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About the physical side of playing piano: What we need to teach at all levels (Videos)

I wish I could have waved a magic wand when I was six years old and produced a beginning teacher who would have artfully nursed me through my crawling stage to a graceful, phrase-loving adulthood at the piano. I needed to learn how to produce a singing tone, moving with agility from one note to another under the physical guidance of my mentor, but there was no one with such capability on the horizon.

Instead, I remember seven years of torment and frustration when what I knew as my tonal ideal deep within me never materialized. My tiny, but growing hands betrayed me time and again. I couldn’t put my imagination to work in a practical way without hands-on knowledge.

At the age of 13 or so, when I entered the New York City High School of Performing Arts, which was an easy entrance since I played the violin as well, and string players were always in short supply for school orchestras, I finally transferred to a piano teacher who brought me back to the basics which I desperately needed.

Like Irina Gorin (whose teaching videos I’ve shared), Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich took the time to step back, and work with me on a NOTE-to-NOTE basis, DROPPING my whole arm, with dead weight gravity into the keys– my fingers being cushioned by a supple wrist.

As she held my arm until I let go of all tension, I exercised repeated free falls as if I were tossed out of a plane with a parachute, experiencing the abandon of disarming flight. She would check my wrists and elbows for tension, and then together, we weeded out all the pokes, like pencil point jabs that disturbed the flow from one tone to the next. In the process, my ear sensitivity was stretched to a point where even a dog couldn’t compete with me if one of those high-frequencey whistles summoned him at an inopportune moment.

This introduction to my lessons transpired for weeks with little if any repertoire covered, and I was grateful to ingest what I hungered for in my formative piano learning years. Scales and arpeggios were next, putting principles of RELAXATION, attentive listening and tonal focus to work. And never once did I regret the necessary pause before I was given my very first Mozart Sonata, K. 311 where I put all the tonal awareness and physical knowledge into practice. Soon followed the Chopin Nocturne in E minor, Beethoven’s second Piano Concerto and Mozart’s K. 453 in G Major. It was icing on the cake to perform the Mozart with our High School Orchestra after I auditioned it for Nadia Reisenberg. I’m convinced that my singing tone earned me this memorable opportunity.

So now that I’ve grown up to be a piano teacher following in the footsteps of Lillian Freundlich whom I dearly miss since her death many years ago, I’ve continued her legacy by spending inordinate time with my students on tone production, relaxation and riveting note-to-note listening–all ingredients of fluid playing.

As example, here are two videos that impart practical knowledge about the physical side of playing when teaching students from the earliest to most advanced levels.

(Snatched from a piano lesson given by Irina Gorin, creator, Tales of a Musical Journey)

A gem produced by Barbara Lister-Sink

Finally, what I’ve learned from Mrs. Freundlich and Irina Gorin (by Internet exposure) is that it takes a patient teacher with undying passion to go back to the very physical fundamentals of tone production, teaching the singing tone legato as the underpinning of piano playing, regardless of style or genre. Such meticulous work will produce limitless dividends as students enjoy a life-long connection to the piano that brings them closer to the very soul of music-making.

RELATED:

An example of whole body listening, relaxation, and pianistic fluency:

RELATED:

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Learning and Memorizing Clementi Sonatina in C, Op. 36, No. 1, Mvt. 1 (Video)

I begin by playing the Sonatina, first movement and then I map out the composition to advance thoughtful learning and memorization.

RELATED:
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/memorization-at-the-piano-how-to-improve-your-skills/

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Memorization at the piano: How to improve your skills

Memorization should be a natural outflow of consistent, thoughtful practicing. Thoughtful is underscored because it’s the most important ingredient in the process of playing a studied piece without music. It means having mental assists that relate to mapping out a particular composition without chance reliance on intuition or instinct. So if you suddenly find yourself lost in a piece without having your music propped up on the rack, your mapped sense of it, should re-orient you.

What do you map during practice sessions?

1) Start by knowing what key the piece is in. (this presupposes an understanding of how scales move on the Circle of Fifths, acquiring Sharps in Clock-wise motion, and Flats in Counter-clockwise motion)

But even if your knowledge of the Circle is scant, you can still “know” that your Sonatina, Prelude, or popular music are in individual keys with so many sharps or flats. (You would have to differentiate Major from minor, by “listening” to the piece, and noticing where it comes to rest in the last measure: final cadence) Having a deeper knowledge base related to Major and minor scales; various forms of the minor, and how they are constructed are even better organizers, but whatever level of key awareness you can muster, is better than none.

Go over the scale of the Major or minor key the piece is in. Play one octave up and down, feeling the physical terrain, with designated sharps and flats.

Do you notice that the piece changes key at any point(s) in the music? You might observe a NEW inserted key signature along the way. MAKE note of it, and play out the scale of the NEW key. Write the KEY name into your music.

If there are any scale passages in the music, make a written reference, and see if you can chunk or group the notes, through which the thumb passes or shifts. (Cluster the finger “tunnels” and move the thumb deftly through them) This should imprint how the passage “feels” along with your having a cognitive awareness of its name.

2) Map Phrases

Are there any that repeat exactly as they first appeared in the music?

If, yes, make a mental and written note of it. You might CIRCLE phrases that repeat.

What about those that are nearly the same but deviate in some way?

Tab these mentally, and circle the part of the phrase or phrases that are different. You should play the two phrases, side- by-side, to experience the change.

What about the interval content of a phrase or phrases? Do you see a pattern of skips or steps going up or down? Fourths, fifths, sixths?

Are there any broken chord figures in the melody? Arpeggios? Note and PLAY through these passages.

Do you observe melodic sequences, where a particular phrase sounds the same on a repeat except that it’s played higher or lower on a different key level? If so, insert the word SEQUENCE into your music and physically experience the change over and again with this simultaneous cognitive awareness. (Label the key transition)

3) Map out Fingerings. Use a practical fingering in your practicing. Hopefully, the editor will have provided a good one throughout the score.

For some players, their memory box assists are only based on retrieval of fingerings, so when push comes to shove, having a smooth, facile fingering may keep a piece from falling apart with or without music.

Sometimes fingerings that are designated in the music provide an occasional bonus for the player. Where 2’s might meet in both hands on the way to a cadence, it’s like a painting by numbers giveaway that holds the piece together where it would otherwise not make it to the final cadence. Look for these finger symmetries including instances of MIRROR or reciprocal fingerings between the hands, and practice pertinent phrases and passages.

4) Map Form
After you’ve read through your piece for the first or second time, getting a sense of its melodic landscape before delving into the vertical dimension, make note of its over-all form. Is there a big A section, followed by a different sounding Middle Section (B) followed by a return to the A? Is there anything else going on, like an added ending or Coda? Be sure to write in these section (Letter) designations within your music as these are important music organizers that aid learning and memory.

In addition, notice where the piece PEAKS or comes to a climax. Was there a KEY CHANGE? (How about a shift in dynamics?) Take note and insert in your score.

If your piece is in Rondo Form, it may follow the scheme: A B A C A D A etc.
Knowing what rondo form is, and applying it to your music, if pertinent, is another important organizer that aids memorization.

When it comes to Inventions, Fugues, etc. knowledge of form is critical to learning and memorization. Knowing subjects, counter-subjects, episodes, etc. requires an understanding of the musical period and compositional practices, etc. This is a level of memorization that belongs to the advanced realm of piano study.

Part of form is noting the movement of voices between treble and bass. Do these move in Parallel motion in parts pf the piece, or in Contrary motion?(opposite directions) Notate what you observe and play through these sections.

5) Map Harmonies
Here we get to a more sophisticated analysis of a piece of music that aids learning and memory. If you’re playing a pop piece, you might see guitar based identities of chords like C7, G, G min, A dim. etc above the treble staff, or there might be inserted Roman numerals.

These assists are only as valuable as your understanding of chord building, or better yet, the relationships between chords as they originate from Scales in all Keys. Otherwise, you might fall into a formula-based track, which is all well and good if you can learn how to grab these chords with a degree of fluency.

In the Classical repertoire, you won’t see these harmonic tabs, but you would do well to analyze the harmonic flow of your piece with the help of your teacher or a Theory workbook. (I recommend Keith Snell’s series)

The depth of your learning process will relate to the time and effort you spend studying theory/harmony alongside your daily practicing. It will enrich your learning, provide more valuable LANDMARKS, and give you a better map of what you are playing.

