Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing. Detailed Practice Guide

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
~Lao Tzu

Ilinca Vartic - Practice Guide for Nikolaev's Russian School of Piano PlayingBeginners – are you ready for a new piano adventure? ;D

Learning how to play piano should be an enjoyable journey, not a boring chore -

- and the first step can make all the difference!

‘Arm’ yourself with knowledge and step with confidence on a road full of exciting musical discoveries!

Inspired from your suggestions, I decided to create, especially for you guys, a step-by-step video practice guide based on Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playingthe most important method book for beginners (grades 1-2) that we use in the Russian Piano School.

In each lesson (episode) I’m going to focus on several pieces from this book – analyzing all their expressive and technical challenges and showing you how to practice them for developing all your pianistic skills harmoniously. The difficulty of the pieces increases with each lesson!

So, are you ready to learn the secrets of the Russian piano school? Now they are ‘tailored’ especially for beginners!

The first lesson is an introductory one. On top of giving you detailed practice tips for the first 7 pieces from Nikolaev’s School, I also share with you the fundamental ‘building blocks’ of piano playing – information that all beginners (and their teachers) should know.

Lesson No. 1.

Getting Started. The 3 Main Piano Pillars. The Basic Playing Movements. Picking Out by Ear Easy Melodies. The Basics of Musical Notation.

Video highlights:
1. Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing – a short overview. 0.14
2. The 3 Main Piano Pillars that should be harmoniously combined in a beginner’s practice. 0.56
3. Let’s have fun! Learning the correct posture and key attack while picking out by ear easy melodies. 2.37
5. The Basic Playing Movements. 3.40
6. Piano Fingering. Our Fingers and Their Numbers. 5.58
7. What is non-legato? Practicing Piece No. 6 – Corn-Flower. 6.36
8. The first 7 pieces from Nikolaev’s School: detailed demonstration. 9.26
9. Inventing your own melodies. 13.05
10. Picking out by ear your favorite songs. 14.34
11. Starting to explore the Basics of Musical Notation. 15.11
12. The Main Note Durations: the whole note, the half note and the quarter note. 16.05
13. The Main Time Signatures. 16.46
14. The Basics of Conducting 17.52
15. The Staff and the Clefs. 19.12
16. Conclusion 21.01

At the end of this lesson, I’ll remind you one more time that in every little piece you play, you should try to understand its meaning and character – and to reflect it in your performance! That’s how brilliant playing skills are formed – and this is the first step of the road that leads to amazing expressive and technical achievements and, of course, to lots of joy and fulfillment! ;D 8)

One more thing: Even if this is a project for beginners, it will be useful for piano teachers as well – and for all those pianists who want to correct their basic playing skills and to acquire a new perspective on the fundamentals of piano playing.

Now that you have successfully taken the first step of this new and exciting journey – are you ready to move to the next level?

Become a member of my Piano Coaching Program at PianoCareerAcademy.com and get access to all the other lessons for beginners from this series – and to hundreds of other exclusive piano playing tutorials that reveal the secrets of the Russian piano school! Don’t forget that you’ll also be able to ask me ANY piano question, anytime, and receive personalized, detailed, professional piano guidance! ;)

And now – a little advice:

Taking the first step takes courage. Many people have dreams and goals – but only a few will actually take action for making them come true. Why? Because they’re afraid of the long road ahead. Because they’re afraid of failing. Because they’re afraid of hardships and disappointments.

It’s time for a change of attitude! Instead of being afraid of the future, focus on the present and enjoy the ride!

Being a beginner is a wonderful experience. This is the time when everything is possible! This is the time to be curious, to ask questions and be fascinated by all the unexpected discoveries you make! This is the time to grow, to change, to become a better person and musician! And this is also the time to have fun and ENJOY EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!!!

A journey of unlimited musical possibilities begins today – with this single step that will change your perspective on piano playing and will open before your eyes new piano horizons.

Many new articles and video tutorials are coming soon on PianoCareer.com! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or (and now also on Pinterest!) to get instant updates, support and motivation! ;)

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14 Responses to “Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing. Detailed Practice Guide”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Rafael. Delgado says:

    Dear teacher: Will you please give Us a link to know about the fees for piano beginners interesting to take the piano course. Thank you

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Rafael!

      First, are you using an iPad or a PC? I’ve noticed that for some reason the membership options do not appear on iPads and you have to use a PC for registering for my Piano Coaching Program.

