I have been giving piano lessons for almost 20 years and when I first came across the idea of Skype Piano lessons, I admit, I was quite skeptical about it: doesn’t the student need to be in the same room with the teacher in order to really experience the full benefits of the tuition? Would not this be a bit artificial (particularly for us, the Piano-Yoga® Music School, since Piano-Yoga® promotes an holistic approach to piano playing) to rely so much on technology and the limitations of the computer screen?
However, due to my curiosity and inclination to explore new things, I decided to try this way of teaching by launching a Skype Piano-Yoga® Clinic. The result was better than I anticipated: people were ringing from all over the world, some asking about the piano repertoire that they needed to focus on, some on the details of the Piano-Yoga® method and some simply wanted specific technical help with their pieces. For example, with one student we spent quite a long time working on various trills and mordents, exploring the fingering that would work especially for her and at the end I was amazed with the efficiency of the whole process.
This is how Piano Skype Lessons were launched. This tuition method, which originally started as 10-minute online piano consultation sessions, has now been transformed into a well-established Skype Piano Lessons Online Practice as another branch of the Piano-Yoga® School. My students come from all over the world: Japan, Australia, USA, France and Germany. The feeling that you can communicate and work with someone on the other side of the world is absolutely amazing and rewarding and I guess, for those who like to study playing the piano through the Piano-Yoga® method, there is no longer the need to travel to London or follow my travel schedule.
Piano Skype Lessons can sometimes be even more focused than traditional piano lessons because all the communication is happening through the camera and therefore the direction of the camera and the size of the screen very much dictates the points that are discussed during the lesson. Somehow, talking about the weather and other pleasantries becomes less appropriate!
Sometimes we aim the camera at the particular hand in question, or at the student’s posture or face. On my side I am often adjusting the camera to show either my hands or do work on particular passages, or to discuss the whole posture issue. Because of this the process appears more intense (in a good way) and far more efficient.
Another plus of these lessons is that they usually start and finish exactly on time, without wasting time on getting ready for the lesson and leaving the room, which can sometimes take up to 10 minutes on each side!
Are Piano Skype Lessons for you? Test yourself against the checklist below:
Many of my students, who I teach at Steinway Hall and Schott Music in London, are still apprehensive about Skype online piano tuition and think that Piano Skype Lessons could never provide an adequate substitute for a normal lesson. Therefore, I created this checklist that will help you decide whether Skype Piano Lessons are for you:
Do you want to study with a particular teacher but find hard to travel to see them regularly?
Do you have a limited amount of time and therefore can not study regularly, due to the amount of time it takes to travel to see your teacher?
Would you like to have shorter sessions rather than the one-hour lessons which many traditional piano schools provide?
If you said yes to question 3 (above), do you think that piano lessons shorter than 60 minutes are not worth your travel time?
Do you find that when you are on holiday and finally have the time to practise, as well as greater inspiration, your teacher is in another country?
If you sad yes to ANY of the questions above then Skype Piano Lessons are for you!
What you need in order to start Skype Piano Lessons:
Before committing to Skype Piano Lessons you need to make sure that:
You chose your teacher because you really want to study them specifically, and not just because they provide Skype Piano Lessons.
You have a good, fast internet connection at the address your lesson is due to take place (at least 2mb download and 0.5mb upload).
You have a good and workable computer with a decent screen resolution (see below).
You have a good quality microphone and good speakers.
You have an adjustable camera (either built into the computer – I usually use my laptop – or external), so you can direct it towards specific perspectives during the lesson.
Your computer can face the piano keyboard (this is why laptops are generally more practical and functional)
You can install the latest version of Skype and check that you can see yourself and the piano keyboard in the camera.
Windows (XP – Win 7) or Mac OSX (Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion)
Minimum 1GHz Processor
Minimum 256mb of RAM
DirectX 9 or above
Minimum of 1280×1024 resolution.
Choosing a Skype Piano Lesson Teacher:
At the end of the day, the efficiency of your lesson will very much depend on the teacher. The market is big and you need to find a teacher who is right for you (A separate blog on this will be coming soon!) Needles to say that the teacher needs to be well qualified, have good teaching ethics and, in general, suit your temperament, as well as share your goals and beliefs.
At our Piano-Yoga® Music School we offer many classes and lessons ranging from 20 minute individual sessions to full three-month courses (‘A’ and ‘B’): http://www.piano-yoga.com/e-shop/lessons/skype-lessons.php
You can always give us a call for an informal chat via Skype on weekdays 9:00-13:00 (GMT) search for us at ‘piano-yoga’, if you want to find out more, or email us on email@example.com.
In conclusion, I would say never stop developing and learning just because you do not have the time or means to travel to a lesson or person with whom you would like to learn, and if you are not a fan of technology do not dismiss the idea of using it to your advantage before trying it! You might be pleasantly surprised.
