Taking Care of a String Instrument

It’s hard to be at your best when you don’t take care of yourself, and your instrument is no different. Neglect can lead to long term damage or, at the very least, your instrument not sounding its best. On the passed blogs we discussed about important tips to take care of your piano, either acoustic or digital. Today we will refer to string instrument care.

Healthy Lifestyle

Along with your instrument, you should have rosin, an extra set of strings, and a cloth to dust your instrument and the shaft of your bow off before they go in the case. Protect your instrument from extreme temperatures — don’t leave it in the car — and from humidity outside the 40-60 percent range. A hardware store will sell you a humidity meter for around $15.

Have your instrument restrung every one or two years (cellos and basses can last a little longer). You’ll be happier with your sound on new strings. Depending on how often you play, your bow should be rehaired every six to eighteen months. If there is visible gunk on your bow-hair or if you have to rosin up every time you play, it’s time. On that note, always try playing before you apply rosin. If your bow hair is in good shape you may be surprised at how infrequently you need it.

Choosing your doctor

Taking care of your instrument begins with you, but some jobs are best left for the experts. If you are renting an instrument, the vendor will likely take care of the repair needs of your instrument. If you own your own instrument, any musician or music teacher should be able to recommend at least a couple of trustworthy shops. Find one close enough that you’ll be willing to make the drive to keep your instrument healthy.

Keeping your finger on the pulse

Keep an eye on these four things to know whether a trip to the luthier might be necessary:

  • If your violin or viola has fine-tuners (small metal screws attaching the string to the tailpiece), be careful that they don’t become so tightened that they begin to dig a hole into the top of your instrument. The fix is easy: tune the string very flat with the fine tuner and use the peg to tune.
  • Be careful that the rubber on the feet of your shoulder rest isn’t deteriorated or brittle. This will lead to scratching through the varnish and into the wood.
  • The bridge should be between the two horizontal dashes of the f-holes and the feet should be in full contact with the top of the instrument (not leaning toward the fingerboard or toward the tailpiece.) Try to slide a piece of paper underneath the feet of the bridge. Because the bridge is only held to the top by pressure, it will tend to move around as you use the instrument. This is an easy fix, but one that should only be done by someone with experience as it can easily become an expensive repair.
  • It’s not unusual for seams to open up on an instrument, especially student instruments and especially in drier environments (due to an air-conditioner or heater). These should be dealt with by a luthier immediately as they can quickly get out of hand.


Five Tips on Maintaining Your Digital Piano

It is a widely-known fact that traditional pianos require a lot of care. In fact, many would even say that these types of pianos are very high-maintenance, which is one of the reasons why some people look for other options, such as a digital piano. Does that mean, then, that digital pianos do not require any maintenance at all? Of course not. Digital pianos, too, need to be cared for, especially if you hope and expect to get a lot of years out of them. Here, let us give you a few tips on maintaining your digital piano.

1. Choose the location of your piano

Treat your digital piano like any other piece of precious furniture; in fact, treat it like you would a traditional, or even a grand, piano. A digital piano is also prone to damage due to certain elements, such as heat, water, or even humidity. Therefore, choose the location or part of the house or room for the piano.

  • DO NOT place the digital piano in an area where it will be exposed to direct sunlight, water, or moisture.
  • DO NOT put the digital piano directly in an area where you expect a lot of foot traffic. You don’t want people to keep bumping into it or hitting against it, even if it’s just the corners.
  • DO NOT place the piano close to electronic appliances and devices that emit heat, such as a heater, computer, and stoves, to name a few.
  • DO place the piano at least 4 meters away from the heat sources mentioned above.

2. Use Only Appropriate Cleaning Methods

Digital pianos need to be cleaned a certain way. Even the best digital pianos are not completely immune to damage; many have been ruined or became faulty for the simple reason that the owners did not clean them properly.

  • DO NOT use water or wet cloth to clean or wipe the digital piano. Instead, use a clean, dry cloth.
  • DO check the instructions manual or the manufacturer’s notes for specific and acceptable cleaning methods, just to be on the safe side.
  • DO wash your hands and wipe them dry before playing the piano, especially if you’ve just finished having a snack or doing household chores. You don’t want grease or dirt from your hands to dirty the keys. The dirt will also affect the way your fingers will interact with the keys while playing.

3. Observe Proper Plugging

Many accidents have happened due to faulty electrical outlets or improper plugging, so it’s a given that you, too, should observe the proper way of using the plugs with respect to your digital piano.

  • DO NOT overload an outlet by plugging your digital piano alongside your desktop computer, microwave oven, or other electrical appliances. Sharing an outlet can interfere with the quality of sound and the overall performance of the piano. Overloading can also lead to circuits shorting out, fire, and physical injuries, not to mention major damage to your digital piano.
  • DO NOT let cords and cables lie around haphazardly. Make sure they are out of the way, so no one will accidentally trip over them.
  • DO make sure that the outlet you are using is in good working order. Check the surge suppressor or the outlet strip and replace them if you find problems.
  • DO unplug the digital piano when not in use, but make sure you turn it off first before pulling the plug.

4. Use the Digital Piano Properly

Remember: a digital piano is a digital piano. It is a musical instrument, not a piece of furniture to put things on or do other activities in besides playing.

  • DO NOT use it as a shelf. Putting weight on it can affect the sound, not to mention damage the frame or mar the surface.
  • DO NOT use it as a dining table. Eat your meals in the kitchen or the dining room, not on top of the digital piano.
  • DO NOT drink on your digital piano. It’s not a bar where you should leave your glass of wine. You don’t want to accidentally drip water on the keys or other sensitive parts of the piano.
  • DO NOT lean on your piano. Your weight will most likely cause damage to the piano, maybe even causing it to tilt or fall over.

5. Protect Your Digital Piano

When you’re not using the piano, are you supposed to just leave it there? Just as it is vulnerable to damage while being used, it can also sustain the same when not in use.

  • DO NOT leave the keys uncovered. Dust can wreak havoc on pretty much all electronic equipments and, since it gets into everything, it can reach even the small and more sensitive components inside the digital piano. Dusty sensors, for example, will already have a huge effect on the overall performance of the piano.
  • DO NOT allow your pets to get on the piano. Aside from claw marks and scratches marring the surface of the digital piano, their hair or fur can also get into the sensors or other components, thereby affecting the acoustic of the piano.
  • DO turn off the digital piano properly after using it.

At the first sign of problems, DO approach only qualified service personnel about it. Don’t refer your digital piano to any random electrician. Check out the warranty card to see the terms applicable to you, and start from there.

7 Important Tips for Taking Care of your Acoustic Piano

To be able to play the piano masterfully, you must have learned the art, but not only that you must also take good care of your instrument.

