Category Archives: “Just Being At the Piano”

Piano Technique: Playing beyond the fingers to sculpt beautiful phrases (Debussy Arabesque no. 1)

Many piano students who practice Debussy’s Arabesque no. 1 tend to grab and articulate notes, rather than let them flow from energy streaming down relaxed arms into supple wrists. Reliance on fingers-down playing becomes the panacea for accuracy, while it … Continue reading

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Relaxation in piano playing and setting a good example for students (Videos)

By all accounts, the piano instructor should be the model of what she embraces as her teaching philosophy at lessons. For example, as I slip into my weeping willow tension-free state, I keep hammering away at my students to relax. … Continue reading

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The Art of Phrasing at the Piano: Starting the process with Beginners (Videos)

For some unexplained reason, my earliest piano studies never included the art of phrasing. My primer teacher stressed naming notes, finding them, affixing correct fingering and counting out robotic beats. I knew nothing about feeling a melodic landscape; putting the … Continue reading

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Piano Instruction: Teaching Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, Movement 1 (VIDEO)

Beethoven didn’t attach “Moonlight” to this first movement of his very popular C# minor Sonata. (Music critics often invented these tags that stuck over centuries) The composer, himself, said his opening was like a fantasy, “quasi una fantasia,” and he … Continue reading

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Are Adult Piano Students Stigmatized?

Here are riveting quotes from two adult students: The Italics are my emphasis. 1) “I feel like I’m in the adult student ghetto, where much latitude is given and few results are expected. We’re all supposed to be doing it … Continue reading

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The Big Baroque Festival!

I cleared most of my Saturday morning lessons so I could be on time for a special rehearsal at Fresno State. I took no chances given the steady rain these past few days that caused dangerously deep puddles along Shaw … Continue reading

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Great Piano Teaching Moments

This remarkable piece of film footage inspired a stream of others. Nadia Boulanger (b.1887-d.1979) the esteemed teacher, composer, theoretician, organist, pianist, taught and influenced so many great musical creators such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copeland, Virgil Thomson, Walter Piston and … Continue reading

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Why Play Scales? (with an adult piano student’s updated video)

My pupil, Yukiko, demonstrates a sequence of E Major Scales in Legato/staccato–Parallel and Contrary Motion: These provide a repository of articulations and dynamics that apply directly to her repertoire of pieces. *** The Backdrop: As a young piano student living … Continue reading

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Music Comes from the Heart

Musical expression arises from the deepest part of ourselves so as we relax into the here and now, focused on the flow and shape of phrases, our arms, wrists and fingers work together as an ensemble to produce an artful … Continue reading

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