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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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Piano Technique: Rina turns 5 and plays two-note Legato slurs (slow motion, soundless replays)

The Good News: Rina just celebrated her big FIFTH birthday, and bestowed a lovely portrait of herself draped in a smile over her precious piano. Thank You for the beautifully framed photo!

***

OTHER:

Today, technology failed me once again, but this time I outsmarted the devilish, on/off again iMac movie program.

So what if Yeti Mic decided to go silent for this footage. I could still use the video frames to demonstrate the forward roll, two-note slur of C to D, played in every octave from middle C up and back. (using fingers 1 to 2, beginning with the Right Hand)

Rina and her parents could watch, gaining a physical understanding of what was taught at today’s lesson.

I thought about Anne Sullivan and the challenges she braved teaching Hellen Keller.

By comparison, mentoring in silence, (on replay) would be a breeze.

To begin the editing process, I HIGHLIGHTED frames where I demonstrated the legato slurs, and then tapped SLOW MOTION 50%. A slower rendering would send Rina’s folks and other viewers scampering off for a McDonald’s Big Breakfast.

I then retained a slow motion replay for frames where I guided Rina’s hands and fingers over the keys. (These examples would help mom practice with her daughter during the week)

The first video, however, in real time, added a few additional teaching maneuvers (still giving viewers the silent treatment)

I encouraged Rina to first relax her arms by imagining they were hanging over a clothesline. This mental image seemed to help her let go of elbows, wrists…and any related tension.

You can clearly observe the positive results in this first video.

I also reinforced the rhythmic value of each note, by pointing to a WHITE CARDBOARD CIRCLE on the piano rack. (C and D were each designated as “LONG SOUNDS,” or notes that were to be held for TWO COUNTS each–otherwise known as Half Notes)

The second upload, incorporated the slow motion effect, and eliminated some of the footage from the first video.

As for playing through the slurs in consecutive octaves across the keyboard, Rina tended to anticipate the forward motion on the second note D, impeding a smooth roll where the wrist naturally springs forward–but NOT with a jerk.

To remedy this problem, I will enlist other forms of mental imagery to slow down her entry into D-perhaps invoking the JELLO keyboard model, or molasses, honey, etc.

The lesson continued with Left Hand two-note slur sequences, fingers 1 to 2, C to B, down from middle C and back up. (not featured in the footage)

Earlier in today’s instruction we had practiced rainbow motions for each note of the music alphabet, played in octave spans– alternating fingers of each hand.

Repertoire:

Rina played “Frere Jacques” in C Major/minor–two hands (LH intoning WHOLE NOTES with melody in RH) and displayed good physical coordination.

She effectively produced three echoes in this piece, increasing her dynamic range.

“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” followed, played Right Hand alone in Major, and then minor.

Separately, Rina practiced WHOLE notes on C in the LH, counting through them with me.

During the week mom will play the melody as Rina practices her Whole notes. (WHOLE NOTE HOLD DOWN… or 1-2-3-4)

Then the two partners will reverse parts. (I’m not recommending hands together TWINKLE practice as yet)

***

Rina is moving along at a nice pace, making excellent progress. Her attention span is remarkably improved since she first began piano lessons at age 4. I’m using many ideas that Irina Gorin embraces in her excellent instruction, Tales of a Musical Journey.

"Clowns" by William Gillock, Accent on Gillock Volume two Later Elementary, classissima, classissima.com, Gillock composer, mind body connection, mindful piano practicing, mindful practicing, Moonbeams and other Musical Sketches by Shirley Kirsten, MTAC, music, music and heart, music teachers association, Oberlin Conservatory, Op. 39 Children's Pieces by Kabalevsky, phrasing at the piano, pianist, pianists, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessson, piano pedagogy, piano practicing, piano recital, piano repertoire, piano student, piano studio, piano study, piano teacher, piano teacher and student relationships, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano teaching repertoire, Piano World, piano world-wide, pianoaddict.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing staccato at the piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, playing two musical instruments, William Gillock, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Piano Instruction: A charming, quick-paced piece for late elementary students, titled “Clowns,” by Gillock (VIDEO)

Continuing my tribute to the prolific and talented composer, William Gillock, I’ve snatched “Clowns” from Volume Two of his Accent on Gillock collection. (published by Willis Music Company)

Not to be long-winded about my approach to teaching this sprightly composition, I simply outline a step-wise practicing routine.

1) Since the melody is divided between the hands through most of the score, it would be counter-productive to separate the hands in an initial learning phase. Therefore, I recommend a continuous flow from one hand to the other at a very slow tempo and with a bigger dynamic than indicated. This allows a a deep feel connection to the notes while reinforcing fingering.

