composing, piano, piano instruction

A nine-year-old Piano student at the six-month juncture of study

It’s hard to believe how far “Liz” has come in her musical journey.

With a half year’s exposure to the piano, she composes, transposes, and approaches her practicing draped in the singing tone.

In a repertoire-based phase of learning (with a primer method book tossed asunder) the student is embedded in relaxation techniques, with supple wrist, and graceful arms as the centerpiece of her keyboard approach.

Riveted to Accent on Gillock Book 2, and having embarked upon the composer’s “Summertime Polka,” she can play the charmer in back tempo, (after 3 weeks), though nonetheless expressively and with dynamic contrasts. Having a natural hand position, that’s nourished by “weeping willow” prompts, she’s well on her way to growing her skills to a level of pleasing artistry, through it will be an incremental, baby-step progression over the long-term.

Today’s video illustrates the pupil’s passage since she had her very first lesson on February 18th, 2016. (A side interview about the child’s creative Legos universe is a companion treat.)



Included below is a flashback to Liz’s very first encounter with the piano. (Note that numerous blog postings have tracked the child’s studies at periodic intervals)


I started my pupil on the Primer, A Time to Begin (Frances Clark) having spent about 4 and 1/2 months poring through this material.

Concurrent to using this book, I nourished transpositions, and composing opportunities in the Major/Parallel minor spectrum.

Penta-scales divided between the hands were part of the pupil’s progressive technical regimen. (She understands the composite of Whole Step, Whole Step, Half-Step, Whole Step for the Major tonality, with the lowered third creating the MINOR.)

At this point she is dividing complete ONE-OCTAVE scales between her hands and has comprehension of RELATIVE MINORS (three forms), to the extent that she composed a piece, “EGYPT” in ‘A’ Harmonic Minor. (I created a Teacher SECONDO)

M's Piece cropped

Through the pupil’s six months of piano study, she has accrued a nice collection of her own pieces, that at first were rendered as floating notes, but are now properly realized on the Grand Staff.

Liz references and understands the CIRCLE OF FIFTHS, and has added a regimen of divided hands ARPEGGIOS in two octaves with a cross-over LEFT HAND using finger number 2, before the descent.

She has also been given theory assignments that I have devised along the way, but recently these have become formalized with a companion workbook. (Snell/Ashleigh Series)

The student is also directed to write reviews of performances that I tab on You Tube. (Some are my own.)

Her most recent report describes the Gershwin Prelude No. 2.

Title page Gershwin review

p. 1 Gershwin Review

p. 2 Gershwin review

Liz clearly loves her creative journey and I’m thrilled to be a companion mentor/traveler. What can be more gratifying!


Liz’s piece, “Egypt” was so beautifully composed that I experimented with creating a set variations on it. Someday, she’ll have the skills to embellish it in octaves, sixths, etc. or however she chooses.

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