adult piano instruction, adult piano lessons, legato, online piano instruction, piano, piano blog, piano pedagogy, piano teaching, piano technique, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, staccato

A “cool” dip into Quicktime for wrist, finger, and forearm staccato practice

Amazing how 90-degree temperatures in the East Bay can wreak havoc over Face Time transmissions. It nearly made Online mentoring come to a grinding halt yesterday! except that a Quick Time saving grace Lesson Preserver came to the rescue!


In my Scotland travels, I’m accustomed to subbing in the iPhone for the iMac because of two-way computer Online Face Time/Skype irregularities, so from week to week, I’d been giving my back-up camcorder a 60-minute workout, snatching the whole lesson for a same day uploaded re-cap. But once I realized Quick Time on the Big Mac could be enlisted to simultaneously record selected lesson segments while glaring at the cell image of a Yamaha grand, I had the best of both worlds: Live iPhone transmission and a selective mouse clicked re-run in progress.

Here’s the set up: Call it an EMT piano teaching equivalent.

Naturally, the mechanics of Quicktime allow focus on well-measured lesson goals. For example, yesterday, I demonstrated a variety of Staccato approaches in scale and arpeggio framings using the overhead keyboard web cam view. (wrist, forearm, finger driven detached notes on display)

And once the day played out with cooler evening temps draping the East Bay, I had sufficiently “warmed up” my ‘finger’ staccato to demonstrate a fast 32nd-note romp.

In summary, being flexible and resourceful in this Online universe is a must to keep lessons up and running despite occasional annoying transmission problems.

adult piano instruction, arpeggios, legato, piano instruction, piano pedagogy, piano technique, scales, staccato

Piano Technique in the PLAY-ground: Thumb to thumb swings and more

The playground can be the best music teacher. Thumb swinging, for example, to smooth out shifts through scales, is practiced by an adult student. (She had initially lost her “feel” for spacing between long and short tunnels, through which her thumb passed). A blocking approach preceded the swing routine that carefully marked out groups of notes and their geography. But the momentum of the thumbs’ journey had to have a “springing up” up dimension, or at least a mental image attached to “lift” up the shifts, supported by buoyant arms and wrists. In the video below, the student works on achieving a relaxed physical abandon in the key of G Major that’s akin to a playground romp.

In the second video, my pupil practices a refinement of her Staccato through a G Major arpeggio. Blocking coupled with a build-up of notes through incremental groupings were the springboard for alternating a rolling legato with “snipped” (crisp, detached) notes.