Other Hobbies I Have: Fitness and Working Out

While I LOVE teaching piano and that has been my passion for my entire life, I have also pursued other hobbies in my adult life, the biggest one being working out and keeping in shape.  Some people say that these hobbies couldn’t be more different (playing piano but also loving fitness) and I disagree.  When I started wanting to be a better piano player, I had to train my hands and upper body to be able to play as quickly as I wanted.

This lead to me learning how to train other parts of my body. I used to be quite overweight as a kid and this made it difficult for me to even sing the way I wanted to because I would get so tired.  I started losing weight through a combination of strength-training exercises and also educating about fiber benefits called skinny fiber that really helped me slim down and lose weight.

After losing a lot of weight, I felt much more capable of belting out sounds and songs, I didn’t get out of breath after an hour long performance singing and playing the piano like previously I would.  I definitely do think that being in excellent physical shape can help you be a great piano player and singer. Singing and fitness may go hand in hand. But of course, there have been many famous singers who are famous for being plump or overweight, Adele for one is a full-figured woman with one of the most beautiful voices in the world.

Many opera singers throughout time were thought to only be good at their job if they were overweight.  Now it has become more recognized that you do not need to be very large in order to be a good singer. Many vocal trainers actually suggest it is better and more beneficial to be in better physical shape so that your body can tolerate singing for long periods and you are not out of shape.

Particularly, singers who like to perform dance routines at the same time definitely benefit from being in shape. I always admired women who never “lypsynced” but who had fit toned slim bodies and were able to dance around the stage like crazy all the while carrying a beautiful tone without skipping a beat and not ending totally out of breath. THOSE are my goals and my inspiration for continuing!

If you are wanting a routine to follow to start getting in shape not only for playing piano but for vocal training, you should watch the following video on vocal coach training.  It has helped me tremendously.

Playing piano while Singing – An Interview with Alyson Eckmann

There are many talents which I admire. When someone has the gift of a beautiful voice. When someone TRAINS and works hard to develop a talent not necessarily born with – years of dedication and work, perfecting and learning.

Singing is one of those talents I wish I had. I have been playing piano for over 15 years but have never sung while playing. I worked hard to become an excellent piano player and teacher. And I am proud of those efforts. But I have never been able to sing. It is a craft I have not mastered or pursued, and certainly I was not born with a talent for singing.  I always wished that I could sing though. I always want to burst into song while I play, there is something spiritual about it.  I sat down with a friend, Alyson Eckmann, who is talented both as a guitar player, piano player AND singer. Truly a triple threat, this young American girl who now lives in Madrid, Spain is an inspiration for all young girls wanting to “become something”.  I interviewed Alyson Rae Eckmann last week and asked her some questions about her experience.

Me: Aly, how long have you been playing piano for?
Aly: I have been playing piano since I was a kid. I think my first toy was a small piano for babies and my parents said that I wouldn’t play anything else.Me: Have you always been a gifted singer?Aly: Hardly! I used to sing a lot as a kid because my mom loved singing in our church. I always wished I could sing like she did. I asked my parents to put me into singing lessons to try to perfect my voice and they did just that. I sang for years and never was any good at it, but as I became an adult, I learned the vocal exercises and really practiced until I was able to hit all the notes. I still have a lot of improvement to make.Me: Do you play any other instruments?Aly: Yes! I started learning to play the guitar as a kid. I always liked to sit around the campfire and pluck away on my dad’s guitar. I was raised in a very musical family so music has always been ingrained in me since I was just a kid.  Singing and playing instruments makes me feel at peace. I think music is something very spiritual and I always want to be closer and feel closer to that.  Aly is so talented and recently released a new music video with a new hit single which you should check out on youtube. We look forward to seeing Alyson’s career flourish as the years go by.

Exercising and Daily Routines for Playing Piano

Many people have asked me if there are any exercises that they can do on a daily basis to have strength built up to play the piano flawlessly.

The answer is YES. I am an avid exerciser because I have a genuine passion for health and fitness. But aside from that, even people who do not actively purse exercise for their entire body (and I recommend that you do!), they can train specifically the hands so that you will not tire after hours of playing the piano in concert or even simply practicing.

Once you become an expert at playing the piano, you will be required to use rapid movements and must have strong fingers and hands to move as fast as the sheet music requires you to play. You cannot expect to become an expert in this craft if you do not have strong fingers and hands.  I recommend doing exercises at least 20 minutes a day for optimal performance.

Here is a great video demonstrating some daily training routines you can implement to start strengthening your hands and fingers starting TODAY! Tell me how you like them and how you feel after doing these exercises for two weeks.  Looking forward to reading and responding to your comments! Enjoy the video!

Keeping Positive while Teaching

I read a lot of parenting books, parenting tips, and parenting magazines.  Consequently, I have a lot of theories floating around in my head that I sometimes try to use with my piano students.  One of my favorites is the concept of positive talk.

Positive talk is about avoiding negatives when you discipline.  For example, with a toddler, instead of saying, “Don’t hit,” you say something like, “Be soft.”  When you say, “Don’t hit,” the toddler doesn’t understand why she can’t hit.  In fact, she doesn’t even know what to do instead.  Saying “Be soft” helps her to learn an appropriate action in place of hitting.  And it’s done in a positive way.  Instead of saying, “Don’t walk down the stairs,” you say something like, “Remember, we crawl when we go down the stairs.”

I’ve used both types of talk with my toddler.  Inevitably, if I say to her, “Don’t walk down the stairs,” she is going to take a giant step on those stairs.  She’s not being naughty.  She just thinks the idea of walking on the stairs is a great idea.  She didn’t register the “Don’t” part.  She just heard the “walk down the stairs” part.  I, in fact, GAVE her the idea to walk down the stairs by telling her not to.  Conversely, if I say, “Remember to crawl down the stairs,” she hears the good idea of crawling down the stairs and does it!

So, in piano lessons, I try very hard to avoid negative directions.  Instead of saying, “Don’t play soft where it says Forte,” I say, “Remember to play loud where it says Forte.”  Saying, “Don’t play soft where it says Forte” tells my student what NOT to do, but my student may not understand what TO do in it’s place.

I have one student who constantly looks at me WHILE playing.  I think he just wants assurance that he’s doing things right.  However, he makes many unnecessary mistakes simply because he isn’t looking at his music.  I used to say, “Don’t look at me while you play.”  But that just reinforced the negative behavior.  Even though I was saying “Don’t,” I was actually giving him the idea to continue to look at me, since I was using those words.  Now I say, “Keep your eyes on the music.”  He’s not perfect about it every time, but he’s getting better.

Instead of, “Don’t drop your wrist” or “Don’t play with flat fingers,” say, “Remember to keep your wrist up” or “Think about curved fingers.”

Instead of, “Don’t slouch,” say, “Sit up nice and straight.”

Instead of, “Don’t play too fast,” say, “Keep it slow” or “Think slow while you play.”

Can you think of negative behaviors you may actually be reinforcing with your language?

Welcome to my blog!

Hello! I’m a young new piano teacher. Piano teachers are something special. In my experience, most of my piano teaching friends are a mixture of introverted, quirky, entertaining and wistful people.  Here, I want to blog about all of my experiences and passions. Both in teaching young kids, in my obsession with fitness and dream of being a fitness model, and info on how to learn to play piano!

Thanks for popping by!