Piano Technique: Geography, choreography, and muscle memory in practicing scales (Video instruction)

Today’s lesson by Skype from Berkeley, CA to the UK focused on refining e minor scales. Of particular interest, was the segment, midway, that explored un-snagging a portion of the Harmonic minor form in STACCATO. A valuable technique applied included spot practicing critical areas of difficulty.. i.e. C to D# to E in every octave. Geography, choreography and muscle memory were collective ingredients in promoting overall improvement in the scale execution.

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Skyped piano instruction can be very productive if the transmission is clear and unencumbered by static. This particular student is tech savvy and has the best possible hook-up for her web cam-driven lessons.

Excerpt, E Minor Scales in Legato and Staccato

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Practicing the E minor Arpeggio (blocking technique)


Cleo the Cat interrupts

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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8 Responses to Piano Technique: Geography, choreography, and muscle memory in practicing scales (Video instruction)

  1. anonymous-pianist95959 says:

    I’d be careful about clapping / singing along with your student over skype. Even over a great connection, the electrical signal (at the speed of light) will be ~30ms (0.06 seconds) one way from california to UK. Skype / computer connections will easily add another 50 ms (0.05 seconds). So on a good connection, a typical lag will be at least 0.1 seconds one way, or 0.2 seconds roundtrip.

    If the student is playing scales using 8th notes at 140 beats-per-minute, each note will be roughly 0.2 seconds apart. This means that when she plays a note, it will take 0.1 seconds for it to appear on your end, which is when you’ll clap/sing, and then another 0.1 seconds for your clap to get back to her, by which time she’ll be on the next note. In other words, to her, you’ll sound like you’re singing/clapping at least one note behind (and probably not exactly that) — and I know that would totally mess me up if I were trying to play and I heard singing off the beat 1 or 2 notes behind. (Of course, you don’t notice this on your end, because you’re clapping in time with the audio on your end).

    You could test out how good/bad the lag is by playing a fairly slow scale on your end to a metronome, and then asking your student to sing the notes in time with you, and see how far behind she seems.

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    • Oddly, the clapping, served the student well, because she gets a video of her lesson.. excerpts.. one goes with the flow, and perfection in this cosmos is NOT a concern.. This was an especially GOOD connection.. same for CA to Kentucky transmission.. I am always relieved when the technology is good on both ends. I think you are nit picking though I appreciate your FEED back.

      SK

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      • anonymous-pianist95959 says:

        Sorry, definitely wasn’t trying to nitpick – just to warn you or others in case people weren’t aware what the student *might* be hearing on their end during the live session. E.g. If someone wanted to play a duet over skype, one person might get quite frustrated at the other person being a 16th-note behind all the time, depending on the style/tempo of the piece :) You’re right though, the recorded video that you posted will be perfectly in sync and is a great resource for the student to review. It’s great seeing a teacher use technology to the fullest AND sharing their experiences online. It’s really neat seeing actual real-world examples of lessons over Skype. I think your blog will help lots of teachers who are wondering if Skype lessons can work (and the answer, as you’ve proven, is a definite yes!)

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      • I would never contemplate duet playing over skype.. but as mentioned when the student reviews the video, the clapping should help..
        Sk

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    • Here’s one for the record books

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  2. anonymous-pianist95959 says:

    whoops – ,meant 0.03 seconds at the beginning (I missed an edit where I switched from round-trip times to one-way times).

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  3. Yes, I use to be a doubting Thomasina.. but I think so much productive work can be done on Skype and there are other examples at my you tube channel.. to Greece, Australia etc.. working on Chopin Waltzes, etc.

    http://www.youtube.com/arioso7

    Thanks again for your feedback.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Piano Improvisation Techniques, Part 1

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