      Here is what you have to do (on a PC):

      Go to the home page on PianoCareerAcademy.com, wait for the video to load and then select a membership option below the video (they appear at about 0.11).

      There are two membership options – monthly and yearly. Once you become a member of the Coaching Program, you’ll have unlimited access to ALL the hundreds of exclusive tutorials posted on the Private Members Forum – including the step-by-step practice guide for beginners.

      After deciding which type of membership you prefer, you’ll be directed towards a Forum Account Creation page, where you’ll have to fill in your username and password. With this information, I will activate your account – and you’ll be able to enjoy all the resources of our forum, ask questions, receive detailed professional answers – and many other useful things! ;)

      If you have other questions, please let me know!

      Best wishes,
      Ilinca

      P.S. Don’t forget to use the discount coupon code! ;)

  2. Mary says:

    Excellent instruction as always. So important, that I wish all beginning students and teachers would watch this tutorial. Thank you, Ilinca!

  3. Kate says:

    Hi Ilinca,

    I’m interested in finding a piano teacher lately. I’m thinking to join your academy. I’d like to know your opinion that if it’s a good idea to just join your academy without a teacher physically by my side to correct my playing.

    My original plan was to find a “physical” teacher, but I find it’s either too expensive for me that I can’t afford or they don’t pay attention to things that I think important. For example, play something too hard for me without first solving my posture and relaxation problems and first play something simpler. This is why I’m thinking to join your academy. But I’m afraid I’d build some bad habits again without a teacher who could watch me and correct me.

    I think I’m something like a beginner or intermediate or in between. Also, I’d really appreciate to know how to have a coupon to register your course. Thank you so much.

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Kate!

      Even if my Piano Coaching Program cannot fully replace a very good, experienced ‘physical’ teacher, it’s certainly better to learn how to play correctly online – than to have a ‘physical’ teacher that does not explain the basics of a correct posture, key attack, arm weight, wrist relaxation and so on (not to mention all the expressive secrets of the Russian piano school that I share on PianoCareerAcademy.com).

      As a member of my Coaching Program you’ll have full access to hundreds of detailed video and written tutorials that will simply transform your entire perspective on piano technique and expression. You’ll also be able to ask me any piano question, anytime – and receive real-time, detailed, personalized answers (often in video form).

      You can also follow the step-by-step Video Practice Guide for Beginners based on Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing (6 detailed lessons are already live and I’m posting a new lesson every week) – this way you’ll learn how to play correctly from scratch, with little steps, building a stable, comfortable, enjoyable pianistic foundation. These lessons will also help you to get rid of any incorrect playing habits you may already have.

      I start from the beginning of this useful method book – and I show in detail how to practice each piece, giving lots of tips about correct posture and key attack, about hearing and expression, meaning and imagination, musical notation and the basics of tone creation – and many other things that any pianist should know. These lessons for beginners can definitely replace a ‘physical’ teacher!

      Also, don’t be afraid about building bad playing habits. In every video that I post on our forum on PianoCareerAcademy.com I always emphasize the importance of playing with correct, relaxed gestures – explaining and demonstrating everything in detail. If you follow my indications, you’ll be safe from any detrimental playing habits! ;)

      And, in case you need more personalized step-by-step coaching, I also offer individual online lessons via Skype – with a 25% discount for the members of the forum! ;) These lessons can replace a physical teacher 100% – because I will be there to correct you as you play, demonstrating what you have to do and explaining why you have to do it.

      Also, as an email newsletter subscriber to PianoCareer.com, you’re entitled to a discount coupon code that will help you to save 10% off you first membership fee (monthly OR yearly) :). I’ll send you an email with the code in a few minutes!

      Cheers,
      Ilinca

  4. Jesus A. Dominguez Jr says:

    I have a piano teacher, who very good with beginners and I enjoy learning from him. What I want to know is what do you think of the Hanon Studies. I first started on the Junior Hanon Studies, which are in 1/8 notes and now doing the original Hanon Studies. I am now in #26. I would be interested in doing the monthy plan as I am 63 and on a fixed monthly income. I have only been playing for a year.

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Jesus!

      In the Russian piano school, we avoid playing Hanon. These exercises may be useful for our technique (nowadays even this benefit is being disputed, because Hanon is focused on the old-school finger-only approach) – but they are boring and they don’t have any expressive value!

      In order to become good pianists, we have to develop all our pianistic skills harmoniously – that’s why it’s better to develop expression and technique simultaneously! After all, let’s not forget that technique is only a means to our main purpose – which is playing expressively, sending a message, making music!

