Painted Pianos Show Up in Knoxville

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 - No Comments

Yay for Knoxville!

Some very cool painted and playable pianos have popped up around the city in Knoxville, Tenn. Apparently, The Piano Project of Knoxville, founded by jazz pianist Brian Clay, placed the pianos.

According to news sources, the launch party included Clay, the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, Dogwood Arts, the City of Knoxville Public Arts Committee and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. There are just three now, but they hope to install more in the city.

You’re walking down the street in Knoxville and boom — there’s a perfectly good piano sitting there WAITING for YOU to play it. Just another reason why you should get connected with 6X Emmy winner Scott Houston’s Piano in a Flash program. YOU could be having fun PLAYING those pianos (or any piano) in no time!

So what’s stopping you? The kids are grown, the career is done and it’s YOUR time now. It’s YOUR turn to play!

Your Turn to Learn:
https://www.wvlt.tv/content/news/The-Piano-Project-of-Knoxville-presents-decorated-pianos-in-Market-Square-562768171.html

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Piano Playing, Singing Beagle Rocks Out in Viral Video

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 - No Comments

We know that people play music for fun. But did you know that some dogs do as well?

Buddy Mercury, a lovable Beagle, is quickly generating massive online fame (almost 5.7 million views on YouTube) as a video showing him playing the piano and “singing” appears in countless social media feeds.  Also in the video Buddy’s “human,” a small child, is dancing up a storm!

Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston encourages learning to play piano for fun and there’s a LOT of fun happening here. He says “Hey – if a dog can give that cute little kid so much enjoyment, just think what YOU could do for some of YOUR humans if you just sat down and learned to play some of your favorite tunes for fun! Ha! ”

The good news is that Scott has been successfully helping people do just that for over 20 years … Hey, don’t let the dogs have ALL the fun. 🙂 The kids are grown, career is done and it’s YOUR time now. It’s YOUR turn to play!

Enjoy the video!

Your TURN to Learn More:

Buddy Mercury the piano playing and singing beagle performs while his human dances

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If You Put a Piano On a Cliff…

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 - No Comments

According to news sources in Australia, an abandoned piano has been spotted on top of a cliff in Sydney Harbor—and ever since it was spotted, locals can’t seem to stop playing it. But unlike other pianos in the area, which are usually found tucked away in peoples’ homes or the odd hall, this upright is surrounded by stunning scenery.

And as you can see from the image, it’s not just any scenery – as somehow, the person/people responsible for deserting the piano managed to transport it up a pretty steep incline. The mystery instrument is currently set on the edge of a cliff at Middle Head on the north shore, with a picturesque backdrop of boats sailing across the sea.

The people visiting this area LOVE playing the mysterious instrument. But the big question still remains: WHO abandoned that piano and why?

And the even BIGGER question is why didn’t the individual who owned that piano ever LEARN to sit down and PLAY their favorite songs just for fun? Well, THEY may have missed out, but YOU don’t have to because you can connect with 6X Emmy winner Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston who can show you how to play Piano in a Flash! The kids are grown and gone, the career is all wrapped up and it’s YOUR time now! It’s YOUR turn to play!

YOUR Turn to Learn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&v=UyTsdkYdrHI

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Is Playing Music By Ear Just for the Gifted?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 - 16 Comments

A Piano in a Flash student recently wrote in saying “….God bless you if you have the gift of both being able to read and play by ear.” 

But is it a gift or something else entirely?  Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston has a few thoughts on that subject.  He says:

“I really honestly don’t think playing by ear is a gift any more than I think being able to read notation is a gift. Or maybe a better way to say it is that if it is a gift, we ALL have it. Learning to play “by ear” is just another way to say that you are a really good “educated guesser” as to what is coming up next in whatever you are trying to play.

It’s a totally learnable skill that at its core, starts with interval training and learning common chord progressions(whether those two things come overtly or just through a lot of playing experience.) The more you play using chord symbols and chord progressions (and free yourself from only being able to read “from the sheet”,) the more your ear just starts to get so familiar with what different jumps from chord to chord sound like that you can start to anticipate what is coming next with more and more accuracy.

