Clementi Sonatina Op. 36 no. 3, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, long distance piano learning, piano, piano lessons, piano lessons by Skype, playing piano, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, skyped piano lessons, teaching piano online, word press, word, wordpress,, you tube, you, yout tube,

Piano Instruction: Clementi Sonatina in C, Op. 36 No. 3 (parts 1 and 2) and a Skyped lesson-in-progress recorded by camcorder

Supplements to Skyped lessons come in two forms. I will either send an unlisted mid-week video to a long-distance learner as a brush-up, or I’ll upload public videos that can be universally shared.

Both help me crystallize how I will phrase a composition and teach it. The student, in an interactive role, feeds me ideas that are processed and put to work in each subsequent lesson. The growth process is dynamic and ongoing.

In this revisit of Clementi’s Sonatina in C, Op. 36, No. 3, I sat beside by iMAC in the morning facing a pupil in Greece, while my camcorder was set up to capture a clear view of my hands for the student’s benefit.

Routinely, I record these lessons, unless pupils object. Most often they’re pleased to have pivotal excerpts of footage sent to them following our web exchange. Where transmission-related problems might temporarily interrupt a lesson-in-progress, supplementary videos reclaim valuable teaching moments.

The follow-up to my Greece to California SKYPE, included three supplements:

Instructional videos (part 1 and Part 2) made separately in my studio and uploaded to You Tube. (I. Exposition, II. Development to Recapitulation)

A five-minute excerpt of the pupil’s Skyped lesson-in-progress uploaded to You Tube.

All three were sent to the student to assist his practicing during the week.

But first a play through, movement 1, Spiritoso

P.S. I appear as a ghost in my first tutorial since my piano lamp splashed unintended light beams in my direction.

SKYPE Excerpt, California to Greece:

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Piano Instruction: Common student problems related to playing Clementi Sonatina, Op. 36, No. 3, Spiritoso (Video)

The student I’m currently teaching by Skype has received a number of supplemental videos from me that target problems universal to those learning Clementi Sonatina, Op. 36, No. 3.

In this video, geared for teachers as well as students, I define areas in the first movement, Spiritoso, that need particular focus for improvement:

As a preliminary, the Classical era Sonatina Form should be explored, fleshing out the EXPOSITION (first and second themes); DEVELOPMENT (devices used that relate to rhythm, and modulation to various keys) RECAPITULATION (return of Theme I and related material in the home key)

In summary:

1) The left hand broken chords that open the composition are usually played vertically and far too loud, detracting from the melody or THEME I (The same issue presents where Theme I is inverted in the Development section, and returns in the Recapitulation)

Remediation: Have the student first “block” out these two-note Left Hand figures with a “spongy” wrist, and then unblock, playing softly with a rocking motion, being attentive to the notes that move. (a flexible wrist is needed)

2) Piece lacks a steady, underlying, cohesive beat. Tempo changes are frequent.

Remediation: DON’T use a metronome. Instead instill a rhythmic consciousness by lifting beats as a conductor beside the student. Sing beats, so they have a phrase context. Subdivide counting using ANDS between beats as necessary.

3) Dynamic range is not wide enough throughout the composition, and Theme II needs a contrast and change in character. Underlying broken chords played in the bass under Theme 2 are too ponderous.

Remediation: Encourage Attentive listening for changes in dynamics; requires deeper in the key weight transfer to lighter application having a relaxed arm, wrist, and elbow. For the broken chord figures in the bass, block with a spongy wrist, and unblock with a rotation of the left hand.

4) Notes are played without awareness of a singing tone. Phrases lack shape.

Remediation: Sing phrases with student, and apply weight transfer to create swells of a line, as well as crescendo and diminuendo, enlisting a supple wrist.

5) Where music has measures of imitation, student overlooks.

Remediation: Focus on these and practice feeding the imitative lines between the hands, framing as a “conversation.”

6) Note values are not observed, giving short shrift to quarter notes, in particular while rests are ignored.

Remediation: Focus on measures where these figures need attention, and count beats aloud with student. Where quarter notes are dropped too early in relation to eighths running through them, single out those measures for extra practice.

7) Articulation and phrasing as noted by the composer are not observed (slurs, legato to staccato figures, etc)

Remediation: Remind student of the composer’s markings in the music and separately practice measures that need clarity.

8) Detached notes, such as those indicated with a staccato marking are clipped too short or come out sounding too heavy with unwanted accents.

Remediation: Work with student on lengthening these, keeping the wrist pliant to avoid crash landings on the keys.

9) Fingering is frequently not observed which impacts phrasing, articulation, etc.

Remediation: Single out measures that need fingering adjustments and practice behind tempo.

10) Trills bog down the flow of the composition, mostly played too slow, and in a tempo that is markedly different from the rest of the piece.

Remediation: Practice a measured trill and have the student focus on the steadiness of the bass notes through pertinent measures.