You tube never fails to deliver when precious memories seem to fade with time. Today as I was checking Facebook notifications, I noticed a you tube link to a Bach Cantata directed by Josh Rifkin. His face had been buried in the very darkness of the basement shule we both attended in the Bronx. (Isaac… Continue reading You Tube and rekindled memories
An adult student and I explored sequences in the Allemande opener of Bach's French Suite in G as we parceled out the treble and bass lines. (Still another voice that danced from the alto to tenor range, was separately identified and practiced) To craft beautiful phrases in the opening movement that limpidly flows in legato,… Continue reading Sequences and Phrase contouring in J. S. Bach’s French Suite No. 5, BWV 816
Today began on a high note. Ethan Hawke's documentary about Seymour received a rave review in the New York Times. It was the latest in a series superlatives that synchronized perfectly with the film's debut in New York City at the Lincoln Center Festival amidst whispers about a probable Oscar nomination. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/arts/ethan-hawke-films-seymour-an-introduction.html?_r=0 To many film… Continue reading The latest about Seymour Bernstein, the Hawk(e), and two colorful Birds
After 6'4" Big Mike sits snugly in front of my Baldwin grand--his knees crushing in on him, he's thoroughly prepared to avoid a set of land mines that trigger a wrong note implosion. Normally when his mega-sized third finger depresses a G, wedged between framing black notes, he's at HUGE risk to strike TWO notes… Continue reading When big hands and fingers play unwanted notes
One of the biggest challenges in playing the Eb Major (Op. 9) and F minor (Op. 55) Nocturnes is preserving awareness of the fundamental bass note movement against the melody while after beat chords provide a harmonic enrichment in the overall voicing. Too often, however, these chords on the off beats (following the downbeat) somehow… Continue reading Learning Two Chopin Nocturnes (Eb and F minor) with a framing bass line/treble perspective
Setting aside a segment of lesson time to work on sight-reading and transposition is an essential ingredient of piano learning. It sensitizes a student to interval relationships while inviting an analysis of notes within a tonal, harmonic, and rhythmic frame. In the transposing universe, Bartok's *Mikrokosmos provides an excellent source of such material in graduated… Continue reading Sight-reading, Transposition, and Ear-Training for the Adult Piano Student
I'm always warmed by lovely, contoured phrasing, especially when it's produced by an adult student who's reached a new level of aesthetic consciousness through especially attentive and consistent practicing. This particular player has increased her sensitivity in shaping the Chopin A minor Waltz melody with curves, dips, loops, and tapering, while her left hand that… Continue reading An adult piano student explores phrase shaping in Chopin’s A minor Waltz, Op. Posth.
Piano students of all levels can benefit from 5-finger position romps in many keyboard geographies. That's because a player can experiment with legato and staccato on a bed of black notes; white notes, or combinations of both, without worrying about thumb shifts and complicated fingering maneuvers. In this relaxed spread of the fingers, the pianist… Continue reading Piano Technique: Five-Finger positions are good for you!
In the universe of playing incorrect notes, I tell students to chill out, and approach a particular glitched passage in an organized manner. (This does NOT include PLAYING the so-called wrong note again ON PURPOSE to eliminate it) When an unintended error is magnified by PLAYING IT again, the brain REGISTERS that action as legitimate.… Continue reading Piano Practicing: What to do when you make a mistake
As I foraged through a closet filled with old picture frames, entangled extension cords, discarded lamp shades and pencil sharpeners, I stumbled upon an ancient Digital 8 camcorder that was my original You Tube movie messenger. With its mega-size cassettes and whooshing audio, it still managed to capture my earliest piano lessons with Rina, age… Continue reading A Walk Down Memory Lane with Two pint-sized Piano Students