Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Helpful Hints on How to Stay Motivated Practicing!

We have been running our studio for over 26 Years! Ottawa Pianos has had many awesome teachers with incredibly creative ideas on how to make practice more interesting. Practice is not fun but of course necessary. 

1. Practice time can be isolating especially for a young music student. A young music student needs company. Sometimes just having a parent in the same room can make all the difference. Perhaps while the student is practicing you can look up from your book or iPad or from folding the laundry and comment on how much better it sounds. Be genuine! Praise hand position or the tempo. 

2. For some young students, it is the repetition of the piece that causes the lack of motivation. So try the RAINBOW approach! Draw an arch over the title; now every time the piece is played draw another arch in a different colour. Having a student play it carefully 5 times in one practice session is awesome! Or try the AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION approach! The student plays it for a different person, each person signs his piece. 

3. Sometimes it can be overwhelming for a student when a piece is introduced. Try the ONE GOAL method! The goal for the Monday practice is to play only the right hand from beginning to end without mistakes (Tuesday's practice will be left hand). Or perhaps only the most difficult part. I have always found a one goal to achieve practice helpful. Another advantage to this approach is that it is not a timed practice but one of achieving a goal. Some students work better this way.

4. This last one always worked for me when I was growing up. My mother would give me the choice: help with the chores after dinner or practice the piano. Well that was a no brainer! I did not wash dishes for months!

I cannot emphasize enough that the most important thing is being consistent. Regular consistent practice is the key, and remember it's not the quantity but the quality of the practice. 

Learning to play the piano is not easy or fun all the time. Some times it will go well and some practices will be trying. But it is well worth it!

Encourage, inspire, be creative, be consistent! You will see more growth and a motivated student because of it!

If you have ideas that worked for your children send them to me. I would love to hear from you!

Musically yours, 


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Another Piano store closes its doors…Boohoo!

The Piano Industry has certainly been taking a beating in the media lately! Yes,  I know that piano stores close but get over it, the times are a-changin!
I view piano stores like a living entity, they begin, they grow and become an integral part of the community. But the community changes and a piano store like any business has to adapt and evolve. A piano store that cannot change goes the same way as the passive flightless dodo bird!  In business it is survival of the fittest and to survive we must adapt.
Would anyone have believed 30 years ago that advertising in the yellow pages would have become obsolete? That we would spend hours a day researching our purchases on a screen and not talking to a real person? We must adapt!
The problem is that the people in the music industry are getting old! I walk around trade shows and at nearly fifty I am one of the young ones! But seriously, who can blame them for not retiring, it is the music industry and its fun! The problem is that the older we get the more we like things just a "certain"way, change is a little harder to take. Now I am not saying everyone over sixty is like that but humans like routine, change is never easy.
Please stop lamenting the loss of another piano store, it happens! Some people retire, some are looking for a more lucrative business to get into, and some just did not change with the times! But the passionate ones are still here, they find a way, they continue to educate themselves, find new ways to be needed and carry on!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ottawa Pianos Prepares For the Kiwanis Music Festival

The month of April brings many new things to this piano store.  The much anticipated spring weather should be here, but it is not. Our technicians navigate through one last snow storm, we hope, to prepare the grand pianos for delivery to the largest music festival in the nation's capital.
Ottawa's Kiwanis Music Festival has been there since 1945 for all types of performers of all ages and degrees of education and ability to perform and be adjudicated. Many outstanding musicians have been Kiwanis Music Festival's award recipients in the past: soprano Maria Pelligrini, pianist Angela Hewitt, and of course our very own Dick Papalia who won First Place in the Open Class Accordion Category in 1958 and now the official supplier of pianos for the festival!
As I write this blog I have the beautifully sublime yet passionate  Rachmaninoff's prelude in G playing in the background by one of our students preparing for the festival. The anticipation is building! We are very proud to be part of this incredible process in a student's musical development and we wish all the students the very best!

Musically yours

Saturday, 8 March 2014

What Makes A Good Used Piano?

A Used Piano can mean many things. Pianos have been built in North America since the late 1800's. So used can be anything from a year old to 120 years old!

So lets start with very old pianos. Here are some things to consider:

A piano that is that old has gone through several generations of families and owners. Therefore the piano may have been very well maintained in one household and completely neglected in another.
The make of the piano is less important than the piano's maintenance record.

Pianos Are Like People

The lifespan of a piano is like a human beings. A ten year old piano is still very young! A well maintained 25 year old piano can be an excellent choice for a  student and a 50 year old piano is certainly not past its prime, certainly if it has been taken care of. Just ask any baby boomer! By 70 years    the instrument may have some minor to medium ailments. It will need a little TLC but it certainly may be worth it. Past 75 years a piano can still have value but do not expect the piano to serve as a work horse! Do you know many octogenarians who run olympic marathons? But older adults of course have a value and so do older pianos! 