We all want to be able to enjoy our pianos for many years to come. If you want your acoustic piano to sound like the beautiful musical instrument that it is, it will need to be cared for. Regular and dedicated piano care is crucial to your piano standing the test of time.

Although cleaning and maintaining your piano may take some time, it’s far from a complex task, and might be enjoyable for some. Here we’ve outlined seven important tips to help piano owners and piano lovers everywhere keep their instruments looking beautiful and in tip-top shape.

1. Clean Your Keys

Dust, dirt, and oil from your hands can begin to accumulate on your keys faster than you think. But don’t worry because there’s no need to hire a professional for this. Any piano owner can clean their keys themselves!

The most important thing to note is whether you’re dealing with ivory or plastic keys because they are cleaned differently. For plastic keys, it’s best to use a solution of filtered water with white vinegar. Ivory keys can be cleaned more safely with a mixture of warm water and a little bit of dish soap. 

Whether the keys are ivory or plastic, there are a few big no-no’s that every piano owner needs to avoid when cleaning. Always avoid heavy chemical compounds. Instead, go for mild soaps. Don’t use paper towels while wiping down. 

Always use lint-free cloths to avoid residue. Wipe down your keys vertically, thereby avoiding any moisture getting between your keys. Spray disinfectants should never be used in the cold/flu season either, as it can destroy the surface and seep into the piano. 

2. Keep It Tuned

It is generally recommended to get your piano tuned once every six months or so. But is it necessary for the proper maintenance of your instrument? The answer is a resounding YES. Regular tuning can help you avoid unnecessary piano damage. 

The proper and consistent tension in the strings of the different parts of the piano is important for the health of the overall instrument. These different delicate parts interact with one another and when they are working together smoothly, it lessens the risk of damage. They also happen to be very expensive to fix, so regularly tuning your piano not only keeps your instrument in good shape but also your wallet too. 


3. Regulate Your Instrument

Even if you’re diligent and consistent in getting your piano tuned, you may still notice some deterioration or a small drop-off in your piano’s performance. While tuning takes care of the strings and the pins, it doesn’t do anything for the rest of the instrument which is where regulation comes in.

Regulation covers the servicing of the more mechanical parts of the piano that allow the strings to make their lovely sounds when you press the keys. It’s also the compacting of cloth, felt, and buckskin while also adjusting the dimensions to account for changes to the wood and wool parts due to humidity. Depending on how often you use it and what kind of temperature it’s in, you and your technician can decide on how often your piano should get serviced.

4. Voice Your Piano Regularly

Voicing your piano is the process of changing the quality of the tone that your piano is producing. Essentially, it’s similar to adjusting the treble and bass on a stereo system. While tuning is much more cut and dry, voicing your piano can be a little bit more complex.

Whereas tuning focuses on the pitch of the note, voicing refers to the actual tone. For example, if you had Barry White and Beyonce sing the same note, you would be able to tell them apart even though the pitch is the same: it’s their unique vocal tones that separate them. This is the intangible quality that voicing a piano attempts to deal with. 

Technicians can achieve different tonal qualities for your piano by fiddling with the rigidity of the hammers that hit the strings. Depending on what kind of tone you’d like, a technician can either soften or firm up the hammers to create different sounds.

5. Maintain A Consistent Temperature

Temperature and humidity levels are crucial for the maintenance of a piano. This means that where you decide to place your piano is very important. Most of the materials used to make a piano, such as felt, cloth, leather, and wood, are all very sensitive to humidity. 

You want to keep a consistent 40 – 50% humidity around your piano so then it doesn’t suffer from any damage. Many crucial parts of the piano can be affected by humidity such as the soundboard. The soundboard is a big part of the piano, essentially serving as the speaker. When it’s too dry, it will shrink and when it gets too humid, it will swell, both of which will negatively affect the sound. If your piano is very valuable, you may want to consider installing a damp chaser, which is a humidifier specifically for regulating humidity inside the piano.

6. Give It Space To Breathe

Ventilation is necessary to keep your piano healthy but the wrong kind of ventilation will cause damage. You must be careful about where you place your piano. Decent and consistent ventilation from all sides of the piano is ideal. 

Placing the piano in the center of the room or against a wall separating two rooms are both good options. Try to avoid placing the piano next to an exterior wall or window because natural ventilation is too unpredictable.

7. Don’t Turn It Into A Shelf

A nice vase of flowers can look lovely on top of a piano but the risks far outweigh the rewards. If the vase were to tip and water were to enter the piano, it would cause extremely expensive damage. 

Heavier objects placed on top of the piano can also have an unwanted effect on the tone of your music, producing out-of-place vibrations. The only things that should be on a piano are sheet music and a metronome.

Final Thoughts

If you want your piano to sound pristine, taking good care, and maintaining the instrument properly is the best way to achieve that. Even a maestro on the keys can’t do much with an untuned, unregulated, unvoiced, and overall dirty piano. 

Pianos are a very large investment more often than not so to avoid additional costly repairs, it’s important to get technicians to come in regularly to check the instrument. Not to mention the importance of where you place the piano and how you clean your keys.

So, take the time to maintain your piano, so you can enjoy it for many years to come!

10 Best Music Schools In The World

One of the first things you should be doing as a student still in high school is decide which establishments you will even attempt to get into in the coming months and years. Depending on what you want to study, there could be literally hundreds of options, and all of them will claim to be the perfect fit for you.

As someone who wants to study music, you are both lucky and limited when it comes to colleges, depending on how optimistic you want to be. There are many schools with music programs but only a handful have developed well-earned reputations as excellent educational leaders and those are the ones you want to go for.

Said this, the playing field is smaller and it can be even more difficult to stand out and eventually be accepted into a program, as there are more students who would love to attend these locations than spots available.

If you have considered pursuing music career and are just beginning your search for where you may go to study, check put these ten colleges and universities as they are widely understood to be the absolute best in the world.

1. The Juilliard School

Location: New York City, NY
Founded: 1905
Notable Alumni: Barry Manilow (singer-songwriter, arranger, musician, producer and actor), Yo-Yo Ma (cellist), John Williams (composer, conductor, pianist and trombonist).

The Juilliard School, or simply Juilliard as most people call it, is known as the most prestigious performing arts educational institution in the world, according to a number of rankings doled out every year. The college teaches students in a number of verticals, including dance, acting, and, of course, music, which it is perhaps best known for.

The school is attached to the similarly prestigious Lincoln Center, which plays host to some of the best live music performances to be found anywhere, with a focus on all things classical and opera. This option is best for those who one day would like to compose or perhaps play in an orchestra, but it probably isn’t ideal for anyone looking to create more contemporary popular music.

2. Berklee College of Music

Location: Boston, MA
Founded: 1945
Notable Alumni: Melissa Etheridge (singer-songwriter, guitarist, and activist), Quincy Jones (record producer, musician, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer), John Mayer (singer, songwriter, guitarist, and record producer).