      Finger dexterity is pointless without expression – and developing it separately is most of the time counterproductive.

      In the Russian piano school, we practice scales though – but we play them in a special way that develops not only our finger agility, but also our posture, key attack, arm weight, sound quality and dynamic control.

      We also play lots of Etudes – and many other useful pieces by different composers, which are challenging from a technical AND expressive points of view.

      I can’t describe this entire system in one short reply – but I have good news: you can find detailed systematic video and written tutorials on this and other similar topics on our forum at PianoCareerAcademy.com! ;)

      Plus, you’ll get instant access to a step-by-step Video Practice Guide for Beginners that will help you to acquire professional playing habits from scratch – and to many scores and resources that will considerably enrich your learning experience!

      Feel free to register anytime – you’ll be warmly welcomed by our community! ;)

      Best wishes,
      Ilinca

  5. Loren says:

    Hello,
    If I join your academy, will I be able to download the Russian Method book and other materials, or do I need to purchase? Thanks

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Loren!

      Yes, as a member of PianoCareerAcademy.com, you’ll have unlimited access to ALL the resources of our forum (including many scores – Nikolaev’s Russian Piano School and many many others). Everything is included in the membership fee – and you don’t have to purchase anything else ;).

      Have a great weekend and enjoy your practice,
      Ilinca

  6. Eric says:

    Ms. Vartic,

    Have you instructed pianists who have a goal of playing in ballet studios? If so, what would be your recommendation for a course of study (theory, sight reading, ear training, etc.)? Could you create a structured program to help me reach my objectives? My ability right now is probably beginner to intermediate in terms of what I can play, but I have no education in theory. I am maintaining a realistic approach, and I do not know if I have the skill to learn at the level necessary to work in this area. My idea is to study for a year or two, see what progress I make, then decide if this career is possible and enjoyable. This would be a career change for me. I am a meteorologist who has tired of physical science and would like to become immersed in the arts.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Eric in Houston Texas USA.

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Eric!

      I have never instructed students with the sole purpose of becoming ballet studios accompanists.

      In the Russian system, our studying process is extremely complex – and once we graduate, we can embrace ANY piano job/career we like: we can become teachers, concert pianists, ensemble performers, accompanists etc.

      I currently dedicate my entire time to my Piano Coaching Program at PianoCareerAcademy.com – and creating a special course (free OR paid) for ballet studio accompanists is unfortunately out of the question – there are simply not enough hours in a day!

      However, if you want to learn in depth the professional principles of the Russian piano school, you can always join our Private Members Forum – you will discover hundreds of exclusive video and written tutorials focused on the most important piano playing topics, being structured according to categories and levels. I also share many scores and teaching resources (including unique materials we use in the Russian piano school).

      As a member of my Piano Coaching Program you’ll also have the unique opportunity of following the step-by-step Video Practice Guide for Beginners based on the famous method book “The Russian School of Piano Playing” by Nikolaev.

      The Practice Guide has a progressive structure, starting at the beginning of this useful method book – and I demonstrate how to practice each piece in detail, simultaneously sharing all the fundamentals that any beginner should know for setting a stable, comfortable, enjoyable piano playing foundation: musical notation and theory, correct posture and key attack, the basics of tone creation, relaxation and tension-free ergonomic playing, technique and expression, phrasing and musical analysis, imagination and artistry (to name just a few).

      You’ll acquire important professional skills that you can use for making further progress and reaching your future goals (not to mention that your perspective on piano playing will change for good!) :).

      Good luck ;),
      Ilinca

  7. Although my principal instrument is guitar, my secondary instrument is piano. I have been playing for 35 years, teaching guitar, electric bass, theory, music appreciation for about 13 years. I was initally atracted to the site because of a technique video I saw somewhere on google.

    I have always been drawn towards the style, accuracy and technique of Russian piano, not to mention the dramatic and enticing placement of it’s melodys and harmonys.

    I have looked over Ilinca’s web site and sample material and was refreshingly impressed. It would be my conclusion that pianists of any level would benefit from this method of study and I think that as an instructor Ilinca truly understands the concepts of music and teaches music properly, but ultimately… regardless of the quality of the teacher, true and timely progress lies within the hands of the student. All students of music must work very hard and remain focused to achieve the goal and demands of high musical standards.

    I wish Ilinca, pianocareeracademy.com and all the future students the best of luck on the musical journey!

    P.S. It’s not all hard work, there are some extremely fun moments ;-)

    Douglas Flaherty

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