then I ask them to play; this gives me a reasonable idea of their skill […]

Finding Balance in Practice

Thanks to Christine Bougie for the comments and questions in Achieving Balance and Creative Teaching.  I answered them as best as I could and thought it was worth posting my response. The questions: Do you think it’s better to strive for balance in a single practice session or over a longer period – like a […]

Letter to a Young Pianist

Hi David, Thanks for your message.  Sorry for the delayed response.  I don’t get these kinds of messages often, but when I do, I like to put alot of thought into my replies.  Especially since you’re at a very impressionable age and I take my responsibility as a teacher and artist very seriously. I’m sure […]

Bruising the Ego, Responsibly

We’ve all had moments when we’ve lost all inspiration and any desire to pursue music. These moments are heavy ego bruisers: “I suck; I’ll never be any good; I want to quit.” Some quit, others recover and continue the slog. Having a bruised ego may be a setback, but in the end, it could also […]

What’s This Blog All About?

Someone asked me the other day: “I haven’t read your blog – what’s it about?” I admit it was difficult to convey a good answer; I like to write about many different things.  So I’d like to reflect on it here: This blog is about music and musicians! The essence of music is more significant […]

Chunking Music – Shapes at the Piano

Our skills are dependant on our memories.  Improving our memories and skills is dependant on our ability to chunk information. For example, try memorizing this passage: For musicians, this is simple.  It’s easy to chunk a sequence of eight notes into one scale. This one’s more difficult: Your ability to memorize this passage depends on […]