- September 14th, 2012
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Archive for the ‘Retreat’ Category
Win a free place on our forthcoming Piano-Yoga® Retreat at Kings Place by answering the following question:
Q: Which famous composer ruined his hands by trying to stretch his fingers with weights? (Obviously he hadn’t heard of Piano-Yoga®!)
Please email your answers to email@example.com. The winner will be selected randomly and notified on Wednesday 19th of September 2012.
You often hear horrendous stories about the lives of failed pianists: one who suffered an injury, or another who had a big mental break down and lost their lust for life despite being very talented. This retreat really revealed to us how important it is for us pianists to look after our body and to be healthy and live happily.
Yoga practice, breathing work, diet, posture… The list of topics covered was immense. As the week progressed, we felt our goals increasingly becoming within closer reach as we gradually became stronger pianists. Everything felt like it was falling into place. Our bodies and hearts grew lighter and lighter.
The lectures were all excellent – I enjoyed every one. There was so much useful information and the other participants also shared their very interesting experiences. What interested me the most was the ‘Working with Rhythm’ workshop, and it was very exciting for me to be able to work on a Steinway grand. GéNIA showed us how to incorporate breathing into musical phrasing of a piece. With this breathing, I became physically unified with my piece. I had always connected emotionally with the music I play (well, most of the time!) but I had never imagined being able to be at one with a piece physically in such a way. This was a new and thrilling experience.
There were a lot of masterclasses. Different pianists, different problems. We all analysed each other’s playing and benefitted enormously from working as a team.
We were completely detached from the real world over there. We worked on our music and well-being the whole time, with great food, lovely weather and good company.
I’ll never forget the sunset we saw at Aphrodite beach, our cosy chats at the dinner table, our pancake overdose (!) and our brilliant night out on the town… A very big ‘thank you’ to GéNIA and everyone at the retreat. I really REALLY had the time of my life!
I love going on retreats – there is something very decadent about them. You forget about all the harsh realities and problems of life and concentrate purely on the subject that you love. 24/7. On top of that, you also work on your well-being and everything is taken care of for you. For a short period you get to feel like you don’t have a care in the world…
In the piano community it is more common to go on summer schools and masterclasses, where all the attention is focused on learning and meeting like-minded people, encouraging healthy competition and hours of practice… And yet, I have found that in order to learn more, it is far better to create a holistic environment where you feel relaxed, safe and nurtured. You can be as competitive as you like, but it is not encouraged in this context. Your ability to learn is therefore heightened and your creativity strives forward.
In my own case, I have found that appearing as a concert pianist on a cruise liner makes for the most wonderful sort of personal retreat. While I’m there it gives me the chance to travel the world (which I love), eat healthily, go to the gym and spa as many times as I want, as well as keep up with my yoga and piano practice. The only thing I need to deliver is up to 12 concerts with 6 different programmes, usually within the period of 14 days. I don’t need to think about any practical issues, like grocery shopping or public transport, and with limited access to the internet my contact with the outside world is very much diminished. I can choose how much I want to socialise, but with the status of the concert pianist on-board, no-one really expects to rely on your time. This is my little heaven. I usually do it 4 times a year – mainly in winter to escape the cold London climate (!) – and I always travel to hot countries, as I like it hot! Going on stage 12 times keeps me very grounded and prevents me from becoming too engrossed in what has to be one of the most hedonistic experiences in the world.
Photograph from my last cruise around the Caribbean
This is really where the inspiration for creating Piano-Yoga® retreats came from, with the hope of giving other like-minded pianists the possibility of experiencing the same blissful mix of creativity, nurturing and learning, all in one place. The retreats have been a long time in the making, so we are now very excited that in 2011 they will finally become a reality, with two one-day retreats in London at Kings Place and Steinway Hall and one retreat in Cyprus at the Arte Academy (one-week retreat). The retreats will cover many areas related to piano playing through lectures and masterclasses, whilst working with the participants on their mind and body through yoga sessions specially designed for pianists. During the one-week retreat in Cyprus participants will be also be able to visit beautiful parts of Cyprus (excursions included) and stay in a beautiful hotel, with all meals provided. The two one-day Piano-Yoga® retreats in London will give participants a chance to get a taster of the bigger retreat, while unwinding, relaxing and learning more about piano technique.