When in Doubt Hire a Registered Piano Technician

The thing about people selling their piano is that neither the seller nor, (in most cases), the buyer, know much about pianos.  How do you decide on a fair price when nobody knows what the piano is worth?  A pre-buy inspection by a qualified and registered piano technician can save both dollars and heartache.  They will have an idea about the used piano market and will be able to discern the condition of the instrument in question.  In minutes they can tell you what a fair price for the piano would be.  Buying a used piano often involves having it moved professionally and most times the instrument will require several piano tunings to bring it back to pitch.

Friday, 28 February 2014

The Yamaha Silent Piano

What is a Silent Piano? Much attention and thought must have gone into naming a piano "Silent".  Everyone has heard of the GM company calling their car a Nova (meaning doesn't go). GM did well with the Nova in Latin America, even exceeding its sales projections. Yamaha is enjoying tremendous success with the Silent Piano.The Yamaha Silent Piano name provokes curiosity and eagerness to investigate what this is all about! Our customers prove it.

The Silent Piano is the best of both worlds in the Piano Industry. First it is an acoustic piano, a real piano;  the sound is real, the touch authentic, because it is the real thing. But a simple slide to the left with the middle pedal and the instrument is now electric. Put the headphones on and voila!

Perhaps the best evidence that this Silent Piano is being well received  by the consumer is the moment they remove their headphone and ask "Can you hear me play?" Of course we cannot hear you play! But it is that good!

That simple slide of the middle pedal to the left stops the hammer from hitting the string. Sensors under each key measure how the key was played, the volume and how long and then gives you a digital sample sound through your headphone. The fact that the digital sampled sound comes from the world renowned Yamaha Concert Grand makes even it more spectacular for the listener.

This Silent feature is available on uprights AND grand pianos!

Come in and have a listen!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Visiting Yamaha at 2014 NAMM

It is always a treat to visit NAMM and even more to visit the Yamaha Booth.
It is best summed up by this text exchange I had with my 13 year old daughter:


Yamaha Has Many New and Exciting Products This Year!

The P Series has a new one the P-255 It's the new flagship model. A contemporary portable digital piano for all musicians, suitable for practice as well as live performance.

The best things about it:
Graded Hammer action with Synthetic Ivory keys
256-note polyphony
USB audio recording/playback and USB to HOST, USB to DEVICE

Yamaha finally has a White Baby Grand Piano

A classic White Grand Piano can bring beauty to any space. This piano is the beautiful marriage of the Yamaha sound and the stunning white curves of a baby grand.

The Yamaha b3 is now available in three different finishes.

The Yamaha b3 is a 48 inch tall upright. This piano was introduced in Polished Ebony. It is now available in Mahogany and Walnut. This piano is for the ambitious performer on a budget, the b3 delivers a superior sound at an affordable price. 

 The newest thing is the Yamaha TransAcoustic Piano:

 Finally!! a volume control on an acoustic piano!!

The Yamaha Piano Company again has proven to be a leader in the newest technology. This piano manufacturer has introduced the U1TA a fully strung piano with Yamaha's SILENT Piano function. TransAcoustic technology allows the U1TA to produce a uniquely layered acoustic/digital sound and also lets the pianist conveniently control the volume. This technology turns the soundboard into a loudspeaker and all sounds, acoustic and digital, are generated through it. 

This piano is going to be perfect for small performance venues as well as for condominium owners who may need to use the headphones! 

Yamaha Canada's Mike Voelkel Product Manager and Keyboard Product Specialist

Yamaha never stops improving! 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Who is the Expert?

An Expert-Really?

A bit of a Rant

Would you consider someone who drives a car an expert on Cars?
Would you consider someone who brushes their teeth an expert on Dentistry?
Would you consider someone who uses the Internet an expert on Computers?
So why would you consider a piano performer or an instructor an expert on Pianos?

Sometimes logic just goes out the window! Find an expert, a true expert. Find a piano technician. Find a reputable dealer and ask around, ask friends and co-workers. Arm yourself with some knowledge and then trust your judgement,  your instincts and make up your own mind. We all have an ear we just need to trust it!

A wonderful customer came into our showroom. This customer is very successful and regarded as brilliant in his chosen career. He is not a piano technician. He brought in a piano teacher to choose an instrument for his home. I welcome everyone into our showroom to try our pianos as we all have different opinions and tastes. But my opinion on the sound quality of a tuned piano and someone else is just that, an opinion.      An opinion cannot be better than another's. It is just different.

If a customer is unwilling to make a decision and needs an expert then I suggest you consult an expert: a piano technician!

Oh! The kicker : the expert teacher was on the clock and getting paid for her opinion-Really!

But that is just my Opinion!