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Piano Instruction: How to practice Variation 2, Mozart Sonata No. 11 in A, K. 331 (Videos)

The biggest challenge in this particular variation is the fast-paced tempo and ornament execution–not to mention the fleeting 4 against 3 relationship of treble 32nds above 16ths in the bass. But the latter, should not be a big concern considering how quickly everything spins by.

In the video instruction I suggest a step-wise practicing routine where the left hand is blocked in groups of three, tracking common tones and those that move.

Fingering is very critical in playing Variation 2 smoothly, so I have attached my recommendations, subject to modification depending on what is easiest for the player. I don’t think finger choices are set in stone.

As to character, this variant has the droll dimension due to the dissonant 1/2-steps rolling through it in the bass, (the D#, E redundancy, for example) and the prominent 8th note half-step bass line grace notes which are fleshed out in Forte measures.

Variation 2 definitely reflects Mozart’s lighthearted personality.

REMINDER: Slow practicing is the gateway to a happy long-range result. (Re: the ornaments, practice them slowly, and start on the upper neighbor of principal note)
For some players, depending on level and ability, a turn will be adequate. For others, try for more repercussions.

Close-up view– no repeats–for supple wrist motion and relaxed elbow swing out…

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Irina Morozova’s inspiring words flow through a lesson with an adult student (Beethoven’s Fur Elise-in-progress) Video

“From watching great pianists it is obvious that they incorporate quite different movements to achieve the same goals, because people do not play piano with fingers but rather with the mind and the ear. Again, it is the clear image of what kind of sound one wants to achieve, combined with the knowledge of how to get it….”

To frame a lesson with these ideas, helps to infuse it with the spiritual, analytical, and nonverbal elements of exchange.

Within this paradigm, one of my adult students continued her study of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” (C section, treble chord voicing with bass tremolo)

LINK:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

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Yevgeny Sudbin, another Russian Pianist topples my day!


I had my heart set on working out at the gym before noon, but as fate had it, I was stopped in my tracks by the breathtaking artistry of Yevgeny Sudbin. (only 32 years old) And it was merely 24 hours after I’d cried over Nikolai Lugansky’s Schumann Intermezzo from Faschingsschwank aus Wien.

Could these two synchronized angels of the Muse share a gene for impassioned piano playing?

Regardless, I would sing like a nightingale about Sudbin, spreading his immense gifts far and wide.

Let’s start with the artist’s Scarlatti, a composer so very dear to me.

Three exemplary performances sweep the listener into a universe of beauty from the first measure to final cadence. Nuance, dynamics, impeccable phrasing, just the right touch, and tone to please. It’s manifestly clear that one of the pianist’s teachers was Murray Perahia. I can tell by the way in which the Baroque repertoire is communicated. Not too loud, too soft or frivolous in any way. A nice range of dynamics are bundled into the playing.

These examples are heartfelt:

Finally, a mouse tap to Sudbin’s official website fills in the missing details that surround his remarkable life and musical accomplishments.

http://www.yevgenysudbin.com/

Brahms Intermezzo Op. 118 no. 2, Debussy Arabesque no. 1, Facebook, Impressionistic music, Nikolai Lugansky, Romantic music, Schumann’s “Faschingsschwank aus Wien”, Seymour Bernstein, Seymour Bernstein pianist, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Uncategorized, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, You Tube interview with Lugansky from Israel, you tube video

Nikolai Lugansky, pianist, plays chess and loves poetry

The nearly 7-minute You Tube interview was telling. Luganksy waxed poetic about poetry, and recited one of his favorites by Boris Pasternak. It was in Russian, but it’s lyrical lines stole the show. No translation needed.

He was seated beside a conductor named Petrenko, and both were being queried by the first bassist of the Israeli Philharmonic.

Lugansky: “In poetry and music there is no win, no loss, it’s like life….chess, it’s a game.”

