adult piano instruction, Classical era sonatas, classical music, Classical music blog, K. 283, Mozart, Mozart Sonata No. 5 K. 283, Mozart Sonatas, piano blog, piano blogging, piano instruction, piano lessons, Shirley Kirsten, W.A. Mozart

Exploring Mozart Sonata No. 5 in G, K. 283 (First movement, Allegro)

The learning exchange between student and teacher is heightened when a new piece is introduced. In the case of Mozart’s charming, early period Sonata no. 5 in G, it became a revisit for me that brought new revelations that I shared during the course of weekly lessons.


Mozart presents a challenge in capturing a singing tone that is emblematic of the opera. (From Wiki: “The work was written down during the visit Mozart paid to Munich for the production of his La finta giardiniera from late 1774 to the beginning of the following March.”)

At least when playing the opening allegro of K.283, even the Forte-pianos (f-ps), that might suggest more abrupt and decisive accents in Beethoven’s mid-period sonatas, are far more elegantly played in Mozart’s early sonata vocabulary so one should be able to sing them.

Bass notes in a parallel octave progression moving in an intensifying fashion seem to be yielding to those doubled in the treble, lest they sound too ponderous for the period. Therefore, one must respect a fine line of sensitivity in their execution.

Pianist, Murray Perahia speaks of the singing pulse in Mozart works, and I must agree. He states that a rubato lives within the composer’s music but not necessarily taken with such liberty as would apply to Chopin and the Romantics.

Finally, in my tutorial, I try to apply educated instincts and intuition to my exploration of the opening Allegro, K.283, with a focus on the singing tone, phrasing, harmonic rhythm and form.

The Exposition is naturally a springboard for my analysis of the whole movement that weaves in motivic and harmonic tie-ins.

Mozart Sonata K283 p. 1 Allegro 1

Mozart Sonata K283 p. 2 Allegro

Play Through:


From Wiki

“Piano Sonata No. 5 (Mozart)

“Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 5 in G major, K 283 (189h) (1774) is a piano sonata in three movements:


“This sonata is part of the earliest group of sonatas that Mozart published in the mid-1770s. The first movement is a sonata-allegro movement that is concise, with an economy of materials. The development section is a mere 18 measures long. The shorter length and moderate technical demands make it an ideal piece for early-advanced study and performance.

“A typical performance takes twelve to eighteen (Richter) minutes.”

classical music, how to trill on the piano, Joyce Di Donato, opera, operatic trills, piano blog, piano blogging, piano technique, piano trills, Shirley Kirsten, vocal model for piano playing, W. A. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Technique: Trills and the vocal model

Joyce Di Donato, “lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano,” is my model for trilling. In an embedded you tube video, the opera singer emphasizes the undulating character of a beautifully executed trill that leans on the upper note. (Too often pianists deliver a robotic stream of alternating notes that’s shapeless and out of breath, ignoring an internal flow and contour.) If we listen to birds chirping with their never-ending auditory appeal, we might gain valuable insight into trill production.

Here’s Joyce working on trills with a student at the Royal College of Music in London. It’s a nice point of departure for a musical transfer to the piano.

Below is a brief supplementary trill instruction followed by my teacher snatches from a LIVE interchange with an adult student at her Walnut Creek home. In the latter, I demonstrate on her magnificent vintage Steinway A. (1911)


My teacher examples, that are LIVE lesson recorded excerpts are meant to assist the student’s practicing during the week:

classical music, Mozart, Mozart Sonata in C K. 545, piano, piano instruction, piano lessons, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, word press, you tube

Never say never to a finger-trapping passage (Mozart Rondo: Allegro K. 545)-Video

Mozart Sonata Rondo revised 2  Coda K. 545

While we all experience head on collisions with tricky measures despite our best efforts to avoid repeated catastrophes, (through careful, methodical practicing) there comes a time, to let go, and give the whole undertaking a rest. In my case, it was at least a year before I revisited the last part of Mozart’s Rondo: Allegro, (suicide-tripping measures 68-73)

In hindsight, if fingering choices were at the heart of my original problem, they had played enough of a role to force me to beg for various options from respected East Coast colleagues. Still, in the longterm, I endured ongoing mishaps as I careened into the final cadence.

