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Adult student Rhythmic REHAB

I have four piano students in rehab who are grappling with metrical issues. They might start with a healthy quarter note in a five-finger position warm-up; manage proportioned 8th notes, but totally relapse playing 16ths. That's when their confidence sinks to new lows. It's just in time for the metronome, not used as a crutch,… Continue reading Adult student Rhythmic REHAB

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Navigating a robust Beethoven Sonatina (not the one everybody plays)

I borrowed a few hours from my Haydn immersion to review a Beethoven Sonatina that is absolutely charming but very challenging. One would think that such a work labeled -mini, by its "-ina" suffix spelled an easier passage to the final cadence by comparison to a composition in SONATA form. Not so. For example, many… Continue reading Navigating a robust Beethoven Sonatina (not the one everybody plays)

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Perfect pitch? What’s the big deal?

As I foraged through old e-mail files, I stumbled upon my note to Oberlin alum, Robert Krulwich, WNYC RADIO LAB program moderator. http://www.radiolab.org/search/?q=robert+krulwich#q=robert krulwich He and his co-host had featured psychologist, Dr. Diane Deutsch's podcast on Perfect Pitch. One of her published papers, among others, provided a springboard for discussion: Tone Language Speakers Possess Absolute… Continue reading Perfect pitch? What’s the big deal?

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Piano Technique: The big hand/little hand controversy (Videos)

Arioso7's Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked the same question by either parents, or people I meet on Amtrak. It’s about “piano fingers,” “hand size,” and the best physiological fit for the keyboard. Next in line are queries about tone deafness and “perfect pitch.”

The stereotypes are: A great pianist has God-given perfect pitch and long-tapered fingers. End of story.

Now if you log onto You Tube and sample lots of remarkable piano playing, you’ll quickly discover that short and stubby fingers can work musical magic.

Example, the late Alicia de Larrocha defied all physical stereotypes: She was pint-sized and with little fingers. (the pairing was perfect)

Given her bio-genetics and 4’9″ inch height, you can watch her rip through a fiery composition!

De Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance”

Try this out for size. Alicia playing Liszt’s “La Campanella”–

Talk about finger stretches that KILL!

I wish we could…

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Piano Technique: A fire and ice approach to learning pieces at breakspeed tempo

One of my Oberlin Conservatory piano teachers regarded Vladimir Horowitz as a fire and ice player. He referred to the maestro as having the uncanny ability to turn out a hot performance with a cool demeanor. (The physical control, of course, was AMAZING!) Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75ZAOwgzoAE Same applies to Yuja Wang, pianist, who delivers a sizzling… Continue reading Piano Technique: A fire and ice approach to learning pieces at breakspeed tempo

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My Gold Standard Adult Pupils!

I'm the proud mentor of seven COMMITTED adult piano students, three of whom were TAGGED with body stickers for doing GOOD time at their lessons yesterday. NOTE: None have been coerced by authorities to sign up. (i.e. Parents) Each is a VOLUNTARY admission. (LIVE or in Cyber) Ravi, a thirty-plus chess champion/financial analyst, is one… Continue reading My Gold Standard Adult Pupils!

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Piano Technique: Playing BEYOND the fingers

Many students get finger-trapped playing the piano, hammering away at tricky passages with tight wrists and stiff, plunky fingers. The more glitches they encounter, the tenser they get, which sets up a vicious cycle. I always advise these harrowed pupils to think bigger than smaller movements, and let arms, especially drive their motions. In this… Continue reading Piano Technique: Playing BEYOND the fingers