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When an adult piano student advances well beyond Primer preliminaries

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Peter started piano lessons from scratch about 1 and 1/2 years ago, not reading a note of music at the time, but having gads of enthusiasm about his maiden musical journey.

Readers will be reminded of his earliest efforts playing Faber Piano Adventure duets with me. (I chose the Primer edition because it moved slower than the companion Accelerated Adult Adventures)

Peter’s second piano lesson: Jan. 14th, 2014

The purple-colored book provided more opportunities to explore black note-based melodies for imbuing the singing tone/supple wrist/weight transfer/dynamic contrast spectrum while the companion adult book raced too quickly through the preliminaries. Still, the standard “method book” mentality was not compatible, in my opinion, with long-range acquisition of sound note-reading skills.

If I had to do it over, I would have thrown Frances Clark’s Music Tree into the mix. (Her materials shuffle fingers on landmark notes, Treble G, Bass clef F, Middle C, etc. and create departures from these at various, gradated intervals, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc.)

Nonetheless, hitched to early FABER pages, Peter made remarkable progress in a 4-6 week sprint with the material. The lovely Faber duos with harmonically engaging secondo parts, grew his love affair with the piano at a pivotal learning juncture.

Fast forward to the present. My inclination had been to snatch engaging music from various collections, creating a repertoire-based study environment, though Peter has had a regular dose of scales and arpeggios in legato and staccato. (parallel and contrary motion) Most recently he’s added 4-octave parallel 10ths to his technical routines.

In a Circle of Fifths journey through Major and Relative minors, he’s absorbed a lovely singing tone and animated staccato. With the latter, he can play convincing forearm to wrist-driven detached notes as demonstrated in a recent penta-scale framing. (Peter has also zoned in on clipped finger staccato contrasts when needed)

Yesterday, my very engaged pupil, made a landmark leap in playing J.C. Bach’s Prelude in A minor. His legato pedaling practice stemmed from his exposure to Poole’s Mist, and using the sustain, he admits, was comparable to experiencing a first sunrise. Without doubt, it ushered in a universe of piano love eternal.

Post Script: Over the past 18 months, Peter has acquired a beautiful singing tone that is advanced by his supple wrist approach to the piano. Combined with an understanding of weight transfer and its relationship to a producing a wide dynamic palette, he’s creating steadily beautiful musical outpourings.

Peter’s Repertoire List

“Happiness” by D.G. Turk
“Sadness” by D.G. Turk
Minuet by James Hook
“Go No More A-Rushing” (in two-part Invention form) by Willard Palmer
Study no. 6 Chernyavskaya
Study no. 8 Barenboim
“A Little Joke” by Kabalevsky
“Mist” by Poole
J.C. Bach Prelude in A minor
Peter is currently learning “First Sorrow” by R.Schumann, from the composer’s Album for the Young
He will also shortly embark upon “Clowns” by Kabalevsky

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