piano instruction, piano lessons, Rina takes piano lessons, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, teaching piano to children, teacing piano to children, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube.com, yout tube, youtube.com

Rina, 5, plays “Little March” by Turk–10 months of piano lessons–and a flashback to my childhood

Rina marches forward making great progress. For a child of 5, her gains are remarkable. By comparison, my early piano studies were unremarkable.

When I embarked upon lessons at age 6, I lived in the Marble Hill Projects, (Bronx, New York) in a small apartment that had no piano. As a consequence, I had to take the elevator up three floors to practice at friend, Tanya’s place that had a stately old upright. Her Russian grandma, “BaBa,” whom I later learned was lobotomized, had been a concert pianist in the old country. When she played Chopin, the notes cascaded effortlessly from her fingers. I was entranced.

BaBa was a fixture at the piano bench so it was no easy task to grab just a few minutes at the keyboard. Her dazzling displays of virtuosity engulfed the living room space. My “Ding Dong” two-note Diller-Quaille melody died before the final cadence. The old woman shoved me aside, replacing her warm body where I had found a comfortable spot. I was embarrassed and stunned into silence.

Could I patiently wait for BaBa to excuse herself for a nap or to go to the bathroom? She looked brain dead away from the piano. Her two hearing aids insulated her from the world. Yet her soul poured forth through her fingers, making her a living, breathing musician.

At each visit with BaBa, I ended up complying with her wishes. Sheepishly, I retreated to the elevator that took me back down to the 9th floor.


Rina is more fortunate. She has a magnificent Yamaha console center stage in her living room and a wide space of time to practice. No one will interrupt her except for a reminder from mom that dinner is waiting. It’s been 10 months since her first lesson in August.

How time flies, measured by pieces studied. They come and go, but remain in the heart forever. A “Minuet” is followed by a “Little March.”

Rina plays, unabashedly.



Rina’s Progress after 6 months:


Flashback to Rina’s 9th lesson:

2 thoughts on “Rina, 5, plays “Little March” by Turk–10 months of piano lessons–and a flashback to my childhood”

  1. Thanks for posting this beautiful and inspiring video. All three of my sons started taking lessons five months ago with Irina Gorin. Touch and producing singing notes are important so I enjoyed hearing your childhood recollection of Baba and how her pianist’s soul would flow through her fingertips when she sat at the piano. My youngest had turned four days before we started lessons and this week he wanted me to start the metronome instead of the accompanying audio so he could match the notes right on the click. I hope he eases as smoothly as Rina in playing eighth notes.


    1. Thanks for sharing. Irina Gorin, her teaching materials and students are an inspiration.

      I use the syllables, “run-ning notes…etc. with Rina. She also identifies with “short sounds,” quarters, and “long sounds,” half notes..”whole note hold down” is a whole note. She knows how these notes, look, besides.

      I floated the notes in space for a while, now I am actually pointing to them as she plays.

      It will be repeated exposures that help with ultimate note reading. Such osmosis is gradual over time, not to be rushed.

      Rina is constantly exposed to the supple wrist, and bigger than fingers down energy. That’s how I was taught in NYC.
      She knows the music alphabet, sharps and flats. Plays in the sad minor.. or transposes into.

      I don’t want her over-saturated with white notes only… which is a deficiency of standard method books.

      This child’s lessons have been logged on many you tubes from her very first lesson. I am amazed by her progress in such a short term of study.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.