Piano Belloso Music Studio

About Special Events & Performances

Studio performance opportunities and special events allow students to share their talents in different venues outside of the normal lesson environment (ex. retirement community, hospital, church, or community fundraising event); encouraging students to excel, play with confidence, and have a self-affirming experience. They also provide a much-appreciated service to the community and a way to build camaraderie among students and studio families. There are four main categories of events sponsored and hosted by the studio:

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Pop-Up Piano Parties

A "Pop-Up Piano Party" is exactly what it sounds like - a fun gathering of students and families to play and perform songs they know in a low-pressure, high-pleasure experience.

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Accompaniment Workshops

The Accompaniment Workshop is a new opportunity to exercise the skills of collaboration and self-generative learning in a very practical way.

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Studio Recitals

What is it like to take a song you've practiced at home innumerable times - where mistakes are overlooked and forgiven, and the aim is to learn - into a recital/performance environment? There are more differences than you might expect…

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Contests & Competitions

Injecting a bit of fun and excitement into students’ day-to-day practice routine is the purpose of these studio-exclusive events, with both prizes and some unexpected “rewards.”

 

Pop-Up Piano Parties

A "Pop-Up Piano Party" is exactly what it sounds like - a fun gathering of students and their families to play and perform their repertoire (that's any song from their playlist) in a low-pressure, high-pleasure experience.

 
 
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Same Song, Different Tune

Students are already used to "performing" for parents, teacher, and other students during their lessons. Pop-Up Piano Parties are an attempt transplant these performances into a different environment, and yet keep a warmer, more casual atmosphere. I'd like these outings to feel less like a recital or concert and more like an impromptu musical meandering that just happens to be in public view.

Students will have an "audience," but without the heat of the spotlight so prevalent in recitals. Audience members may even participate by singing along with songs they know and providing as much encouragement and support as possible as students test out their songs in a much more public arena, maybe for the first time.

 
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Venues

In December 2018, the studio had its first Pop-Up Piano Party just before Christmas at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles. I intend to return there quarterly during 2019. Some other venues I am considering are closer to home, such as:

  • Whittier PIH hospital,

  • assisted living facilities, and

  • retirement communities. 

    I invite all students and families to suggest other venues that they think would be appropriate. 

 
 

Accompaniment Workshops

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One of the more prominent and outstanding features of the Simply Music Piano program is the Accompaniment program. Even my newest students get a taste of this approach during the holidays as we work on Christmas songs.

As students progress through the levels in the program, being able to play in an accompaniment style becomes a doorway through which they also acquire two other critically important skills:

  1. Collaboration - the ability to play with other musicians

  2. Self-Generative Learning - the ability to access and learn music discovered or heared outside of the program

The Accompaniment Workshop is a new opportunity to exercise these skills in a very practical way.

 
 
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Purpose

Pop-Up Piano Parties introduce students to playing in public, and recitals shift that focus to a higher degree of performance excellence (more about this later). An Accompaniment Workshop is an opportunity for students to play in an atmosphere that resembles what most would consider the normal environment of a "working musician" - that is a band member, studio session player, orchestra member, or stage and choir accompanist.

Prerequisites and Qualifications

Any student may participate in an accompaniment workshop once they have done at least one accompaniment song in Foundation Level 1, or have become proficient at one or more blues pieces (Jackson Blues, Bishop St. Blues).

I consider this event "not to be missed," but it is not a requirement.

 
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Live and On Stage

What is it like to take a song you've practiced at home and then enter an arena where you are practicing simultaneously and in concert with other musicians? As you can imagine, it's quite different...

  • It's louder...much, much louder! - Speakers and amplification for instruments and vocalists alike will bring the volume level up higher than most students ever experience at home. 

  • Playing the song your way is no longer important. All performers must listen to each other, focus on staying together, and not get stuck.

  • Students become band leaders and directors...not just performers. I will be on hand to guide students of course. But the keyboardist is often the person everyone else in the band looks to for direction.

 
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Venue

While I could host the workshop at the studio location, I think it's important once again for students to experience this outside of their regular lesson environment. Space and noise accommodations are also a factor.  As such, I will either be renting an actual band rehearsal studio or church as a venue.

I invite all students and families to suggest any venues that they think would be affordable and appropriate.

 

Musicians

Students will be sharing "the stage" with four other musicians: a drummer, bass guitarist, rhythm guitarist, and either a soloist (violin, flute, trumpet, etc.) or singer. I have some contacts for all of these instruments, but I would love it if other studio family members were willing and able to fill in on any of these - especially musicians who already are used to playing at church or in a band. 


If you know a musician who would be interested in participating, please have them contact me directly. 

