Have you ever met one of those people who can sit down and play a song by ear? The can just do it without even looking at the music – and they were just BORN THAT WAY. (Infuriating, right?). What if I told you that you can LEARN to PLAY BY EAR? Not only CAN you, but I am going to show you exactly what steps you need to take to be able to do it. It doesn’t take any special tools or skills – it’s just a matter of sitting down and following my easy steps.
This is how I learned to play by ear, how I taught my 9 year old son to play by ear and how I have taught hundreds of other people to do it too. It’s super fun and will make your whole life more musical!
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Have you been wanting to improve your piano skills?Have you been curious about the online offerings at Piano and Voice with Brenda?This short video talks you through all of the course options and shares which course might be the best fit for you!Whether you are looking to learn jazz, improvisation or you are a singer who wants to build your keyboard skills, there is a perfect course for YOU! Check out this video to find out!
Sight reading is a thorn in everyone’s side and something that nearly every student I have come across has needed more help with.In this video I tackle the #1 problem that keeps people from being able to sight read effectively.Hint:it’s all about intervals.
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For this series, I will be posting a new song every week from every imaginable style and genre.The only criteria is that I need to like it!
Anyone who grew up in Canada was inevitably steeped in the music of Gordon Lightfoot.His music was a staple of my CBC listening as a child and even though I might have rolled my eyes at it as a teen, it is something that I have grown to love as an adult.In my version, I try to reproduce his lauded finger-picking guitar style on the piano.Enjoy!
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I was super excited to be published in Classical Singer Magazine‘s blog this week! They reached out to me to see if I would share how my work for Piano Skills for Singers would translate to the classical world. YES – faking is for EVERYONE!!
In my experience as a professional pianist, vocalist and educator, I have found that one of the weakest links in the vocalist community is a lack of functional keyboard skills. This deficiency creates a huge handicap for singers and educators, keeping them from positions as section leaders, music directors and teachers. In the post-pandemic world, singers are going to need as many tools as possible in their toolkit to carve out a livelihood. Continue reading here
Treat daily music practice as self-care: With all the stress and uncertainty of pandemic life, we all need to be practicing more self care. Yes, this includes drinking enough water and getting enough sleep, but why not treat your daily practice as a form of self care too? Spending time every day singing, playing piano and just making music is a great way to invite structure and creativity into you day and will help to feed your mind, body and soul.
Good lighting is EVERYTHING.
Make sure your practice space is cozy and inviting. Nice lighting adds a comfortable feel (get a decent lamp with a soft white lightbulb!), get a good quality chair or stool and fill your space with candles and inspirational quotes. While you’re at it, make sure you give yourself some private and distraction free time. Log out of your social media accounts, turn off your phone and hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. (Time to let your kids have some screen time!). This is YOUR TIME to center yourself into creativity, even if it’s only for a short time.
3. Get organized: How many of us have desks and studios that are in rough shape? Messes, piles of paper and a lack of proper materials will derail your practicing. Take an hour or two and get your space in shape! Put all of your music in a folder or binder, putting the most recent material up front. Make sure you have your recording device, speakers, metronome, notebook and several pencils and pens handy so that when you sit down to work, you have everything you need.
Everything I need to be productive.
Put all of your music in a folder or binder so it’s all in one place when you need it.
Make sure you have your recording device, speakers/headphones, metronome, notebook and pencils handy so that when you sit down you’re ready to go!
Declutter anything from your practice space that you don’t need – household items like bills and paperwork and anything else that will distract you from practicing (Whose socks are these???)
Get rid of anything that is visually busy or otherwise distracting to your creative flow. If there are small repairs that you need to make, or loose ends that need to be tied, take a couple of hours and just DO IT (We both know that your metronome has needed batteries for a while, so…)
3. Create projects and goals to work toward. It can be really hard to practice efficiently when we no longer have rehearsals, auditions and performances to be working towards. Now is a great time to find creative solutions to those external goals. Create new goals to help you stay on track and get motivated. Here are a few ideas:
Do a deep dive of the work of a favorite singer or composer. This is a great time to choose repertoire that differs from your usual work or “type”
Film yourself practicing once a week on social media to let your friends and fans know what you’re up to
Host a Zoom concert for your family or friends
Get together (over Zoom) with fellow musicians to share your work and do a feedback circle
Take an online course to help you build new skills
Create playlists of your “desert island” songs and learn them one by one (This is what I’m doing as part of my #RandomSongsILike project!)
If you are working on scales, chords, technical drills or chord progressions, you should be practicing them in 12 keys! This video will give you some great ideas on how to practice in different ways, to achieve mastery quicker and without relying only on muscle memory!
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Want to learn jazz piano? Check out my online course Jazz Piano Accompaniment, which teaches you everything I list in this blog post.