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How to Enjoy Training Your Fingers & Other Boring Tasks

How to Enjoy Training Your Fingers & Other Boring TasksOne evening after work, I wander into the new Tom Lee store that I see from my office everyday and slip into the fancy glass room that’s filled with acoustic pianos. No one pays attention to me in my t-shirt and jeans.

I play cadences on pianos that I pass by, until I stop at one to play for a short while.

“Can I help you find something?”

“No, I’m just looking,” I say, gesturing with my chin. “Baby grands.”

“You are obviously pretty good,” he says. “That was, you know, Liszt.”

I nod. I didn’t know that was Liszt. I thought I got lucky pressing the keys.

He gestures to another piano nearby — which happens to be a cheaper Steinway brand. I play it for a little bit and realize the keys are too light.

“Want to play a Steinway?”

He walks over towards one and pulls out the bench, like at a restaurant. How do I get rid of him?

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Ann Makosinski & Grace Miles on Public Speaking Tips

Ann Makosinski and Grace Miles

“This girl is unbelievable.”

That’s what I first thought when I discovered Ann Makosinski and her work. Plus, she can rock a stage.

As an introverted girl (and naturally on the shy side), these are skills I wish I had when starting out, before the dealing with music students’ parents and design pitches.

Today, I’m THRILLED to share this chat with Ann Makosinski. She is awesome, as in full of awe. Not only did she invent the body-heat powered flashlight at 15 years old, but she easily commands a theatre-full of people. For musicians, this skill is especially useful for teaching music classes and workshops.

In this video, we’re chatting about public speaking tips, and other big ideas, like how to be “yourself” when you don’t fit with everyone else.

The ideas for public speaking transfer to other types of performance as well, especially piano playing and teaching.

Let’s jump right in! Here are the public speaking tips that Ann goes by:

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How to Increase Your Productivity and Feel Free

How to Be More Productive

If you’re like me, then you have a mile-long to-do list. All the time.

Though sometimes I am scolding myself for trying to shorten it given that this list is basically my life laid out.

In any case, to-do lists can get stressful. Here are 3 ways to increase your productivity and feel free.

1. Convince yourself first

When the US government wanted citizens to consume animal organs (like liver), because most conventional meat was sent overseas in WWII, an interesting experiment ensued.

Housewives were the food gatekeepers in charge of planning meals, so psychologist Lewin and his team gathered two groups of housewives.

They lectured the first group on benefits of consuming animal organs, like many health campaigns do today. The second group discussed ways of convincing other people to change their diet. Guess what happened?

They discovered that nearly five times more families in the second discussion group changed diets. By taking objections off the table, the second group had successfully convinced themselves that organ parts were worth consuming.

We can use this in our own lives as well.

YES you have a to-do list and you’re going to get this done while feeling free.

Take the first item on your list and tell someone how you’re going to do it. If you sound confident, they’ll believe you. When you’re persuading someone else, you’re essentially persuading yourself– you’ve just skyrocketed the chances of getting it done.

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How to Be a Music Teacher and Superstar

Teaching Music: How to be a Music Teacher

People say things like, “I don’t have these extra university degrees [or qualifications], so I won’t get hired to teach here.”

Enter the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t believe it, then it’s probably not going to happen because you’ve given up already.

Getting the job you want isn’t about coveting qualifications you don’t have, but presenting what you have, in the best light.

Here are my top 4 tips for getting hired to teach:

1. Help people for free

Let’s say you’re a piano teacher whose students are mostly middle-school kids. You want to teach college students, but you don’t have the time nor money to get the music degree that increases your chances of getting hired at a conservatory or university. We know those jobs are diminishing anyways.

To get hired, you have to show that you are better than everyone else.

There should be something that you aspire to– not that you’re discontent with what you have right now, but you want to be constantly evolving, to your best self that is ever-changing.

Getting to your next goal might mean sharing your skills for free.

When you help someone for free, you have the freedom to explore different sides of the same task. You can break into new territory.

You only need to work with 3 people before you instinctively know whether you’re a fit for teaching that type of student. I gave free lessons to beginner pianists through Skype and realized that beginner piano needed to be taught in person, there was no way around that.

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How to Make Your Music Events Amazing

How to Organize Amazing Events

Doing events is an art.

I’ve done more events in the past 8 months than ever before. One of them is a TEDx event. And a design event. And I’m planning an online event for Artiden.

Doing a series of anything is good, because you find hidden trends. Like, you’d be surprised at what I’ve learned from writing posts that go viral.

You can see how things turn out, then tweak it for next time. If you keep doing it, you’ll become an expert.

The best of all shall survive, you know?

I learned that I don’t want to write viral posts all the time. They’re kind of scary. Sometimes boring.

Let’s talk about music events.

Classical musicians turn their noses up at mainstream pop music.

Then pop artists think classical music isn’t rad enough.

Which is fine.

As a pianist, I’ve spent more time with Classical music than anything else.

But, there comes a certain point in every pianist’s life…

When pop music gets easier to play than the classical repertoire—say, 2 minutes to sight read Rihanna versus 5 weeks to sight read Liszt.

That’s one of the perks for being a classical musician: you earn the skills to play other types of music easily.

It’s like ballet. Proper and kind of nerdy, but no one denies that it’s helpful if you want to be good at other styles.

Most pop artists have some type of classical training, like Mika. I’m a big fan of his.

But, can pop music be allowed at a formal piano event?

If you let one person play pop music, will everyone copy? Will you end up with a pop concert?

The most pressing question: how can you organize an amazing event?

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What Matters Most: Technique, Improv, or Confidence?

What Really Matters for Success

Today, I landed in another hip hop circle, by accident.

The deafening music and dancing was doing a good job of distracting me from waves of food poisoning pain, so I watched the circle.

There are rows and rows of chairs, but sparsely occupied. Three groups of guys, most of them wearing dark backpacks, walk to the centre of the stage. They cue some too-loud music and toss off their backpacks.

But they don’t do anything else. They just stand around. Then after forever, one of them starts dancing around in the middle. When the first person ends his little improv, he beckons to the next, and the next does the same, over and over.

None of them are very good. Some are not fast enough or not smooth enough, some can’t catch the beat properly.

But they keep at it, showing their moves. There were some weird moves, like this one guy who started flopping around on the ground like a dying fish.

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How to Supercharge Your Performance With This Hip Hop Trick

How to Supercharge Your Performance With This Hip Hop Trick

When can you wear sweats onstage?

(As in your grey, baggy pants with white drawstrings…)

Or jeans?

When can you whip your hair back and forth… and strangers will cheer?

Hip hop time, that’s when.

Hip hop dancers use a technique that helps them perform their best, and that’s what we’ll be talking about here.

You know the friend you fall out of touch with? You meet again a few years later, and remember really awesome things about that friend.

And you think, “Whoa, what happened back then? I didn’t realize how great she was.”

That was me with hip hop this weekend.

There’s something great that we can get from hip hop… that YOU can use in your playing too.

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