It’s not like you just wake up some morning, or get hit by lightning and say “Aha! I can play by ear now!” Instead, it is a slow progression of trial and error where you find yourself mentally “guessing (or maybe better said, anticipating) what the next chord (or melody note) will be with a lot more confidence.

I now can pretty much play by ear (or give me a couple of minutes, and I’ll mentally work through some tune quickly and get it figured out). However, at the age of 56 that is something I have only been able to do the last 20 or so years. I certainly did not have that ability as a kid growing up or even when I was playing professionally in my 20s.

Scott also reminds us that in Course 4 we work extensively on intervalic training, which sets up students for then getting into some of the more overt ear training stuff coming your way in Courses 5 and 6.  

Simply put, playing music isn’t for the chosen few.  It’s for EVERYONE and we know it’s for YOU, too. Come on, the kids are grown, the career is done and it’s YOUR time now. It’s YOUR turn to play! 

Your TURN to Learn More About Musicians Who Started Off Playing Entirely Different Instruments:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/articles/features/8_great_musicians_who_played_a_completely_different_instrument_at_first-97628


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Incredible Story: Blind, Autistic Singer/Piano Player Kodi Lee Wins America’s Got Talent

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 - 4 Comments

One of the most powerful stories in music got even bigger last week. Kodi Less, an America’s Got Talent contestant who is blind and has autism won the competition after impressing judges and the country with his singing and piano-playing talents.

Lee will be awarded $1 million and he will get the chance to headline shows at the Paris Hotel Casino in Las Vegas from November 7-10. Lee said he felt “unbelievable” and “amazing” –– with his mother Tina an arm’s length away. Judges Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Howie Mandel clapped away for the young superstar.

A night earlier, Lee wowed audience members with his finals performance of Lost Without You by Freya Ridings. He also sang and played the piano seamlessly with “X Factor” winner and three-time Grammy nominee Leona Lewis, singing Calum Scott’s You Are the Reason.

His mother explained on stage that music allowed Lee to excel despite his struggles. “Through music and performing he was able to withstand living in this world because when you’re autistic it’s really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music.”

Lee first emerged in May when he performed a beautiful rendition of Donny Hathaway’s A Song For You. Some of the judges teared up during his act. Every single person in the audience stood up and clapped for Lee, who left everyone in awe.

Simon Cowell considered the performance unforgettable. “What just happened there was really extraordinary. I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.”

Playing the piano is fun, but it’s also powerful and changes people’s lives for the better every single day. YOU could be one of those people and Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston is here to help! Your kids are grown, the job and career are finished and it’s YOUR time now! It’s your TURN to play!

Your Turn to Learn More:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kodi-lee-agt-blind-autistic-singer-americans-got-talent-season-14-finals-simon-cowell-leona-lewis-2019-09-19/



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Fun with Really Big Pianos

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 - No Comments

We all know that playing the piano is REALLY big fun. But on occasion, some REALLY big pianos have been used to bring some joy to the world.  Classic FM recently shared some great moments including:

Chopsticks by Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock — Inspired by the giant piano scene on 1988 fantasy comedy film, Big, TV talk show host Jonathan Ross couldn’t resist requesting a quick demo from his guests Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. And of course, it’s totally awesome.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NruWYK-KA6w

Jingle Bells in a store — This one has some great timing with multiple performers!  https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=vU6kk89dGp8#action=share

No giant piano video collection would be complete without this 1977 Sinatra classic — New York, New York — Enjoy!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoahCodpvM4#action=share

Although these big toys certainly look like a lot of fun, you know what? YOU can learn to play an “actual” piano or keyboard and have the time of your life playing tunes you love in a lot less time than you think. Scott Houston has been teaching people just like you to play the piano for more than 20 years and…it’s not too late — it’s YOUR turn now!

Your Turn to Learn
https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/9-times-giant-pianos-brought-sheer-joy-to-world/

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Survey Says Playing Piano is Sexy

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019 - No Comments

Playing the piano has many cool benefits (like you need to tell us, huh?).  But did you know it’s considered to be sexy too? A Vanity Fair/60 Minutes survey ranking the sexiest instruments to play has the piano at number three—just behind the guitar and the saxophone. 