Last night, I thankfully experienced a long sought reversal of fortune by tapping into my mental state as the best resource for change.

It wasn’t as much relaxation and composure that altered the inevitable, but a form of self-deception that finally smoothed out the terrain.

Thinking close to the keys through the last parallel thirds, that formerly locked my wrists and forearms, I thought LEGATO (connect them) at least as a mental construct to stay grounded. And then preserving that security blanket of notes in whatever form they took, I synched my breath to the outflow.

There’s no doubt that edginess, in any form will gut a tricky set of measures, and naturally the quickened pace can intimidate the most well-prepared pianist.

But add in some sane blocking routines to the mix, and the prognosis improves. But it’s not enough. The mental games a pianist plays are as important as the nuts and bolts of fingering choices and pedantic rehearsals.

So hopefully, this new turn of events captured step-by-step on video, will inspire others to preserve a positive outlook even in the worst of times. (so Never say Never!)

arioso7, classical music, Classical music blog,, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano blog, piano blogging, piano forums, piano instruction, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, piano teacher, piano teaching, piano teaching forums, piano technique, Piano World, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, wordpress, you tube

Lesson supplement videos assist Transfer Students in their transition to a new teacher

Most transfer students that I’ve encountered over the years better brave the change from one teaching style to another, by watching recorded views of their lessons. Because there may be a tad of anxiety associated with approaching the piano in a different way than previously learned, watching instructional excerpts that focus on the piano as “singing instrument,” becomes a more familiar and friendly frame of reference with time and exposure.

With a stroke of good fortune, a new tonal landscape that’s wedded to supple wrist and fluid follow through motions gradually replaces pencil point-like key attacks that impede beautiful phrasing.

A dimension of learning that partners with the singing tone approach, is the identification of ORGANIZERS (symmetries, fingering patterns, sequences, harmonic progressions, etc) that are fleshed out in recorded segments and forwarded to the student.


My newest transfer, (New York-based), discovered a whole new way of relating to the piano through a Level 1, Classical era Minuet by James Hook. Minuet by HookThough she expressed doubt she could remember all that transpired in the lesson (Over Skype), my having the Call Record feature enabled instant capture of footage from an overhead cam view which I edited for easier consumption.

In a second video, I demonstrated a side view of my own slow practice rendering.

OVERHEAD PERSPECTIVE: (Lesson in Progress–edited for teacher comments)

Finally, as I mouse-tapped through my you tube video files, I found a tutorial that afforded additional learning reinforcement.

In summary, these recorded lesson supplements provide a clear example of how to practice within a singing tone, singing pulse framework, that assists transfer students in their transition to a new teacher.


Avoiding Pencil Point Playing

classical music,,

Celebrating Beethoven’s Birthday!

Albeit a day later, the composer’s music is worth our adulation.

Since words cannot amply express the beauty of Beethoven’s outpourings, I’ve selected a favorite movement that speaks volumes about his genius:

classical music, classissima, classissima. om, ear training, Fundamentals of Piano Theory by Snell and Ashleigh, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Mozart Sonata in C Major Rondo Allegretto, Mozart Sonata no. 16 in C Major K. 545, music theory, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano learning, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessons in Berkeley California, piano lessons in El Cerrito California, piano pedagogy, piano playing, word press, word, wordpress, you tube video, you, yout tube,

Ear Training and Transposing are intrinsic to piano lessons (examples from an Adult lesson in progress)

It’s not easy to plan a one hour piano lesson to include ear training, solfege and transposing. (They belong together, bundled with Theory, and enrich the learning environment)

At the Oberlin Conservatory, Theory, Keyboard Harmony, and Eurhythmics were taught separately. Our piano teachers (applied study) adhered to their rigid routine, rarely fitting solfege, sight-reading, improvising, composing etc. into the time-limited hour. Yet, the cross-fertilization of course work, expanded our musical horizons.

