Studio 237 Music Lessons: 12 Musical Sayings

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By Lisa Cyr

Music teachers create special sayings to motivate and lighten up a student’s lesson.
Playing a piano is similar to driving a car. New students ask about the three pedals beneath my piano and what do they do? The pedal to the far right is called the “sustain/damper pedal” which is like the “gas pedal” in a car. The middle pedal is like the brake and is called the “sostenuto pedal”. The left pedal is like the clutch and is called the “soft pedal.” Eventually, using the pedals becomes an automatic reflex with little or no thought. I then say, “On your way home, watch how your parent uses the gas pedal.”

Hear the note before you play it. Next time you sing a song, think about where the sound really starts. You hear a melody in your mind, you sing, and then evaluate. A sort of “look before you leap/sing” concept.

Plan your ending. The last note of a song is your lasting impression. How do you want your song to end? Hold onto the last note longer than you desire. The audience will be still savoring all of the song until your fingers leave the keys.

Create memory points. When learning a long musical piece, pinpoint several locations to where you can jump forward or backward which avoids embarrassing moments, and creates a polished confident performance.

“Look for the hidden treasures.” Spoken by a distinguished piano teacher, Mrs. Loretta Hake. Each song has a wealth of information and meaning by using a variety of melodies and patterns in certain places. Let those places shine. Like a dynamite guitar solo or a special riff.

Learn to love it. I recall asking my teacher about a very difficult piano section.
I just wanted to play through it and move on. But she said, “learn to love it” which is a major life lesson. Patience and appreciation for a passage (person or situation) is a learning process.

Avoid traffic, play at an even tempo. Few people like the stop and go traffic on route 98 in Miramar Beach and Destin due to the “construction.” Especially when the speed varies constantly between 10 and 55 mph. When playing a song, choose an even constant speed. Songs that slow down and speed up every 4 beats will not be as enjoyable a ride as you would want it to be.

Playing piano is playful. Do you work your piano or do you play it? Play is a form of learning and a great stress reliever.

The piano is a machine, you provide the power. You are the electricity that makes the piano create sound. How you push those keys makes a difference. “You’ve got the POWER!”
Follow the directions. The music has all the directions written into it. Read and follow. Seems way too simple.

“Practice only on the days you eat.” Spoken by S. Suzuki, an expert in music education. Whoa! A new diet plan.

Music chords are like chicken soup. Simmer: chicken, water, salt, pepper, celery, and carrots. It does not matter which ingredient goes into the pot first, as long as they are all in there. A chord is a mixture of three or more notes. The order you play them is up to your taste. The more notes you have, the more flavor you get.

So, next time you drive a car, plan to arrive alive, drive at an even speed so you don’t: get stuck in traffic, lose control, get lost, arrive late, and say the wrong thing when you get there. Read the car manual. Follow all the road signs, evaluate strange sounds, and keep your eyes on the road for all those hidden treasures that might pop up at some unforeseen moment. Love the ride. Keep your hands on the wheel until all the power is shut off. Only drive on the days you eat tasty chicken soup. This makes for good memory points on the road of life. Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Lisa Cyr is an administrator and piano teacher at Studio 237 Music Lessons along with seven different teachers in the East Point Washington area of Santa Rosa Beach, FL. For more info: call Ray Cyr at 850 231-3199. www.Studio237Music.com.