Barnyard follies in the piano studio, or how imaginative prompts can improve technique

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.”

As far afield as this may sound, two of my pupils were “clucking away” to center their hands on the black keys, as they de-intensified unmusical, intrusive thumb accents. In the framing of the F# minor arpeggio arpeggio, by intoning “Black—Black, Black,” etc. (referring to the SHARPS), a student omitted a tendency to fall hard on her white note affixed thumbs.

clucking hens

Two examples:

In this particular terrain, one of the biggest obstacles to fluid legato and staccato romps through 4-octaves, is the obtrusive thumb.

Because it’s the shortest finger it will exhibit a Napoleonic complex, asserting its un-entitled authority along the scale or arpeggio route if not specifically reigned in.

To undermine its Accent-heavy Autocratic leanings, I give it “feather light” status, while I position it in a way where it’s stripped of its pretension to Power. (One of my suggestions is to obliquely angle the thumb on the key so it does not flatten out on its side making it positioned for a sneak ATTACK.)

Students usually thrive when given tangible instruction and imaginative prompts that they can take home and integrate into their practicing.

So while a pupil’s piano sanctuary may oddly transform into a barnyard, it will reap the benefit of providing fertile ground for improvement.

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
This entry was posted in piano, piano blog, piano blogging, piano instruction, piano technique, scales and arpeggios and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Barnyard follies in the piano studio, or how imaginative prompts can improve technique

  1. Pingback: Barnyard follies in the piano studio, or how imaginative prompts can improve technique | Liv Morales

  2. Pingback: Barnyard follies in the piano studio, or how imaginative prompts can improve technique | Henry Tan

  3. Pingback: Barnyard follies in the piano studio, or how imaginative prompts can improve technique – Burning Bushes Music

  4. Pingback: When a Virtual Piano Student becomes a Reality! | Arioso7's Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

  5. Pingback: When a Virtual Piano Student becomes a Reality! | Henry Tan

  6. Pingback: When a Virtual Piano Student becomes a Reality! | Liv Morales

  7. Pingback: When a Virtual Piano Student becomes a Reality! – Burning Bushes Music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s