They found that the top instrument was the guitar at 26 percent, followed closely by the saxophone at 25 percent. The remainder of the list was made of the piano (21 percent), violin (14 percent), drums (seven percent) and flute (five percent.)

Interestingly the poll also showed that 42 percent of Americans believe “this decade” has had the worst music in 45 years and it’s not just older Americans that feel that way. Those under 30 are also most likely to think that this decade has had the worst music since 1970. (There’s hope! Ha!)

But you know what’s REALLY sexy?  Learning to play piano and playing YOUR favorite kind of popular music while doing it. That’s the way we do things around here at pianoinaflash.com!  Scott has taught thousands of adults how to play the piano with his Piano in a Flash method, which is also super sexy! 

The job is done, the kids are grown and gone and you’ve still got a LOT left to do. It’s your time to play, so check out the Piano in a Flash method TODAY! 

Your Time to Learn More: 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whats-the-sexiest-instrument-to-play/

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The Piano Guy Responds to Wired Story About Using Music Apps and Light-Up Keyboards to Learn to Play the Piano

Thursday, September 5th, 2019 - No Comments

A recent WIRED magazine story takes aim at music apps and light-up keyboards as a legitimate methods to learn to play the piano for new students of any age. While the author makes some fine points, our own expert at teaching piano for more than 30 years, Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston has some comments about this topic.

First, the author, Boone Ashworth, writes:

Andrew Cooperstock, one half of the piano/violin duo Opus Two, has been a professional piano teacher for over 30 years. He embraces technology enough to use an iPad to read sheet music while he plays, but his educational approach is still mostly conventional. “I don’t think you can really learn to play a musical instrument just by using an app or watching a video or reading a book about it,” Cooperstock says. “I think you need a teacher who can guide you.”

Scott says “I agree – a teacher is vital. But whether that teacher is sitting with you, or is being seen on a video remotely I have found not only is not detrimental, but in fact, can be helpful in the case of adult students who are just too apprehensive and self-conscious to ever be willing to sit with another adult for private lessons and possibly come across and dumb or not talented. That “degree of separation” is exactly what makes a lot of people comfortable enough to jump in and test the waters…”

Next the Ashworth writes:

I don’t know how to read music, distinguish between major and minor scales, or pronounce “arpeggio.”

Scott says “Who cares? You said it yourself here:

My goal is simple: to become as proficient at playing music as I can, as quickly as I can.

The key word there was “playing.” You didn’t say your goal was to become proficient at reading music, or proficient at understanding music theory. I have found it is absolutely vital to break down the preconceived notions a lot of adults have that you cannot sit down and have fun playing a few tunes at a piano without going through all the motions needed to work towards becoming a serious classical pianist. Those are two very different goals, with two very different paths needed to achieve them.”

Another source quoted in the article, an artist named Zhang, had this to say:

“Well, I think first you have to learn how to read the piece, like the notes,” Zhang says.

Scott says “Saying you can’t learn to play something on a piano without reading it first is analogous to saying you cannot learn to speak until you learn to read! How did Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles or George Shearing learn tunes? Music is not contained in black notes on white paper–that is just a “recording” of music, no different than an audio recording. Notes on paper are no more music than words on paper are an oration. You can learn to communicate something verbally long before you learn to read well. Same applies to playing a tune on a piano. Sheet music is not music… what you play is!

Ashworth comments:

Before I can come anywhere close to playing music, I feel that I need to understand the fundamentals.