 

Event Schedule

The design of this event is such that students will:

  1. prepare a song (or songs) individually,

  2. then "rehearse" the song with a live band during the 30-60 minute workshop session. 

  3. I will then be helping students determine if they are confident and proficient enough to perform one of their songs WITH the band at the Studio Recital.

The Events page on my website and the studio calendar (Student/Parent Portal) will both be utilized for the successful scheduling of the Accompaniment Workshop. Although I do not have an exact date yet, my expectation is for the event to take place sometime during the Fall of 2019.

 
 

Studio Recitals

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Upon the mention of the word "recital," students tend toward one of two responses:

Fear

Trepidation, and nervousness ("performance anxiety") at the prospect of having your skills "tested" in a public arena.

 

Excitement

Curiosity and enthusiasm in eager anticipation of a rare opportunity to show off your skills.

Whichever way you or your child lean, recitals remain one of the highlights and features of piano lessons because they are the most public and obvious demonstration of a student's (and teacher's) progress.

 
 
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The Results

When I first discuss the breakthrough "results" of the Simply Music Piano program, I think that a successful performance at a piano recital is the image that many parents and students first conjure up. Surprisingly, this is NOT what is promised, and many students can experience the actual results of this method without ever setting foot on stage! This is because there is a unexpressed but important distinction to be made between:

  • playing the piano for your own personal enjoyment, vs

  • performing at the piano for an audience. 

Not to say that these are mutually exclusive positions. Many pianists (including myself) find performing for an audience quite enjoyable personally. But I do think the distinction is important for students and parents to understand, so that there is no confusion about what the actual goals are in piano lessons, and how performance opportunities fit into the larger picture.

 
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On Stage & Off Kilter

What is it like to take a song you've practiced at home innumerable times - where mistakes are overlooked and forgiven, and the aim is to learn - into a recital/performance environment? There are more differences than you might expect:

  • Under the Spotlight - Just seeing all the eyes on you, being under a hot spotlight, by yourself at the piano might be enough to make the entire experience completely foreign. 

  • One Shot - You have only one chance to play the song, from beginning to end, with no breaks, no do-overs, and no coaching.

  • All Dressed Up With No Place to Go - Whether you're wearing a tux, a suit and tie, or a fancy dress, most performers are out of their element the moment they don the "costume" of a performance environment. 

 
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Preparation

Most students think that if they just practice a song enough times, they’ll be able to perform it well, but there’s actually more to it than that. Performance is an art in itself, and often requires additional preparation and strategy that is more psychological in nature than just normal practice.

A performance requires a plan, and a backup plan as well, because even when the piece is played perfectly, other elements of the performance (stage direction, lighting, sound, instrument maintenance, etc.) can be less than optimal, and catch a performer off-guard. From itchy clothes to sweaty palms to crying babies and screeching microphone feedback, there is almost always something during a piano recital that will try divert the audience’s attention and derail the performer’s concentration.

 
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Practicing Performance

For all the above reasons, I will assist students with planning well ahead for the recital, and show them how to actually practice for a performance. This starts at home, months in advance by learning a song so well that they can almost play it in their sleep.

Once the piece itself is mastered, they can take it public by actually playing the song in as many different scenarios as possible; and we’ll formulate contingency plans, so they know what to do if they have a memory slip or a break in their concentration during the performance.

Lastly, we’ll spend the final weeks leading up the the recital fine-tuning their musical expression, body language, and stage presence so that their time in the spotlight is nothing less than a sensational success.


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Venue & Tickets

Similar to the Accompaniment Workshops, I think it's important for students to experience performing outside of their regular lesson environment.

The next recital will take place in the Spring of 2020 and will be open to the public. Tickets will be made available for students to sell. Students themselves may be charged a fee to participate in order to cover the cost of the venue.


 

Contests & Competitions

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Most studio events are both a learning opportunity for students and a promotional opportunity for the studio, interacting with both the public and with studio families. Contests and competitions, by contrast, are “studio-exclusive” events - meaning only currently enrolled students and families may participate and win awards. That said, they can be a community building event for the studio itself, as students make both new friends and rivals.

Contests and competitions inject a bit of fun and extra motivation into student’s day-to-day practice routine, generating quite a bit of excitement as prizes are revealed. Not to be underestimated is the somewhat hidden benefit that every student who participates will experience a HUGE lift in their actual ability to play. That’s a promise! My hope is that students will discover that they are capable of much more than they realized was possible. In that way,

the competition is its own reward.


In 2019, the studio is planning at least two such events:

  • The Above & Beyond practice contest, and

  • The Pianolympics Games

You can find out more about both of these events below…