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“Listen to the Long Notes”

Five words resonated profoundly through a Masterclass given by Pianist, Andras Schiff at the Juilliard School. They framed a myriad of movements in Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. Three students offered selections by Bach, Schubert and Schumann. (The event was Live-streamed) While Beethoven did not grace the program, Maestro Schiff's mentoring had far-reaching implications for… Continue reading “Listen to the Long Notes”

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The piano playing speed zone: Letting Go but Staying in Control

At some point, piano students will face the challenge of playing a super fast-paced piece without having it fall apart. And while such a task may seem daunting, the player can begin to allay his fears by devising a parceled out practicing strategy. The best panic attack prevention, (at the sight of a MM quarter=… Continue reading The piano playing speed zone: Letting Go but Staying in Control

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The “upper arm roll” and undulating wrist in piano playing

Many piano teachers call the same physical approach to various passages by a different name. I find myself in harmony with author, teacher, composer, Seymour Bernstein when he demonstrates the "upper arm roll" in Part 4 of his recorded series, "You and the Piano." https://youtu.be/lNYH8GQrdrc As it plays out in one my teaching videos, I… Continue reading The “upper arm roll” and undulating wrist in piano playing

"Harmony of the Angels, 25 Progressive Piano Pieces op. 100 by Burgmuller, blogmetrics, Burgmuller, piano, piano blog, piano lessons

The composer’s Metronome Marking and how pianists deal with it

I encountered a few performances of Burgmuller's "Harmony of the Angels" Op. 100, that were so briskly played, that I made sure to consult the composer's Metronome Marking for a reality check. And it was true that Dr. Alan Huckleberry and Phillip Sear, were the "speediest" players on You Tube. While they were not consistently… Continue reading The composer’s Metronome Marking and how pianists deal with it

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Schumann’s “Almost Too Serious” (Kinderszenen No. 10) requires get serious, step-wise practicing

When I first looked at a "seriously" complex page of dizzying tied-over (syncopated) notes in Schumann's "Almost Too Serious," (Fast Zu Ernst) I had a knee-jerk avoidance response--that is until I tapped into a permeating melodic thread that I isolated and wooed from its conspicuous alliance to myriads of off beats. In other words, I… Continue reading Schumann’s “Almost Too Serious” (Kinderszenen No. 10) requires get serious, step-wise practicing

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Two San Francisco musical attractions: Pianist, Trifonov and a Chinese Harpist

Within 48 hours, high-level music-making was heard in vastly different venues. Louise Davies Hall with its golden hue of lights and balconies provided a stunning backdrop for Daniil Trifonov’s heart-throbbing performance of Chopin’s Concerto No. 2 under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. Respighi’s Roman Festivals that concluded the concert, pierced the sound barrier in… Continue reading Two San Francisco musical attractions: Pianist, Trifonov and a Chinese Harpist

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Piano Technique: Avoiding thumpy thumbs!

One of the biggest challenges for pianists, particularly in the staccato playing scale cosmos, is to avoid a downward, pack-a-punch "thumpy thumb! This unwanted lead weight-loaded attack often interrupts a buoyantly springy journey, transforming it into crowded pile-up of space-less notes. Yet it seems inevitable that the shortest finger of each hand would overcompensate for… Continue reading Piano Technique: Avoiding thumpy thumbs!