Beyoncé’s pianist gives 4 quick tips on how to improve your piano playing

21 February 2019
By Ellie Palmer
Rie Tsuji performing live at the Superbowl 2016 Rie Tsuji performing live at the Superbowl 2016
Rie Tsuji’s background in both classical and jazz made her the perfect musician to complete Beyoncé’s all-female band. Now, she passes on some words of wisdom

As a contemporary pianist, it doesn’t get much bigger than touring with Beyoncé. After performing with arguably the biggest star of our generation for over 12 years now, Rie Tsuji has plenty of insight and piano advice to give to pianists that are looking to achieve success in the music industry. Below, she shares her top piano tips for improving yourself as a performer with Pianist


1. Warm-ups and technique exercises are vital

‘I still do play Hanon finger exercises as a warm-up. Start from a slow tempo and slowly make it faster. This always works for me especially at this point in my life. As a mother of a 2-year-old child, it’s really hard to find the time to practice, so I might have a big gap to when I get to play next time. I have to take it easy first for my fingers!’

What are Hanon exercises and how can they help me improve?


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2. Memorise the pieces you will be performing

‘When I try to learn a song, instead of writing it down I always try to memorise it in my head. It takes longer to learn but once you get it, you just remember it forever.'

Mastering Memorisation: Pro advice


3. Try this reharmonization exercise

‘This is a reharmonization exercise. If I choose the note F, I will play F as the top note in my right hand and I will create as many different chords as possible underneath. I’ll keep changing the chords whilst keeping the top note.’


4. You don't always need to fill the space

For a long time, I felt like my playing was all about trying to play the most complicated voicings. There were so many notes and chords and I felt like there was not enough space to breathe. I’m not pleased with my own bad habit! I really wanted to improve this. When I practice soloing, I try not to use my left hand too much. This way, I can really focus on soloing with my right hand without relying on the comping. I want every single note that I play to mean something.’


Read Rie’s full-length interview with Pianist below! She talks about her music education in both Tokyo and Boston, as well as her experiences touring with Beyoncé 👇


Rie Tsuji: The pianist who tours the world with the Queen of RnB

Rie Tsuji talks to Pianist about her experiences touring with Beyoncé, her production studio Riro Muzik, and her piano tips for you...