Countdown to 2020: The Top 5 Posts of 2019

I didn’t want to get too sappy for this one, but this year has been a big one for me! I started the year working three jobs while being a part-time student, started grad school in the second half of the year, and learned how to better plan and craft blog posts that hopefully help people!

So here we go, the top five of 2019:

5. A New Adventure: Resources for New Adult Pianists

What I love the most about teaching new adult pianists is that they have a reason why they’re learning the piano. They’re not doing it because their parents are making them. The desire is completely internal, and more than that, it’s based in deep feelings that are strong enough to internally motivate them through the tough parts of taking up something new.

This post is full of resources for adult beginners including video courses and series (free and paid), platforms for finding teachers, method books, and repertoire guides to help you get through the toughest parts of learning a new skill as an adult.

4. 5 Ways to Find Joy While Practicing an Instrument

As musicians, we spend a lot of time by ourselves in the practice room trying to acquire skills on our own, albeit with a little guidance from our teachers. It’s pretty easy to practice when we first start out on an instrument. As the honeymoon phase comes to an end, however, we frequently find ourselves thinking “I hate practicing my instrument” and wondering why we torture ourselves every day like this.

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects (which I focused on in 5 Ways to Avoid Frustration While Practicing an Instrument) that arise in the practice room, this post focuses on creating positive and productive experiences while practicing an instrument!

3. Book Review: The Art of Practicing by Madeline Bruser

For me, this is one of those books that changes the way I view the world. Bruser’s ten-step approach to practicing reminds me of the days when I first took up piano. It was exciting. I didn’t know enough about drilling scales and arpeggios, and I learned simply by enjoying to play.

Comfort, ease, and joy can be cultivated through practice. To do this, we must give up excessive ambition and the desperate struggle for results, and let ourselves feel the pain of our longing, of having to wait to make music the way we want to.

This book is for musicians, ones who especially want to learn how to enjoy their practice sessions and feel good when they perform.

2. Creating Magic: Debussy’s No. 1

Claude Debussy’s music creates magic wherever it goes. It frequently draws new students to the piano with the desire of playing his most famous pieces like Clair de lune and Arabesque No. 1. This post looks at how Debussy composed this music and what that has to do with being a performer of his music as well as being a composer who would like to create similar music.

1. The Power of Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28 No. 4

170 years after his death, Chopin still captivates audiences with his music. His set of preludes that cover all 24 major and minor keys are a great starting place to learn how to analyze his work, as it can be dense.

The Prelude in E minor, op. 28 no. 4 is one of my favorites and grows so much more fascinating the more times you listen to it. It sounds simple at first, a simple melody in the right hand over block chords in the left hand, but it is this simplicity that showcases the complexity of Chopin’s work.

The piece is one page, but it’s one of the most stunning and heartwrenching pieces ever written. It seems simple enough, just a five note melody (for the most part) over a bunch of block chords, so it’s incredible that Chopin could create something so effective from this texture.

Final Thoughts for the Decade

I hope at least one of these posts helped you in some way in your musical studies and experiences. The point of this blog is to help musicians or lovers of music who may not be as far along in their musical journeys as me. I’m no expert (and struggle with imposter syndrome as much as the rest of you), but I hope that my experience and the resources I’ve been able to share have been worthwhile to all of you!

For 2020, I wish all of you the peace of mind to be able to step back and see the big picture even when it’s not easy and that you find the next decade productive, rewarding, and full of hope and light. Best wishes!

About the Author

Amy King is a music theory and piano instructor currently residing in the Chicago area.

She holds a Master of Music in Music Theory and Cognition from Northwestern University (June 2020) and a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance and English Literature from High Point University (May 2016), where she received the Outstanding Senior Music Major Award, which is awarded to one single graduating music student per year.

Amy has been teaching private piano lessons for 12+ years, taught classroom music theory for 5 years, directed choirs spanning ages 4–25, led and arranged for a university a capella group, and composed and arranged music for various soloists and ensembles.

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