Category Archives: Piano

Piano Lessons: Slowing down

Sometimes when learning something new one reaches a saturation point. People just have to slow down, “do it at the speed you actually can do it without mistakes”, said the best teacher I had. Don’t practice mistakes instead practice playing it right, if that’s very slow so be it, it’ll change tempo later.

In this exercise Mr. B. is trying to play both in 3/4 and 2/4. Using the phrase “not difficult” to remember the feel of the rhythm.

These four jugglers have an imaginary piano between them.

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I’ll tell you about some of the people I’m currently teaching. There’s 2 classical musicians who want to improvise, there’s a comedian who wants to write well structured songs quickly, there’s a kid who wants to play Adele, there’s a guitarist who wants to play piano better, there’s a musical theatre actor who is looking for clarity re: how to jam with people, there’s a song-writer who wants an honest response to what’s good or what’s boring when I listen to her song-writing and how to add hot sauce to it and others with other issues I’ll write up for another post.

What are they doing? All are learning how to play and improvise blues piano or African influenced ostinatos in various keys. Some are analyzing Joni Mitchell technique and others the Beatles, Ben Folds, Burt Bacharach – this reflects questions they bring to me or strategies I supply. Some want me to play and then stop me when I do something they want to copy, then I slow it down and they try to tattoo it onto their brain. There are other licks and techniques I teach the way other teachers would start with scales, and we work at getting them to utilize those techniques for ease and speed into their playing (there are scales too). Often we record what we did so they can review it at home.


And for everyone who asks about teaching cats yes I still do that as well.

Quick quiz  – did I teach the cat below to play minor seconds in free time or is it coincidence?

Go to the music lessons section of my website or write

The Rubber Necker, Bach and Mozetich

Sometimes driving and listening to the radio I have heard things which caused my brain to explode and had to pull over for everyone’s safety. It happened one time with Bach – I heard it! What previously I took for modern was made completely teensy weensy because he was improvising with four voices and remaining melodic and that was 350 years ago.


It happened another time with the Danielson Family. I couldn’t figure out how the main singer, Daniel, did with his voice what he was doing. As it turns out that is just how he naturally sings – all elements together made for a car accident if I didn’t pull over and quietly enjoy this masterpiece.


And then last week – poof – this came on. I tracked down Julie Nesrallah and she completely understood my problem.