Unlike many other music programs all around the world, Berklee College of Music is focused on churning out artists who go on to top the charts and own the pop culture conversation. Many of the most successful alumni aren’t in orchestras or crafting classical compositions, but rather, they have squarely focused their musical efforts in pop, rock, and other modern genres.

Berklee College of Music produces more hitmakers than any other school in the world so if you want to make it big in the Top 40 world, this is where you need to go. Boston is known as a college town and Berklee College of Music is simply one of the best in a crowded area.

3. Yale School of Music

Location: New Haven, CT
Founded: 1894
Notable Alumni: Marco Beltrami (composer and conductor of film and television scores), Michael Daugherty (composer, pianist, and teacher), Matt Brubeck (cellist, bassist, keyboardist, composer and arranger).



Yale needs no introduction, but sadly, many people overlook the music school as the other programs receive the majority of attention. The legendary university’s musical wing is world-renowned and not just because of the name. It has truly earned its stellar reputation and it lives up to the Yale brand, producing many incredibly accomplished musicians.

New Haven, Connecticut is a relatively smaller city without all the flash of (fairly) nearby NYC but it will be worth it when you get out of school and have Yale on your resume.

4. New England Conservatory of Music

Location: Boston, MA
Founded: 1867
Notable Alumni: Neal E. Boyd (classical singer), Aoife O’Donovan (singer and Grammy award-winning songwriter), Vic Firth (musician and the founder of Vic Firth Company, a company that makes percussion sticks and mallets).



Yes, of course, another Boston college makes this list! With so many schools in such a relatively small area, it’s impossible to avoid including more than one institution from the city on any ranking of great universities. While Berklee does get a majority of the music-focused collegiate attention when it comes to Beantown, there is plenty of room for the New England Conservatory of Music, as the two don’t overlap very much.

Where Berklee is focused on creating hitmakers and pop stars, the NECM keeps its eyes (and ears) on helping those with a passion for playing become some of the best in the world on stringed, woodwind, and brass instruments.


5. University of Southern California Thornton School of Music

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Founded: 1884
Notable Alumni: Herb Alpert (trumpeter), James Newton Howard (composer, conductor, and record producer), James Horner (composer, conductor, and orchestrator of film scores).



Founded just four years after the university itself, the Thornton School of Music is one of the oldest musical institutions in America and it benefits immensely from more than a century of knowing what it takes to craft a truly wonderful musician. While the organization focuses on styles like jazz, classical, and earlier forms of music, the school also has a celebrated program for those looking to work in the music industry but who may not be musicians themselves.

Even if you want to be on the more creative end of things as an artist, taking classes to teach you what’s happening in the business can only benefit you and this is a great place to receive such a blended education. Aspiring Music Business majors should take note of this school. USC also has strong connections to the film music industry.


6. Curtis Institute of Music

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Founded: 1924
Notable Alumni: Leonard Bernstein (conductor, composer, pianist, music educator, author, and humanitarian), Lang Lang (concert pianist)


While not specifically known as one of the better music cities in America, Philadelphia does have at least one hidden gem everybody considering going to college to study the craft should look into: The Curtis Institute of Music. The school, which is coming up on one hundred years of age, has been quietly producing some of the most accomplished musicians in the world for a long time. While you might not have heard of it, everybody in the opera field (the school’s specialty) certainly has!

It is notoriously difficult to be accepted to, as it agrees to take on less than five percent of all applicants, so you’re going to need to show them something really special if you want to go here.


7. The Royal Academy of Music

Location: London, UK
Founded: 1822
Notable Alumni: Elton John (singer, songwriter, pianist and composer), Annie Lennox (singer-songwriter, political activist and philanthropist)


If you’re looking to travel overseas when you take up your musical studies, the Royal Academy of Music may be exactly what you need. The school accepts students from dozens of countries so you certainly have a chance of going but you’re going to need to be really, really great to be included in the incoming class -— this is one institution that can afford to be picky.

The college is also connected to the University of London which can come in handy if you’re looking to study something other than music (in addition to becoming a serious artist, of course).


8. Royal College of Music

Location: London, UK
Founded: 1882
Notable Alumni: Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer and impresario of musical theatre), James Horner (composer, conductor, and orchestrator of film scores), Vanessa-Mae (violinist).



Speaking of London, if you don’t get into the Royal Academy of Music, there are other options in that great city and the second one on your list should absolutely be the Royal College of Music. The two similarly-named universities are part of the ABRSM (the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music), four wonderful educational institutions in the U.K. dedicated to teaching the art of performance.

Only two of the four are located in London, which is where you probably want to live if you’re moving to the country for college. In addition to actually helping people become better musicians, the Royal College of Music does a lot of research into all things related to performance, which further influences teaching methods and how live events are staged and buildings are created.


9. Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University

Location: Bloomington, IN
Founded: 1921
Notable Alumni: Joshua Bell (violinist and conductor), Carl Broemel (rock musician, guitarist, saxophonist and singer)



It may not be quite as impressive as some other schools on this list and it doesn’t carry the same reputation to one day help you get noticed by employers simply because of a famous name but the Jacobs School of Music, which is based at Indiana University, offers the greatest chance of acceptance for many up-and-coming artists. Many of the universities I’ve already mentioned only admit a small group of new applicants every year, while the Jacobs School has almost 2,000 students at any given time.

As a public university, this option is often offered at a lower price than many private choices, especially for those from the region.


10. Mannes School of Music

Location: New York City, NY
Founded: 1916
Notable Alumni: Burt Bacharach (composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist)



Another New York City school, I know — but there’s a reason why so many of these colleges are located in the Big Apple!

While it may be difficult to make a go of being a professional musician in America’s largest metropolis, it also happens to be where the majority of the music industry is focused. Students at the Mannes School of Music benefit not only from excellent Professors who typically have decades of experience, but from being just a subway ride away from countless opportunities for internships, jobs, and places to perform whenever they like.

Also, as part of the New School, which houses fellow artistic college Parsons (known as one of the best in the fashion world), there are plenty of facilities and faculty who will be willing to help in whatever way possible when it comes to making you a success.

“New York City is to music what Los Angeles is to acting — you’ll be just a small fish in a big pond but at least you’re in the right pond to begin with.”

Honorable Mentions

Thankfully, there aren’t just 10 great music schools in the world, there are dozens. If you don’t get into the locales listed above, or if you simply want to broaden your search as you kick things of.