Staccato, by the way, is played with the whole relaxed arm, and supple wrist as I demonstrated in the video.

Articulation of notes, or their groupings with slurs as indicated, including staccato, accent marks should be integrated into the behind tempo playing.

2) As conscientious practicing continues, I support playing “Clowns” in the same tempo but with the added observance of dynamics.

3) If the process moves along nicely over time, I ask the pupil to advance the tempo, but not to a level where his playing becomes out of control.

4) Finally, over time, the piece should mature or ripen into the desired tempo which still remains a subjective realm unless the composer had affixed a specific metronome marking to his music. (Gillock indicated, “Rather fast, humorously” to describe the pace and character of “Clowns.”)

Here’s today’s video:

The Clowns universe is a draw for many composers. Kabalevsky created a charming “Clowns” piece that belongs to his Op. 39 Children’s Pieces.

And I sheepishly admit to having written Juggling Clowns that’s part of my Moonbeams and Other Musical Sketches collection. The attached art had been contributed by my late uncle, David Smiton.

LINKS:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/teaching-gillocks-delightfully-appealing-later-elementary-level-music-the-glass-slipper-video/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/the-formative-years-of-piano-study-and-the-basic-building-blocks-of-learning-videos/

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Teaching Gillock’s delightfully appealing, Later Elementary Level music: “The Glass Slipper” (Video)

I have no reservation about the immense teaching value of William Gillock’s music from elementary through advanced levels. And while the titles in the first few volumes appeal to children, the pieces can be universally enjoyed by piano students of all ages.

In this spirit, I picked out “The Glass Slipper” from Accents on Gillock, Volume 2, Late Elementary, and savored its beauty as I fleshed out the learning challenges and how to meet them.

In the video instruction, I pointed to the melodically woven, slurred bass notes in groups of two and how to enlist a dipped wrist to wrist forward motion to realize their musical contour. Above these figures, in the treble, the students separately practices spongy wrist after-beat harmonic thirds.

The realization of an echo in measures 4 to 8, requires a lighter application of arm weight filtered through relaxed wrists into the fingers.

Balancing the voices between the hands, and following the crest of crescendo and its opposite, diminuendo becomes a continuous challenge in the outflow of gorgeously nuanced music.

As the student is bathed in beauty from start to finish, he’s more willing to meet the technical demands of this piece.

A middle section, provides a stark contrast to the page one offering, and takes off in an upward scale-wise direction. This is a whimsical portion of the interlude that strikingly sets it apart from what preceded.

The crescendo rolled from left into right hand peaks with an accented half-note that has a bass staccato played harmonic 2nd in between, gives the music a pleasing lift. A sequence of this scale figure up a step, intensifies it, before there’s a graceful transition back to the beginning theme.

The most wondrous cap to this composition is a longer scale-wise ascent to the final sustained tonic note, (with a touch of chromatics–half steps) A rolling motion underlies these passages.

A final soothing chord emanating from the melodic C wisps away, leaving behind a satisfying feeling of resolution. The sustain pedal enriches the closing cadence with warmth.

What an amazing piece of music to explore with a student on so many levels.

***

***

Another Gillock sampler, but for Intermediate students:

“Flamenco”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hbFhesmbo4

LINKS:

Blog: The Formative years of Piano Study and the basic building-blocks of learning

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/the-formative-years-of-piano-study-and-the-basic-building-blocks-of-learning-videos/

***
WILLIAM GILLOCK http://www.halleonard.com/biographyDisplay.do?id=240&subsiteid=1

“William Gillock (1917-1993), noted music educator and composer of piano music, was born in LaRussell, Missouri, where he learned to play the piano at an early age. After graduating from Central Methodist College, his musical career led him to long tenures in New Orleans, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas, where he was always in great demand as a teacher, clinician, and composer. Called the “Schubert of children’s composers” in tribute to his extraordinary melodic gift, Gillock composed numerous solos and ensembles for students of all levels. He was honored on multiple occasions by the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) with the Award of Merit for Service to American Music, and his music continues to be remarkably popular throughout the United States and throughout the world.”

Aikido, Galop by Kabalevsky, German, Japan, Japanese, Kabalevsky, Kabalevsky Op. 39 Children's pieces, mind body connection, mindful piano practicing, mindful practicing, MTAC, music, music and the breath, Op. 39 Children's Pieces by Kabalevsky, phrasing at the piano, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano practicing motivators, piano repertoire, piano student, piano teacher, piano teaching, piano technique, Piano World, pianoaddict.com, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing staccato at the piano, practicing the left hand at the piano, publishers marketplace, publishersmarketplace, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Taekwando, Teach Street, teaching piano to children, video performances, whole body listening, whole body music listening, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Aikido and Piano are a good match for Sakura (Video) (Note the rolling forward wrist motion in Kabalevsky’s “Galop”)

Aikido
Main article: Aikido
Aikido shihōnage technique.