Location: Israel, where a good percentage of the population speaks Russian.

I must admit that I was led to the You Tube interview after sampling Lugansky’s artistry on Facebook. (I can hardly summon the right words in English to describe the listening experience)

Perhaps an ever flowing reservoir of emotion and nuance: когда-либо проточном водоеме нюансов и эмоций

If pressed to further enunciate what I loved about the playing, I would say the pianist’s phrasing is liquid, and overall his approach is magical. It’s one of those rare encounters with the soul of a pianist and composer meet.

Debussy’s Arabesque no. 1

And as icing on the cake, Seymour Bernstein forwarded me this link to the Brahms Intermezzo, Op. 118 no. 2:

If this isn’t heaven on earth, then what is:

***

Nikolai Lugansky
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nikolai Lugansky

“Nikolai Lugansky (Николай Львович Луганский; born 26 April 1972) is a Russian pianist from Moscow. At the age of five, before he had even started to learn the piano, he astonished his parents when he sat down at the piano and played a Beethoven sonata by ear, which he had just heard a relative play. He studied piano at the Moscow Central Music School and the Moscow Conservatory. His teachers included Tatiana Kestner, Tatiana Nikolayeva and Sergei Dorensky.

“During the ’80s and early ’90s, Lugansky won prizes at numerous piano competitions. At the same time he began to make recordings on the Melodiya (USSR) and Vanguard Classics (Netherlands) labels. His performance at the Winners’ Gala Concert of the 10th International Tchaikovsky Competition was recorded and released on the Pioneer Classics label, on both CD and video laser disc formats. This was followed by more recordings for Japanese labels. He went on to make recordings for Warner Classics (UK), Pentatone Classics (Netherlands), Onyx Classics and Deutsche Grammophon.

“Lugansky has performed together with Vadim Repin, Alexander Kniazev, Anna Netrebko, Joshua Bell, Yuri Bashmet, Vadim Rudenko and Mischa Maisky, among others.

“In addition, Lugansky has collaborated with conductors such as Riccardo Chailly, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Kurt Masur, Mikhail Pletnev, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Yuri Simonov, Leonard Slatkin, Vladimir Spivakov, Evgeny Svetlanov, Yuri Temirkanov and Edo de Waart.

“As well as performing and recording, Lugansky teaches at the Moscow Conservatory.”

Links:
http://lugansky.homestead.com/

About Lugansky’s teacher:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/luganskys-piano-teacher-tatiana-nikolayeva-displayed-greatness-in-her-own-right/

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The nitty gritty reasons why piano students drop out: Two staunchly different opinions

The current rage on the Internet surrounds a Facebook posting that claims a 95% dropout rate among piano students. The nitty gritty reasons cited by the poster are contained in what I view as a tirade against what he terms “standard lessons.” He insists that the “music teaching industry” uses a “status quo method that chains students to sight-reading instead of teaching independence.” His alternative is a “playing by ear” approach.

To begin with, the 95% dropout statistic is unsubstantiated and the reasons cited for this figure are far from proven.

In addition, what “music teaching industry” exists in the US or anywhere else? Most teachers are independently employed–many barely struggling along and they have no lobbyists to wheel and deal for them on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps the writer was referring to the method book industry that churns out $$$ driven materials that may not suit many creatively driven piano teachers. Those who do not embrace a pure method book path to learning might choose to modify content and supplement with composing and ear-training activities.

Music teacher conventions and symposiums also abound where new ideas are bounced about. An informed teacher can attend these and benefit from a cross-fertilization of ideas from his or her colleagues. Podcasts, you tube presentations and tutorials enrich the teaching landscape.

So with or without the method book industry as the target of blame or punching bag, how does any of this discussion relate to piano dropout rates?

I maintain that students give up piano lessons for a variety of reasons:

Time conflicts

Competing extracurricular activities are a big problem. Piano lessons are often squeezed out by ballet, tap, hip hop, and other dance lessons that may occur more than twice a week. Baseball, football, T-ball, soccer practices are additional time eaters.

