Piano Street

My first day learning a new piece and what was accomplished (Video)

In keeping with my resolution to learn new music quickly but thoroughly, I’ve set out today’s first experience with Tchaikovsky’s colorful, “Winter Morning” (Op. 39, No. 2, Children’s Album) to give students of piano, ideas surrounding their first encounter with a composition: how the physical, musical, cognitive and affective (emotional) dimensions of a work, can become part of the whole (gestalt) even in the earliest practicing efforts.

So instead of talking assiduously about my approach, I’ll let the video give its own best illustration of today’s musical foray.

From Rada Bukhman’s published album:

Rada Bukhman The Magic Link


Winter Morning p 2

Winter Morning P. 3


Brigitte Engerer, music, piano pedagogy, Piano Street, Rada Bukhman, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube video, you tube.com, yout tube

Favorite Tchaikovsky piano pieces and their pedagogical value

Tchaikovsky painting

I made a promise to myself well before the New Year, that I would learn one new Tchaikovsky composition each day from the composer’s Op. 39 Children’s Album. (24 tableaux) Not that I’m recommending to piano students that they assimilate new music at lightning speed, but for me the challenge was to make a spurt of growth without sacrificing quality in my quickened journey. In fact, often an early reading is like experiencing the first sunrise with a childlike gaze.

The Back Story

Rada Bukhman’s gift to the music world, The Magic Link, had arrived for Chanukah with its colorful bouquet of program-driven piano miniatures that were sensitively juxtaposed offerings of Peter Ilyich and Robert Schumann.

Rada Bukhman The Magic Link

In a heartbeat, I bonded to Tchaikovsky’s pieces, perhaps because my *DNA (Russian background) increased my affection for the composer’s emotion-packed music, yet, simultaneously, I appreciated the teaching value of each and every tender musical morsel.

The following selections from the Op. 39 collection received my latest embrace, winning me over with their grace and beauty.





The Organ Grinder Sings

Italian Song

Morning Prayer

From a teaching perspective:

Each musical tapestry requires a vivid imagination coupled with a singing tone repository. Bigger than finger energies, a supple wrist and relaxed arms allow for a legato (connected touch) when needed, and a diversified staccato (crisp notes in contrasting dynamics) as well as tenuto execution (detached, press lift approaches with a leaning emphasis).

Finally, a tasteful rubato (flexibility of time) and sensitive use of the sustain pedal apply to both dance and song forms, fleshing out their character and emotion.

Addendum: A performance of Op. 39 that made the most overall indelible impression on me, came from the late Brigitte Engerer who sang like a nightingale with imagination and artistry.





*My Family’s history and genealogy


The Little Knightingale

There’s a Knight piano for sale in my neighborhood which rekindled memories of this writing, posted well before I’d moved to Berkeley.

Arioso7's Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

It sang like a nightingale the morning I stroked its keys, yet it has always been a relative unknown in the world of big name pianos such as Steinway, Baldwin, and Yamaha. From an innocuous three-line ad posted on Oodle.com, I discovered that this very Knight piano was for sale, housed in northwest Fresno just a mile or so from my home. A British made studio size vertical manufactured in 1969 by Alfred Knight, Ltd, it made its maiden voyage from Amsterdam, Holland to the USA surviving the winds and tides of crossing the Atlantic. On the last leg of its journey, the noble little lady arrived in Fresno, California, faced with an extreme shift in temperature and humidity that would have damaged if not destroyed instruments of lesser quality.

Alfred Knights built in the years before 1974 (marking the death of the manufacturer and its sale to another company)…

View original post 4,774 more words


Rami Bar-Niv’s Adult Music Camp is for pianists of all levels

Rami and adult students at camp
Concert pianist, Rami Bar-Niv has a large serving of musical talent that spills into an assortment of activities. He’s a well-spring of creativity: performing, teaching, composing and publishing (a book on fingering, no less) while his sheet music is circulated far and wide.

Now add to the list, Rami’s Rhapsody Camp for Adults wrapped in an enticing invitation!

“Take a week off just to practice, learn, and perform with like-minded music lovers. Join Rami Bar-Niv, international concert pianist, for a unique opportunity to spend a week in the country, surrounded by a special group of people who share the joys and challenges of being adult piano students, as well as gaining an up close and personal experience with a world class pianist. Camp is suitable for adult piano players of all levels, from complete beginners to professional performers and piano teachers. Teenagers are also welcome, accompanied by their teachers or their parents. You will have a one hour lesson each day with Rami, a class, lecture, or concert performance each evening with Rami and guest masters, and at least four hours of daily piano time. You will learn correct and injury-free piano playing techniques…”


An Internet visit to the bucolic Upstate New York location, (Whitesboro, a suburb of Utica) tweaked my curiosity even further, sparking a set of questions that Bar-Niv thoughtfully answered.

How and when did you get the inspiration to create a summer experience for adults?

I always enjoyed teaching adults and got the inspiration to create my own piano camp for adults from the Vermont camp (named Sonata) when I finished teaching there in 2006.

