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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!  

Cell Phone problems? Piano is the solution!

Cell Phone problems? Piano is the solution!

It’s summer and your child is on their vacation, taking a pause from the rigorous school year. But instead of relaxing and playing there are alone most of the time, scrolling through their cell phone in their own room. We of course want them to spend their time doing something they enjoy, but we as parents also want to help guide them and encourage them to do something worthwhile. How about letting them play by the guitar hanging on the wall or that untouched piano in the corner. Playing a musical instrument stimulates the brain and has many health-related benefits and  well-documented psychological effects. Playing music helps develop a person’s social ability. The ability to play an instrument has the power to attract a lot of people creating conversations and friends.

One of the effective ways to enhance the interest in playing the piano is to enroll your child in a music school. With the guidance of a music teacher, your child can begin this journey by taking up lessons in a fun, supportive, learning environment. Learning doesn’t only happen at school, we must also teach our children to continue practicing and learning no matter what they do. It’s also effective to do it at home, watch piano lessons through videos and practice playing by themselves. Allowing them to also learn them at their own pace, and to explore their own creativity, results in growing independence.

Intellectual and Physical Benefits

As a child spends time with his/her peers, they learn to interact thus developing a sense of cooperation and nuances of communication. Piano players are known for being efficient thinkers with higher than average memory and decision making skills. Piano study in particular increases your creativity and has shown significant improvement in a child’s intellect and academic performance.  Studies also reported that playing the piano improves reading comprehension and vocabulary. As anyone can notice, you must understand the notes in a musical piece and translate them to the keys while you play – the eye-hand coordination is impressive!

Mental and Emotional Benefits

Playing the piano promotes creativity that improves imagination which has been shown to reduce stress and depression which is becoming more common in teenagers. Learning to play the piano or any kind of instrument produces endorphins – and we need this hormone to fight the isolation and heaviness of the world around us. The happiness from playing the piano will never change. As your child grows older, both  will cherish this skillset. It can be a source of entertainment for a lifetime and they can then possibly pass on what they learned to their own family and future children. And it all started with you!

Get off the cell phone or the video games and learn an instrument at Cadenza today! Call to set up your first lesson now!

5 Interesting Facts About the Piano

5 Interesting Facts About the Piano

You probably already know that the piano is one of the world’s most favorite musical instruments. It has significantly contributed to both classical and modern music. The piano was first created in the early 1700s but evolved into its current form all the way up until the early 1900’s! It originated from the harpsichord, which was only able to play softly and tenderly. The harpsichord worked by plucking the strings, much like we play the guitar, but the piano changed all that. It evolved into a system of hammers striking the keys. This changed a lot of what the instrument was able to do.

The piano was formally called pianoforte, (a name of a small Italian instrument) because it can play notes quietly (piano) and loudly (forte). It can be played to produce calm and soothing music (think of the most beautiful Chopin Nocturnes) or vibrant, exciting music (think Rachmaninov!). The piano has transformed in shape and size so many times over the years. It has 12,000 parts of which 10,000 pieces are moving, and all these must work correctly to get the best sound from the musical instrument.

A few little warm up facts: The middle of the piano is not middle C, but is actually the space between E and F above the middle C. Piano keys are called “ivories”, but since 1940 they were no longer made of ivory, but of plastic. Now, the instrument has evolved and adapted to different forms dependant on the musical style, or space requirement. From grand pianos, uprights, digital pianos, and synthesizers the keyboard is a very versatile instrument. The word ‘Grand’ was first used in 1777. And in 1772, Americus Backers made the oldest homemade piano in Britain.

Here are 5 interesting facts about this incredible instrument:

1. Piano as “The King Of Musical Instruments”

The piano is the king of musical instruments for obvious reasons (though organs were the first to claim that title). First, the piano is one of the beautiful instruments you can play and enjoy. It’s an instrument with impressive size, and can play melody and accompaniment at the same time, making it a truly complete instrument. Also, the piano is hailed as the king because of its most comprehensive range of notes, which is lower than a 16-foot pedal note you have on an organ and is also higher than the top note of piccolo.

The pedal you see on the right is the sustain pedal and is being used often. The left pedal is the damper pedal that moves the hammers closer to the strings, and it makes the sound softer – much simpler than an organ! Some pianos also have a middle pedal, which sustains only the notes you press and continues that while you play others without sustain. A piano is a versatile instrument, and with all these properties, you can see why it has taken the term “The King of Musical Instruments.”

2. Is The Piano A String Or Percussion Instrument?

One of the causes of disagreement among musicians is whether the piano is a string or percussion instrument. Of course, we see the main feature of the piano, which is the strings all the way through. These are made of steel. Up to 230 strings are needed for the piano to make its full sound and each string holds about 170 pounds of tension. That is also why tuning the piano is for a specialist. The sound is produced by tiny hammers hitting the strings inside the piano, placing it among the percussion section with a symphony orchestra. So, the piano is considered a percussion instrument.

3. Strings Tension in Piano

It may surprise you to know that the piano has 220-230 strings (3 for each pitch!), made from steel, strung very tightly to produce the sound that we have come to love when hit by the hammers. Each string holds 168 pounds of tension, so total tension for standard pianos is 18-20 tons. The largest grand pianos hold 30 tons of tension. That is why tuning a piano is a job for a specialist.