Here are 10 more institutions worthy of looking at as well:

  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music – San Francisco, CA
  • Boston Conservatory at Berklee – Boston, MA (yes, another school within the larger Berklee institution)
  • The Johns Hopkins University – Peabody Institute, Baltimore, MD
  • Cleveland Institute of Music – Cleveland, OH
  • Northwestern University – Bienen School of Music, Evanston, IL
  • Oberlin College – Oberlin Conservatory, Oberlin, OH
  • Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, Paris, FRANCE
  • University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music – Rochester, NY
  • Guildhall School of Music & Drama – London, UK
  • Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, NORWAY


The 10 most impressive concert halls in the world

There are a lot of ways of enjoying your favourite music, but we all know there’s nothing like an unforgettable life performance of your favourite artist. Outdoor concerts might be a bit more fun but if you truly want a unique experience, you should totally go to a concert in one of the world’s most famous concert halls.

With perfect acoustics and a unique atmosphere, these are the 10 most impressive concert halls in the world.

10. The Helix, Dublin, Ireland

The Helix was built back in 2002 and has three auditoriums entitled The Space, The Mahony Hall and The Theatre as well as a conference room and an exhibition space. The venues can interchange their seats to adapt for any event, hosting anything from ice shows to rock concerts and of course, classical music events. Designed by Polish architect Andrzei Wejchert, it received the Opus Building of the Year Award in 2003 due to the stunning contrast of glass and granite with an open void that brings light throughout the interior from the roof.

9. Carnegie Hall, New York City, USA

Even if it doesn’t have its own orchestra, the Carnegie Hall is still one of the most important concert halls in the world and has gathered a history of impressive performances since its first opening in 1891. It was funded by Andrew Carnegie and it has three performance spaces: The Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage, the Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall and the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Recital Hall. Among the artists who performed here are Fritz Kreisler, Pablo Casals, Richard Strauss, Camille Saint-Saens, Sergei Rachmaninoff or Gustav Mahler to name but a few.

8. Sydney Opera House, Australia

One of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Sydney Opera House was designed by Jorn Utzon in 1957 after winning a competition with 233 designs entered. Completed in 1973, there are seven performance venues that host no less than 1,500 performances each year and have 1.2 million people attending. The four most important resident companies are the Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In June 2007 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


7. National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, China

The Giant Egg, as it is also called due to its form, was designed by the French architect Paul Andreu and its highly modern aesthetic was quite scandalous due to the place where it is located, between the Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People and the Forbidden City. Still its simple beauty was too perfect to be disclosed and the inaugural concert took its place in 2007. There are three performance halls with a lake surrounding them. The main entrance is through an underwater hallway and it has almost 12,000 square meters in surface.

6. Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, had a vision of a concert hall that would promote the appreciation of the Arts and Sciences with museums surrounding it and other places of learning – that’s how this beautiful building was born on the northern edge of South Kensington. With a capacity of up to 5,272 seats, the hall was opened on March 29, 1871 and since 1941 it hosts the Proms (Henry Wood Promenade Concerts) concerts, the largest classical music concert in the world.

5. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA

With the signature aesthetic of Frank Gehry, this building surely stands out in the city. But the genius of the designer didn’t just settle for a stunning building, he paid careful attention to its acoustics with the aid of Yasuhisa Toyota. Opened in 2003, the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic called it “one of the most successful grand openings of a concert hall in American history”. Another jewel inside the Walt Disney Concert hall is its concert organ that was completed in 2004 with a facade designed by Frank Gehry in collaboration with the organ builder Manuel Rosales.


4. Boston Symphony Hall, USA

This charming building was built for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1900 and it was actually the first concert hall ever built on scientific acoustical engineering. It has a 1.9 second reverberation time which is considered ideal for orchestral performances and each seat was designed to offer the ideal sound. You could truly say that this is when concert hall design became science due to a physics professor from Harvard, Wallace Clement Sabine.

3. Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Designed by Adolf Leonard van Gendt, the constructions of this jaw dropping building started in 1883 and it opened in April 1888 with an inaugural concert of 120 musicians and a chorus of 500 singers. There are 900 concerts each year with 700,000 people coming to see them, making it one of the most visited halls in the world. It hosts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and its reverberation time of 2.2 seconds with audience makes it ideal for the late Romantic repertoire but quite unsuitable for amplified music like rock concerts. Aside from the Main Hall there is also an oval shaped Recital Hall for chamber music with 437 seats.

2. Berlin Philharmonie, Germany

Designed by Hans Scharoun, the Berlin Philharmonie opened in October 1963 with the Symphony N0.9 of Beethoven conducted by none other than Herbert von Karajan who would be the longest serving principal conductor here. The Main Hall has 2,440 seats and there is also a chamber music hall with 1,180 seats which was added a couple of years later. Built to replace the former Philharmonie which was bombed during the Second World War, the mesmerizing concert hall brought accidental advances into acoustics due to its vineyard terracing, breaking its audience into blocks so that the walls intervening would reflect more sound from the sides.

1. Wiener Musikverein in Vienna, Austria

The Wiener Musikverein is one of the oldest operas in the world with the construction starting in 1863. It has a neoclassical design penned down by Theophil Hansen who took his inspiration from the ancient Greek temples. With two gorgeous concert halls, the Golden Hall which includes 1,744 seats and a standing room for 300, plus a chamber music hall, the Opera in Vienna has been the place where classical music blossomed. The Golden Hall has a a pipe organ built by Friedrich Ladegast on which the first recital was held by none other than Anton Bruckner in 1872.

10 Celebrities Who Play Musical Instruments

Music is such a big part of our lives. It is something that is universal and everyone enjoys from every culture. I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t hear some type of song playing. Music is a big thing that connects us all together.

A recent piece in the New York Times suggests that learning music as a child often correlates with professional success later in life. There are many possible explanations for the relationship between music and professional success, but in any case, music appears to have paid off for these celebrities!

Among other benefits, learning music promotes patience, discipline, self confidence and creativity.  Many of the most famous celebrities play musical instruments and today we will reveal 10 of those amazing artists who you probably didn’t know that could play musical instruments at a professional level!

1. Clint Eastwood

Did you know that Clint Eastwood is an accomplished pianist? Before he made it big as an actor, he reportedly intended to pursue a career in music. He’s also a skilled composer, and he composed the film scores of several of the movies he directed, including Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Changeling, and Hereafter.


2. Hugh Laurie

The House actor apparently began piano lessons at age 6, and he also sings and plays the guitar, drums, harmonica and saxophone. He has also released two blues and jazz albums since 2010. Here, he performs at the ‘Evening with Ray Kennedy and Friends’ hosted by the Guitar Center Music Foundation at the Avalon on March 14, 2006.

3. Condoleezza Rice

Rice began taking piano lessons as a teenager and reportedly dreamed of becoming a concert pianist. While her career took a different turn, she still plays piano often, and she had the chance to accompany renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the 2002 National Medal of Arts Awards. Here, she performs with the Philadelphia Orchestra on July 27, 2010.

