As we age, we're reluctant to look at our reflection in the mirror, but as we grow over time as musicians, the mirror of our playing in recorded "reflections" can foster quality adjustments in phrasing and interpretation. If we nudge ourselves to step back and be "objective" about what we're hearing, we may try to… Continue reading Mirrors and piano playing
Having recently started mentoring a new student whose principal instrument is guitar, I realized that repertoire offered at the beginner level requires the same sensitive understanding of phrasing, nuance, framing rhythm and the underlying singing tone that applies to music of greater complexity. (Not to overlook the common cultivation of all-embracing mindfulness, focus, and full… Continue reading No piece is too easy
Livia Rev, a seasoned pianist, ripened by her 99 years on earth, drew my attention during a You Tube search for performances of Chopin's Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15. (It was at a time when I was studying and teaching the composition.) The middle section of this work has a notable turbulent emotional shift… Continue reading Livia Rev, pianist, ripens with age
Most musicians fully appreciate the extra-musical "programmatic" content in works by Romantic era composers. Robert Schumann, for example, captures children playing tag by throwing "got you" accents on the downbeats of measures framed in sprightly staccato. (short, detached articulations) The aforementioned is well-illustrated in Schumann's colorful tableau, "Hasche-Mann"-"Blindman's Bluff" from Kinderszenen: (The vocabulary of art… Continue reading The Art and Music synthesis: Does it exist?
As piano teachers, we often devise spur of the moment, impromptu strategies to deal with redundant student glitches as they frequently play out in scales and arpeggios. In this creative teaching/learning universe, we can become quite imaginative as we integrate physically-based adjustments with mental cues and prompts that might ironically lead us to the "barnyard."… Continue reading Barnyard follies in the piano studio, or how imaginative prompts can improve technique
If a student is well-prepared, having devoted quality time during the week to practicing scales, arpeggios, and pieces assigned, a lesson can contain a nice balance of ingredients. Barring holidays, long distance travel and time zone changes, most pupils will devote 15 to 20 minutes of their lesson to technique, and the remaining 40 minutes… Continue reading A balanced piano lesson of Technique and Repertoire
One of the fruits of forming a Short Story Book group, is meeting people who not only share an embrace of fine literature, but who might also enjoy a strong connection to the music world. Judith and Stan Jacobs fit nicely into this dual universe, having become members of my shrinking degrees of separation literary… Continue reading When Your Song Breaks the Silence: A book about Franz Schubert