The Schumann Arabesque is a heartfelt character piece from the Romantic era. It requires the player to have a very supple wrist to realize the lilt of buoyant, legato dotted eighth/16th figures that permeate the music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPqrQJccLQ4 Though the composition is in C Major, it has interludes in the minor, that are somber and impassioned.… Continue reading Piano Instruction: Schumann Arabesque, Op. 18-Using a supple wrist follow through motion, and parceling out voices (Video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCck4ZFNeQI When students do routine scales and arpeggios as warm-ups to their tour de force pieces, I like to spice things up a bit by playing around with voicing and weight control. (Yes, you heard me right) I'll surprise them by asking for the Left hand notes to be fleshed out, while the Right ones… Continue reading Piano Technique and Weight Control: Bringing out and balancing voices (Video) Teacher, Shirley Kirsten
It takes patience to approach a piece well behind tempo, tuning in to every nuance and turn of phrase. With ears alert and sensitive, the player tries to create a feeling state where he's submerged in sound to the exclusion of all else. At the pinnacle of concentration, he's "in the zone," attaining Maslow's "peak… Continue reading Piano Instruction: The Virtues of Slow Motion Practicing and Attentive Listening
The very title of this blog might send readers feverishly rushing off to other sites. I would have had the same fight/flight response before I heard from two happy Skyping students, one of whom was so pan-allergic that any semblance of a cat or dog hair coming through a vent would have placed him in… Continue reading Can Piano Lessons be Skyped?
For some unexplained reason, my earliest piano studies never included the art of phrasing. My primer teacher stressed naming notes, finding them, affixing correct fingering and counting out robotic beats. I knew nothing about feeling a melodic landscape; putting the vocal model center stage in my playing, and breathing through contoured musical lines. My pieces… Continue reading The Art of Phrasing at the Piano: Starting the process with Beginners (Videos)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk7Bnd6xD9Y The great pianist, Josef Hofmann, imparted words of wisdom when he answered the following question posed by a student that related to the thumb and piano technique: "What is the matter with my scales? I cannot play them without a perceptible jerk when I use my thumb. How can I overcome the unevenness?" The… Continue reading Piano Technique: Thumb Shifts in Playing Scales and Arpeggios (Video)
Why not give composing a try? I did. For the most part, you don't need a degree in composition, but a Theory background helps things along with voice leading in the bass part and understanding the rules of notation. Above all, intuition and inspiration are the main ingredients in any creative undertaking. In 1985 I… Continue reading The Piano Teacher as Composer: Using my MOONBEAMS collection as an example (Video)
More swept under the rug issues related to piano teaching... hush hush.. Don't tread on sacred ground. Would I dare to blog about a Piano World post that bemoaned the plight of private piano teachers as hobbyists-- not hard-working, dedicated professionals. I might agree with some but not all of what I read on the… Continue reading Private Piano Teaching: A Hobby or Profession?
This morning, as I foraged through piles of folders, I stumbled upon one of my articles that was published in the California Music Teacher (MTAC Magazine) in 1985. At the time, I had just released my music book, "Piano Duets and Solos by and for Children," which included a lengthy introduction titled, "How to Help… Continue reading Piano Students as Composers: Stimulating a Creative Teaching and Learning Environment
Music Theory doesn't have to be drudgery If I turn the clock back to my early days as a piano student, I can say without a doubt that I absolutely HATED “Music Theory” or anything remotely related to it. And I can clearly thank my very pedantic teacher, Mrs. Schwed for this aversion. She made… Continue reading Music Theory and Piano Study: It doesn’t have to be drudgery