Rachmaninov Prelude in D flat op. 32 no. 13

As a fluent pianist, I work to find a proper grasp of the musical language of any piece I play. This prelude can easily sound dense, noisy and inaccessible, even in a solid technical performance with all the notes played accurately. In order to communicate its...

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Why I never practise scales and arpeggios

Scales and arpeggios are considered good practice and to question something that is so normal and ubiquitous might seem almost sacrilegious. But the truth is I don't practise them or teach fluent keyboard musicianship using them because I find that they encourage a...

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Are we too obsessed by melody?

Composing and improvising can seem difficult when we approach it top down, trying to come up with good ideas. Trying to come up with a good melody can often generate terrible pressure that blocks us creatively. Here I explore how to wriggle out of this common trap.

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How to enter a state of flow

What exactly is a state of flow or peak performance zone and how do you get into it? In this video I explain what flow means to me as a teacher and student of fluent musicianship and give some key pointers on how to achieve this elusive state.

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How to play fast on the piano

As a fluent musician, to learn to play fast notes on the piano, you first need mental dexterity and then you need to be able to let go and play with physical and rhythmic freedom. It is the passive, muscle-memory approach that becomes obsessed with the physical...

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Teaching musical fluency – dogma or discovery?

It can feel quite strange for students of fluent musicianship to be forced to think of nothing but a simple model of how music works: I won't allow students’ focus to drift towards anything other than intending musical shapes made from rhythm cells and tonal blocks...

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Why people want to play music they know

When you know the language of music fluently, you love to discover new music. Whilst it is natural, up to a point, to want to play music we know and love, there can be rather a delusional element to this, if what you are playing sounds less intelligible than you might...

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You can use any fingers…

Playing by pinning fingers to set keys destroys natural musical fluency - you can use any fingers. If we can only play music using the same fingers every time, it means that muscle memory has such a critical role in how we play the piano that our musicianship is...

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