Colorado Power Piano

Music Notes

Archive for July, 2014

Thinking While Playing

Monday, July 28th, 2014

We recently got this question from a performing musician in India:

“I have a question about what things to keep in mind before I start playing a musical piece? And about what to think ahead while performing or playing a musical piece?”

Here’s what we answered:

Before you start, think of the key signature and the primary chords (1, 4, and 5).  Then think about the structure of the piece – ABA or Rondo or  song form, or whatever. Then think about a verbal description of how the piece starts (for example, for In the Mood by Glenn Miller, it begins with the 1 chord broken up in first inversion).

Then think how fast do you wish to play it and what is your performance situation – do you want a very dramatic performance because it’s a concert, or a more subdued performance because you are playing background music.  We play the same music for background music that we play in concerts, but we keep the volume level lower and aren’t as flashy. Before you start to play, count a measure or two in your head in the tempo you intend to start with while thinking about the starting melody and chord.

While performing, don’t think ahead.  Concentrate on the place you are in the piece at that moment.  Think about the chords you are playing and the patterns you are playing, so that you don’t lose concentration or lose your place.  You should have some awareness of the structure of the piece so you know what’s coming next – the bridge or back to the head, but you should think mostly about right where you are at the moment.

Til next time,



Starting great, but…

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Starting Great, but…

I have always been a great “starter”. I get excited about a new project or effort and give it gung ho effort. For a few days or a few weeks, I’m fine, but then my interest seems to fall off, other things come up, and it’s not so exciting anymore. Or like a crow I see something “shiny” and new and get gung ho on a NEW project. Does this sound familiar?

Well, I am here to say that this is the 26th post in my weekly blogging project. I was very excited about it in January. I was hoping there would be lots of readers (so far not so many). I was trying to find my voice and keep a balance between giving out helpful musical tips and sharing what’s going on for us in our teaching. Towards the end of February, I was getting a little tired of it. Every Sunday evening would come and I would think, “oh gosh, I haven’t written the blog for this week yet.”

But, I passed the usual quitting point because I made a commitment to see this blog through for at least a year. And surprise, surprise, it has become just part of my life.   Some of my piano playing “projects” – like the First Pieces project – have become part of my life too. It would have been easy to quit those in February too. The trick was to stay with it just past my usual quitting point.

As Brian Tracy says,

Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals,

and then to work toward them every day,

will do more to guarantee your success than

any other single factor


Til next time,


First Pieces – Beethoven

Monday, July 14th, 2014

For those of you following along in the series of First Pieces, this month is Beethoven. If you are wondering what the First Pieces Project is, go back to the January archives. We started with Bach and are working our way through the major composers one month at a time.

So here are the pieces for Beethoven and the matching links to the sound files for each one:

Nearly all of the pieces are available in the Beethoven book edited by Keith Snell. Here is a link to that book on Amazon.

Sonatina in G (1st movement)      Sound File HERE

Bagatelle in Am Op. 119, No. 9    Sound File HERE

Sonatina in F (1st movement)         Sound File HERE

Fur Elise                                             Sound File HERE

Sonata in G Op. 49, No. 2              Sound File HERE

Bagatelle in F Op. 33, No. 3           Sound File HERE

Six Variations on a Swiss Song       Sound File HERE


Not in Snell

Moonlight Sonata (1st movement)     Sound File HERE

Pathetique Sonata (middle movement)     Sound File HERE


Til next time,



Beethoven Update

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Hello classical music fans, just a quick update for the blog this time. It’s a holiday weekend in the USA.

Howard is still working on the project to record all the Beethoven Sonatas. However, there are now 18 of them done.  And thanks to web-guru Doug, they are up on the website for your listening pleasure.   So go check them out HERE.  Leave a comment and let us know which are your favorites.

Happy Summer Celebration,