Irina Morozova’s inspiring words flow through a lesson with an adult student (Beethoven’s Fur Elise-in-progress) Video

Arioso7's Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

“From watching great pianists it is obvious that they incorporate quite different movements to achieve the same goals, because people do not play piano with fingers but rather with the mind and the ear. Again, it is the clear image of what kind of sound one wants to achieve, combined with the knowledge of how to get it….”

To frame a lesson with these ideas, helps to infuse it with the spiritual, analytical, and nonverbal elements of exchange.

Within this paradigm, one of my adult students continued her study of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” (C section, treble chord voicing with bass tremolo)



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Classical era, classissima.com, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano, Rondo Allegretto K. 545 by Mozart, Sonata, Sonata in, Sonata in C K. 545 by Mozart, Sonata in G K. 283, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, word press, wordpress.com, youtube.com

Celebrating Mozart’s Birthday with his music




LogitechC615HS1080, Skype preferences, youtube.com

Multi-cam views during Skype or Face Time piano lessons


My piano room latestI rely on  Logitech webcams with a long range panoramic capability and various angled keyboard views, including a DIRECT KEYBOARD overhead as below.


newest overhead 72%22These views are just a mouse tap away. For trill and ornament demonstrations, I can highlight the second or third HD PRO cam option listed on my SKYPE (or FACE TIME) Preferences window and then I can easily switch back to the longer range image with another click. (first view) The FULL SCREEN selection is recommended.

Below is a side Overhead webcam view of my piano. This is what the student will see ONLINE in real time if I choose this WEBCAM option.

side overhead fill screen today

Flashback to my early DAYS teaching by SKYPE: (The Internal Camera view on the iMac 21) At this point in my teaching ONLINE, I did NOT use an EXTERNAL WEBCAM. But I did utilize a Yeti Blue mic.

early skype lessons--This one to Greece

NOTE: Since my iMac upgrade to MAVERICKS, I’ve been using the Logitech C920 HD1080p webcam. (NOTE that the webcams will be listed as “HD Pro Webcam C920”)

Logitech best face forward

Logitech closeup with USB

RECOMMENDED: USB Cable extensions afford flexibility with webcam placement.

Extension USB cable

NOTE: in the old days for a trill close-up I put the webcam on my crossed knee to give it elevation.

right-hand-plays-logitech-knee 3

logitech on knee

The most CURRENT set-up in my music room for Online Piano Lessons:

me under overhead cam

A USB CONNECTED MIC can be used such as the YETI Blue:Yeti Mic crop

The Direction and Effect of Lighting on the Keyboard using a webcam (overhead view):

The following tutorial that I uploaded following a lesson to Scotland (using my Mac’s Quicktime record) was specific to acquiring proper lighting on my piano’s keyboard. I utilized my second Alzo mounted tripod in a high side angle cam view of the piano. (This tutorial encompassed a review of J.S. Bach Invention 8)

A separate Quicktime generated video that exemplifies, good keyboard lighting with a decent audio result. (YETI MIC)

Various webcam views and sound setting demonstrations for ONLINE music lessons:

webcam listing

*****RECOMMENDED: My Most recent updated video on webcam views used during a piano lesson, and recording options. It shows the North Carolina’s student’s set-up, etc.

My London Student’s set-up



Audio Video Settings

(NOTE: On the Mac it’s wise to set general SYSTEM Preferences for SOUND when you start your computer. Notice how I highlighted the YETI Mic, and set the sound levels). If the Internal Mic provides satisfying sound, you can use it to open up a free USB for an additional webcam connection.)

system preferences

Your CAMERA choices on SKYPE refer to your external USB webcams. In addition, with a MAC  or PC you should have an INTERNAL CAM. For the MAC it’s the FACE TIME cam view that’s governed by your computer’s placement.

To EMPHASIZE, the Logitech webcams will be referred to as “HD Pro Webcam C920,” and for others connected, as HD Pro Webcam C920 #2, etc. There may be more webcams depending on the number of USB ports available. If you use a wireless mouse and keyboard, and select the internal mic (not using an external USB mic such as the YETI), your webcam connections and choices will increase by available USB ports.