4. Ryan Gosling

Gosling formed the indie rock band Dead Man’s Bones with his friend Zach Shields, and he apparently sings and plays piano, guitar, bass guitar, and cello. Here, he performs with Dead Man’s Bones at the FYF Fest 2010 in Los Angeles, Calif.

5. Woody Allen

The actor and director is a skilled clarinetist and performs weekly at a small jazz venue in Manhattan. Here, he plays with his New Orleans jazz band in Berlin, Germany in 2004.


6. Richard Gere

The actor excelled at the trumpet in high school, and he reportedly played his own cornet solos in the 1984 film The Cotton Club. He also sang and played piano in the movie.

7. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves was a member of the alternative rock group Dogstar from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. The actor played bass guitar and also sang backing vocals. Here, he performs with Dogstar at Irving Plaza in New York City on July 7, 2000.


8. Johnny Depp

Depp is an accomplished guitarist and played slide guitar on Oasis’s 1997 song “Fade In-Out.” He played acoustic guitar in Chocolat and on the soundtrack to Once Upon a Time In Mexico, and he’s appeared a handful of music videos, making a cameo as the Mad Hatter in Avril Lavigne’s 2010 “Alice.” Above, he performs with Marilyn Manson during the 2012 Revolver Golden Godes Awards Show.


9. Jennifer Garner

The actress was a band geek in high school! She played saxophone and “was proud of it,” she told People. But, she says, “I picked it up again a couple of years ago, and I sound God-awful now!”


10. Steve Martin

Martin reportedly picked up the banjo as a teenager, and went on to become an accomplished player. His banjo rendition of Earl Scruggs’s remake of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” won a Grammy in 2002 for Best Country Instrumental Performance. He also plays regularly at jazz festivals, and has even played Carnegie Hall with the bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers. Here, he performs at Club Nokia in 2009.





Why Practice Piano Scales (Importance of Piano Technique)

The benefits of practicing technique—and how to make it fun!

Scales, triads, arpeggios…these piano technical exercises can feel boring, even useless. Why practice monotonous scales when there are so many cool songs to play?

Technical exercises for all instruments do have a purpose. In fact, they’re so important that we’ve decided to talk about it to help our students understand the benefits.

This article will include two parts:

       1.The benefits of practicing good piano technique; and

      2.How to practice piano technique in a way that doesn’t feel dull!

Let’s get started!

Benefits of Good Piano Technique

Mastering your piano scales and technique goes a long way. You’ll reap benefits such as:

  • Staying physically comfortable at the piano
  • Improving your hand independence
  • Playing and learning faster
  • Being more confident at improv

Let’s break down these benefits.

Proper Posture keeps you comfortable at the Piano

Piano can be physically demanding. Sore shoulders, aching forearms, and cramped fingers are common complaints.

But playing the piano should be comfortable and painless. The less discomfort you experience, the more motivated you’ll be at practicing and progressing. Technique and proper posture at the piano will support this.

Physical comfort is so important that we must begin our practice time warming-up our fingers to get familiar with the instrument and make sure we have good posture.

Remember these key points:

  • Don’t slouch!
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. If you can’t reach the floor, use a stack of books or a footrest.
  • Sit close enough to the piano that your knees come just under the keyboard.
  • Relax your arms and gently bend them at the elbow.

Stretch before you play and stretch in between songs. If you’re practicing for a long time, take breaks!

Good technique improves your hand independence

Hand independence is a fundamental part of playing the piano. But it can feel tricky and unnatural, especially for beginners.

One of the first hand independence challenges you’ll face as a new pianist is scales. Playing scales hands together is tough! You’re playing the same notes an octave apart, but not using the same fingers. You have to keep track of when to tuck under or cross over, but your hands won’t be doing so at the same time.

It’s a lot to coordinate! So, take it step by step.

Soon, tucking under and crossing over will feel second-nature, and you’ll be more adept at playing scales hands together.

Once you master scales, take it to the next level with contrary motion exercises.

Good technique enables you to play and learn faster

Obviously, when it comes to fast runs and impressive licks, having your scales down pat will improve your finger speed.

But triad and chord practice also help with learning new songs.

Practicing chords forces you to get familiar with chord shapes. And practicing chord inversions will help you quickly identify, play, and build chord progressions.

Patterns in music – Music is made up of patterns. Patterns like chord inversions, arpeggios, and scales are hiding in all your pieces. Knowing how to identify these patterns will make it easier and faster to learn to play them.

Once you know chords, chord inversions, and basic chord progressions like the back of your hand, improvising gets easier too. A solid understanding of chord progressions—and all the different ways you can play chords (inversions, broken, arpeggios, etc.)—will give you a strong foundation to learn how to improvise.

As pianists, we shouldn’t just practice scales and arpeggios, up and down, up and down. We need to apply our knowledge.

How to Make Piano Scales and Technique FUN

Scales, arpeggios, and Hanon exercises have existed for generations, and they work, but they’re not always fun.

But even old-school classical music offers innovative alternatives. Many composers wrote études (French for “studies”): short pieces designed to develop technique. Many of these are beautiful and far from boring on their own. They may especially appeal to younger musicians. Some Etudes are so charming and beautiful on their own, we don’t even realize we are developing speed, flexibility, and coordination by playing them!

Here are some ideas that could help you spice up your practice:

  1. Improve hand independence with some blues piano. With its syncopated rhythms, blues piano is a fun way to master that tricky thing that is hand independence!
  2. Make scale practice fun by adding in chord progressions.
  3. Once you master a few scales, challenge yourself with a few piano speed drills. Learn a variety of drills to keep things interesting.
  4. Practice chords by paying attention to chord shape and build chord progressions based on the keys you’re learning. Since similar chord progressions are the building blocks to many pop songs, mastering this will set you up for life.
  5. Continue learning songs while you practice technique. You’ll soon spot patterns in new songs that you’ll recognize from practicing technique. 

As important as it is to practice your scales, enjoying piano is even more important! If technical exercises make you miserable, you’re less likely to practice them. The trick is to find technical exercises that work for YOU. So, take your time, explore, and remember to be kind to yourself. Technique doesn’t happen overnight!

About Piano Technique Made Easy

There are 12 major keys and 12 minor keys in Western music. If you practice scales, arpeggios, triads, and chords for each key, that’s a lot to practice!

It’s daunting and we get it! That’s why in our Piano Lessons we’ve organized technical exercises like triads, scales, and arpeggios by key from easiest (C major and A minor) to most difficult (B major and G# minor).

Give yourself the time and space to learn each key slowly and deliberately. Learn a new key each day or each week at your own pace. Try different exercises. Overall: HAVE FUN!

The Importance of Music in Early Childhood Development

Most preschoolers love listening or singing along to music. Studies show that parents who create a rich musical environment do not only entertain their kids but also help them to develop essential music skills.

