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The Positive Pianist

How Flow Can Bring Passion to Practice and Performance

Thomas J. Parente

Publication Date - 03 March 2015

ISBN: 9780199316595

150 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Introduces Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow to piano playing


In The Positive Pianist: How Flow Can Bring Passion to Practice and Performance, author Thomas J. Parente applies the concept of flow to the practice of piano playing, demonstrating how student musicians can experience enjoyment and confidence from succeeding at something that challenges them to an engaging level. By using Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's theory of flow to musical performance, Parente shows that linking productivity and enjoyment in piano playing has a positive impact on students, motivating them to practice more in order to experience flow again; this creates optimal learning conditions for piano practicing. As the chapters progress, Parente shows students how to evaluate their own progress and offers teachers the tools to impart on their students an optimal practice method: one informed by flow. Parente argues for an objective, goal-oriented backdrop that will lead piano students to achieve greater confidence, accuracy, and musicality. The Positive Pianist draws on the author's forty years of teaching experience and research to show piano students and their teachers how to develop a productive, focused mental state when practicing the piano.


  • Introduces Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow to piano playing
  • Uses psychological theory to improve music performance and practice
  • Includes companion website with 45 videos

About the Author(s)

Dr. Thomas J. Parente is an Associate Professor of Piano at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and maintains an active studio of private piano students. A frequent clinician, he has presented workshops, courses, and clinics both nationally and internationally.


"This is a well-written, thoughtful treatise on a vital part of our profession, and the language Parente employs befits the intelligence and integrity of the author and his targeted audience. I recommend it for all piano majors." - Tony Caramia, Professor of Piano, Eastman School of Music

"Thomas Parente's focus on research-based learning and positive flow makes The Positive Pianist a unique and welcome addition to the field of piano pedagogy." - Scott McBride Smith, Cordelia Brown Murphy Professor of Piano Pedagogy, School of Music, University of Kansas

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1. Loving What You Do, Doing What You Love

    Chapter 2. Flow Experience

    Chapter 3. Building Skills

    Chapter 4. Combining Flow and Skills

    Chapter 5. Learning a Simple Piece

    Chapter 6. Learning a More Complex Piece

    Chapter 7. Developing the Confidence to Perform

    Chapter 8. Teaching to Flow



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