For SOUND Settings I used the Yeti Blue Mic (USB connected), or sometimes I will select the INTERNAL mic.

I do NOT recommend enlisting the Webcam mic as the hot zone threshold is LOW.

For  side keyboard Panorama: C920HD1080, place the webcam on end block of piano, high treble side.
Close-up below: C920HD1080 (clipped to a music stand to the left of me) This sturdy stand can be elevated, and tilted down; pulled closer with its mounted webcam. I sometimes use it for trill close-ups.

music stand near Baldwin


LONGER side view of piano

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 7.30.58 PM

For these side angles of the keyboard, I mount my Logitech webcam on a Koenig and Meyers music stand:

logitech side view mount on music stand

Another Perspective: The Overhead Keyboard View (already shown)

overhead cam 72
I use an Alzo Horizontal Mount on my 72″ Professional Pro Tripod to get a direct overhead view of my Baldwin grand piano’s keyboard:

Alzo Horizontal mount for cam tripod

My Tutorial on how to install the horizontal mount to support a web cam:

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 8.02.12 AM

During LIVE Lessons where a student is seated at the Baldwin, I might enlist an overhead keyboard view of my neighboring Steinway grand.

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 7.55.58 AM


I recently added a second Alzo mount to a Targus 60″ tripod, to get a focused side angle view of my piano, allowing for a generous display of wrist and arm motions. (Note that depending on the amount of USB ports, a teacher can mobilize many keyboard views including the INTERNAL cam on a Mac: FaceTime, or PC)

2 cams at night

overhead cam-side angle-lighten

my piano room best webcams recent

overhead side view of piano


My Student in Scotland recently used her iPhone to transmit an ONLINE Lesson when both SKYPE and FACE TIME on her Mac laptop gave very poor reception: The sound was remarkably good, but she might need a cell phone tripod to adjust the keyboard view.




For a pedal close-up, I activated my C920HD1080 with a floodlight beside my feet. It afforded an opportunity to graphically demonstrate legato pedaling. (You can see the student’s upright piano, and my pedal shown in the lower left box.) She had the full screen view of my foot on the pedal. We are working on “In the Church” by Tchaikovsky which requires sensitive, clear pedaling. A webcam attached to a nearby music stand can also be angled in such a way to provide a view of the hands on the keyboard and the pedal activation. (The teacher should experiment with various uses of the webcam and its flexibility)

Logitech pedal


For sound clarity, the Yeti mic is my preference over the Mac’s internal mic, and it’s an option on SKYPE and FACE TIME. For Skype, I tend to rely on the Yeti mic which is Mac compatible. If I record tutorials for students on Quicktime, I use the Yeti Mic option.

NOTE: The Logitech webcam has a built-in microphone that I do NOT activate for my Online piano lessons because it has a LOW HOT ZONE threshold. Similarly, when I record lessons in progress, I do not use the web cam mic. I use the Yeti microphone.

yeti mic

Here’s an adult student’s keyboard view beamed in from UK. She has the single panoramic perspective. She puts her Mac Air by the end block of her upright piano.

panoramic view of student piano UK

Another Skype student’s keyboard view. You can see the thumbnail, Lower Right of the teacher (or my) view.
piano closeup Central Valley


Having the multi-cam option improves the quality of web-transmitted lessons, benefiting both student and teacher.

LINKS–My piano room BEFORE the invasion of INCREASED TECHNOLOGY..

piano room, spacier



An effective side view to demonstrate trills and various light wrist dips for SHAPING them:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/technology-as-a-valuable-piano-teaching-tool/ (With three students’ reviews of Online private piano lessons)


Miscellaneous: (HUMOR)





OTHER, MISC. For ONLINE Students who do not Speak English



duo pianists, Josef Lhevinne, Rosina Lhevinne, Shirley Smith Kirsten, shirley smith kirsten blog, Shirley Smth Kirsten, word press, you tube, youtube.com

Husband and wife pianists I have known and their legacy

This week’s practicing and You Tubing hearkened back to my student days in New York City. Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich was my Rosina Lhevinne. She, like her Russian counterpart, was married to a high profile husband, Irwin Freundlich who doubled as her 4-hand piano partner.

