I recall my piano teaching years in California's Central Valley where I easily counted 10 or more students (usually boys) who had sports injuries. Most often a mom would call about her son's fractured arm or wrist that was incurred on the playing field--soccer, baseball, or during any number of childhood activities. As a consequence,… Continue reading Working with One Hand when a piano student has an injury to the other
Often, as pianists, we make our most significant musical strides in a relaxed, un-pressured home environment--experimenting with tonal variation, voicing, phrasing -- allowing ourselves to be open to newfound discoveries. The truth is we are all eternal students with a desire to explore sounds, silences, mood-settings, in ways that can spark our imaginations to new… Continue reading Experimenting with Phrasing and Choreography in Expressive music-making
As I trekked down a steep hill with my knapsack swelling with groceries, I found myself percolating with ideas about piano study. In a reflective state of mind, I was centered on learning process challenges that are not tied to the basics of producing a singing tone, improving technique, nuancing and shaping phrases, allowing relaxed… Continue reading Expectation should not be a part of piano learning in the adult student, non-competitive environment
Friedrich Burgmuller's Twenty-Five Easy and Progressive Pieces, Op. 100, provide a feast of opportunities to develop a tonal vocabulary of well-contoured phrases. Regardless of tempo or mood set, these individual tableaux draw on the player's imagination to realize picturesque titles, while creating clean melodic and harmonic lines. "Tender Flower," (Tendre Fleur), No. 10, opens with… Continue reading Back To Burgmuller for phrasing in the Romantic genre
It's always a pleasure to re-enter the cosmos of a self-hypnotically induced journey across the keyboard in seamless arpeggiated streams. The experience of Oneness produced by well-contoured strands of wave-like, root-third-fifth-root progressions, is surely like dancing lithely across the keyboard. It hearkens back to my most beloved piano teacher, Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich, who emancipated my… Continue reading A return to the basics of relaxed arms, hands, and supple wrists in a 4-note arpeggio romp
Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall lit up with the glow of two Mozart concertos, as Maestro Uchida seamlessly mastered the dual role of soloist/conductor. From the piano bench, with her back to the audience bathed in sea blue radiance, her baton-less hands wove expressive lines that soared in the air, before they gracefully descended on the keys.… Continue reading Mitsuko Uchida and Mozart
In the course of teaching that encompasses interactive learning and partnered journeys of discovery, I find myself wanting to share pupil/mentor epiphanies that flow from lessons. Most recently the subject of arm weight transfer in legato and staccato emerged from a cocoon of mystery for many. Some of my adult students kept saying, "I just… Continue reading Piano Technique: The Weight transfer cosmos, and thumb fluid motions
What better way to celebrate the joys of this season and passage to 2022 than with Martha Argerich and Maria Joao Pires playing Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, KV 365. https://youtu.be/7fzYOtaJcxU And for good measure, I've added one of the composer's most soulful middle sonata movements. (Adagio, Sonata, K. 332) https://youtu.be/NgyYk0NlzVM With… Continue reading Saying Happy Holidays with Mozart!
2020 was to be the banner year to honor the 250th anniversary of Ludwig Van Beethoven's birth, (b. 1770-d. 1827) but the pandemic extended the celebration into 2021. My earliest infatuation with the composer's music dated to my violin studies that accompanied my piano learning journey. It was Beethoven's 7th Symphony, second movement, Allegretto, that… Continue reading Celebrating Beethoven!
My newest Online student from the San Jose area was having to plow through the keys of a 1980's era Wurlitzer studio size piano whose tone was unremarkable, and at times raucous. I felt that her talents and musical intuition were lost in the din of noise this piano produced. (Here she's playing Burgmuller's "Pastorale,… Continue reading A step up to a New Piano for a student