Under Map harmonies, you will note the MODULATIONS where the composition moves into different tonal centers or KEYS. Or you can become aware of Harmonic SEQUENCES with the same harmonic outline or progression on a different KEY Level.

This journey into various tonal realms should be notated in the music, and mentally absorbed. PLAYING and KNOWING what is transpiring on a tonal level, will firmly lay the foundation you need to learn on a deep level and to naturally memorize as the outcome of your thoughtful practicing.

Part and parcel of tracking harmonies, is observing the bass pattern, whether broken chords in sections, or ostinato ( a repeated bass pattern)

Ostinati, are great organizers because they repeat over and again throughout a composition. (You will find an Ostinato in Pachelbel’s Canon)

6) Map Dynamics. While dynamics may not help with note retrieval during a memory lapse, or give harmonic context to your piece, it will certainly be an ingredient in polishing your fully memorized performance. Circle any ECHO phrases–from Forte to piano, where they occur in your music, and make note of where the CLIMAX of the piece occurs. It may have an elevated dynamic. (Climax designation is also part of Mapping FORM)

The Climax may also have a poignant KEY CHANGE, so indicate it in your score.

In summary, any learning aids related to phrasing, fingering, form and harmonic analysis are valuable when it comes to memorizing your pieces.

But underlying this whole process, is a non-judgmental, self-accepting attitude. Getting tensed up, not breathing natural, relaxed deep breaths– grabbing notes like there’s no tomorrow will not advance learning or memorization. So reserve a part of the day for your practicing that is free from interruption. Enjoy the time spent with your music and savor its beauty.

***

Of special importance: Knowledge of Solfege and its application to learning, and subsequent memorization:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/piano-instruction-solfeggio-and-transposing-video/

I will be posting videos that flesh out these aids to memorization.
RELATED:
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/learning-and-memorizing-clementi-sonatina-in-c-op-36-no-1-mvt-1-video/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/how-to-improve-sight-reading-at-the-piano/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/how-long-should-a-piano-student-stay-with-a-piece/

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Piano Technique and Weight Control: Bringing out and balancing voices (Video) Teacher, Shirley Kirsten

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 are subdued. Initially, my request throws everyone for a loop, eliciting quizzical looks that could be freeze framed and imported to You Tube–a collage of raised eyebrows, and collective chagrin. The whole spectacle would definitely be worth a million hits past Nora the Cat pawing the keys of a Yamaha grand.

As a heads up helper and student stress reliever, I take a hard cover book and hold it palms up in my Left hand, while I have a flimsy soft covered one in my Right. While it’s a flip-side teaching model, the basic concept comes across: heavier in one hand and lighter in the other. (There’s no doubt that muscle memory kicks in)

In driving my points across, I might also allude to feeling an upper body fullness filtering down the arms, through the elbows, wrists, fingers, into the keys vs. an opposite, easing up sensation. (That’s where weight control comes in) In truth, most students can stand to gain a few pounds of pressure when weighing into the keys versus tickling the ivories).

Weight measuring at the piano is pivotal to voicing and students will observe me doing weight bearing maneuvers as living, breathing examples.

Sometimes I will do a push-up of sorts, finding my dead weight upper body core, and leveraging myself against the keyboard with embracing hands. That’s when the wooden key slip starts making a racket (tennis anyone?)

This basic gravitational connection to the instrument is the impetus for modified weigh-ins. No, not the type associated with boxing: Heavy weight, Light weight and Feather weight divisions? Sports analogies save the day when standard piano teaching lingo does not adequately serve me. Tennis again? with that power-packed serve requiring weight transfer from the back foot springing forward to the front with dead center gravity at play.

Bottom line, when you want to bring out the left hand in a scale, think “heavier” or deeper into the keys. But know that “deeper” may not be enough if concurrent, relaxed, dead weight is not the back-up. Connection into the keys whether light or heavy remains a constant while skimming the surface of keys is not an option.

The attached video demonstrates various weight applications used in drawing out voices using scales and arpeggios as the vehicle.

Here are some routines:

1) Play a four-octave scale in 16ths in parallel motion–Legato–smooth and connected Forte singing tone (Allegretto tempo, or in a slower frame if you choose)

Start by voicing deeper into the Right Hand. Use the dead weight application I mentioned. The left hand should feel “lighter” reduced to medium soft (mp) or soft (p), if possible.