By the way, it isn’t just a summer experience. I offer 2 camp sessions per year, October and June.
The 2014 dates are June 22-28 and Oct 19-25. (Rami noted that he’s had camp branches in Barbados, New Zealand, and various places in the States!)

What is the value of having sessions like these, and for how long? Do some people commute, and others stay over?

My camp is a week long. We start Sunday evening with an opening event and run through Saturday evening after the recital.

Out-of-towners, who come from all over the States as well as abroad, stay in a hotel/motel/B and B, and local participants stay at home.

The Camp caters to all piano playing levels, from complete beginners to professional pianists and piano teachers. People meet like-minded music lovers, spend a week in the country and gain an up close and personal experience with an actively performing concert pianist.

Every camper gets a one-hour lesson each day with me, a class, lecture, or concert performance each evening as well, and with guest masters, too. There’s recital participation, and at least four hours of daily piano time with a limit of 8 players, and I lead group stretches/exercises every day before dinner.

Subjects addressed at camp are: Injury-free techniques, efficient fingering, interpretation, anxiety-free performance, sight-reading, ensemble playing, memorization, and more.

And even though it’s primarily a piano camp, other instrumentalists as well as singers have participated.

How many pianos are available to practice on? I saw a digital as well, near the grand.

Camp runs basically on 3 pianos (+ a digital just for kicks…). People practice in 2 shifts, 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. The hour-lesson happens during the camper’s practice time. The digital is there for extra practice especially if you play Bach, also for singing lessons when the other pianos are taken.

Local participants practice their morning session at home and join the others for lunch served at camp.

We often go off the premises for the evening classes and the recital, so we use other pianos too.

What directions do you take with Classical repertoire as compared to popular?

I’m basically a classically educated pianist but I go with the flow and cater to any wishes (even if I don’t particularly like the music…). In my past I did it all: piano-bar playing, ballet accompaniments, improvisation, recording studio gigs, fake book reading, etc.

Camps vary with the mix of classical and popular music, but on the whole I’d say that classical music has a stronger representation. You can see that in the recital programs posted on camp’s web page.

Duet playing seems to be a strong feature of your camp experience.. And even 4 at two pianos?

Yes, duet and any ensemble playing varies from camp to camp. I am, of course very fond of ensemble playing; often it will also be the participants’ initiative. At the You Tube channel you can see that we did a small monster with 4 pianos and the organ too. Organ and piano duets and other ensembles did not always make it to You Tube.

How long has the camp been in existence?

It started in November, 2006.

What is your overall philosophy about having a camp like this?

Perhaps I’ll repeat here what I wrote above:

People meet like-minded music lovers and gain an up close and personal experience with an actively performing concert pianist. In this way they get a tremendous boost to their playing/practicing/studying and perhaps the most important gain is “Total Immersion”.

Do children ever come with parents?

As much as I’d love that, no kids have actually come to camp as full participants. But often during camp’s week I’ll give extra lessons and master classes to kids as part of the camp’s experience.

(However, often, piano teachers come to camp with their own piano students, both as camp participants)

Thanks, Rami, for your engaging replies.



Rhapsody Camp’s website


Camp’s FaceBook group (with photos and videos):


Camp’s YouTube channel:

Rami’s YouTube channel

Rami’s webpage:

English Wikipedia:

Rami’s piano fingering book:

Music on Amazon


Rami’s music on SheetMusicPlus digital printing:

“My Experiences at Rami’s Rhapsody Piano Camp”
(a blogger provides a delightful narrative)


Tchaikovsky and his solemn chorale

Last night I discovered one of the most gorgeous hymns composed in the Romantic genre. It is Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “In the Church,” Op. 39, a perfect segue way to Christmas.

My diverse journey through the composer’s Children’s Album has been a potpourri of moods and colors sprinkled through “Sweet Dream,” “Playing Hobby-Horses,” “Song of the Lark,” “New Doll,” “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” Old French Song,” “Neapolitan Song,” “Polka,” and many more tableaux.

Yet at the moment, “In the Church” has mesmerized me.

It brings back memories of a trip I took to the Russian Orthodox Church in New York City with my High School of Performing Arts classmate, Olga Dolsky. She led me into an awesome space with colorful icons, and the most fantastic acoustics.

There, I heard a very famous Russian choir in the balcony, and watched a bearded priest spread incense through filled pews.

Tchaikovsky’s church music would have been a perfect draping for this pious service.


Igor Galenkov, lark, piano teaching, Song of the Lark by Tchaikovsky

If it sounds like a lark, it must be one (Tchaikovsky’s “Song of the Lark”)


After I recorded Tchaikovsky’s precious tableau from his Op. 39 Children’s Album, I discovered a true-to-life rendering by Russian pianist, Igor Galenkov, who delicately imported a bird to embellish his performance.


Instruction: The rolling forward wrist motion in Lark


classical music, classissima.com, youtube.com

Celebrating Beethoven’s Birthday!

Albeit a day later, the composer’s music is worth our adulation.

Since words cannot amply express the beauty of Beethoven’s outpourings, I’ve selected a favorite movement that speaks volumes about his genius: