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A Peak teaching and learning experience!

Piano teachers may complain about students who hardly practice, or come to lessons with a truckload of excuses, but the times we savor are when everything seems to click.

Tonight, I had a lesson with an adult student who announced immediately before playing a note that her piece “was in the doghouse.”

What a tension-relieving way to begin our musical exchange!

I chuckled at her quip because I knew it was the disclaimer she needed to relax and enjoy our moments of creation.

The J.C. Bach Prelude is one of my favorite pieces, because it is a repository of heavenly harmonies spread through undulating broken chords. It’s the perfect vehicle to teach a singing tone legato and how to phrase beautifully with an awareness of forward wrist motions, rotation, natural, relaxed breathing, and the emulation of a singer.

This evening my pupil and I reached a pinnacle of communication because we were in the zone, having simultaneous awakenings.

The interplay grew our musical/emotional/physical consciousness to a “peak experience” level worth sharing.

JC Bach p1

JC Bach p. 2


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Two musical Eulogies for Newtown’s fallen

Seymour Bernstein sent a moving rendition of a Schumann masterpiece with this prologue:

“For years now, Part No. 6 of the Kreisleriana has haunted me. I hear it as a lament. As such, I decided to record it and dedicate it to the children and teachers who lost their lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.”

I listened to Seymour’s incomparably beautiful playing with its Old World flavor, like fine wine, and for some reason today, I was drawn to re-visit an elegiac Haydn slow movement.

No words need frame this, except to say that the Largo e sostenuto is deeply personal and poignant in the face of Sandy Hook’s tragedy.



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Piano Instruction: Suggested ways to practice Mozart Rondo: Allegretto, K. 545 in C Major

Rondo Allegretto Mozart 545

Having been through years of practicing and teaching this Mozart Alegretto, I have a few epiphanies that might benefit others. In the attached video, I assert that the opening Rondo motif with its lively thirds should not spill into an emphasized downbeat but rather a lifted one. This applies to the overlapping Left Hand as well, to create consistency. (Note that the Rondo A section includes measures 1-8)

(The Rondo Form: A, B, A, C, A followed by the Coda. The interspersed sections between the recurring RONDO A are called Episodes)

In the episodic portions of the movement, with streams of legato (connected) 16ths, as in Measures 9-13, I enlist a rolling wrist forward motion to counter a very articulated sound. Mozart’s music, evoking the light opera in this composition, should be singable.

The modulations to different keys also should be identified in the overall mapping of this movement. For instance Measures 28 through 52 are in A minor.
In measures 28-32, the lighthearted harmonic thirds motif returns, and they are then inverted to 6ths. (This is a Development section)

The Coda is a stream of legato 16ths (use the rolling wrist motion) that spills into a final two-measure zig zag arpeggio. (a fingering challenge for some)

Rondo Allegretto 545 coda

Think singable Mozart whether the notes are in short spurts, or longer spills. (But know there is a dualism permeating this Rondo–short, detached notes and contrasting legato phrases)

By the way, I use no pedal in this movement, because I believe clarity is best realized without it.

The video amplifies: I apologize for moments where the Mac motions of my hands and the music did not synch. Seems Imovie has not solved all its internal problems.


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