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Piano Lesson 34: Mise en Place

By Gaili Schoen April 24, 2024 Hobbies

Welcome to piano lesson 34! Today I discuss the French chef’s term Mise en Place, and how, like a chef’s kitchen, musicians order their practice space to make it organized, efficient, and appealing.

[NOTE: If you are just joining us for the first time, you can find my previous Sixty and Me Free Piano Lessons on my Author pages. You can join our lessons any time and move at your own pace!]

34.1 Mise en Place!

As you will see in my video, I am thrilled to be back in my original teaching space! Here I am able to use my full 88-key keyboard, store all of my music books at arm’s length, have good ventilation and light, have my digital music accessible on my laptop in front of my keyboard, and have some of my favorite things around me.

In this week’s video I discuss Mise en Place, and how you might make your music practice space more organized and pleasing to you.

34.2 Simple Gifts video, p.85-86

Back in Lesson 22, I suggested that you might like to jump ahead to play Simple Gifts for the American Thanksgiving holiday. For Lesson 34, you will either be reviewing Simple Gifts, or playing it for the first time. Read the box at the bottom of p.86, noting that sometimes you can play a full chord, and other times just the root (bottom) of the chord, or a couple notes from the chord.

Here I demonstrate Simple Gifts as written.

34.3 Drink to Me video, p.87

We are playing Drink to Me again (you originally played it on p.46), this time using chord symbols. In the first 2 lines I am playing just the root of each chord with my left hand. In the 3rd and 4th lines I am playing the full C chord, then just the roots of the F and G chords with my LH 2- and 1- fingers, for ease of movement, similar to my left-hand accompaniment in Simple Gifts.

When my left hand doesn’t have to jump around as much, I am likely to make fewer mistakes. However, you might like the sound of the full chords better than the simplified notes, so you can choose how you want to play the chords: the full triad or simplified.

Passion Practice

  1. Exercise #2 (Appendix iii) in F-sharp and D-flat, with hands together.
  2. p.84 – Create a sentence to go with each line of music using the note name as the first letter of each word. The sentences can make sense or be funny or silly. Then play and sing the notes.
  3. Simple Gifts p.85-86 – Play the left hand alone first, then practice with hands together.
  4. Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes, p.87 – Play with hands together and determine whether you will play the full chords, partial chords or just the root of the chords. You can make a note to yourself next to the chord symbol on how you will play it.
  5. Chord Calisthenics #3 – (Appendix vii) Play the Major-minor-Major triads in F-sharp to F with hands together, forward and backward.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you heard of the French culinary phrase, Mise en Place? What does it mean to you? How might you apply the idea of Mise en Place to your practice space? Do you prefer to work in a neat, organized environment, or does messy feel more creative to you? Do you have artwork on the walls or special items near your keyboard in order to make your space pleasurable to you?

Leave a comment below and tell us where you practice and what you would like your practice space to look like! Is there a way you might improve it? For further discussion, please read my Mise en Place blog post!

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The Author

Gaili Schoen is a passionate piano teacher and learning science researcher. She has written a piano instruction series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. Learn more at Follow her blog for free monthly sheet music and practice tips:

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