4. The invention of Digital Pianos

The acoustic piano has existed since the 1700s. The need for an instrument in the music studio that didn’t need tuning and was easily recorded resulted in the invention of the synthesizer in the 1960s. Eventually, the modern digital piano was introduced in the 1980s, paving the way for many possibilities in the musical world. The digital piano helps in resolving many disadvantages of the acoustic piano, including the ability to directly amplify their instrument, save space, no tuning costs, and can practice silently with a set of headphones.

5. Grand Piano Is Actually Faster Than Upright Piano

The grand piano allows you to play faster than its smaller cousin because of its action. A grand piano can be as large as 9 feet (technically they are 8 feet, 11- inch) but include a repetition lever that allows the pianist to repeat notes when the key is half way up. There is no such room for this technology in an upright. So, what you save on space, you also lose on action and adaptability.

Final thought

This beautiful instrument, going through centuries of change, has become the favorite instrument for many people. At Cadenza Music Academy, you will have all it takes to master the piano. Sign up with Cadenza Music Academy today and begin the journey of exploring this beautiful instrument.

Mindful Piano Practice

Mindful Piano Practice

Stress and distraction will forever be present in our lives. It can come from a variety of directions. One of the most powerful examples is the invasion of technology in every part of our daily lives. Technology has dimmed the marks between our home and work. We always struggle to find a place where we can unwind. In order to overcome stress, many choose to explore mindfulness exercises like meditation and yoga. The concept of Mindfulness is widespread and has many benefits.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation focuses on our awareness, on where we are now. We have two places, two spaces, in our minds. Where we are and where our mind takes us. The trick is to be able to focus on the now. Our body, our space, the sounds, the aspects of our life where we are physically.. Our mind tends to wander – this is natural and normal. We can dwell on the past or anxious about the future, anywhere but now. Let it go there (don’t be mad at yourself) but when you do notice it, gently bring it back to where you can focus on the here and now. We cannot change the past and there are many things that can affect the future. Stress is relieved in grasping what we can handle. For the most part we are better at handling the present than we are the future.

In these other timelines, we can have thoughts about our fears or failures or how we were unfairly treated by others. Sometimes, we also predict calamities and disasters that will happen to us. This often ends up us being lonely, hurt, afraid, and stressed. You cannot be mindful of where you are now if you are always concerned about the future. Relax and find the beauty in the now.

Piano Practice: Mindfulness

In order to enter in mindfulness meditation, one anchor that is used is breathing. Spend a great deal of time to focus on how you breath; patterns, depth, time. Be aware of what your body is doing naturally. This is the first step in being present.  Being aware of our breath means we have entered the present moment. Before we start a song, breathe and know where you are – getting ready to take the first step in a completely new musical journey – enjoy it!

Other anchors musicians have at their disposal include the notation, sound, fingerings, and rhythm. If you practice focusing on these issues, not only will the piano practice becomes more efficient, but you will find it rewarding as you will also find relief from daily stress that could be from school, homework, etc. If you feel time speed up when practicing piano, then this a great sign! Some people call it being in the “zone”.

And being mindful, present, and less stressed will means you will also learn how to express your emotions through music and, the ultimate goal, to have better connection to the audience during performances.

 

Start your piano lessons today! Join us at Cadenza Music Academy.  Send us an email at [email protected] or call us at 949-416-2355.

3 MAJOR Tips On Overcoming Challenges In Learning the Piano

3 MAJOR Tips On Overcoming Challenges In Learning the Piano

Feeling like you have hit a wall is perfectly normal when it comes to learning how to play the piano. Honestly, it happens to everyone and pertains to any instruments, and even parts of life, as well. It’s essential to know that this is not uncommon at all! You can do it! In fact, success matters less about skill but about dedication and perseverance. This is a typical issue that all pianists experience all the time. Don’t give up!

 

Smaller Chunks

Take things in small chunks. Never underestimate the small victories. Do one bar, one system, even one page. It is also OK to take a bigger picture as well. Listen to your favorite performer play the piece from start to finish. If there’s a time that you are not sure of the timing or the phrasing, listen (or better yet, watch on YouTube) to see and hear how you could play each piece correctly.

 

Feeling in a Rut is Normal

From time to time, you will stagnate musically. It’s always uplifting to perform when everything you want goes right and to know and feel the audience is impressed with your performance. However, there are times that you’ll feel that you are not learning anything or even going backwards and it can make you want to give up. Again, this doesn’t apply to just piano playing, but it also applies to all the trials of life.

The best way to overcome this is to take a deep breath, step away, maybe take a small break, ignore all the stagnation, and just take one step forward in your musical journey. In time, you will see that you’re already on the next level it is just hard to see it ourselves sometimes. There is a great saying – “We are sometimes unable to see the forest for the trees”. Sometimes we pay attention to the trees (the small things) and we miss the forest (the big picture). Think back to the reasons why you wanted to play the piano. If you are frustrated, one of the best things that you can do is to remember the reason why you wanted to learn in the first place.

 

Understand Where to Find Help

Your piano development journey will have a lot of ups and downs, and, yes, frustrations. The secret weapon to overcome this is to stay on the course and know where to look for help and support. It could be family and friends, but sometimes even they do not know what you are going through. You should always be able to approach your piano teacher. They will surely be able to help you make sense of everything again. They will no doubt use the above tips but most of all, you will know they understand.

Let Cadenza be a part of your journey today! We are here for you.  Send us an email at [email protected] or call us at (949) 416-2355.