A fresh approach to playing
Piano Portals is a holistic daily practice for pianists and piano teachers.
It's a complete framework - online courses, books, music - offering a radical substitute for conventional exercises.
For post-beginners to advanced players, it works on different levels.
Be mindful in Flow.
Be the expert on your own technique.
Take charge of your well-being in playing.
The online courses, books and music offer you 4-in-1:
Fresh priorities for fluent, expressive technique free of excess tension.
An engaging approach to learning new repertoire assuredly.
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 integrating deep-learning new music with holistic technique every step of the way.
The approach offers three main benefits for technique: diagnostic, remedial and relaxing.
- Uncover fresh solutions to technical difficulties in places that may surprise you.
- Become the expert on your own coordination, through deepening self-awareness.
- Discover fresh points of focus to rebalance and reintegrate your coordination.
- Remedy imbalances in your coordination.
- Reintegrate your body and mind with musical flow at every stage.
- Eliminate excess tension in 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 in this playlist I simply play through the patterns and pieces. The courses and books explore them in countless creative ways. They form a comprehensive daily practice - the only resource for technique that 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.
- Piano Portals highlights fundamentals of able players' techniques that are all but neglected in conventional pedagogy.
- Piano Portals prioritises above all your body's response to musical flow - at all stages, throughout all activities. It acknowledges this to be the cornerstone of efficient, expressive technique.
- Piano Portals assumes that attempting to work on your technique outside of the context of musical flow is to waste time. It bypasses a fundamental component of coordinated, expressive playing.
- Piano Portals cultivates integrated whole-body coordination at all stages, rather than isolating parts from the whole.
- Piano Portals is straightforward and accessible. It avoids the impenetrable complexity of many methods and offers engaging, practical activities - always within the context of musical flow.
- Piano Portals prioritises self-discovery - you become the expert on your own coordination, through deepening self-awareness. It's creative, open-ended and non-prescriptive.
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 points of focus in practice. Unhelpful priorities turn études into frustrating dead-ends. Études shine a light on your technique, but they don't necessarily provide you with the means to play their complex patterns fluently and expressively. Piano Portals offers fresh points of focus in technique to fast-track your path to playing études and any other music of your choice.
Is anyone else doing it?
Teachers across the globe touch on aspects of Piano Portals. But Piano Portals challenges, reimagines and presents in a fresh, practical framework the fundamentals of technique.
The only comprehensive precedent for Piano Portals is the writing of Abby Whiteside (1881-1956), who wrote ground-breaking essays entitled 'Fundamentals of Piano Playing'. Whiteside expounded fresh fundamentals, based on her 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 naturally coordinated - she challenged conventional pedagogy 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 pioneering work. Piano Portals began with Whiteside's insights and evolved over twenty years of further investigation, resulting in a profound, simple and practical approach.
What are the principles underpinning Piano Portals?
It's based on The 7 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 shrouded by conventional pedagogy. Their fundamental significance in able players' techniques has been largely overlooked, or at least skated over, given its vast potential for transformation. Thus generations of pianists have been sold short and failed to reach their potential. Or rather, only the most naturally coordinated ones have, since they've intuited what they've needed and instinctively discarded the rest. Each represents layer upon layer of journeying and revelation for the willing adventurer.
The 7 Secrets of Piano Playing
Connect deeply and personally with the music
- without this, there's no corresponding response in the torso, and technical practice is a waste of time.
Play by ear
- not discarding the score but reorienting towards the aural for direct and efficient coordination.
Balance freely against your sitting bones
- by far the most helpful body part in piano playing.
Free your forearms
- integrating or reintegrating them with your fingers and thumbs, upper arms and torso.
Free your breath
- letting it integrate and assist freely.
- becoming more attentive to your body and to the music, layer by layer.
Free your fingers
- the least of all the priorities - they align and deliver the coordination generated elsewhere in the body.
And the end result...
These elements, harmoniously integrated, underpin all fluent, expressive playing. Any inhibition or imbalance within them results in technical difficulty and impairs the musical result. They've emerged from years of observation, experimentation, refinement and personal transformation. When the 7 Secrets unify, you play to your potential - and this is within your grasp!
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.