‘The beautiful thing about learning is that no-one can take it away from you’ – B.B. King
GéNIA plays the Third Movement from Sofia Gubaidulina’s Piano Sonata, composed in 1965. Sofia Gubaidulina is a Russian composer known for her unusual instrumentation and use of chromatic motifs and melodies.
Achieve your piano performance goals from anywhere in the world, over the internet, with our interactive Piano Skype Lessons. Get all the benefits of a one to one piano lesson or piano life coaching session live from the comfort of your own home, and be taught by the Head of Piano-Yoga® School, Russian pianist GéNIA!
‘I would encourage any pianist, amateurs and professionals alike, to sign up to one of [GéNIA’s] courses!’ International Piano Magazine
Now you can start benefiting from the powerful Piano-Yoga® technique straight away. With our unique Piano-Yoga® School based in London, piano lessons using Skype offer those unable to travel to us a chance to study piano online. You can have a Skype Piano Lesson from anywhere in the world and, with our continuously growing international community, we welcome pianists of all levels and backgrounds! Whether you are in the United States, Australia or anywhere in the UK, you now have the opportunity to study the piano from the original Piano-Yoga® source; founder of the method, pianist GéNIA.
In these sessions you can work on your technique, prepare for your graded Associated Board Exams or Performance Diploma, get feedback and advice on your posture, receive tips on stress management technique and discuss any questions and concerns that relate to your piano playing (even choosing the best piano to suit your needs)!
Apart from teaching the Piano-Yoga® method, GéNIA has been advising many musicians and young people on how to embark on professional career path, whether to become a piano teacher, accompanist, concert performer or break into a pop music/dance industry. With Piano-Yoga® holistic method, all the elements of your well-being, music potential, circumstances and current education are taken into account and through individual coaching your dreams are transformed to a vision that could become a reality.
“The 21st century answer to playing the piano” Yoga & Health Magazine
What you get:
Exclusive one to one piano lesson
Tailored approach to your technique
Personalized Practice Plan
Step by Step Guidance
Stress Management Technique
Piano Life Coaching
Body Maintenance Exercises
Flexibility in your Training Hours
The top quality advice at the comfort of your home
If you want to have a quick experience on all what Skype Piano Lessons have to offer you can try a short 20 minute session or, if you already know that this technique is for you, sign up to our courses A or B to benefit fully from the method. The choice is yours!
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no-one can take it away from you!” B.B.King
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GéNIA plays the beautiful Sonata Reminiscenza, first of the Forgotten Melodies Cycle (op. 38) by Nikolai Medtner. This single movement sonata moves from gentle melodies and shifting harmonies to dramatic excitement and back again, leading your emotions in unexpected directions. Video produced by Richard McDonald.
To view other videos, please visit GéNIA ‘s YouTube channel HERE.
GéNIA plays the Second Movement from Sofia Gubaidulina’s Piano Sonata, composed in 1965. Sofia Gubaidulina is a Russian composer known for her unusual instrumentation and use of chromatic motifs and melodies.
In Piano-Yoga® we believe that creating an optimal environment which promotes the student’s sense of well-being is the best approach to learning the piano. When we feel relaxed, think positively and our concentration is at its peak, we can learn more quickly and efficiently. In this state, learning can even feel like having fun, where studying and mastering something new become an effortless and pleasurable experience.
It is true that some of the best educational systems (like the Russian school, for example) are based on a strict, disciplined approach to learning, where competition is the upmost motivation for success and the strongest students are stretched to the maximum. Such systems have produced amazing results, but the weakest emotionally often give up, unable to progress and develop.
Whilst Piano-Yoga® aims to help students to perfect their technique this is only a tool, as our foremost motivation is to make the piano playing process as enjoyable and pleasurable as possible, within the wider framework of the student’s lifestyle. In order to do this not only do we instruct students specifically in the Piano-Yoga® technique, but we also show them how to efficiently schedule their practice sessions, and how to take care of their health and their body in order to get the most out of their practice and create a positive mindset.
I like to address this issue by using ideas taken from ancient Indian Ayurvedic philosophy – the traditional Hindu system of medicine, based on the idea of bringing balance to the body using diet, herbal treatments, yogic postures and breathing. In line with the discipline of Ayurveda we ask students to pay attention to what they eat, ask them to monitor how they feel each day, and if they are not happy with the results we teach them how to change their sense of well-being, correcting it through various exercises, simple posture adjustments and the use of aromatherapy. We very much encourage our students to create a practice environment full of clean energy, and where the student feels comfortable, safe, private and nurtured.
