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Matova Music School

Champaign-Urbana-Savoy, IL  

Matova Music Studios
   Champaign-Urbana-Savoy area IL

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How to find a piano teacher?

Posted by Nelly Matova on September 20, 2017 at 10:55 AM

Occasionally I stumble on adverts like "cheap piano lessons" or teachers offering some deal. Let's think for a minute. Do you look for a cheap dentist? Or surgeon? I suppose you don't, because they can harm you.

Well, it is the same with a piano instructor. While less visible, they can certainly harm your children physiologically. You get only what you pay for.

Who advertises cheap lessons? People without a relevant degree or proper experience, people who need a quick buck and are not interested in a long term commitment to your child, people who have other things on the side and only teach for a hobby. In general, people who should know that they are not expert enough. Do you want a dentist who is actually a singer to fix your teeth? Or do you want a surgeon whose training is as a construction worker?

Well, it is the same in music. You get what you pay for. It is your decision. Most piano teachers have graduate degrees and have studied for decades. This education comes with a high price tag, and they value that. They know stuff. You want one of these teachers.

But what can go so wrong with an amateur teacher, you may ask? For a start, a wrong hand position and uncorrected poor body posture from the beginning can lead to injuries, stiffness, inflamed tendons, and problems with the back and neck. These conditions can slowly creep into the hand and body until it is too late. Then it can take years for a good pedagogue to fix that, if indeed it’s actually possible to fix it. Then there is the matter of the wrong use of the pedal, which I see over and over. Is it worth the initial saving?

But, you may argue, we want just to try, we don't want our child to go professional, only to learn a few melodies. Yes, I know, but it is still the same. You don't get the cheapest surgeon because you need surgery only on one leg, or to operate on your intestines?? Do you go for a cheap botox because it is only on one wrinkle? Yes?? No??!

So: how to go about finding a good professional?

Ask what they have studied. For how long? Keep in mind that if your teacher is a trumpet player and has never played piano, he/she most likely has no idea about hand/body work on the piano, or maybe not in enough detail to work usefully with children and adults. Yes, he/she may know about music or style, but it is not enough.

On the other side, people with a degree in composition, theory, or conducting will have studied piano for decades. Often it is requirement for them in order to study for said degrees. What about teachers with an MA in piano? Excellent choice! On the other hand, please don't go for someone who leads a band, orchestra, etc. and has him/herself only had a few lessons in piano. Be really careful with someone who has a BA in general music education, in general they do not understand the importance of proper piano teaching technique.

Search the internet. Ask to see prospective teachers’ credentials. Go visit the teacher's lessons and talk to parents at the studio. Ask for referrals from friends. But, do not go for adverts for "cheap piano lessons" or " big discount."

Everyone who knows his art got there after years of study, and this is pricey. Value their effort to get there, respect them, and value your money.

Now find your child a seasoned piano teacher. Happy learning, and good luck!

Holiday Gift Certificates

Posted by Nelly Matova on November 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Have you met the people who always said "I need to to this, or that" but they are not organized to do it. Maybe you have friends or relatives who always wanted to learn to play the piano but never found a teacher or bought the music book. Well, you can help. Get them a gift sertificate for one or two lessons. They will try the lessons and will make decision soon. 

Gift ceritificates for piano lessons are good way to introduce someone (child or adult) to the world of sounds. Without any long term plans they will try and fell if its for them. Yes, some home practice is required in order to progress, but if one likes it would enjoy it. After all, don't you need practice to learn how to sweam, dance ballet, learn another language, learn to drive? Is not much different. What is different is that, one can be hooked to play and enjoy music for life. Is there a better Holiday gift? 

What to do? I haven't practiced all summer...

Posted by Nelly Matova on August 19, 2014 at 7:45 PM

Hello dear piano students, 

Yes, you are getting ready for the new school year and suddenly you realize you haven't practiced piano much this summer. What to do???

Resist your first impulse to go and start playing fast to compensate for the lost time.

Start with slow warm-up. Give the hands time to remember what they used to do well (let's hope this was the case!)

Play some scales, SLOW with no force on the hands. 

Then play some easier music you used to play well in the begining of the last semester. 

If it feels fine, then you start working SLOW on your current music. 

Since, you haven't practiced whole summer do not do it for 3 hours now. Clearly, your hands are rusty and need time. 

Practice a few times a day but for a short time (10 min) and gradually move to your standard practicing routine (I hope you had one) in a few days.

If you haven't had a good routine now is the time to find your own best pace. Make your own plan!

Happy practicing and successful new school year. 

Enjoy your new piano performance achievements!


Posted by Nelly Matova on June 6, 2014 at 1:15 PM

You want to learn to play the piano but you don't like to practice. WHAT TO DO?

1. Approach the practicing as a game

2. Set up small practice sessions (10 min. each) two or three times a day. Build a habit .

3. Set up a small goal for each practice. Try to reach your goal in the time you have. Concentrate!

4. PLan your practice time and each time start with different music from your lesson list to avoid boredom.

5. Reward yourself for each goal you reach in your practice. 

6. Finish each practice with something you play well or just have learned. 

7. Remember, all the small practices acumulate over time. Before you know it, you will be playing the piano. 


Take care of your hands

Posted by Nelly Matova on May 23, 2014 at 5:45 PM

These are simple rules to guarantee the health of your hands. 

Wash your hands before you practice.

Always start your practice with warm up.

Always start the warm up playing slow. Remember it is like warming up before running long distance, or warming the car in the winter. NEVER SKIP WARM UP!

Be gentle on your hands. Take 5 min. breaks for every 15 min. of practice (for beginners) and every 20 min. (for intermediate students). For more advanced students with longer practice time: alternate 20 min. practice with 10 min. hands rest.

Best is to split your practice in two smaller daily practices. The results are better. Warm up twice.

If you miss a day of practice, add up the time to the following three days.

Have a system: after warm up one day start with the piece which needs most work, the next day start with the one which needs the least work. Have fun planning your practice!

In the winter: coming from outside give 10 min. time to your hands to adjust to the room temperature and then start your practice.

Use protective hands lotion when outside in the winter and wear gloves.

In the summer: after playing volleyball or basketball, give your hands a rest for at least 45 min. before you start practicing the piano.

Remember: practicing piano gives a great exercise to your hands and brain. Enjoy it.


Express Summer Program

Posted by Nelly Matova on June 28, 2013 at 4:40 PM

The second round of Express Summer Program starts July 1st. With two weekly lessons students really advance fast. Lots of fun playing piano.

Summer Express Program

Posted by Nelly Matova on June 4, 2013 at 11:00 AM

I have started my Summer EXpress Program. Week 1. I am expecting exciting results from the students. Busy time for me too, with two lessonsper week for each student who attends this program.

book recommendation

Posted by Nelly Matova on April 11, 2013 at 2:10 PM

The new book by the famous conductor Ricardo Muti brings the essence of his experience as Verdi performer. For more about this book, please follow the link:


The importance of playing scales and arpeggios

Posted by Nelly Matova on April 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

The classical musicians usually start the practice with scales and arpeggios, followed by etudes. Is this necessary or it is just a mater of routine and old fashion studies? No. No. It is very important for the gradually warming up of the hand. For more detailed explanation, please, refer to the following:


Welcome to Matova Music Studios (MMS) blog

Posted by Nelly Matova on March 29, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Here you will find information about piano performers, piano technique, vocal technique, verious links for publishers of music and more. This blog will update once a week. Happy reading and come back.