adult piano studies, adult piano teaching, piano teacher, piano teaching, piano techique

Piano Technique: Practicing well-shaped scales and arpeggios (videos)

It’s always disheartening when students forego their scales and arpeggios at lessons, choosing instead, to dive immediately into repertoire. In their zeal to immerse themselves in the Masterworks, they neglect a pivotal Circle of Fifths journey that’s wedded to keyboard geographies, key relationships, and much more. As a child, I reviled scales like most beginning… Continue reading Piano Technique: Practicing well-shaped scales and arpeggios (videos)

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Creating a seamless, singing tone legato through arpeggios and scales

My students are often amused by my prompts that frequently include “oohs,” “ahhs,” and “wah’s,” among other spaced out sounds, to prevent consonant sounding notes or hard-liners from interrupting a smooth, “sighing” stepwise descent to the tonic. And from this universe of impromptu effusions, I’ve created a self-styled language, that, at times, has incorporated barnyard… Continue reading Creating a seamless, singing tone legato through arpeggios and scales

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Fluid Arpeggios: No hand twisting, with floating arms and an economy of motion

Piano Technique: Arpeggios LOCATION: From: Berkeley, California To: Sydney, Australia I continue to learn from my students as I view close-ups of their arms, wrists, hands/fingers in motion across the keyboard. Most of my epiphanies occur over Skype or Face Time where I pinpoint technical problems that are MAGNIFIED by the webcam. I might use… Continue reading Fluid Arpeggios: No hand twisting, with floating arms and an economy of motion

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A London piano student fine tunes her F# Major scales and arpeggios (staccato and legato)

Yu has been my Skype student for a few years now and she’s made big gains in producing a singing tone with supple wrists, relaxed arms, and hand/finger weight transfer. Today she assiduously practiced her F# Major Scale and Arpeggio, energizing forearm and wrist staccato. Using “cupped hands” for her power driven forearm staccato on… Continue reading A London piano student fine tunes her F# Major scales and arpeggios (staccato and legato)

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Piano Technique: Stabilizing tempo, presence of mind, and breathing through scales and arpeggios

This has to be one of my favorite reciprocal teaching/learning videos because it fleshes out the importance of breathing through scales with mindful concentration. Framed by a singing pulse, the scale becomes a model for all playing. Here’s B minor in Contrary Motion (legato) with my annotations that reference the BREATH and mindfulness. Important Prompts:… Continue reading Piano Technique: Stabilizing tempo, presence of mind, and breathing through scales and arpeggios

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Piano Technique: Self-created Scale and Arpeggio Prep

Over months and years, I’ve devised various technique framed routines that happen to be bi-products of trial and error excursions over the keyboard. To the extent that I put myself under self-analysis following a stint of formal piano study, I was able to discard a lion’s share of the factory-generated, Conservatory-based litany that encapsulated certain… Continue reading Piano Technique: Self-created Scale and Arpeggio Prep

adult piano instruction, E minor Arpeggio, piano blog, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano technique, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten

Piano Technique: E minor arpeggios in staccato (various practicing approaches)–Video

Playing staccato triplets through romping arpeggios poses challenges for many students. Tension is triggered by what seems like disconnected notes, when in fact, the root, third, fifth progression should have a connecting thread. (despite note detachment) That’s why I’ll often recommend blocking out the arpeggio as the first preliminary to playing in LEGATO (smooth and… Continue reading Piano Technique: E minor arpeggios in staccato (various practicing approaches)–Video

adult piano instruction, piano blog, piano blogging, piano lessons, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten

Piano Technique: Breathing through inverted chords and 4-note arpeggios

A thoughtful journey through 4-note (double root) C Major Chords in INVERSIONS was a lesson preliminary to unraveling them with shape and contour. As a start, an adult student imagined the sound intended, breathed through a string of sonorities, and became aware of sensory and muscle memory dimensions of practicing. These fed nicely into the… Continue reading Piano Technique: Breathing through inverted chords and 4-note arpeggios

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Piano Technique: Studying/Mapping out the F# minor scale and arpeggio (Video)

Exploring the two octave model is a good start with a separate hand approach to clarify fingering. I prefer making an adjustment for the opening F#, G#, A in the Right Hand (2, 3, 1) instead of 3, 4, 1 When considering a fast tempo, 2, 3, 1 is less awkward than passing a thumb… Continue reading Piano Technique: Studying/Mapping out the F# minor scale and arpeggio (Video)

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Piano Technique: Split-Screen, rolling 4-note arpeggios (C# minor; B minor)

I love to work with students on 4-note arpeggios through inversions, prompting them to ROLL into horizontal, curvaceous groups of notes to avoid up and down finger poking. The elements of visualization (“imagining” motion SHAPES); kinesthetic translation (counterclockwise arm motions) attentive listening, CENTERING, and relaxed, natural breathing, all work in harmony to produce a smooth,… Continue reading Piano Technique: Split-Screen, rolling 4-note arpeggios (C# minor; B minor)