Practicing is negligible when sports and other preoccupations, including burdensome loads of homework demand maximum attention. Teens in high school have additional pressures related to SAT test preparation and college admission. Their week is cluttered with exams and study deadlines.

Piano teachers can barely do their best with an over-scheduled, academically pressured child during the year. When lessons drop off in the summer, progress is further set back. Once school resumes, the whole cycle of holiday and other interruptions is renewed.

Short cuts

Above and beyond the scheduling snafus, piano teachers have to deal with many parents who demand the quick and easy route to piano learning which naturally filters down to the child. Self imposed deadlines to reach learning landmarks causes frustration among students that often leads to a premature lesson exit.

The pressure to acquire piano playing skills in a flash is pervasive. The quick fix is in. The long term relationship to the art of piano playing is OUT. There’s even a commercial package titled “Playing Piano in a Flash” whose creator made a few guest appearances on PBS in a fund-raising capacity. His assistant, an attractively dressed woman, fed him a script that standard private piano lessons were a big “waste of money.” Whoopie!

Both these advocates of FLASH learning were selling the idea that piano related skills could be mastered as easily as making instant coffee, and it was so tempting to BUY it!

***

But back TO THE FACEBOOK poster who continued his rant:

Under his topic heading: Piano Lesson Reform – Tyranny Of The Juggernaut, he said, “there is nothing I am more passionate about than piano-lesson reform. I have great love for what standard lessons are but hate them for what they are not.”

“Too many beginning students get lost and quit before they really learn anything significant. They’re excited in the beginning and commit themselves, their time, money and effort to learn the skill. However, over the course of about 2 years, all the excitement is sucked out them and the only thing left to do is quit to become a dropout statistic and faker.”

My comment: FAKER? I didn’t understand the term. Did he mean that what the student had not learned turned him into a faker?

From my nearly 40 years teaching, I never had a faker flow out of piano lessons. Most students who had the time and opportunity tried their best. Their repertoire was a mixture of classical, pop, theater and movie selections, but they knew they had to build a solid foundation to play any of these works well and with satisfaction. This required technical mastery (playing scales, arpeggios in all keys around the Circle of 5ths), learning how to physically produce a singing tone, and how to frame their music with a steady, buoyant beat. Reading music fluently was at the heart of lessons. Quitting piano amidst this kind of study had nothing to do with the content of each session. It had all to do with a DEARTH of TIME set aside by a pupil to study conscientiously, and/or an attitude by parents that failed to embrace baby-step layered learning.
**

More from the distraught and disappointed commentator who bemoaned his “wasted” years studying piano:

“The ‘standard’ piano teaching method, (??????) “dictates its own agenda of ‘progress’ based on eye-to-finger coordination and in so doing, steers most beginning students off course to their ultimate failure. It is specific to only one style of music (classical) and relegates the ‘skills’ of the player to that of a totally dependent, note-reading follower that will never lead.”

My comment: What standard piano method fits neatly into this narrow classification and who necessarily uses one approach without modification. Plenty of teachers prefer repertoire-based learning, and employ a variety of materials. They will often integrate composing into their curriculum, as previously mentioned.

The poster retread the same theme:

“I’ve been a staunch critic of the standard approach. Yes, it works fine for the relative few who devote themselves to classical music but for everyone else, it’s frustrating and misleading.”

My comment: What a big umbrella to encompass a horde of frustrated piano students who dislike classical music. Same for the “piano teaching industry” label that lumps the whole country’s instructors into a powerful pressure group that promotes the “status quo.”

In truth, where individual piano teachers may not mix and match well with individual students, or have the “right chemistry,” let alone possess adequate teaching skills, there’s always the option of finding a better fit.

