Many students play J.S. Bach's music with a typed out, articulated approach, forgetting to shape and contour phrases. In Bach's F Major Invention, BWV 779, the tendency is to overemphasize every element of broken chord F, A, C, F, in a perfunctory detachment, when musically the line tells us otherwise. Because the very first note… Continue reading Shaping a J.S. Bach Two-Part Invention
There's nothing more inhibiting to piano playing than being boxed in by ornaments--tied down by their inertia and lack of smooth resolution. For certain, if you're threatened by them, or anticipate the worst possible outcome, ENTRAPMENT, then it guarantees a hasty entry and debilitating departure. Sadly, breath-LESS and anxiety-prone pianists often impede their journey, leaving… Continue reading Ornaments, Romantic Style: Don’t be enslaved, but master them
It's about time a pianist, teacher, composer and author made it to the big screen. Seymour Bernstein is the star of a 81-minute documentary that's drawing critical acclaim in early Festival showings. On the East Coast, Seymour: An Introduction is slated for two important fall screenings at the prestigious New York Film Festival at Lincoln… Continue reading Pianist, Seymour Bernstein is the subject of an Ethan Hawke produced documentary
The symposia at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute brought three top flight performers together to share thoughts about performance-related issues. Leon Fleisher, Yo Yo Ma, and Pamela Frank, all fine musicians in their own instrumental cosmos, agreed that the Ego can be an impediment to anxiety-free music-making. Zeroing in on "performance pressure," Maestra Frank, a… Continue reading Performance Anxiety and Pressure Relievers
From Berkeley, California At 3:19 a.m. I had just revisited my recently posted video of Bach's Sarabande (French Suite in G)--a foreboding? http://youtu.be/hL3XnZosZ-E ... when suddenly the wall I was leaning against, ( while seated at the piano), started swaying from side-to-side. (somewhat like swells to crescendo < with releases >) Next, I felt a… Continue reading What happened during the Earthquake!
To put it lightly, degrees of separation in our musical cosmos are melting rapidly. By example, a Facebook post to my profile page from my 1960s era Orchestra teacher, led to a long lost neighbor who was the youngest member of the New York Philharmonic. To backtrack a bit, Herbert Gardner, a time-honored music director… Continue reading The shrinking world of music
Some call it "spot cleaning," I prefer spot "refining" to describe THOUGHTFUL, isolated step-wise measure practicing. Needless to say, a troublesome measure is surrounded by others that lead in and exit out of the problematic center, so it's not enough to have only a focal spotlight on a particular glitch, though it's a good start.… Continue reading Spot Practicing at the Piano: It’s Quality, not Quantity