2) Do the same, fleshing out the Left hand notes, subduing the Right. Keep the Forte singing tone in the bass, and go way down to piano. in the treble

3) Finally evenly balance the voices.

Steps one, two and three can enlist STACCATO for variety.

Students can also explore Contrary motion scales with thumbs at the starting note, going out for three octaves and returning to the beginning point.

Bring out the Left hand in one playing, then the Right in the next, or in reverse order.

Finally evenly balance the voices.

Do the same overall routine with a four octave arpeggio in Parallel motion, then play in contrary motion. You’ll be using legato and staccato approaches. Mix it up for variety.

***

So why take the trouble to turn your keyboard world upside down like those pilots who do aeronautical gymnastics?

Well, because to play the piano repertoire from Classical to Pop, requires “voicing.” All music requires a balance of voices in one form or another. Schumann, for example, often intentionally slips inner voices into his compositions, making the pianist take notice. Fleshing these out, reveals the full blossomed beauty of his works. Beethoven’s Adagio from the “Pathetique” Sonata begins with three voices and progresses at some places to four. The quartet scoring must have a resonating melody, a rolling alto, subdued tenor and framing bass. The player must decide what he must draw out in the course of a composition, and how the fabric of lines is woven. Such decisions about voicing are synthesized into a kinetic/aural/ and affective(emotional) frame.

Jazz pianists who are part of a larger or smaller ensemble, where blending and interaction of voices is intrinsic to a performance, may want to flesh out a theme that’s jumped from the treble into the bass or alto voice. So knowing what it takes to draw out a line is pivotal to a jam session or performance.

“Voicing” then, is universal to the piano repertoire in its various forms and media and should be cultivated artfully with an awareness of weight applications and sound images.

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Thumb shifts in playing scales and arpeggios

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/piano-technique-thumb-shifts-in-playing-scales-and-arpeggios-video/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/sports-and-piano-technique-how-about-chunking-on-you-tube/

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Piano Technique: Thumb Shifts in Playing Scales and Arpeggios (Video)

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 questioner expressed a universal concern among pianists regardless of proficiency. And it’s because the thumb is so unique. The shortest of five fingers, it has a tendency to be played prematurely and with a conspicuous accent when it passes under longer fingers in the course of a scale, arpeggio, or in any passage where it shifts.

Hofmann had responded with a similar opinion:

“The cause of the hand’s unrest in the passing of the thumb lies usually in transferring the thumb too late.”

He continued:

“The thumb usually waits until the very moment when it is needed and then quickly jumps upon the proper key, instead of moving toward it as soon as the last key it touched can be released. This belatedness causes a jerky motion to the arm and imparts it to the hand.”

In the video I produced on this very subject, I demonstrated ways to avoid the “belatedness” and “jerkiness” that Hofmann had referenced.

My discussion and demonstration focused on what I termed the “pocket” thumb and “swishy” thumb.

The “pocket” concept involves “preparation” for the shift under other fingers. The “swishy” adjective pertains to relaxing the rotating thumb when in motion and its making a soft, unobtrusive landing. Even when playing FORTE or loud, I believe the thumb should be relaxed, cushioned, if not underplayed.

If you have your own ideas about the thumb and the art of piano playing, please share them.

As a post script, I just discovered some thought provoking ideas about the thumb offered in the book, Conversations with Arrau by
Joseph Horowitz:

The pianist speaks: “I use a rotational movement with the thumb.” [Demonstrating for the author, Arrau makes his rubber-jointed right thumb crawl like a caterpillar from a white key to a black; the top joint ascends first while the bottom joint maintains contact with the white key.]

Another relevant point made by Arrau: “It is important never to feel the actions of the fingers as independent from the arm.”

Arrau thinks of “ten agile, individually weighted fingers, attached to rotating wrists. He says convincingly, that the pianist has to “develop a feeling for the arm as a unity, not divided into hand, wrist, forearm, elbow.”

***

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/piano-technique-related-videos/

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Letting my hair down with a snatch of “Let It Be!” (VIDEO)

The piano room was a mess yesterday with music strewn about. Two ’60-’70’s era Beatles albums were excavated from a pile of sheet music, hard bound theory texts, and Urtext editions of Beethoven’s sonatas.

