MIKHAIL NIKS (1935-1996)


Mikhail Niks was a native of St. Petersburg, Russia. He immigrated with his family (wife, Inessa; son, Dimitri; daughter, Marina) to the US in 1979, finally settling in Redlands, California in 1982. Mikhail was an electronic engineer and for several years had studied voice in the vocal studio of Elizabeth Ginsburg in St. Petersburg, who herself was taught by a student of Umberto Masetti (teacher of legendary Russian singer Antonina Nezhdanova). Mikhail studied piano and musicology with Inessa Niks. His research centered on piano technique without tension and led to the development of the principle of the forward force of the shoulder to reduce the exertion of the wrist. In 1989, he invented and patented his first piano device, the “Hand and Wrist Exercising Means,” that demonstrated this principle. In the same year a medical experiment conducted by the Pathokinesiology Department at the Los Amigos Medical Center, Downey, CA tested and approved this principle. Further research focused on the usage of effective finger muscles in piano playing and led to the invention of the second piano device, the “Hand Guide,” in 1991. The “Hand Guide” became an efficient teaching aid for the accomplished tension-free piano technique. For this achievement Mr. Niks was included in the 1992-1993 edition of Who’s Who of American inventors (Hooper Group Publishing) and in 2011 a copy of the “Hand Guide” was acquired by the Robert Schumann Museum in Zwickau, Germany. In 1991, together with Inessa Niks, Mr. Niks founded the Niks Hand Retraining Center in Redlands, CA helping musicians with hand complications to get rid of tension. The same basic principles were subsequently applied to the process of typing, resulting in the book, “Type Without Tension,” published by Northwest Publishing, Inc. in 1992. Enriched by the discovery of the essential principles in piano research, Mr. Niks conducted his vocal research in the last three years of his life. During this period he developed the concept of muscle work in the process of voice purification and breath control specific for singers, thus laying the foundation for continuing research by his son, Dimitri Niks and his wife, Inessa Niks.





Dimitri Niks was born in Leningrad, USSR. He was brought to the US in 1979, finally settling with his family family (father, Mikhail; mother, Inessa; sister, Marina) in Redlands, California in 1982. After graduating from Redlands High School in 1988, Dimitri entered the US Army where he served for three years, distinguishing himself in the 1st Gulf War. In 1996, Dimitri received a Masters' Degree in Biochemistry, Summa Cum Laude from the University of California at Riverside. He is currently employed as a Staff Research Associate in the Biochemistry Department at the same institution. He is co-author on more than 30 peer-reviewed articles. Dimitri also studied piano and musicology with Inessa Niks (1991-1998). He became a co-researcher in the singing art under the guidance of Mikhail Niks (1993-1996). He continued the research, collaborating with Inessa Niks after the passing of his father (1997-2017). Dimitri’s research focused on the difficulties involved in high note placement in singers. He discovered an effective pharyngeal, resonating point that leads to more security and less tension of production of the highest notes. During 2017-2018 collaborated with Inessa Niks to create a short YouTube video course explaining principles of singing without tension by the modern language of muscle work.





Inessa Niks was born in Leningrad, USSR. She graduated from the Special Music School for Gifted Children, Piano Department in 1956. She then graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory, Department of Musicology in 1961. She concurrently studied voice privately with Elizabeth Ginsburg (1958-1965), who was a follower of the vocal method of the outstanding professor Umberto Masetti. There she met her future husband, Mikhail Niks. They were married in 1968 and had two children— Dimitri in 1969 and Marina in 1971. After immigration to the US in 1979, she established a Piano and Musicology Studio in Redlands, CA in 1985. She received honors in piano competitons in ‘83, ‘84, and ‘85. Concurrently she began research in piano playing without tension under the guidance of her husband, Mikhail, who invented the piano device, the “Hand Guide,” in 1991.  of piano competitions. In 1998 she wrote, “Play Without Tension,” a manual for piano teachers and piano players that accompanied the “Hand Guide.” Mikhail and Inessa continued research in piano playing from an acoustical point of view from 1991-1996, discoveries that were later summarized in two lecture-recitals: “Mystery of Singing Tone” and “Distinctive Sounds of Great Composers.” She also worked with her husband on the vocal technique (1993-1996) and after his passing continued to collaborate with her son, Dimitri (1997-2017). This collaboration culminated in the creation of a short YouTube video course with a similar goal as in piano playing— explaining effective work of muscles in singing without tension. She has also published many YouTube videos demonstrating principles of piano playing without tension. From 2010-2012, she composed, recorded, and released 3 CD’s of her own compositions “Dedications” I-III. Among her many awards her biography was included in the “2000 Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century” (2000-2001 Edition, IBC, Cambridge, England) for her contribution to the field of “Art and Science of Piano Playing.” She was included in the Who’s Who In America: Music Educator (2008-2009 edition, Marquis Publication) and received the International Mozart Award for Musical Achievement (2008-2009 edition, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England). She received her most recent award in 2017 “Top 100 Musicians” (2017 edition).