Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119 No. 1

Beethoven's Opus 119 is a collection of shorter works for piano. The Bagatelle is the first of these and displays his knack for placing entire worlds into mere measures. I could probably write a substantial, scholarly paper on just the last ten measures or so, but this post is meant to give you a broader …

Anatomy of a Christmas Carol: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is a traditional English Christmas carol whose origins are unknown. Regardless of where it came from, it is a short and familiar tune that contains an interesting use of sequences and non-diatonic harmony. Exploring form, melody, and harmony in short, familiar tunes like this one provides an excellent entrance …

Reality Check Your Goals: Mindset and New Experiences

Last time, I focused on why being specific and relevant in your piano journey is helpful and how to implement that practice in your own goal-setting. In this post, I’m focusing in on the “MART” of smart goals and what it means to “reality check expectations,” as this is where new pianists especially struggle with …

Anatomy of a Christmas Carol: Deck the Hall

Deck the Hall is a classic Welsh Christmas carol from the 16th century. From its long-lasting popularity, we can learn how looking at the harmony, melody, and overall structure of a piece contributes to our ability as performers to control more fully how we express emotion and narrative (if there is a story) in a …

How Curiosity Keeps Us Happy and Motivated While Practicing an Instrument

This post is part 2 in the Chart Your Quest series, for people wanting to start learning piano (or any instrument!) but don't know where to start! You can read the first part here. Last week, we talked about finding our motivation: what is it we actually want to learn to do in piano and …

Chart Your Quest: How to Plan Your Piano Journey

Taking up piano is very much like embarking on an epic quest. You have a general idea of where you need to go, but there's a lot of terrain between here and there that you don't know about yet. If you're not careful, you could end up trapped in a dark forest of no return! But don't worry, these posts will be your guide to finding the perfect guide for you. It will help you create the path for your journey, starting with where you're going and why.

Musical Memory: The Many Pieces of the Memorization Process

“The demands placed on memory during a piano performance are remarkable, sometimes requiring the production of over 1000 notes a minute for periods of up to 50 minutes,”Chaffin and Imreh wrote in their 1997 article about musical memory (315). Their work, as well as the work of many other scholars studying the elements of memory …

7 Steps to Practice Joy While Practicing an Instrument

Introduction In his 2019 literature review on the study of joy in positive psychology, Matthew Kuan Johnson explains there are four types of joy. Joy can be an emotion, mood, a disposition or trait, or what religious or spiritual practices consider a “spiritual fruit.” As an emotion, joy comes from an external situation; it’s an …