The Art of Conscious Flow
Piano Portals is a holistic daily practice for pianists and radical substitute for Hanon.
It rewrites the rules on technique, uncovering glorious fundamentals of playing that history has overlooked.
For post-beginners to advanced players, it works on different levels.
Be mindful in Flow. Become the expert on your technique through deepening self-awareness. Ensure your own well-being in playing.
It's books, audio and online courses that offer you 4-in-1:
A holistic daily practice for fluent, expressive technique free of excess tension.
A fresh philosophy for deep-learning new music.
An aid to presence and concentration.
Beautiful music every step of the way.
How does it work?
Piano Portals is a radical musical environment - a play-space - for observing and refining technique from a holistic perspective. It's an effective, engaging substitute for Hanon - and much more. Think musical Tai chi postures or Yoga asanas, specific to the ergonomics of piano playing. It's a fresh philosophy which integrates deep-learning new music with holistic technique every step of the way.
The approach offers three main benefits for technique: diagnostic, remedial and relaxing.
- Diagnose the root causes of your technical difficulties. Become the expert on your own coordination, through deepening self-awareness.
- Discover solutions in unexpected places and transform your playing.
- Discover fresh priorities in technique - you could be wasting time with certain conventional points of focus!
- Remedy imbalances in your coordination.
- Integrate your body and mind effectively with musical Flow.
- Enjoy your practice whilst transforming your playing.
Piano Portals doubles as a mindful practice for mental focus and relaxation and as beautiful music to play and enjoy.
Who's it for?
- Post-beginner adult pianists with a holistic outlook
- Open-minded advanced adult pianists
- Mature teenage pianists
- Radical piano teachers with a holistic outlook
- Independent learners seeking a creative approach
Watch me play the music
Please note that here I simply play through the patterns and pieces. The books and courses empower you to explore them in countless creative ways. They form a comprehensive daily practice with all the resources for technique as you'll ever need!
Why is it unique?
- Piano Portals rewrites the rules on technique. It challenges assumptions about what's helpful - and what's not - in expressive, fluent playing. It uncovers transformational elements of playing coordination that are all but neglected in traditional pedagogy.
- It prioritises above all your deep connection to music - along with your body's corresponding response - at all stages, throughout all activities. It's the cornerstone of efficient, expressive technique.
- It assumes that attempting to work on your technique outside of the context of musical Flow is to bypass a fundamental component in coordinated, expressive playing. Separating technique from Flow means selling yourself far short of your playing potential.
- It prioritises your self-discovery - YOU become the expert on YOUR own coordination, through deepening self-awareness. It's creative, open-ended and non-prescriptive.
- It invokes whole-body coordination at all stages, rather than isolating parts from the whole.
- It teaches the whole-body coordination that underpins all playing techniques - rather than separating out different musical challenges and attempting to address them with independent processes.
Do I have to cough up to try it out?
Piano Portals is accessible and transparent - you can begin to transform your playing right now without investing a penny by joining in with the activities in the Free Piano Portals Taster Course. Sign up for occasional freebies and news.
Can't I just use Chopin's Études?
Études can be musical masterpieces. Often, they're more of a barometer of technical proficiency than a failsafe means of cultivating it. How helpful études are to you depends on your priorities in practice. Unhelpful priorities turn études into frustrating dead-ends. Études shine a light on your technique, but they don't necessarily reveal the route to playing their complex patterns fluently and expressively. Piano Portals offers fresh, radical points of focus in technique to fast-track your path to playing études and anything else you desire.
Is anyone else doing it?
Teachers across the globe touch on aspects of Piano Portals all the time. But Piano Portals challenges the fundamental priorities in conventional pedagogy, offering a radical, fresh approach.
The only comprehensive precedent for Piano Portals is the writing of Abby Whiteside (1881-1956). One of her pioneering collections of essays is 'Fundamentals of Piano Playing'. Whiteside explored new fundamentals of playing, based on tireless observations of how able players actually use their bodies versus what was often taught. Driven by her determination that all should progress - not just the most 'gifted' - she challenged conventional pedagogical tools and priorities and put forward radical alternatives.
Whiteside and Piano Portals are not the same, but it's doubtful that Piano Portals could have come into being without Whiteside's genius. Piano Portals began with Whiteside and evolved over twenty years of further investigation, resulting in a profoundly simple, comprehensive and practical approach.
What are the principles underpinning Piano Portals?
It's based on 'Seven Secrets of Piano Playing', explored in detail in the Piano Portals Free Taster. If this sounds like a gimmick, please suspend your disbelief. They're secrets only in the sense that they've been kept all but secret by conventional pedagogy. The latter has, as a rule, overlooked their fundamental significance or, at least, skated over their vast potential for transformation. Thus generations of pianists have been sold short and failed to reach their potential. Or rather, only the most 'gifted' ones have, since they've intuited what they've needed and instinctively discarded the rest. Each represents layer upon layer of profound journeying and revelation for the willing adventurer.
The 7 Secrets of Piano Playing
Connect deeply and personally with the music
- this underpins all explorations of technique and learning, at all stages of all processes.
Play by ear
- not necessarily discarding the score altogether but reorienting your learning towards the aural at all stages, for direct and efficient coordination.
Balance freely against your sitting bones
- fully exploring this can be a journey towards a goldmine of discovery.
Free your forearms
- integrating them successfully with your hands, fingers, upper arms and torso.
Free your breath
- letting it integrate and assist freely.
- bringing your attention to your technique, to the music, to your body, step by step, layer by layer.
Free your fingers
- last in the order of priorities, the fingers align and deliver the end result.
And the end result...
These elements, harmoniously integrated, underpin all fluent, expressive playing. Any inhibition or imbalance in them results in technical difficulty and undermines the musical result. They've emerged from years of observation, experimentation, refinement and personal transformation. When the Seven Secrets unify, you play to your potential.
How can I have Piano Portals in my life?
Full online courses coming soon!
Please contact founder Stephen Marquiss with any questions or queries about Piano Portals.