Would you like to try this for yourself? Here’s what you can do in just one week:
Notice when your energy is at its best and try to practise at that time
Are you a morning person or evening? Is the afternoon the best or the worst time for you? Try to practise when you brain is at its best and your muscles are not stiff.
Find out if there is a regular time you can practise and, if possible, stick to it.
Getting into a routine will help the body to feel comfortable in its environment and will enable you to concentrate faster and more acutely.
Try not to practise on an empty stomach, but also not on a full one. According to how you feel we recommend using the main principles of Ayurveda
According to Ayurvedic principles a person can either be TAMASIC (sluggish/slow), RAJASIC (hyperactive/fast) or SATTVIC (balanced) depending on their current state of mind. If you are feeling unsettled you will most certainly be feeling either Tamasic or Rajasic and therefore should aim to bring yourself back into a Sattvic (balanced) state.
Decide how you are feeling at this present moment: TAMASIC or RAJASIC?
For people in TAMASIC (sluggish/slow) state I recommend:
Going for a brisk walk before practice, if possible.
Playing the piano at a moderate or fast tempo but not too slowly!
Eating a moderate amount of RAJASIC foods before practice to induce more energy into your system (chocolate, tea, coffee (but not too much of these, otherwise you may find yourself in a rajasic state) as well as fish, eggs, chilli peppers and strongly-flavored herbs and spices to help bring yourself into a state of balance. Do some physical exercise. Yoga is excellent as long as it is a vinyasa sequence (dynamic flowing yoga practice). This encourages better blood circulation and warms up the muscles.
For people in a RAJASIC (hyperactive/nervous) state I would recommend:
Going for a slow walk or doing some simple slow stretches, mainly with forward bends (make sure that you do not have any back issues and know how to do stretches safely).
Playing everything on the piano slower then usual. Eat some TAMASIC food before the practice time to induce a calming effect on the body (i.e. meat, cooked vegetables, mushrooms, dried, tinned and frozen fruit).
Practising slow, deep breathing as it has an excellent calming effect on the body. (The yogic breath technique of Ujjayi is particularly good if you are familiar with it – otherwise I would recommend initial guidance from a qualified yoga teacher).
Trying to meditate and rest more between short practice sessions.
Make sure that you feel comfortable in your environment
In the morning have plenty of fresh air in the room (no dust, as not only is it bad for your health, but it is terrible for the energy of the place). In the evening make sure that the room is warm and well lit, but that the lights are not too bright, as this can make you feel tired.
Do some physical exercises before your piano practice
Doing some physical work can do wonders for your body and mind. Either walking, running, yoga, pilates or swimming: anything that keeps your body alive, well toned and oxygenated. 10–15 minutes of exercise before your piano practice can dramatically improve your playing and your ability to concentrate!
Have some fluids by your side
Preferably have some water (ideally at room temperature, unless you feel hot) or some tea (herbal would be the best, but if you are feeling tired sometimes black tea or coffee can help – make sure that these do not make you too over-active).
Use aromatherapy as this can do wonders from your practice
Before embarking on the use of aromatherapy, I strongly suggest that you do some homework, find out what oils and smells you like and how they make you feel. The oils could either be applied to your skin as a cream or used as a room spray or in oil burners. You really need to know what products you are using and which method is the most effective for you, as it can create a very strong effect and this can really elevate your mood, improve your concentration or simply make you feel happier!
I use room sprays the most, and these days create my own fragrances by mixing various oils. It is so simple: fill a glass bottle with water and add various oils that you like; they usually change with seasons, the time of day and my mood, hence I have many different bottles. Use a diffuser to spray these out. My favorite morning mix at the moment is a combination of cypress, lemon grass, peppermint and lime.
Below are a few examples of how different oils can help you, but really you need to check out yourself what works for you. There are endless possibilities for creating various smells.
Bergamot helps to fight anxiety, confusion, depression, relieve headaches, and reduce irritability and stress.
Pepper is great for fighting apathy, relieving colds, cramps, flu, muscle ache, shock, creating calm and boosting energy.
Ylang-ylang helps to fight depression, stress, improve sleep and enhance mood.
Rose helps with anxiety, depression and fear, creating nurturing and positive feelings.
Clary Sage helps to fight hyperactivity, improve sleep, avoid panic attacks, and induce peace of mind.
Try to pay attention to these few ideas and see how they can improve your practice!
Having said all this, it is important to have a clear goal (know what you would like to achieve from each practice session) and maintain a planned practice process. Try to be undisturbed during your sessions. And always approach your practice thinking constructively: don’t see problems, only solutions!
Here is a little video about our Piano-Yoga® Retreat in Cyprus, which we have created as the ultimate holistic approach to piano learning. It includes piano masterclasses and seminars, yoga exercises, food tasting, wonderful sightseeing excursions and communication with inspiring, like-minded people!