The New York City High School of Performing Arts, my alma mater, offered a valuable/mandatory Sight-singing course that continued from 10th grade through senior year. It was enormously relevant as the movable DO (solfeggio) helped me navigate complex scores, and peel away voices.

Piano students who just stick to the music without being exposed to theory, ear-training and other mind-enriching escapades, are basically short-changed. They often view their pieces as finger challenges only–easily becoming Treble clef fixated, tacking on bass lines without a second thought. Naturally, their sight-reading suffers because they’re not internalizing interval movement in various voices, or sensing harmonic flow.

In an effort to stem the tide of such top layer, tracing paper learning, I’ve made a concerted effort to delegate at least 15 minutes of my students’ lesson time to ear training and transposing. (One of my source materials is Fundamentals of Piano Theory by Snell and Ashleigh) Snell and Ashleigh

As an example, I videotaped an adult student transposing snatches from the Preparatory Level workbook, page 45.

for transposition using solfege


I’ve tossed in a spot-practicing segment where the ADULT student is smoothing out a tricky set of measures in the RONDO: Allegretto, Mozart Sonata, K. 545. (Repertoire should be a springboard for sight-singing, ear-training and theory adventures since they’re interwoven)

(I often slip into solfeggio in parceling voices)


Solfeggio and Transposing

The Importance of Sight-singing, Ear-training and Theory in piano study

Using Piano Repertoire and as a springboard for a theory lesson

How to Improve Sight-Reading

Berkeley CA, classical music, classissima,, El Cerrito CA, Google adware, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI37 in D, Haydn Sonata in C, Haydn Sonata no. 37 in D, Haydn Sonata XVI 35 in C, Joseph Haydn, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten,, you tube, you tube video, yout tube,

Heart Attacks and Haydn!

Haydn heart attack largerHaydn D Major

I couldn’t help but chuckle at a stream of advertising overlapping my Haydn D Major, Hoboken XVI 37 Sonata: “FOUR SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK”

The Google ad, as it ran, uncannily tracked KILLER passages in this composition that would pose a risk to cardiovascular health (Especially the brutal contrapuntal bass line in the Development section) Or any number of Fortissimo, careening diminished chord figures!

Just minutes before, as I first reviewed the posting (freshly imported to You Tube) a DEMENTIA WARNING plagued my reading. OK so I had to use my music on this one, but was it a predictor of a complete memory breakdown in the offing?

It could have been worse if my Haydn triggered the FACEBOOK UNFRIEND ad! By clicking it, I would have an instant heart attack finding out who had abandoned me!

That would not be as shocking as an ARREST record stream–though ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT applied to the Haydn RECAPITULATION if murdered.

OOPS! I noticed these malignant, if not criminal ads rotate, so I can’t easily pin ’em down!

A poor little girl named “McKenna” had a Blue and Orange Google Ad BLINKING madly through her Haydn Sonata No. 48 In C Major, causing two memory lapses.

The DEMENTIA ad probably was more suitable for this track.

What am I saying? The child was about 7, and yes, I know about DNA markers and Alzheimer predictors, but these AD purveyors should get a life!

What’s this world coming to?

Bottom line, it’s not the MP3 revolution that’s killing Classical Music, but GOOGLE Adware that’s run rampant over J.S. Bach, Papa Haydn, W.A. Mozart and their forebears.

How about a call for WORLD PIECE! (spelling intended)

Let’s dedicate one SACRED DAY to posting our You Tubes without health and well-being ALERTS!

And while we’re at it, let us purge arrest records of You Tubers around the globe with a blanket Writ of Habeas Corpus.



Haydn Unpinned! and matters of Memorization