Piano Hours | Informal Non-Public Performances at Tea Time

Piano Hours

Piano Hours are informal and non-public performancse at tea time with cookies and cakes in a friendly atmosphere. Only pupils who participate actively are present, so there is no actual audience other than people who are all doing the same thing by playing to each other.

The structure of piano hours is always the same - pupils not only play but also discuss performances, learning to listen analytically and critically with the view of helping others. Despite this the atmosphere is friendly because pupils are not encouraged to be competitive. It is a good opportunity to find new friends with the same interests or catch up with people who are already friends.

Piano hours are not concerts but opportunities to run through new repertoire, sometimes even play the same repertoire in several piano hours. Pupils are encouraged to perform new repertoire as soon as feasibly possible and then continue practising the pieces for public performances when applicable. This is not only motivational but also significantly pushes progress in practice in a safe environment.

There are no marks or prizes for piano hours as they are opportunities to practise performance rather than assessment events.

Piano hours have been taking place regularly since 2011. See the News page for more information and schedule details.

2023.4.1 Piano Hour Collage
From a Piano Hour at Steinway Hall London

From Latest Recordings

Ruimin at Steinway Hall, London Marylebone (25/2/2023)
Robert Fuchs
Jugend-Album Op. 47
Banges Herzlein (Sad at Heart)

“To the young man or woman who would learn ‘The Secret of Public Appearance’ I would say: 
1. Look deeply into your natural qualifications. Use every morsel of judgment you possess to endeavor to determine whether you are talented or simply ‘clever’ at music. Court the advice of unbiased professional musicians and meditate upon the difficulties leading to a successful career, and do not decide to add one more musician to the world until you are confident of your suitability for the work. Remember that this moment of decision is a very important time and that you may be upon the threshold of a dangerous mistake. Remember that there are thousands of successful and happy teachers for one successful virtuoso. 
2. After you have determined to undertake the career of the concert performer let nothing stand in the way of study, except the consideration of your health. Success with a broken-down body and a shattered mind is a worthless conquest. Remember that if you wish a permanent position you must be thoroughly trained in all branches of your art. 
3. Avoid charlatanism and the kind of advertisement that will bring you notoriety at the sacrifice of your self-respect and the respect of your best friends. Remember that real worth is, after all, the thing that brings enduring fame. 
4. Study the public. Seek to find out what pleases it, but never lower the standards of your art. Read the best literature. Study pictures. Travel. Broaden your mind. Acquire general culture. 
5. Be careful of your stage deportment. Endeavor to do nothing at the keyboard that will emphasize any personal eccentricity. Always be sincere and true to your own nature, but within these limits try to make a pleasing impression. 
6. Always be your own severest critic. Be not easily satisfied with yourself. Hitch your wagon to a star. Let your standard of perfection be the very highest. Always strive to reach that standard. Never play in public a piece that you have not thoroughly mastered. There is nothing more valuable than public confidence. Once secured, it is the greatest asset an artist can possess."
In James Francis Cooke's Great Pianists on Piano Playing

“1. Concentrate during every second of your practice. To concentrate means to bring all your thinking powers to bear upon one central point with the greatest possible intensity. Without such concentration nothing can be accomplished during the practice period. One hour of concentrated thinking is worth weeks of thoughtless practice. It is safe to say that years are being wasted by students in this country who fail to get the most out of their practice because they do not know how to concentrate. A famous thinker has said: ‘The evidence of superior genius is the power of intellectual concentration.’ 
2. Divide your practice time into periods of not more than two hours. You will find it impossible to concentrate properly if you attempt to practice more than two hours at a time. Do not have an arbitrary program of practice work, for this course is liable to make your work monotonous. For one who practices four hours (and that is enough for almost any student), one hour for purely technical work, one hour for Bach, and two hours for pieces is to be recommended. 
3, In commencing your practice, play over your piece once or twice before beginning to memorize. Then, after working through the entire composition, pick out the more difficult passages for special attention and reiteration. 
4. Always practice slowly at first. This is simply another way of telling the pupil to concentrate. Even after you have played your piece at the required speed and with reasonable confidence that it is correct, never fail to go back now and then and play it at the speed at which you learned it. This is a practice which many virtuosos follow. Pieces that they have 
played time and time again before enthusiastic audiences are re-studied by playing them very slowly. This is the only real way to undo mistakes that are bound to creep into one’s performance when pieces are constantly played in a rapid tempo. 
5. Do not attempt to practice your whole piece at first. Take a small section or even a phrase. If you take a longer section than say sixteen bars, you will find it difficult to avoid mistakes. Of course, when the piece is mastered you should have all these sections so unified that you can play the entire composition smoothly and without a break. 
6. First memorize mentally the section you have selected for study, and then practice it. If you do not know it well enough to practice it from memory, you have not grasped its musical content, but are playing mechanically. 
7. Occasionally memorize backwards, that is, take the last few measures and learn them thoroughly, then take the preceding measures and continue in this way until the whole is mastered. Even after you have played the piece many times, this process often compels a concentration that is beneficial. 
8. When studying, remember that practice is simply a means of cultivating habits. If you play correctly from the start you will form good habits; if you play carelessly and faultily your playing will grow continually worse. Consequently, play so slowly and correctly from the start that you may insure the right fingering, phrasing, tone, touch (staccato, legato, portamento, etc.), pedaling and dynamic effects. If you postpone the attainment of any of these qualities to a later date they are much more difficult to acquire. 
9. Always listen while you are playing. Music is intended to be heard. If you do not listen to your own playing it is very probable that other people will not care to listen to it either. 
10. Never attempt to play anything in public that you have just finished studying. When you are through working upon a piece, put it away to be musically digested, then after some time repeat the same process, and again the third time, when your piece will have become a part of yourself,”
In James Francis Cooke's Great Pianists on Piano Playing

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