Piano Lessons

IN PERSON OR ONLINE

Maybe it’s like this now ….

Playing the piano feels like too much of a struggle.

No matter how much you practice, you just can’t get the results you want.

Maybe you wonder if there’s some secret to it all that certain people have.

Or if you’re even capable of feeling comfortable and confident as a pianist.

But actually ….

Practicing can be much more joyful.

You can trust your body at the piano and continually find solutions to technical problems.

You can discover beauty in music that you didn’t know was there.

You can play better than you realize.


A Unique Approach to Technique

Gaining real understanding about how your body works at the piano can make all the difference. You can learn to recognize and release physical tension that has been limiting your freedom at the instrument. And when you combine this knowledge with all the work on listening, rhythmic organization, mental clarity, and heart connection, piano lessons offer a comprehensive path to expressive power in performance.

No one should feel uncomfortable playing the piano. Experiencing physical energy moving freely through your body in relationship to the piano is joyful and life-giving. And that physical pleasure, combined with the visceral experience of taking in the sounds you love as you’re playing, brings vibrancy to the music you make.

You can learn to maximize power, fluidity, and sensitivity, by using your body according to basic principles of movement and touch.

Here are some key aspects of my unique technical approach:

Getting Power from the Ground

Many pianists aren’t aware that they can use the basic athletic principle of getting power from the ground.

A baseball pitcher gets more power with his arm by bending his knees a little to feel a strong connection to the ground. Likewise, a pianist can get maximum arm power with minimum effort by sitting solidly upright on their sitting bones and then, instead of leaning their torso forward, using their fingertips to spring the arm forward and upward from the bottom of the keys.

This kind of movement feels great, because a lot of energy feeds back into your body from pushing against the bottom of the keys. It’s like springing from your feet when you walk. This physical pleasure goes a long way in maximizing your musical energy: You’re not just putting energy out, but you’re getting energy back as you play. So your playing becomes more alive.

Creating Flow by Sliding on the Keys

In contrast to the springing movement I just described, which is initiated by the fingertips, I also teach arm movements that are initiated from the shoulder. One of these I call “sliding.” You let the arm release forward from the shoulder, and as you do so, your wrist releases forward and your fingers slide forward and back on the keys. Because the arm is naturally flowing forward and back, the music can flow freely also.

Releasing Tension by Putting Intensity Where It Belongs

A lot of excess physical effort happens when we try too hard to express ourselves. We need expressive intensity, but we often put it in the wrong place. Instead of tightening our arms and hands and leaning forward to be expressive at the piano, we need to focus intensely on our inner feelings and on the intimate connection between the fingertips and the keys, while keeping the playing mechanism loose and free.

When you focus more on hearing and enjoying the sounds you’re producing – on how those sounds affect you inside – your body will automatically become more still, and the music can flow more naturally and expressively than when you work hard at it.

Also, if you sing a bass or middle line in a phrase while playing the right hand, you hear the music more completely. You discover beauty you didn’t know was there, and you become more of an open channel for the music. Additionally, when you hear music more clearly this way, your brain sends clearer signals to your hands, so your coordination becomes more refined and effortless.

Putting It All Together

Every detail of body position and movement makes a difference. Fully responding to every sound in a piece and comprehending its rhythmic organization also contributes to playing with expressive freedom. It’s like putting a puzzle together – you put all the pieces in place to create something whole and brilliant. There’s nothing like the feeling of genuine mastery of your instrument.

Making it Personal

While teaching, I focus a lot on each student’s perceptions and ideas, so that we can collaborate to create an exciting learning experience for both of us. So instead of only giving you my ideas of how to improve your playing, I will also ask you questions to find out what you already understand and to encourage your own thought process.

Questions like, “How did that feel?” “How did it sound to you?” And even, “What do you think you could do to improve it?” We end up having a real creative dialogue in which I get to know you and can really support your natural learning process with my appreciation and input. Every lesson becomes a rich and fun experience.

“I came to Madeline to fix bad habits and improve my technique, but I almost feel like those were fixed incidentally, and that I learned much more important things along the way. She taught me how to really connect with, listen to, and trust myself — both my body and my heart. I regained the confidence I had lost and learned how to create space for myself to grow, as a pianist and person.”

–Amy Lam, pianist

“I discovered an amazing way to move my hands and body that was very gratifying physically. From the very first lesson I got back in touch with my body, and feeling my hands, and a certain physical pleasure in playing the piano.”

–Christian Bonvin, pianist and teacher

“After only three lessons with Madeline, my technique feels amazingly natural and effortless. Instead of struggling for power and sounding harsh, I can now make a beautiful, big, round sound easily, just by making simple changes in how I use my body.”

–Laura Amoriello, Piano Faculty, Ithaca College

“I was unhappy with my playing for years when I started studying with Madeline. She taught me so much about technique, listening, practice, performance, and mindfulness, and all of it completely transformed both my playing and my life. It is because of these lessons with her that I trust in my music making again, and I trust in my heart.”

–Jad Bernardo, pianist and coach

ONLINE LESSONS

Madeline on teaching online:

“The first time I taught online I was amazed. It was incredible to be teaching in Borneo from my studio in New York and to be able to instantly see and feel where the student was holding tension in her body, and to help her play more easily. She sounded better quickly, and I was so grateful for this fantastic technology. I still can hardly believe that I’m able to help musicians all over the world.”

“Teaching me online, Madeline explained and saw in detail what many teachers can’t even do in person. She helped me solve long standing technical problems, and I finally feel confident at the piano.”

–Margaret Wronka Moeckel, pianist, alum of Manhattan School of Music

If you’re ready to discover new possibilities in your playing by breaking free of habits that are holding you back, take the first step now, and set up a complimentary consultation.

INJURY RECOVERY

Scientists have said that playing a musical instrument is the most complex neuromuscular activity that people engage in. This means that practicing and performing make extreme demands on your coordination, requiring maximum physical control, sensitivity, and precision. It’s easy to fall short of the high level of physical expertise that you need to master your instrument. Because musicians often use their bodies inefficiently and practice with excess tension, 75% of them develop practice-related injuries.

Specializing in piano technique has enabled me to help many pianists recover from their injuries. Read three case histories of accomplished pianists who were able to recover from their injuries and resume playing through their work with me.

Of course, it’s best to prevent an injury from happening in the first place. By training pianists step-by-step in using their hands, arms, and body comfortably and efficiently, I help them avoid excess tension and injury and fully express the music that’s inside of them.

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