classissima,, e minor scales, piano, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano lessons by Skype, piano technique, practicing scales for piano, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press, word, wordpress,, you tube video, you, youtube,

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.


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


Practicing the E minor Arpeggio (blocking technique)

Cleo the Cat interrupts

8 thoughts on “Piano Technique: Geography, choreography, and muscle memory in practicing scales (Video instruction)”

  1. 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.


    1. 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.



      1. 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!)


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


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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.