Piano in a Flash Student Profile: Sharon Hubbard Graessle

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 - No Comments

Like so many people, Sharon Hubbard Grassele (65) always wanted to learn how to play the piano. She took piano lessons as a child, but wasn’t able to stick with it, then life got in the way and she wasn’t able to find the time to fulfill her dream. Until now.

Recently, Sharon enrolled in Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston’s Piano in a Flash online method and she’s now learning, playing and having a lot of fun doing it.

Q: Why did you want to learn to play the piano?

Sharon: “Well, I had some piano lessons in my life, but I wasn’t good. Then I happened to see the little presentation from Scott Houston online. I thought that would be awesome to do. So I decided to give it a try. I was a little leary at first, but I gave it my best.”

Q: How did Piano in a Flash help you?

Sharon “Wow, I’ve learned so much and it’s brought me so much joy. It’s great the way you have it set up so I can do it any time of day I want to. Now I can sit down and play the piano! I love it! I play every day and Scott’s program makes practicing so fun! I give it a 10+ on 1-10 scale.”

And there you have it. Sharon’s not alone and YOU can join all of these new piano players out there too! The kids are grown, career’s done and it’s YOUR time now. It’s YOUR turn to play!

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The Human Brain Can Recognize Familiar Music in Milliseconds

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 - No Comments

Did you know that your brain can recognize a familiar song within 100 to 300 milliseconds? A new study from University College London reports that our favorite tunes are deeply held in our minds.

For this study, researchers at the UCL Ear Institute wanted to find out exactly how fast the brain responded to familiar music, as well as the temporal profile of processes in the brain which allow for this.

“These findings point to very fast temporal circuitry and are consistent with the deep hold that highly familiar pieces of music have on our memory,” said senior author Professor Maria Chait.

Scott Houston adds, “I’ve always been greatly intrigued with that incredible feeling you get when you are listening to a radio, scanning from station to station, and you can stop almost immediately when you sense some tune you recognize, yet you’ve possibly not heard it in years. (fast as in 100 milliseconds! see below…) Similarly amazing to me is the way that you can remember verse after verse of lyrics in tunes that you haven’t heard, again, in YEARS once you start to sing along with it. I’m just fascinated by the depth (or maybe “stickiness” or robustness are more descriptive words to use) of memories when they are attached to music. There is clearly something profound and unique about music as it affects our brain when it comes to the way it affects us, makes us feel emotionally, and locks in memories like nothing else. It’s almost overwhelming to me when I think about it all, and makes me so incredibly proud to be able to bring making music into a lot of people’s lives for the first time.”

Participants in the UK study passively listened to 100 snippets (each less than a second) of both the familiar and unfamiliar song, presented in random order. Around 400 seconds was listened to in total. Researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) imaging, which records electrical activity in the brain, and pupillometry (a technique that measures pupil diameter—considered a measure of arousal).

The study found the human brain recognized ‘familiar’ tunes from 100 milliseconds (0.1 of a second) of sound onset, with the average recognition time between 100ms and 300ms. This was first revealed by rapid pupil dilation, likely linked to increased arousal associated with the familiar sound, followed by cortical activation related to memory retrieval.

Houston adds, “This issue of learning to play piano using well-known tunes versus some dumb original tunes I could have written is a basic tenet of my online pianoinaflash.com method and I firmly believe it is one of the keys to the incredible success we see with our adult students. If you are going to have to spend some effort learning to play, why not spend that time and effort learning tunes YOU want to play as opposed to tunes you’ve never heard of and would never get caught dead playing in front of friends and family, right? It seems so logical …”

Well, we all LOVE our favorite songs and that’s why Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston’s Piano in a Flash Online Method uses those songs to teach anyone to play the piano! It’s fun and easier than you might think. Hey, the kids are grown, career’s all wrapped up and it’s YOUR time now! It’s YOUR turn to play!

Your Turn to Learn:
https://sciencebeta.com/familiar-vs-unfamiliar-music/

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Common Questions for Scott Houston: Chord Jumping

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 - No Comments

Thousands of people are having fun learning how to play their favorite songs on the piano with Scott Houston’s Piano in a Flash online method. One question Scott gets frequently involves chord movements or jumps. Here’s the question and Scott’s answer to help everyone along as we learn.

Student: How do I decide to move up or down from the current chord I am playing when I get to the next chord symbol?

Scott Houston: “For fear of sounding like a cop-out answer, there is no “right” or “wrong” decision there. It’s just what you think sounds the best, or maybe is the easiest for you to play (or maybe the closest to each other just to make the jumps not so jarring maybe?) In the tunes we are working on here near the beginning of the whole method, we usually just kind of jump back and forth, so it is probably about the same difficulty in either direction. However, as we progress into tunes with more complicated chord progressions, a lot of the time it will be logical to decide to go up or down to a chord based on the following chord after that being close to one or another. Just make your movements as smooth as possible for your own sake. No need to be jumping all over the place unless it’s absolutely necessary.

I also think a big part of it is just noticing the difference in sound when you play a chord in one octave or another. Chords tend to sound the best right around the middle of a piano, say from the C one octave below middle C to the F, four notes above middle C. When you start getting a lot higher, or a lot lower than that from a placement standpoint, you’ll start hearing the chords sounding a little “muddy” down low, or just a little “toy piano-like” when you get into the higher octaves.

My advice is to stay near one another when jumping from chord to chord and that will probably be a good guide. Past that—use your ears. What you think sounds the best is probably correct!”

And there you have it. Learning to play the piano is fun—and easier than you probably think. 6x Emmy winner Scott “The Piano Guy” Houston is here to help you. The kids are grown, career is done and it’s YOUR time now. It’s YOUR turn to play!  

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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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