Music plays a very important part in our culture. When thinking about everyday life, music is present in a variety of social and educational activities. We listen to music on TV or when we go to the movies. Most governmental ceremonies include a component of music while we use songs to celebrate birthdays or to worship god. Given this importance of music, it is no surprise that parents use music instinctively to express joy, and to engage or calm their children.

What Children Learn from Being Exposed to Music

Research undertaken by a team of researchers in the 1990s showed that the exposure to music from early childhood onwards helps children to speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary, and strengthen social and emotional skills. The psychologist Howard Gardner already argued in 1983 that music intelligence is as important as logical and emotional intelligence. This is because music has the ability to strengthen the connection between the body and brain to work together as a team. For instance, when dancing and moving to music, children develop better motor skills whereas singing along to a song helps them to practise their singing voice. In general, the exposure to music supports children in their development process to learn the sound of tones and words.

Music and Early Childhood Development

Many studies have investigated the importance of music in early childhood development since the 1950s. Two facts that are widely accept are that children do not express music in the same way as adults and that the years from birth to the age of six is the most important period for a child’s musical development. This is because even the youngest toddlers receive the tones of music and unintentionally differentiate in frequency, melody and stimuli. According to researchers, the early years of childhood are critical to learn to unscramble the tones of music and to build up a mental organization system to memorize the music. This means that, like language development, toddlers develop their musical skills through imitating and memorizing rhythms and tones of songs such as clapping to a beat and singing in tune. Without this ability children would not be able to develop their musical skills.

However, this ability to develop musical skills is influenced by positive and negative factors. Therefore, sufficient stimulation and exposure to music and musical play is necessary to help children to turn their potential into actual musical growth. In terms of instruction, the most typical negative influence on developing musical growth is when parents are not musically orientated and do not actively expose their kids to music.

Parents’ Important Role in Musical Education

Parents play the most important role in musical education when it comes to expanding a child’s musical horizon. For many years, researchers have been pointing out that children whose families are more musically orientated are considerably more developed in their musical behaviour than children who experience a less musically orientated environment. Research undertaken by Kelley and Sutton-Smith explains this situation well with clear examples: the two researchers developed case studies that followed the early childhood years of three girls whose families had different musical backgrounds. While the parents of the first girl were professional musicians, the parents of the second girl practiced music from a non-professional background. Finally, the third girls’ parents made the least musically orientated choices due to their own non-musical background. The researchers’ findings suggest that there was a major difference between the two families who exposed their girls to a varying degree of music and the family who did not engage in integrating musical education at all. They concluded that a rich musical environment at home fosters a child’s exposure to music and improves a child’s music ability. Further research also indicates that parents develop a stronger bond to their children when they enjoy music together. This way music is not only a tool that contributes to the growth and development of a child but it also helps the family to spend quality time and have fun.

The Grand Finale

Since there is no negative consequence to the idea to connect children with music, it is an activity that parents can enjoy with their children as often as possible. Even if the regular dose of listening to classical music is not likely to result in sudden ability improvements, it has a positive impact on a child’s rhythm, movement, and social and listening skills in the long run. Additionally, there are many short-term benefits. Listening to music can be calming, entertaining and fun for parents and children. In this sense, it does not matter whether the setting is a quiet room with a parent or a busy outside or inside music class with other children as long as the youngsters enjoy it.


Interesting facts about composer Astor Piazzolla

The 4 July 1992 died Astor Piazzolla, one of the most important composers of the 20th century. The musician died in Buenos Aires, after suffering more than a year the effects of a stroke.

Among its more than 500 compositions, he left for posterity pieces like Verano porteño, Libertango, Balada para un loco and Adios Nonino. These pieces were and are performed today by many artists from around the world.

Its avant-garde style generated endless discussions between orthodox tango, who felt that his music did not respect gender. These polemics still persist in discussions of a bar. However, the own weight of his work transcended any attempt loosely label.

With everything, Piazzolla’s story had several elements not so well known. Then, some interesting facts about his life and work.

Childhood And Early Life

Argentine tango composer, famed bandoneon player and one of the greatest exponents of the Argentinean musical genre, Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla was born on March 11, 1921, in Mar del Plata, Argentina to his Italian immigrant parents Assunta Manetti and Vicente Piazzolla.

His childhood in the United States

In 1925, his parents left Argentina and moved to Greenwich Village in New York City, United States of America.

It was not an ideal place for residence at that time being occupied by a mixture of notorious outlaws and industrious settlers. Astor soon found himself on the streets supposed to take his own care, his parents most of the time being away working long hours. From his early childhood days, he developed a liking for tango music by listening to his father’s collection of music records especially the tango orchestras of Julio de Caro and Carlos Gardel. In 1929, his father purchased a bandoneon after having spotted it in a New York pawn shop. This would help him relieve his nostalgia for Argentina.

Astor Piazzolla began playing bandoneon after that and soon became an expert bandoneon player. In 1930, Astor’s family moved to a better residential area called Little Italy in Lower Manhattan after having returned to the New York City post a brief visit to Mar del Plata. Astor went on to compose his first tango ‘La Catinga’ in 1932.

He was introduced to classical music under the tutelage of Hungarian born classical pianist Bela Wilda, who taught him to play Bach on the bandoneon. In 1934, he appeared in a small part in the movie ‘El día que me quieras’ produced by Carlos Gardel, one of the most important and prominent figures in the history of tango music.

Destiny played its part in favour of Astor Piazzolla when he could not accompany Gardel on his tour due to his father’s stubborn refusal to allow him to accept Gardel’s invitation. Gardel and his entire musical entourage were wiped out from the world by an unfortunate plane crash during the continuation of their tour in 1935.

Musical Career

Astor Piazzolla and his family finally returned to Mar del Plata in 1936 after having spent 11 years in the United States. He began playing a number of different variations of tango orchestra immediately after landing in his home country Argentina. In 1938, he moved to the Argentinean capital city of Buenos Aires and joined the group of bandoneonist Anibal Troilo the following year.

The bandoneonist orchestra of Troilo gradually became one of the greatest tango orchestras of that time, and Astor Piazzolla played a significant part in its development as the fourth bandoneonist, occasional piano player and arranger of the musical ensemble. Within the next 3-4 years, he found himself in a financially comfortable position earning an adequate income working with the said orchestra.

Astor Piazzolla took further lessons in music having taken a five-year-long duration of music studies under renowned Argentine classical music composer Alberto Ginastera. He also took piano lessons under Argentine classical pianist Raúl Spivak for another five years starting from 1943 onwards.

Thus, he enriched and enhanced his musical skills to a formidable level and began using these newly acquired artistic skills in his future compositions. He composed his first classical work; Preludio No. 1 for Violin and Piano and Suite for Strings and Harps soon afterwards.