When Irwin passed away in his late 60s quite suddenly, as had Josef Lhevinne at about the same age, Lillian, came into her own as the great teacher she had been all along though she’d been otherwise hidden in the shadow of her spouse.


Ena Bronstein, another powerful mentor of mine, was married to her duo partner, Philip Lorenz. Both were Arrau students, and Philip had edited the Beethoven sonatas with Arrau giving him his 15 minutes of fame. But Ena was the more expressive pianist though she dealt with second tier status until the marriage dissolved.


Back to Lillian, my most influential piano teacher…

It just so happened that after watching the riveting documentary about the legacy of Rosina Lhevinne, I pulled up three works Lillian gave me to study at about age 15: Mozart’s Sonata in G, K. 283; the Chopin Nocturnes in Bb minor, Op. 9, No. 1 and E minor, Op. 72 no. 1.

The Chopin E minor had always been a sleepy piece, until I woke up to the burst of passion that Rubinstein and Ashkenazi delivered in their readings tempered by tasteful rubato.

As a reminder to myself, Andante in Italian meant walking and not at a snail’s pace.

Lillian Freundlich had selected the perfect Andante and Larghetto in Chopin’s vernacular that begged for a singing tone and fluid phrasing.

With Mozart’s Sonata, she focused on the operatic dimension of the composer’s works, singing throughout my lesson.

Finally, a musical retrospective that’s framed with Rosina Lhevinne’s inspiring words.

Rosina and Josef Lhevinne

“…discover the world through study, kindness, imagination, and through the integrity of your own quest.”

About Lillian and Irwin Freundlich
Irwin and Lillian Freundlich Collection


“Irwin Freundlich (1908 – 1977) was an internationally recognized piano educator who taught at the Juilliard School in New York for more than 40 years.

“He studied piano with James Friskin and Edward Steuermann at the Institute of Musical Art (parent school of the present Juilliard), and took further studies in musicology with Paul Henry Lang and Erich Hertzmann at Columbia University.

“In 1935, he became a member of the faculty at Juilliard and continued to maintain a heavy teaching schedule there in the piano department. He was the co-author with James Friskin of “Music For Piano: A Handbook of Teaching and Concert Material,” published in 1954 and currently available from Dover Publications.

“His students have concertized throughout the world and have been prize winners in numerous prestigious national and international competitions, such as the Naumberg and Leventritt in New York, the Van Cliburn in Texas, the Mozart in Austria, the Busoni in Italy, the Enescu in Romania, the Liszt-Bartok in Hungary, the J. S. Bach in Washington, D. C. and the Kosciuszko in New York, among many others.

“For thirteen summers (1953 – 1965), Irwin Freundlich held master classes on the campus of Bennington College in Vermont. He also performed recitals and conducted master classes, seminars and workshops at many institutions of higher learning throughout the United States, as well as serving on important juries for national and international competitions. He appeared in many recitals of music for one piano four hands with his wife, Lillian Freundlich.

“Lillian Freundlich was a distinguished member of the Piano Department at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and was also a member, at times, of the faculties at Juilliard Summer School, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the North Carolina School of the Arts. Aside from her performances with her husband, Lillian Freundlich also performed solo recitals in the U.S. and Europe.”




An ageless pianist and her historic concert (I was there)

Arioso7's Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

This is the program that I preserved from the event. It was contained in a boxful of musical artifacts that my mother sent me.

On March 28th, 1960, I was present at Madame Rosina Lhevinne’s Eightieth Birthday celebration concert held at the Juilliard School, and it was an evening to remember. I received the ticket compliments of Lillian Freundlich my piano teacher, through her husband, Irwin, who was then Chair of the Piano Department.

Jean Morel conducted the Juilliard Orchestra as Lhevinne played the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major like an angel. In the audience were many of her students including John Browning and Lee Luvisi. I’m not sure if Van Cliburn made it to the event, but there was a tribute to the pianist given by William Schuman, President.

Years later when I arrived at the Oberlin Conservatory, I discovered a recording on vinyl of this…

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Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, youtube.com

Piano Technique: Arpeggios!