Some pupils may want a jazz repertoire emphasis, others, classical etc. Vive La difference. Personal choices can be made with a solid understanding of what’s desired. But if quickie approaches eliminate note reading as part of the instructional program, then the long-term consequences should be explored.

In conclusion, I feel sympathy for piano students who had a painful instructional beginning. After all, it took me at least 3 tries before I found a wonderful piano teacher who ignited my life-long love of the piano and its repertoire.

I can only hope that piano drop-outs will not be discouraged by their early disappointments and will muster the courage to take lessons again.

To read more from the Facebook poster, go to PianoWorldwide, E-music maestro. http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/pianoworldwide/ Your feedback is always appreciated.

RELATED:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/individualizing-piano-study-how-to-avoid-method-book-dependency/


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/taking-piano-lessons-skimming-the-surface-or-getting-deeply-involved/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/summer-piano-lessons-and-progress/

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Between California and Oregon: Skyping Chopin with an eight-year old student (Video of lesson in progress)

At the cue of a SKYPE musical trademark ring, I tapped the green-colored phone icon and brought an eight-year old, her dad, and a grand piano into view.

A second virtual lesson beamed between California and Oregon officially began!

Featured composition: Chopin’s Waltz in A minor, no. 17, Op. Posthumous.

This time I aimed my camcorder at the iMac screen and kept it there throughout the lesson.

In a pleasant state of satisfaction with this mode of transmission, I continued to believe that improvements in a student’s playing could be made over SKYPE. As proof, right before my eyes I watched an 8-year old phrase more beautifully with a desired singing tone as compared to her first playing that was transmitted by private video.

In the pre-Skype phase of our teacher-student relationship, dad set up a two-way video sharing channel and this provided an opportunity to have the raw playing sample before any teaching occurred and to zero in on what needed improvement.

This preliminary video exchange process was a vital supplement to the real-time Skyped lessons when they were scheduled because it allowed the student to revisit my remedial videos as many times as needed, and likewise, I could follow her progress between Skypes as she incorporated my suggestions into her playing. Dad uploaded additional practice sessions that I could comment on.

Each Skyped piano lesson that followed video sharing provided reinforcement of points already made.

Here is a sample of today’s virtual lesson in progress:

RELATED:
Chopin Waltz in A minor No. 17, Op. Posthumous, with Aiden Cat sitting beside me on the piano bench:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5MLPxKFl2c

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/a-skyped-piano-lesson-in-progress-practicing-mazurka-by-maria-szymanowska-videos/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/my-first-skyped-piano-lesson-from-california-to-oregon/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/long-distance-piano-teaching-a-novel-experience/

counterpoint, El Cerrito, El Cerrito California, El Cerrito piano studio, Facebook, Fresno California, harmonic analysis, J.S. Bach, J.S. Bach Fugue in C minor BWV847, J.S. Bach Prelude in C minor BWV847, J.S. Bach Well Tempered Clavier, JS Bach, keyboard technique, mind body connection, muscular memory, music, music and the breath, music teachers association of california, music theory, musical inspiration, musical phrasing, New York City High School of Performing Arts, New York University, Oberlin Conservatory, phrasing at the piano, pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, piano practicing, Piano Street, piano student, piano teacher, piano teaching repertoire, piano technique, piano tutorial, Piano World, pianoaddict.com, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Steinway M grand piano, talkclassical.com, Teach Street, teaching piano, teaching scales, technique, Theory, uk-piano-forums, whole body listening, whole body music listening, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Playing through the entire Bach Fugue, BWV847 in C minor, fleshing out form as I go along (VIDEO)

The score is copied below the video:


http://www.teoria.com/articulos/analysis/BWV847/index.htm

RELATED:
Analysis of Fugue in C minor, BWV847: Subject, Counter-subject I and II, Exposition, Episodes (Development) Recap subject, etc.
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/piano-instruction-analysis-j-s-bach-fugue-in-c-minor-bwv847-videos/