In 1944, Astor left the orchestra of Troilo and joined the ensemble of another tango singer and bandoneonist Francisco Fiorentino. He remained a part of this group until 1946 and created many song recordings with the group including his first two instrumental songs; La chiflada and Color de rosa.

Astor Piazzolla formed his own orchestra, Orquesta Típica in 1946 and started experimenting with the musical contents of tango concerning his own approach towards orchestration. He soon came out with a new form of tango with some modification over the style of traditional tango and named it Nuevo Tango. By 1955, he revolutionized this unique style of tango by incorporating and blending elements of jazz and classical music in it.

Astor is regarded as one of the world’s leading composer of tango music and the greatest exponent of the traditional Argentinian musical genre. He successfully experimented with the fusion of all three musical genres with his newly formed group of Quinteto Nuevo Tango during the 1970s.

Check one of the live performances of this excellent band:

The 25 best Canadian classical pianists

In Canada, we punch well above our weight, piano-wise. When we started compiling a list of the greatest Canadian classical pianists, we thought that maybe we could highlight 10 of the best pianists this country has ever produced. However, within minutes we discovered that 10 was nowhere near enough. Our list grew to 15, 20, and finally to a nice, round 25. We totally could have kept going!

The musicians in the list below have made dozens of classic recordings. They’ve astonished audiences in Canada and abroad, and they’ve proven themselves in a variety of musical settings: solo recitals, concerto programs and chamber music. Their repertoire ranges from the core classics of Beethoven and Bach, to contemporary Canadian music, to compositions that nobody would ever have heard if these pianists hadn’t dug it up.

Here we go!

25. Mario Bernardi

Known as one of Canada’s most eminent conductors — founder of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, longtime music director of the CBC Radio Orchestra — but Mario Bernardi had a pretty substantial piano career, too. Look no further than his recordings with Canadian violinist Steven Staryk for proof that Bernardi’s talents extended well beyond the podium. — Matthew Parsons

Recording: Prokofiev: Violin Sonatas 

Mario Bernardi (Harry Palmer)
Mario Bernardi (Harry Palmer)

24. Eve Egoyan

Classical music ought to have a sense of adventure, and Eve Egoyan certainly does. One of this country’s most respected contemporary music interpreters, Egoyan is willing to take on anything, from improvisation to electronics to whatever the next crazy thing may be. And not only that: she can also make lovely music at the piano. That’s crucial. — M.P.

Recording: Southam: Simple Lines of Enquiry 

Duet for Solo Piano EVE EGOYAN by Su Rynard
EVE EGOYAN by Su Rynard

23. Valerie Tryon

Over the course of her 50-plus-year career, Valerie Tryon has amassed a discography that’s astonishing in both size and variety. She’s recorded pretty much everything by Chopin and Debussy, and a quite impressive chunk of Liszt’s oeuvre as well. Her repertoire extends back to Scarlatti, and outwards to Busoni and the Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott. Seemingly, there is nobody she hasn’t played. — M.P.

Recording: Chopin: Scherzos & Ballades (CBC Records)

Valerie Tryon

22. Michael McMahon

The “ne plus ultra” of collaborative pianists, Michael McMahon attracts top vocal recitalists not only because of his skills at the keyboard, but also due to his deep knowledge of repertoire, languages and performance style. He has been central to the careers of soprano Karina Gauvin, mezzo-soprano Catherine Robbin, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux and bass-baritone Philippe Sly. — Robert Rowat

Recording: Schulich in Concert: Matthew Treviño and Michael McMahon

Michael McMahon

21. Robert Silverman

He’s the dean of Canadian pianists, a highly respected pedagogue and performer of rare insight with an extensive discography — more than 30 CDs and a dozen LPs including the complete sonata cycles of Beethoven and Mozart — and an unquenchable musical curiosity. Born in Montreal, Robert Silverman made his debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal at the tender age of 14 and never looked back. He spent 30 years teaching at UBC and today maintains a staggering schedule of recording and concert performances. —Denise Ball

Recording: Beethoven – Emperor Concerto

Robert Silverman

20. William Aide

Glenn Gould called him one of “the most inventive and imaginative pianistic talents of our time.” He’s been described as a “genius, a sorcerer, a creator of sonic perfume.” He’s a collaborative pianist in great demand, not to mention a highly regarded poet. Born in Timmins, Ont., Aide has played concerts around the world and nurtured a generation of aspiring musicians at the University of Toronto. Along the way, he’s also been a big champion of Canadian music, performing at least 30 premieres, including five piano concertos. — D.B.

Recording: Chopin: Etudes (CBC Records)

William Aide

19. Jane Coop

Jane Coop flew out of the gate with a series of wins at big international competitions before she was barely 20. Since then she’s been a beloved teacher at the University of British Columbia, a collaborative pianist of rare sensitivity, a powerful interpreter of contemporary concerto repertoire and one of the most thoughtful and articulate pianists in Canada. — D.B.

Recording: The Romantic Piano, volume 1 

Jane Coop

18. Louise Bessette

It takes a pianist of some distinction to play the music of Olivier Messiaen well — and Louise Bessette’s Messiaen performances are as powerful as anybody’s. Her performances of challenging works like Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus have living composers scrambling to write music for her. — M.P.

Recording: Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus 

Louise Bessette

17. Alain Lefèvre

Among the top-selling classical artists in Canada, Alain Lefèvre spent his formative years in Paris, where he continues to concertize. He has championed the music of 20th-century Quebec composer André Mathieu to wide acclaim and was interviewed by Charlie Rose about it. Lefèvre is especially drawn to music that suits his romantic and effusive personality: Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Liszt. — R.R.

Recording: Mathieu, Gershwin, Rachmaninov: Rhapsodies 

Alain Lefèvre

16. Marek Jablonski

Jablonski, who died in 1999 at the age of 59, was a mercurial performer with a particular flair for Chopin. Born in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1939, Jablonski grew up in Edmonton before launching an international career. He later became an influential teacher and a mentor to a generation of outstanding Canadian pianists. This is a pianist with the soul of a poet. —D.B.

Recording: Chopin 

Marek Jablonski

15. Christina Petrowska-Quilico

Contemporary music demands a particularly extraordinary sort of musician: one who can meet the ever-mounting technical demands imposed by today’s composers, and who is willing to try things that have never been done before. Christina Petrowska-Quilico is one of those musicians — possibly the most respected one in Canada. Many of the greatest Canadian composers of recent times — Ann Southam, Violet Archer, John Weinzweig — have Petrowska-Quilico to thank for bringing their music to our ears. — M.P.

