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Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness to Piano Playing

Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness to Piano Playing

As most people are aware, Yoga has many health benefits. Most of those benefits related the physical health of those that use it. But did you know that Yoga has more than just those physical advantages? There are mental benefits as well!  

Yoga is partially known for being on of the most accessible and effective exercises for the mind. It elicits relaxation resulting in more efficient breathing and increased memory. Yoga is also closely tied to the concept of “mindfulness” which reduces anxiety and stress. Mindfulness and bodily awareness are both crucial skills for a musician. In a course of piano study, many are finding it advantageous to incorporate the concept of mindfulness. If one has an interest in Yoga or Zen meditation, “stillpoint” techniques are particularly relevant and engaging. These techniques create balance between mind and body which is essential to an excellent pianist.

The “stillpoint” concept originated from gentle hands-on therapy where the brain is shifted from a state of alertness to one of “calmness”. There is a sense of inner tranquility and peace where the fight-or-flight responses is set aside. A “stillpoint” technique has a significant role if it is integrated into yoga and meditation. How does all of this tie into piano playing? For some, it may never be a connection, it may even be unnoticeable at first. However, most admit you will come to witness and feel these benefits as you continue your study.

  1. Playing the piano with pure focus can sometimes be tricky. There are a lot of distractions that can arise from anywhere – most especially If you’re waiting for some alert from your phone a few inches away! Yoga can help practice concentration while practicing. You must find a way to support that concentration by setting aside all the possible forms of distraction. You can put your phone to airplane mode or switch it off – or better yet, in another room.
  2. Yoga helps overcome stage fright and nervousness before a stage piano performance. Players tend to be a bit worried about making mistakes – hitting wrong notes or forgetting transitions. Yoga helps you focus on understanding the masterpiece through keyboard patterns. Focus on what you can do, and the rest will come swiftly. It’s all in the mind.
  3. Proper posture is also one of the physical benefits of Yoga. It is extremely helpful because players sitting for too long can cause tension to the upper and lower back part of the body. Stretching the arms prevents tension and cramps in the neck, shoulders, wrists and lower back and are all helpful for pianists.

 

We have discovered that yoga and other relaxation techniques have a profound effect on the body. We strive to eliminate the stress and anxiety we encounter in the outside world when playing the piano. However, these distractions will always exist so it is great to learn techniques to lessen the effect of them. We encourage you, in your studies with Cadenza, to find the techniques that work for you!  

The Value of Music Memory in Piano Playing

The Value of Music Memory in Piano Playing

Musical memory is essential for musicians. Although some may see memorizing as not entirely ideal for other fields such as law, sales, teaching, or literary analysis (as it requires adaptability rather than rote memory) but music, however, requires both memory and adaptability to internalize a piece of music and to translate it to the audience. An effective musical memory is a secret formula for creating freedom of expression and the most direct connection to your audience. Printed notes are very important and sometimes essential, but not being memorized can immensely impact your focus and your credibility as a musician which then affects the attention of your audience as well.

Good musical memory can be seen as a natural gift. But those who were not fortunate enough to be given the gift just means they have to find the will-power to develop it. This begins in the early stages of learning how to play the piano. Each piano player follows a different path for developing their musical memory. These hints can help you as you learn.

Muscle Memory

Repetition during the learning process builds what some call muscle memory. This means that there emerges a situation where the movements of the fingers are associated with specific piano keys when playing a particular piece of music. The player does it by habit or muscle memory, and not by thinking about each finger and each key. Some call it being in the “flow” or “groove”. The mind just takes over.  

Aural Memory

It is also known as having a “good ear”. This is the ability to recognize different sounds and express them easily at the keyboard. Those musicians who self-taught usually have this gift. If you can become a trained musician as well as having a “good ear” you can become a phenomenal musician. Even if you are naturally gifted, hard work is still needed to be successful.  

Photographic Memory

This is the fastest way of memorizing, where the position of the hands and fingers are on the keyboard though simply memorizing the music. Some just need to see it once or twice!

Some are just cognitive benefits some people have, but there are things one can do to help memorization overall.

  • Concentration
  • Understanding of the musical piece
  • Frequent Repetition of playing the piano
  • A genuine interest in the composition and how it was created

Even professional pianists make mistakes. We need to learn the art of practicing and just trust to share the beauty of the music for its own sake. In fact, mistakes while still learning are part of the learning process. No one is perfect but practice makes you better!  Start that journey with Cadenza today!