Thursday, 28 December 2017

Three Reasons you should be taking Piano Lessons. Think of it as a Mid-Life Brain Boost!

We all know that music lessons give children;  confidence, patience, discipline and so much more but what about the adults?

Music and Mental Health
Channeling your energy into something positive like learning the piano plays a significant role in helping anxiety and depression.

Music and Lower Blood Pressure
Music reduces stress, which is a leading cause of high blood pressure.

Music and Memory and Brain Function
Learning a piece of music gives your brain a real workout. It may even help the part that deals with memory!

So why aren't you taking lessons? 

Musically yours, 


Monday, 21 November 2016

3 Things Every Beginning Music Student 

Should do with Christmas Music

  1. Start practicing now. The goal is to have it ready for the week before Christmas. I am not too happy selling beginner Christmas music on Christmas Eve as a gift. Seriously, who wants to practice Christmas Day? It should be polished and ready to perform. 
  2. Choose Christmas music that is easier than your method book, so you can learn several tunes each week. Having six songs at performance level in your repertoire is so much more fun than one more difficult piece that you can barely get through!
  3. Look ahead, yes, turn the page! Try the next piece in the book. This is the best sight reading you will do all year. That also means BUY the book! A single photocopied page is not acceptable (and it may be illegal). Think about it: is there any other music you will play year after year? Isn't it worth it? 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

The three most important tips for a successful performance

  1. Play for people.  Play for family, friends or whomever you can get to listen.  This is very different than playing when no one is there.  It forces you to focus!  Any technically difficult parts will be more challenging when there is an audience.  You may have thought you had mastered a certain part - for most players, it shines a light on that specific part.  Be ready.
  2. Record yourself.  How you perceive your performance and how your audience hears you can often be quite a reality check.
  3. Visualize the performance.  Play your piece(s) through from beginning to end without your instrument.  Envision yourself effortlessly performing a difficult part.  Feel the ease in your fingers; hear the sound of these notes.  Repeated visualization will build confidence in a performer to perform certain skills under pressure.
Extra Tip:
  1. The three penny system:
    1. Put three pennies on your piano.
    2. Play the piece.  If there are no mistakes, remove one penny.
    3. Play the piece.  If there are no mistakes, remove a second penny.
    4. Play the piece.  If there are no mistakes, you are done.
    5. When you make a mistake, go to step 1.

Monday, 21 March 2016

What Is The Difference Between a Grand Piano and an Upright Piano?

Other than aesthetics, a grand piano is larger and generally a nicer piece of furniture, there are two other very important differences: Touch and Tone.

Touch for a performer is the most important. Both beginners and professionals will appreciate a good touch.  In a grand piano, our old friend gravity is taken full advantage of to “reload” the note for the next strike.  This allows for a much simpler mechanism, which translates to a more direct connection between the player’s finger and the sound produced.  The mechanism, called the action, is very different between a grand and an upright.   In an upright piano, there are extra springs, levers and cotton straps as well as silk cords used to help a hammer “reload”.  This more complicated action results in a less direct connection between the fingertip and the resultant sound.  It is also much easier to control the dampers of a grand piano as once again, you are working against gravity.  In an upright piano, the dampers are held in place against the strings by means of a spring.  While gravity’s strength can be relied on to be consistent, springs can differ in strength from one to another or as they age.

The Tone of a grand piano will always be better than that of an upright piano, all other things being equal.  The reason for this is that there are zero obstructions between your ear and BOTH sides of the vibrating soundboard. In an upright piano, the soundboard is located at the back of the piano, so the sound bounces between the soundboard and the wall the piano is placed against.  In the front, the sound bounces around inside the piano cavity (between the soundboard and the lower kick board).  This produces a more muffled or less live sound than what is produced from a grand piano soundboard.

To sum up: a grand piano will offer more control of the music as well as a richer palette of sounds (or tones) to use.

By Carmen Papalia and Andy Adams RPT
Owner of the Family business Ottawa Pianos

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Things I learned as A Parent of a Piano Student.