And after all, retreats are really what Piano-Yoga® is all about! Because apart from the obvious benefits to your piano technique, what retreats offer is a slice of the whole lifestyle and philosophy for those who love playing the piano in a holistic way.
We are currently talking to a number of other venues in Europe and the USA about hosting Piano-Yoga® retreats for 2012 and beyond, so if you would like to have one in your area, please drop us a line.
Time for my yoga practice..!
So many people, when they hear the words Piano-Yoga think: ” well, another trendy new system”, or, “all this new age holistic nonsense” (the classical music purists) and on a more positive side “well, finally, someone came up with the way of playing the piano which is simple, easy and natural”.
But what’s interesting is that there is one idea that unites all these people, with their rather different attitudes, as they believe that Piano-Yoga is a new unorthodox system of playing the piano.
But is Piano-Yoga really new?
Piano playing methods and techniques have existed for at least a few hundred years, and yoga has existed for much longer. Originally, yoga was a philosophy, the exercise of thought, which later developed into many other branches, with some embracing the physical practice, now so popular in the West.
However, as every philosophy covers thoughts about creation, through various processes, understanding those on a multidimensional level can easily be applied to other aspects of life, be it parenthood, work, personal development ethics, building a house, working on one’s physical state or playing the piano. Playing the piano particularly benefits from applying yogic principles, as it is a discipline that requires a combination of thought, emotions and physical manifestation. Without these three ingredients, the performance would not be complete. This is what makes it so close to yoga, the combined practice of philosophy and it’s manifestation through the physical exercise.
It became apparent to me that there was so much that piano techniques could draw from yoga: ability to concentrate, ability to control the technical work, consistent work on one’s body and thought. For example, intelligent stretching of the hands and fingers increases people’s ability to play a much wider repertoire and increase their strength. There is no “heavy weight” exercises required and no hours and hours of practicing. You just need to be in a right frame of mind, doing the right thing at regular intervals.
This is why I was so delighted with the latest review from Nadia Lasserson, from the EPTA Professional Piano Magazine, who at first was very sceptical of the method. As the secretary of the European Piano Teachers Organization in the UK, Nadia represented the thoughts of many piano teachers in the UK and I really had no idea what she would think about the method. I met Nadia and gave her a two hour session at the piano, explaining the method. I then did not hear from her for almost a year! I started thinking that she found the method not even worthy of mentioning, until one day we received the review in the post:
“It really does work . . . Many ailing pianists have been helped with this unorthodox and unusual method . . . All teachers should try it”.
I was really thrilled, as, of course, personally I knew that it does work, as it has been a foundation of my life and playing for many years. It was really rewarding to hear it from someone who never came across the method before and was not very inspired by the idea in the first place.
By this time we also had another fantastic review from Nancy Lee Harper from EPTA Piano Journal: “This is a book for a lifetime of healthy piano playing! … This book gets 5 stars from me!”
To give everyone the opportunity to get to know Piano-Yoga we are holding various events from the end of 2010 through 2011:
Date: Sunday 12 December 2010
Location: Schott Music Concert Hall, 48 Great Marlborough Street, London W1
Admission: Free to all members of EPTA who register in advance. There would be a small number of tickets available for non-Members, Please enquire @ richard,firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration: Please email Richard McDonald, the Administrator of Piano-Yoga and GéNIA MUISC on email@example.com or call on +44 (0)20 72269829
In spring 2011 we will be holding a Piano-Yoga retreat at Steinway Hall in London as well as a one week Piano-Yoga retreat in Cyprus. The details of both events will be released shortly.
Please stay tuned for more information, news and updates.
Read Nadia Lasserson’s review in Piano Professional on Piano-Yoga book here
Read Nancy Lee Harper’s review in Piano Journal on Piano-Yoga book here
Look inside the book here
Read on tips, articles, back release exercises @ the free members section of the website here
Quickly download the book as eBook or get a paperback here
With all the warmest wishes,
Your Piano-Yogini friend,