I always make it a point to advise students of all levels, to stay with a piece long enough to feel at one with it--to experience a fluidity of motion that comes from baby-step, layered learning. Despite my admonitions, some pupils choose to remain in the fast lane, whizzing through one selection after another without… Continue reading Keeping up with a fast turnover of repertoire and reclaiming an old piece from the Classical era (Videos)
York called me from a client’s home in Clovis right after our great treasure-seeking adventure under the Kawai 7-foot grand piano. He’d been appraising a Samick studio upright manufactured in 1990 that was owned by Joel Van Ginkel. “I’d appraise it at about $2000,” he said, “but between you ‘n me, he’ll unload the piana’ for a lot less ‘cause he’s movin’ to L.A.”
A few months before York had given me a bum steer, sending me on a wild goose chase to a no man’s land Evangelical Church in East Fresno. My gas-guzzling van had very nearly collapsed on me after I’d found myself on the outskirts of town driving in circles before I’d located an abysmal-sounding, console-size Everett. Its cage-like vibrations in the middle range and mangled hammer assembly caused multiple notes to sound when any one key was depressed. York claimed this 1982 model had been manufactured in a USA based Yamaha plant which he believed gave it added…
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In these video segments, the student is practicing Sonatina in C, OP. 36, No. 3, first and last movements: http://youtu.be/YiYWSGV72g4 http://youtu.be/jCa8lA11jrk These replays can be very helpful for the student, who is sent copies of his lesson-in-progress. *** http://youtu.be/G-rrgFN1ois http://youtu.be/s2CcWoFipaU
I use various motions extracted from daily life to teach fluidity in piano playing. In this particular example lifted from a lesson-in-progress, Ilyana, 9, applies a door knob-turning gesture to smooth out a passage from William Gillock's "Splashing in the Brook." It's also helpful to enlist mental imagery to capture the mood of a composition.… Continue reading Piano Technique: Turning a door knob helps a 9-year old piano student in her practicing (Videos)
I had to pinch myself when I discovered a Craig’s List ad that featured “an antique baby grand piano selling for $1500.”
Staring at me was a larger-than-life “Johann Fritz” that seemed to closely resemble the heart-breaker with the same surname formerly housed at a local American Cancer Society Discovery thrift store! It looked like the one I had sadly let go and lost forever.
Now deep down, I knew that the original Fritz Sohn (son) with a florid rack and scrolled legs, probably had second thoughts about being placed with a City College Assistant Chief of Police who would probably never play it. And as proof of the pudding, the buyer was supposed to call me for piano lessons but never did. Was this beautifully sculptured beauty only a display case, exploited purely for its good looks?
I was staring at a photo of a generation two Fritz that…
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It's not a big deal when a student forgets her scale, arpeggio, and total assignment, then drifts into a casual reading of "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio. Albertina, 13, had brought a coffee-table size anthology of popular tunes to her last lesson. It was indexed by Movies Themes, Broadway Show hits like… Continue reading A piano student kicks back over the summer playing a Disney selection while I rekindle old musical memories (Videos)
Supplements to Skyped lessons come in two forms. I will either send an unlisted mid-week video to a long-distance learner as a brush-up, or I'll upload public videos that can be universally shared. Both help me crystallize how I will phrase a composition and teach it. The student, in an interactive role, feeds me ideas… Continue reading Piano Instruction: Clementi Sonatina in C, Op. 36 No. 3 (parts 1 and 2) and a Skyped lesson-in-progress recorded by camcorder
Less than six degrees separated attendees at a Berkeley-based Book discussion group. I knew the moment I entered the living room of Mike and Adrianne Fine Bank for an Oberlin alumni-sponsored book group event on Berkeley's Le Roy Avenue, that people whom I'd never met, would be in some way related to me. And not… Continue reading A Bay Area literary gathering of Oberlin Alums produced a web of connections
The harmonic flow of a piece is one ingredient of phrase shaping, along with melodic contouring that springs from the human voice and its natural breath. All have emotional consequence as music pours out of the heart and soul of a performer. So getting below the surface of a piece of music, means delving into… Continue reading Harmonic Rhythm, melodic twists, and emotional shifts in Chopin’s B Minor Waltz, Op. 69, No. 2 (Video)
I wish I could order an instant make-over for gorgeous-sounding pianos that suffer rejection because of imperfect exteriors. By example, one of my students who'd grown attached to her respectable-looking, 70′s era, walnut console piano, was devastated when her family whisked it away during a move to a bigger house. Apparently, the instrument's wood grain… Continue reading Pianos, Old Age, and Cosmetic Imperfection