Scott retorts “I disagree!! What you said earlier is (and I paraphrase) that you wanted to play a tune as quickly as possible and sound good doing it. There will be all the time in the world to learn the fundamentals, and the nitty-gritty of the myriad of things music theory describes, and the techniques that will really allow you to become a great piano player. And any good teacher or method should (eventually) get to all of that. The problem is, unless you can taste how sweet the experience is of actually making music yourself (as opposed to listening to a recording or someone else performing), you’ll never have the motivation to stick around long enough to learn it. As an example, if you offer as payment a bowl of ice cream for finishing a hard task to two people, one of whom has tried it before, and one of whom who has not, it is highly likely the one who knows how good it tastes will stick it out longer than one who does not. That’s why I have found that it is incredibly important to the eventual success or failure of a student to get them playing something THEY love (not necessarily something I as their teacher think is important for them to learn) as fast as humanly possible. Until a new student can experience the sheer joy of music making, trying to dig into fundamentals is, in my opinion, getting the cart WAY out in front of the horse. It is the main reason I’ve found beginning adult students quit most other methods and teachers—and one of the huge reasons we see the success we do.”

Ashworth tested a light-up keyboard by ONE Pianos for his story and says:

The ONE has the edge there, since it is an actual keyboard. The individual keys light up with a dull red glow as they follow the lessons displayed on a companion app.

Scott writes:

“Follow the lights, or follow the colors, or anything that ties a student to one particular instrument has always been problematic for me for this reason: What do you do when you are at someone else’s house and want to sit down to play? One of the GREAT things about playing piano is that you never know where you will run into one besides your own home. I want my students to not be shackled to any technology that would keep them from playing any piano digital keyboard anywhere. “

Ashworth talks about the difficulty of playing different notes with different fingers:

Of course I knew I’d be using both hands to play the piano, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to make my fingers hit different notes at the same time. It’s like trying to rub your stomach and pat your head simultaneously

To this, Scott says “Ha! Truer words have never been spoken. That is, without a doubt, the A1 top-of-the-list issue the vast majority of my students run into, and why we spend so much detailed time on it. But in most other methods that is not the case. Why? Because beginning traditional students struggle so much with the importance placed on verbatim note reading that they never get close to testing their mechanical limits until much later.”

Scott then agreed with several things Ashworth wrote including:

After all, competency on a musical instrument is just a means to an end. 

Yes!

The finished product, the song, is what counts. 

Double-yes!!

I want to be able to make something. It shouldn’t matter how I get there.

Triple yes!!!

Scott adds, “Again, the goal for someone not necessarily trying to become a concert pianist, but instead to have fun playing, is making music–not necessarily being a good “student” of the instrument.”

Overall, the author and potential player, Ashworth didn’t have the greatest experience and says this —

Maybe it wasn’t a great idea to just decide that I could make something in a medium I hadn’t earned access to.

Scott says, “Earned access to” aggravates me to no end because it is the elitist attitude I find myself pushing back on with a lot of serious musicians that think it is a crime for me to be teaching someone not as talented or committed as they are to just be having fun for the sake of having fun. I don’t think Michael Jordan begrudges folks out shooting hoops in the evening for fun he might see on a drive home because they have not done enough “drills” or gotten in their “2 hours of exercises” every day that it takes to become an elite hoopster.

ANYONE (with fingers) that wants to learn to enjoy playing a few non-classical tunes on a piano in a stylistically and musically correct manner can do just that–in a fraction of the time it would take starting down the path of traditional classical piano.”

8X Emmy Winner Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston’s Piano in a Flash Online Method uses a unique combination of video lessons, popular music, physical songbooks and individual feedback to help adults and seniors achieve their lifelong dreams of playing the piano. So what do YOU think?

Time to learn more:

https://www.wired.com/story/how-we-learn-music-technology-apps-lessons/

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The Anatomy of a Piano

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 - 7 Comments

Just like the human body, the anatomy of an acoustic piano is quite fascinating! There are many different moving “body parts” and “limbs”  that must work together perfectly to make the oh so wonderful noise that we call piano music. In this blog post, I wanted to continue the theme of learning more about the piano itself, and dissect an acoustic piano. (more…)

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The History Of The Piano

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 - 12 Comments

Photo courtesy of musicoomph.com

The other morning while I was practicing at my piano, I had a thought, “I know my students love the piano, but do they know how the piano came to be???” That inspired me to sit down and write a quick little article about the fascinating history of the piano. Now, not only will you love playing this wonderful instrument, but you’ll also have a much deeper appreciation for it! (more…)

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