Foraging a big carton of stuff like this was a trip down memory lane. My very old Yamaha guitar, a prized possession, was off to the side, propped against a book shelf. A 1974 model with magnificent resonance, it evoked memories of my one and only group classical guitar lesson at New York University with a South American virtuoso. On the very first day of class, he tried to teach one of the more difficult pieces in the flamenco repertoire. It was Rubira’s “Estudio,” later renamed “Spanish Romance.” (The performer in this video was not related to the instructor)

Within a few weeks, class enrollment had dwindled to three and quickly, I made it two. It reminded me of several Oberlin Senior Recitals at Kulas where one audience member was seated in the front row holding a musical score. (I recalled a New Yorker cartoon with the same theme)

The NYU guitar teacher like many other music instructors I’d encountered needed a reality check. Half the students in his class had never read a note, but they expected to play guitar “in a flash.” Generations that followed were tapping iPhones and game boys with guitar tab charts and animated keyboards. It was an espresso learning revolution!

My sixteen year old student, Allyse was an anachronism in her approach to piano study. A fledgling, she went with the program, played scales and arpeggios around the Circle of Fifths, and studied the Baroque Masters as an entree to sampling Classical and Romantic literature. No short cuts for her.

Just the same, she drove a hard bargain, insisting the Beatles went with the territory somewhere along the time line.(Allyse had already niftily tackled Five for Fighting, “100 Years,” and Taylor Swift’s “Forever and Always”) She had me enslaved to these pieces, as I sifted through practical fingerings and labeled harmonic progressions. But the prep work jump started a two way roller coaster ride through the contemporary pop music landscape.

With bristling enthusiasm, I indulged Allyse’s Beatles’ request. In truth, I had a vicarious interest in reading through reams of my favorite songs besides pumping out Scarlatti sonatas on You Tube. I loved “Eight Days a Week,” “Hey Jude,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Michelle,” “Yesterday” and the tour de force, Gospel style, “Let it Be!” Ralph Cato, US Olympic Boxing coach and former student, could have put me through the paces on that one. (*”Cato, His Killer Keyboard and a Round of Piano Lessons”) No one could pound the piano the way he did.

Allyse had lobbied to study “Let it Be!” with her new found confidence flying high. Just one week into our practicing, we had divided the parts at two pianos and did some public jamming–at least a snatch.

Our musical encounter was a peak experience!

This Saturday Allyse will come back down to earth playing her Baroque Rondeau at the Music Teachers Association’s Celebration Festival. An assigned adjudicator will evaluate each student’s performance and send them off, in any case, with a handsome medallion and Certificate.

Those who earn a Superior rating will play in one of the marathon Honors recitals taking place over two days.

If Allyse is not a marathoner, she’ll still race home to practice the right hand part of “Let it Be!” We have a re-run scheduled for next week. It should be a blast!

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/teens-popular-music-then-and-now-taylor-swift-throw-in-five-for-fighting-100-years/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/teaching-piano-to-teenagers-classical-pop-taylor-swift-liz-on-top-of-the-world-and-more-videos/

* https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/cato-his-killer-keyboard-and-a-round-of-piano-lessons/

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What can you do with a Performance-Piano Degree?

Face the music! Most new Conservatory grads with fancy Bachelor of Music, Performance-Piano Degrees bound in leather must improvise when catapulted into the competitive job market. With only a tiny space on the world stage reserved for budding soloists, many aspiring concert pianists will teach privately, wait tables, babysit, or become high school choir accompanists.

In my case, upon Oberlin graduation, I spent nearly ten years working at the New York State Department of Labor, starting out as an Employment Interviewer in the Household Division. In my spare time, I schlepped around the city giving piano lessons.

My first students, Annie, 7 and Naomi, 5, who lived in an upscale apartment complex off Washington Square in the West Village, benefited from my idealism and determination to be uniquely creative.

Instead of relying on John Thompson’s pixie popular primer series with its middle C fixation, I decided to have my fledglings create their own compositions from scratch. They would write short poems with simple rhyme schemes and we would scan them as iambics or trochees, and from there pick out five-finger positions and create melodies. Before long, I had composed a book of enriched accompaniments that kept our creative juices flowing.

