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El Cerrito “Sushi” cat is a match for Aiden (Videos)

Aiden took the prize for his mini-choreography of Chopin’s C# minor Waltz,

but “Sushi” outdistanced him with an impressive break dance routine on the kitchen floor.

“Sushi,” the house cat in El Cerrito, is always on the move–resistant to stay on the grand piano, or to teeter by the bathroom sink.

Aiden, however, will sink comfortably “in” to a “cool” cat nap after an active morning of cheerleading.

Ah, the life of two adorable cats!

LINK: (More pics of Sushi to the music of J.C. Bach)

Aiden Cat, Aiden cat dances to the Chopin Waltz in C# minor, Chopin, Chopin Waltz in c# minor Op. 64 no.2, feline, Frederic Chopin, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, pianist, piano blog, playing piano, Romantic era piano music, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Uncategorized, word press, word, wordpress,, you tube, you tube video

Aiden Cat choreographs the Chopin C# minor Waltz.. seeing is believing

Watch this amazing cat at the beginning and close of this “foot”-age. If any ballet companies are looking for new talent, this floating feline is up for an audition.

In any case, he earned himself a well-deserved catnap after a virtuoso “paw”-formance.

Notice his graceful balletic form as he sleeps.


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J.S. Bach Fugue/Piano Lesson in Progress, (BWV 847 in C minor) plus Aiden Cat begs for affection, feeling left out (Videos)

Claudia, 11, continued practicing Bach’s Fugue in C minor, (Well-Tempered Clavier) following a break for the Baroque Festival. We had intensified study of the Prelude in preparation for this event.

For today’s lesson, our work encompassed the Fugue opening through measure 20.

The manuscript below incorporates the theoretical mapping of Jose Rodriguez Alvira


Aiden got into the act following Claudia’s lesson as he felt forlorn and out in the cold. A preceding Skype to Pennsylvania kept him out of the fray, encapsulated in a warm bedroom within easy reach of his food bowl. But that was not enough.

He wanted to make up for lost time with a shower of affection from me. And he deservingly received it…


"Tales of a Musical Journey" by Irina Gorin, Aiden Cat, feline, Irina Gorin, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessson, piano pedagogy, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano student, piano studio, piano teacher, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano teaching repertoire, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, shirley s kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, shirley smith kirsten blog, The Russian singing tone school of piano teaching, you tube, you tube video

If this is the Russian Singing Tone School of Piano Teaching, then it’s a Winner! (Videos)

Irina Gorin, a teaching emissary of the Russian pianistic tradition that’s produced Richter, Gilels, Ashkenazy and Lugansky to name a few, brings her pedagogical efforts glowingly down to the level of a 4-year old.

And it’s delightful to watch. Certainly, more entertaining than my cat’s bungled keyboard performance last night.

Irina would agree that Aiden needed a lesson in keeping his paws supple.

But I doubt that affixing a cute purple furry monkey to him would have softened those bullet-fired impulses, though we did try. (Irina uses the accessory in her studio)

The cat was compliant at first, then quickly raised Cain!

Might I gently wrap his claws around those “apples” Irina has in her studio? They’re the small yellow “rubbery” ones that piano students embrace as they shape hands into relaxed roundness.

All kidding aside, Gorin’s child-like approach to her little students, devising finger-in-the-jello opportunities, and attaching her precious toy monkey to their tiny arms for gentle swings in and out, will produce pianists who have a physical sensitivity to the piano and its singing-tone capability.

They will think twice about “squeezing” the life out of notes, or slapping the keys. Most will learn a nice, easy, and graceful follow-though of their undulating wrists–a continuum of relaxed, flowing arms, “weeping willow” style. With long, natural breaths they’ll craft beautiful phrases, naturally embedded over time.

I know this to be true, as it relates to Rina, my 4-year old piano student. She flows and floats in and out of the keys after just 5 months of instruction.

Puleeze! This is NOT an infomercial, and I don’t have a Swiffer, or whatever it’s called to provide a clean surface to wax poetic about Irina’s materials.

I’ll let the results speak for themselves.

Watch her lovingly instruct a very attentive 4-year old boy,

…and then, take a moment to tap into, “When Great Teaching Must Be Recognized” (with its many embedded you tubes that reveal students playing with unusual sensitivity)


P.S. Stay tuned for my review of this instruction appearing in the Fall 2012 issue of the MTAC California Music Teachers Magazine.

My upcoming class on Teaching Piano to Young Children using Tales of a Musical Journey:

feline, felines, Fresno, Fresno California, MTAC, music, music and heart, music and the breath, music teachers association of california, musical cat, New York City High School of Performing Arts, New York University, Oberlin Conservatory, phrasing at the piano, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, piano practicing, piano society, Piano Street, piano student, piano studio, piano teacher, piano technique, piano tutorial, Piano World,, self-analysis, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Skype, Skyping piano lessons, slow piano practicing

My First Skyped Piano lesson from California to Oregon

I must say I was skeptical going into this until I watched the Skype screen enlarge an 8-year old to nearly life-size proportion as she sat comfortably at her piano. Her dad, a tech savvy parent with an ability to guide me through the basics of Skyping, was co-director with his web cam weaving around at different angles allowing me a full view of the keyboard and his daughter at any given time. Not to mention that the sounds emanating from a Heilun grand piano were robust and resonant. But where was I in the picture? From my perspective in Fresno, I was compressed in a box, while the out-of-town student was center stage taking up most of the screen. From her end of the Skype universe, I was big and she was small.

I had to pinch myself.

This couldn’t be happening unless I had driven for hours on end, hopped a plane, or took Amtrak plus a bunch of buses to the suburban part of Portland. I would have had to scope out the piano, and introduce myself to the new student.

But how did I manage to avoid all the travel and still sack out in my own warm bed by 10 p.m?

Aiden cat was initially perplexed as he viewed himself fleetingly on the i Mac computer monitor but he still got with the Skype hype as he waved to the 8-year-old. After his assortment of flirtations, he stroked a piano key hoping he’d get some long distance pets but that was out of sight.

So what was accomplished during this first virtual lesson that ran for over an hour?

The student improved her singing tone and worked on some technical problems related to the wrist. She polished her legato arpeggios and learned how to melt out cadences with a delayed wrist forward movement as applied her Chopin Waltz. As things unfolded, her playing got better and better as my ears were attuned to every note.

Frankly, I was blown away as I demonstrated a wrist forward spongy motion. Looking at myself in the box beneath the student, I was sure I was in outer space floating weightless around my space capsule. Lift-off anyone?

For certain, I could get hooked on this SKYPE thing to the point of addiction. But so what. It was better than the vile habits of smoking or drinking that destroyed people’s lives.

If everyone jumped on the SKYPE bandwagon when they felt like taking a swig, or grabbing a cancerette, they’d be giving themselves a new lease on life.

I definitely can’t wait for the next virtual piano lesson because I’m itching to go out-of-state again to get a break from the Fresno heat wave. Even if the climate changes don’t register on Skype, I can still pretend and con myself into believing that I took a long delayed vacation.


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The Life of a Cat on April Fool’s Day

There’s no doubt who’s King of the Castle with his Keyboard Crown.

What else would I expect?

He really wanted the whole piano bench to himself:

How did he manage to sneak off with my sneakers? They weren’t there the last I saw them.

He’s decided I can’t go anywhere without him.
Better yet, he wants me to stay home all the time.

Face it, he’s cute even when sleeping.

When he’s awake, what a pretty face.