Recording: Southam: Glass Houses Revisited 

Christina Petrowska-Quilico

14. David Jalbert

If David Jalbert isn’t a household name, it’s because he conducts his career entirely on his own terms. He plays with intelligence and exquisite taste and chooses repertoire about which he has something new and significant to say, whether it’s Fauré’s Nocturnes, Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues, or chamber music by Poulenc, Ives and Rachmaninoff. — R.R.

Recording: Shostakovich: Preludes and Fugues 

David Jalbert

13. Stewart Goodyear

When Stewart Goodyear played all 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven in a single day at Toronto’s 2012 Luminato Festival, we started to wonder if there’s anything he can’t do. He brings “phenomenal technique, poise and attention to detail” to wide-ranging repertoire and has also made a name for himself as a composer. — R.R.

Recording: Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas

Stewart Goodyear

12. Jamie Parker

Best known for his work with Gryphon Trio, Jamie Parker is your man if you need a great pianist with a can-do attitude. Whether he’s giving a piano six-hands concert with his brother Jackie and cousin Ian, or playing in the orchestra pit for the video game musical Zelda, he’s up for the challenge. Also, aspiring pianists are flocking in droves to his studio at the University of Toronto. — R.R.

Recording: Mendelssohn, Lalo: Piano Trios 

Jamie Parker

11. Jan Lisiecki

At 19 years old, Jan Lisiecki ought not to be anywhere close to a list like this. And yet, he’s already established himself as one of Canada’s foremost musical exports. Lisiecki is no ordinary prodigy: his playing is as refined and expressive as some pro musicians twice his age. As of 2015, we’re slotting him in at a respectable number 11. Let’s reconvene in 2020 and see whether anybody alive can touch him. — M.P.

Recording: Mozart: Concertos

Jan Lisiecki

10. André Laplante

To witness a performance by André Laplante is to be transported back to the days of Chopin and Liszt, when concert pianists were greeted by the public as rock stars. Passionate, intense, mercurial — his playing never fails to excite. He takes risks; it pays off. While Laplante excels at virtuosic solo repertoire, he also makes a rock-solid chamber musician. — R.R.

Recording:Nuages gris · André Laplante · Franz Liszt

André Laplante

9. Arthur Ozolins

Arthur Ozolins burst onto the Canadian classical music scene in the early 1960s. The Latvian-born virtuoso, who arrived in Toronto via Argentina in 1958, came with dazzling technique and genuine charisma. He’s appeared with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra more than 50 times and won Canada’s first Juno Award for best classical recording. He built an international fan club thanks to concerts with leading orchestras all over the world. — D.B.

Recording: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 (1st movement): Arthur Ozolins-pianist

Arthur Ozolins

8. Angela Cheng

Since winning first prize at the 1988 Montreal International Music Competition — she was the first Canadian to do so — Angela Cheng has led a distinguished career as a recitalist, concerto soloist, teacher and recording artist. Known especially for her Mozart, which glows, she’s also got the chops to dazzle in flashier works by Shostakovich and Chopin. — R.R.

Recording: Giora Schmidt – Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 5 “Spring” with Angela Cheng

Angela Cheng

7. Jon Kimura Parker

Since his auspicious debut with the Vancouver Youth Orchestra at age five, Jon Kimura Parker has been going from strength to strength. These past two years have been especially good to him. His 2013 recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring — in his own transcription — stands as one of the greatest piano performances of that work. This year’s followup disc, Fantasy, earned similarly effusive reviews. Parker’s so hot right now that even the Police’s Stewart Copeland had to work with him, and that is a frankly astonishing pairing that we’re anxious to hear more from. — M.P.

Recording: Rite

Jon Kimura Parker

6. Louis Lortie

One of Canada’s most internationally recognized pianists, Louis Lortie can seemingly do anything. He cemented his reputation with brilliant recordings of Chopin, Liszt and Beethoven. In the last decade, he’s branched out to record works by Gershwin, Lutoslawski and Szymanowski. He even took up conducting for a recording of Mendelssohn concertos with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec. And he’s managed to fit it all into a busy schedule of international touring. — M.P.

Recording: Chopin: 24 Preludes 

Louis Lortie

5. Janina Fialkowska

The great pianist Arthur Rubinstein once referred to Janina Fialkowska as “a born Chopin interpreter.” There is no more valuable endorsement in the piano world. Far from a one-trick pony, Fialkowska has put her talents to the service of a wide variety of music, from Mozart to Mozetich. She’s been well received in concerts all over the world, and her recordings — especially those of Chopin and Liszt — are widely regarded as top-shelf material. — M.P.

Recording: Chopin: Piano Concertos

Janina Fialkowska

4. Anton Kuerti

Kuerti has done more than almost anybody to enrich musical life in Canada. Aside from his famous performances in small communities that don’t often attract such high-profile artists, he has also founded, curated and directed an impressive range of classical music festivals and concert series. With all of those extra-curriculars, it’s hard to imagine how he ever had time to produce his vast body of excellent recordings. — M.P.

Recording: Beethoven: The Complete Sonatas and Diabelli Variations

Anton Kuerti

3. Angela Hewitt

Nobody plays Bach like Hewitt. Throughout the late ’90s and early ’00s, she recorded all of Bach’s keyboard music, which is a miraculous accomplishment in itself. Those recordings became instant Bach benchmarks, ensuring Hewitt’s place among the greatest musicians of our time. Plus, once you’ve been through all of the Bach, there’s the Beethoven. And the Mozart. And the Messiaen. — M.P.

Recording: Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier 

Angela Hewitt

2. Marc-André Hamelin

Nothing compares to the thrill of hearing a true virtuoso play music that seems impossible without breaking a sweat. Marc-André Hamelin might be the most technically astonishing pianist alive. While it would be easy to characterize him as Canadian piano music’s stuntman-in-residence, there’s far more to Hamelin than flash. He absolutely shines on his Haydn recordings — among the best in recent memory. Plus, he’s a tireless champion of lesser-known repertoire by composers like Rzewski and Busoni. His recording of works by the latter earned him a well deserved Echo Klassik Award in October, for instrumentalist of the year. — M.P.

Recording: Godowsky: The Complete Studies on Chopin’s Etudes

Marc-André Hamelin

1. Glenn Gould

Some orthodoxies just aren’t worth challenging. Of course Glenn Gould is the greatest Canadian classical pianist ever. Why? Because just listen to him.

There’s a good reason why Gould’s reputation extends so far outside of the classical music bubble: he was every bit as unique and iconoclastic as the composers he performed. For better or worse, you know when you’re listening to Gould. And regardless of whether you’re turned off by his interminable humming or his idiosyncratic take on Mozart, every one of Gould’s recordings justifies its existence by being completely unlike everything else out there. And in a genre where all of the bands play the same tunes, that is a remarkable feat. —M.P

Recording: Bach: The Complete Goldberg Variations

Glenn Gould