Eventually, I experimented with Robert Pace’s materials that continued to invite sound explorations as it encouraged transpositions, but my job at the State, reigned in my teaching, and I was pressured to become a weekend private teacher in my tight quarters on West 74th and Amsterdam.

The daily stint at the Household Office, though energy draining, afforded a colorful work backdrop. Each day I sent mostly African American and Latina maids into hostile work environments on the East and West Side of Manhattan and then fielded follow-up calls from angry employers about missing booze in liquor cabinets, scratched furniture tops, over-polished, gummy piano racks, shattered kitchen tiles and mysterious bathroom puddles.

These complaints forced my involvement in a fact-finding investigation, not my favorite undertaking.

With Form ES.2 in hand, I called the accused applicant to my desk from the peanut gallery that was stacked with myriads of maids, some literally smelling like Ajax (We had several complaints about one particular worker whom I ardently defended) Who cared whether she over-used scouring powder? Other people layered themselves with perfume or the latest deodorant on the market.

In fact, “Jane” still had a contingent of fans who always requested her.

Inevitably, she got off, was put on an ES3.22, watch hold, a form of probation, and continued to saturate homes with her occupational odors.

In the meantime, I was trying to complete my Master’s Degree in Music Therapy and to this end, invented a cardboard “scanner” decorated with an assortment of Employment Service forms. I cut a horizontal opening measured to a book line of print that allowed me to roll it up and down over my course work text so I could surreptitiously read large chunks of material.

With an understanding supervisor/budding Romance novelist who had me proof read her unedited chapters on the sly, I was able to arrange time off the job to complete a Music Therapy related Internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital on W. 14th Street.

For three afternoons a week I would design musical activities for short-term alcoholic and psychiatric patients enlisting the musical philosophy of Karl Orff, and at the end of my service I had published a paper in Hospital and Community Psychiatry, a Journal of the American Psychiatric Association that summarized the techniques used to improve social interaction skills. These included the use body percussion (clapping, snapping fingers, tapping knees), singing activities and individualized, private piano lessons, etc.

Psychiatric Services — Table of Contents (26 [7])
Shirley M. Smith. USING MUSIC THERAPY WITH SHORT-TERM ALCOHOLIC AND PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS. Hosp Community Psychiatry 1975 26: 420-421 [PDF] …psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/content/vol26/issue7/

Naturally, with a publication to my credit and a new Degree in hand that was shipped to my office in a hollow tube resembling a toilet paper holder, I thought I was destined to acquire a music-related full-time job.

But like most others holding the same piece of parchment with Gothic lettering, there was no work out there for me. Music Therapy was not regarded with as much respect in those days as it is today. Art Therapy had far more clinical standing.

My relocation to California definitely advanced my private teaching career, though it was not enough to put food on the table. For supplementary income, I subbed for the Fresno Unified School District in every subject known to mankind, and as a side bar, I helped organize substitutes into a union because of dirt-low wages spanning ten years. This effort succeeded and carved out a new legacy for those of us who toiled in the trenches, and spurred much needed change in the work environment. Teacher Magazine and Education Week put Fresno subs on the map in articles about their victory against all odds. (“Substitutes Unite!” October, 1999 by David Hill) Among these fighting back subs, were a few piano teachers, most likely with performance degrees.

So what does a music major do in the long term with such a prize-less piece of paper?

On this final note, I can’t overlook my high school choir accompanying experience that stole precious practice time otherwise devoted to the works of Scarlatti, Bach, Mozart and the other masters.

I won’t forget the day a pile of Christmas music with five endings, “da capo al fine,” and an added repeat inserted by the conductor was handed to me by the District’s Music Administrator. It was an overnight assignment with a medley of super-fast paced Christmas carols to be performed at the Big Winter Concert! While it went well, I swore I would never again be enslaved to such a pressure deadline to the tune of $12 per hour!

After that whole episode, I quit accompanying choirs and decided that teaching privately was my niche.

Coming back home was nice as it’s always been. Throw in some blogging and You tubing, and I was content.

Finally, with a sweet El Cerrito Hills piano sanctuary, I was, without a doubt, in seventh heaven!