I love these romps through broken chords (around the CIRCLE of FIFTHS) and my adult students “work out” weekly. (The challenge is to have smooth shifts between octaves, a seamless playing in legato minus thumb CLUNKS, and in staccato to play crisp and evenly.

Arpeggios (root, third, fifth patterns) can be practiced in parallel motion (same direction both hands); contrary motion, starting in the middle of the piano, for example and fanning out Right and Left hand in opposite directions; in tenths (parallel motion, naturally; and in 4-note groupings with a doubled root: example, CEGC, EGCE, GCEG, CEGC or *Four-note arpeggios played through inversions)

This last form can also be arranged in 10ths where the right hand starts ten notes above the left, or is basically a “skip” from the root, transposed into a higher octave. (aka beginning in first inversion, RH) This scheme can be reversed with the LEFT HAND starting in first inversion or any other against ten notes above in the right. (Various choices-inversions are possible.)

Arpeggios can and should be played in many articulations and dynamic levels. (legato–smooth and connected; staccato-crisp at forte and piano levels) Forearm, finger, and “wrist staccato” renderings are recommended.

Blocking techniques, especially, are very helpful in executing arpeggios, where notes between the thumb are clumped or chunked.

Here are some snatches of lessons-in-progress and tutorials from my ARPEGGIO video archive:

A minor Arpeggio in parallel motion (Tutorial)

G# minor in TENTHS

D# minor

Tutorial, E Major arpeggio :

Piano Lesson in progress by Skype, E Major Arpeggio, snip legato into staccato

C Major arpeggio practice in blocks.. (Skype supplement

D Major Arpeggio in contrary motion (Skype supplement)

*Four-note arpeggios

Diminished 7th form, and then Diminished 7th to Dominant 7th arpeggios

Piano Adventures Primer Lesson Book, youtube.com

Piano Lessons: The Raw adult beginner

I use the term “raw” to describe adult piano students who don’t read music or play by ear. They often come to their first lesson oozing with enthusiasm, but harboring fears associated with success and failure themes. It’s the usual environmental humdrum we all know about that puts the business paradigm squarely at odds with an artistic, self-realizing pursuit. But I’ll table what I previously explored.

In this writing I’m focused on the approach to early instruction and the materials selected.

Over years of teaching, I’d found myself gravitating toward Randall Faber’s Accelerated Older Beginner Lesson Book, though in many instances it moved far too quickly, not providing enough unencumbered opportunities to work on the piano’s singing tone repository. (And it had a built-in primordial prejudice against black notes)

To the contrary, Faber’s Piano Adventures, Primer Lesson Book, that’s supposedly assigned to children at the outset of their music education, worked a lot better with brand new adult students of the “virgin” variety.

Faber Lesson book Primer

The earliest Primer pieces (in both the Lesson and Performance books) are launched on the ebonies, (persisting to advantage) and these attach finger numbers and floating notes. There’s no staff as yet, but the feel of melodic movement as reflected in the preliminary notation, is like pablum to an infant– it’s digestible.

Of more importance, is the musical quality and substance of these black-note pieces that engage both hands from the outset in alternating sequence.

Faber is a gifted pianist and composer. He and wife Nancy have provided good music and lovely accompaniments in pupil/teacher duet format that are doubly enticing for a new student.

With Method books, in general, however I shy away from the addiction associated with them–i.e. an unrelenting march from primer to 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, etc. and into a chasm of so-called fixed positions that are play-by-finger-number crutches.

But if the entree to learning allows the teacher to explore the singing tone without too many notational/staff obstacles, then it’s a great launch pad to diversified content with the eventual cross-fertilization of other sources. (I should add that transposing should be an ingredient of all instruction, and not delayed–so that what a teacher does with instructional materials becomes a clever, creative improvisation, not a prepackaged, beat-a-dead-horse to the ground undertaking.)

The following snatch of a SECOND lesson with a NEWBIE makes the point loud and clear, that even from day one, the singing tone and how to produce it must be at the fore of the piano learning process.


About Prejudice against black notes


Starting Lessons with a new Adult Student (but not a raw beginner)

Adult Piano Themes and Issues

Are Adult Students Stigmatized?