I had a great first week back teaching, it was great to get back in to a few routines and help set some goals for new and returning students. I like to check in regularly to keep on top of your goals and make sure you're working towards the areas you'd like, and from there it's my job to facilitate the learning of the skills that will get you there.
You might notice a small change in my studio setup this week - I've upgraded my music stands behind my keyboard so that I can now accomodate six sheets of music. It's not uncommon for me to learn songs for HDPiano tutorials that have five or six sheets, so this will make that part of my work much easier. I'm always on the lookout for ways to make my setup more efficient for learning and teaching and those of you who have been having lessons for the past few years have seen quite a few upgrades and changes in that time.
Happy Monday, and Happy 2020!
I hope you've all had a fantastic holiday and new year period and that you're as excited as I am to start lessons again after a short break. Maybe some of you were lucky enough to have received musical presents?
With this week being my last week of teaching for the year, I wanted to simply take the time today to thank each and every one of you for making my year in teaching very rewarding. Each one of you give me an opportunity to play a part in your own lives, and for that I'm extremely grateful. Your lessons are a two-way street - each day as I challenge you to be a better musician, you also challenge me to be a better teacher through investigating and experimenting with new ways to approach solutions to problems. I really do mean it when I say that every lesson I teach is unique, and that's what makes my job so easy to remain engaging and exciting day in and day out.
Over the weekend I attended my wife's work Christmas party and had a great conversation with one of her colleagues - a designer who also has a history as a musician. As we traded 'war' stories about various gigs we'd played, the trials and tribulations of loading in gear before soundcheck and loading it back out 7 hours later once the show had been played, and the dream of walking on to a stage to play without any setup required, we reflected on what music had given back to us in the worst possible metric - money.
It's an exciting time of the year - Christmas trees are going up, carols are in the air, we even got a little bit of rain yesterday. Hallelujah! The highlight of my week was an excursion on Saturday night to see one of the most famous piano players on YouTube, Peter Bence! I've linked to his videos before and was very excited to see him in the flesh and he certainly didn't disappoint, running through his most popular repertoire as well as a few unpublished original songs. As I was listening to his performances I had my teacher hat on, analysing what makes his style of playing so appealing to musicians and non-musicians alike.
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This past weekend I had my first (very early) Christmas Party of the year with my wife's family in Toowoomba. My father-in-law loves the function of being able to speak in to his television remote control to search for videos on YouTube, and the phrase "Christmas Music" was used liberally that evening. YouTube served up a real mix of pop classics (All I Want For Christmas is You, Last Christmas) as well as more traditional carols. After the third time, Mariah Carey was eliciting groans from everyone present, and it led to the conversation of whether there has been any good modern Christmas music released lately.
With Christmas on the horizon, my both sides of my family have begun to organise our annual "Secret Santa" so that we can each receive one quality gift rather than lots of small things that we don't really need. Not only do you end up with a great present, but it makes shopping so much easier as well!
I'm notoriously difficult to buy presents for because I usually just buy the things that I want for myself (after researching and researching and researching...) so it can be a challenge trying to work out what I would like as a gift. If you also have this problem, I thought I'd help you out with some gift ideas that help the music lover and piano player that you can subtly or not-so-subtly drop hints to your loved ones about.
I had a fantastic time yesterday at the November Catch-Up & Performance day - thank you again to all who made it along and especially to those who performed. I'll be sending out a link to the videos and photos from the day very soon. As I watched each performer, and as I prepared to perform myself (the teacher always plays), I was thinking about nerves. Not the physical nerves in our body, but the sensation of feeling nervous.
You would probably think that over all my years of performing in front of crowds big and small that maybe I would be immune from feeling nervous. It all really depends on what your personal reasons for being nervous are and how that reflects upon your assumptions for other people's nervousness. For instance, I get nervous performing as your teacher because deep in my beliefs I feel like teachers should be immune to mistakes, so that if I make a mistake, then it's a bad reflection on my ability as a teacher. I can't say that it's a very helpful belief, as I can't remember a single performance in my whole life where I've not made some sort of mistake, big or small.
As part of an upcoming project, over the past week I've brainstorming piano "myths" - things that you've heard that you've assumed are true, but might in fact be misinformation or information that needs updating as our knowledge of how people learn and the way that our bodies work develops.
I'm curious to hear from you - is there anything that you had assumed to be "true" that you've discovered is not the case while learning the piano?