Most piano students are familiar with Friedrich Burgmuller's set of Twenty-Five Easy and Progressive Studies, Op. 100, that are tasteful Romantic era miniatures with appealing programmatic titles. "Tender Flower," "The Little Party," and "The Wagtail," to name a few, are far from dripping with the excesses that one might encounter in the manuscripts of Romantic… Continue reading How to stay calm in the Eye of “The Storm”- Practicing Burgmuller’s L’Orage, Op. 109, No. 13
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
Compositions that are laden with myriads of fast paced notes often pose a problem for students whose immediate response is to efficiently "type" them out. Implementing such a mechanical approach often excludes an awareness of a melodic strand that will need to undergo shaping and contouring. One particular piece comes to mind that offers an… Continue reading Finding a melodic thread in a sea of fast notes
One of my Oberlin Conservatory piano teachers regarded Vladimir Horowitz as a fire and ice player. He referred to the maestro as having the uncanny ability to turn out a hot performance with a cool demeanor. (The physical control, of course, was AMAZING!) Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75ZAOwgzoAE Same applies to Yuja Wang, pianist, who delivers a sizzling… Continue reading Piano Technique: A fire and ice approach to learning pieces at breakspeed tempo
I say yes to naysayers on various Internet forums. They would have you believe that playing a series of notes cannot be altered by a physical approach to the keys that includes a supple wrist. Their gospel is, it's all the same no matter who plays C, D, E, F, G. These concrete thinkers, insist… Continue reading Can we rise above the hammer mechanism of our beloved piano?
Don't let this be a one-night stand piece but rather a long-term relationship. I dared to overnight it as prep for a new student who tossed it my way, but upon reflection, I sat down at the piano, and produced an instruction (both helpful to myself and those diving headlong into this "stormy" composition) L'Orage… Continue reading Piano Instruction: Burgmuller, The Storm, “L’Orage” Op. 109 No. 13 (Expect turbulence)
I enjoy my weekly journey to a home way up in the Hills of El Cerrito (neighbor to Berkeley) There, I teach Lucy and Fritz who play a lovely, resonant Baldwin Acrosonic that I advised mom to purchase (over at DC Pianos) Acros happen to be among my favorites in the spinet/console category. The Back… Continue reading Sister and brother piano lessons in the Hills