My father owned a piano store so I took piano lessons. It was not really a choice but part of my education. Now I own the piano store. My children learned to play the piano, it was not really a choice but part of their education. My youngest daughter once told me, after a very frustrating practice, she wished we owned an ice cream store instead of a piano store! The adults get it, we need to choose what we think is best for our children, but without a doubt we learn too!

This is what I learned as A Parent of a Piano Student.

The best motivation is when I sat with my daughter during her practice time. I am showing her that this is a priority. I am taking the time to be with her, and she is learning to make it a priority too! Our children learn more from what we do than what we say.

There are ups and there are downs. The honeymoon is over pretty quickly and any far fetched dream you had that this was going to be easy… well its not! My daughter did not practice without a reminder. Sometimes a lot of reminding was needed and sometimes the sun would shine and the angels would sing and yes she went on her own but not often. But when she did I praised,  I gushed,  I was really proud of her and I made sure she knew it!

Consistency was the key when it came to succeeding at piano lessons. The teacher expected her to do piano practice 5 days each week and every week, so this is what we did. No breaks, no excuses, no way. You pay for it later.

Piano lessons are not about becoming a great musician, though I would not be disappointed if she did! It's about teaching her confidence! Yes, she can do this! She can walk out on stage in front of three hundred students and parents and focus on what she has to do and do it right.

It's about teaching her discipline! Yes, it's all about choices and priorities. Piano practice,  or Phineus and Ferb. Piano practice,  or the latest Grey's Anatomy episode. Piano practice,  or texting with friends.

I certainly don't have all the answers but looking back it has been a great journey!

I hope you can enjoy it too! 

Musically Yours,
Carmen Papalia

Owner of the Family business Ottawa Pianos

Monday, 1 February 2016


An acoustic piano should bring years of enjoyment to you and your family.  Care is necessary in order to protect your investment.

How often should I get my piano tuned?

Most piano manufacturers suggest tuning your piano at least twice a year. Tuning means correcting the pitch of every note by retightening the strings. Adopt a schedule of regular service. Regular service will keep your piano's performance, and as a consequence your enjoyment, at its peak level. It will also correct "progressive" problems early, before they turn into costly repairs. Keeping the piano tuned is very important for a student. It ensures that they are listening and training their ear to the correct pitch.

When should I get my piano tuned?

The change of climate is the biggest factor in putting the piano out of tune. Our Ottawa climate is quite extreme as we have very dry cold winters and very humid summers. Keeping the humidity level around your piano as constant as possible will help it stay in tune longer .We suggest to tune the piano in the spring after the air conditioning comes on, and in the autumn after the furnace is turned on.

Who should tune the piano?

Select a Piano Technician with care. Hire a registered piano technician –someone who signs with the credential “RPT” after his/her name. Registered Piano Technicians are professionals who have committed themselves to the continual pursuit of excellence, both in technical service and ethical conduct. The Piano Technicians Guild grants the Registered Piano Technician (RPT) credential after a series of rigorous examinations that test skills in piano tuning, regulation and repair. Those capable of performing these tasks up to a recognized worldwide standard receive the RPT credential. This ensures that you are employing the services of a first rate tuner.

Musically Yours,
Carmen Papalia
Owner of the Family business Ottawa Pianos

Friday, 13 November 2015

Giving the Gift of Music for Christmas

Lets start with the biggest gift: A Grand Piano 

Picture this: delivery the week before Christmas or even better Christmas Eve!
A beautiful Shiny Black Baby Grand Piano with a big red bow. Maybe a Disklavier and when the family is entering your home the Disklavier  is playing with a full orchestra.  Here is the Link: Yamaha Disklavier and watch the video!!

The Yamaha Disklavier- tradition and technology  

Some of my favourite memories include our piano at home;  my father playing carols to get his four teenage kids out of bed on Christmas morning! My daughter proudly beaming showing off her prowess at the piano by playing Jingle Bells -it was slow and loooooong, and something only a mom could love. 
But enough about me, how are we going to make this happen for you?

Musically Yours, 


Here is our website Ottawa Pianos