“Aikido (合氣道:あいきどう aikidō?) is a modern grappling-based Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (植芝 盛平 Ueshiba Morihei, 1883 – 1969). The art consists of “striking”, “throwing” and “joint locking” techniques and is known for its fluidity and blending with an attacker, rather than meeting “force with force”. Emphasis is upon joining with the rhythm and intent of the opponent in order to find the optimal position and timing with which to apply force. Aikidō is also known for emphasizing the spiritual and philosophical development of its students reflecting the religious background of its founder.

“Morihei Ueshiba developed aikido mainly from Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu incorporating training movements such as those for the yari (spear), jō (a short quarterstaff), and perhaps also juken (bayonet). Arguably the strongest influence is that of kenjutsu and in many ways, an aikidō practitioner moves as an empty handed swordsman.”

Sakura comes for her lesson when it’s already dark at 6:30 p.m. and she’s in full Aikido garb.

At 12, she speaks Japanese and German fluently. And it can get confusing at times when one or the other parent picks her up and chatters off in the native language. (Dad is from Germany, mom, from Japan)

I’m always awestruck when Sakura easily slips from one mode of communication to another without skipping a beat.

Both parents, University faculty, were determined to keep their cultures preserved as they raised three children and what a nice job they have done!

***

Sakura has taken piano lessons for two years now, and is one of my rare left-handed pupils. It doesn’t seem to factor into her playing, because I wouldn’t know of this predisposition if my eyes were open or closed.

Her pronounced dedication to practicing has an intensity that keeps propelling her forward, and she understands the importance of keeping the steady rhythm of learning alive and well.

In the repertoire arena, Sakura has studied the works of J.C. Bach, J.S. Bach, Kabalevsky, Clementi, and Mozart.

Recently, she performed Bach’s Prelude no. 1 in C from the Well-Tempered Clavier at her Middle School talent show. And through the grapevine I heard that it was with flying colors.

Yesterday, on a cold evening in Fresno, she played a sprightly “Galop” by Kabalevsky and demonstrated her mastery of the spring forward wrist. (Notice the rolling motion that drives the 16ths to the long note)

Bravo, Sakura! You’re a joy to teach!

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Mozart memories, reflections and revisits (Videos)

Andante: second movement, Mozart Sonata K. 545 played on my Steinway, 1917, M.

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My relationship to Mozart and his music began with the violin. At the Merrywood Music Camp in Lenox, Massachusetts, only a stone’s throw from Tanglewood, I encountered Eugene Lehner, first violist of the Boston Symphony when I played second violin in a string quartet. At the time, in 1960 I was simultaneously fiddling and tickling the ivories.

In the company of more seasoned chamber ensemble, I was privileged to rehearse and refine one of Mozart’s most divinely beautiful works:

The Quartet in G, K. 387 (first movement)

Lehner, in his 50s at the time, danced around us with a warm smile, conducted as we played, cajoled, hummed, gestured in every which way to make us “sing” with warmth radiating through our very beings. He wanted each of us to give everything we had, and we did, slipping into a universe of imagination, inspiration and pure beauty. I’ll never forget the experience.

At Performing Arts High School in the mid 60s, I had the unique experience of playing the first movement of Mozart’s piano Concerto in G, K. 453 at the Winter concert where a radiance flooded the stage creating a special ensemble between orchestra and soloist. It was my second Mozartean journey that followed my having studied the Mozart Sonata in D K. 311.

My teacher, Lillian Freundlich, the next inspiring individual to flow out of my music camp experience came backstage in the glare of the spotlight to remind me of what we had worked on for months, and how all my practicing was worth the effort. (Ironically, her nephew, Douglas, a Merrywooder had led me to his aunt when I most needed a teacher to guide me through the basics of producing a singing tone)

Mozart became the staple of my practicing as I branched out following my years as a student at the Oberlin Conservatory. Once settled into my own studio apartment on W. 74th Street and Amsterdam, I selected the Sonata in A Major, K.331 composed uniquely in Theme and Variations form, with a culminating Ronda Alla Turca as the final movement.

In my confined creative space that was dominated by an imposing Steinway grand, gifted by my father, I learned the Piano concertos in D minor, K. 466, and C Major, K. 525.

From there it was on to learn and teach more of Mozart’s sonatas.

The composer has always presented a special challenge for the performer. One cannot over pedal, or under pedal his music. The Alberti, “broken chord” bass must not sound monotonous or grinding, but supply a warm underpinning for an operatically spun melody, especially in Mozart’s slow movements.

Certainly the impetus for playing Mozart in a molto cantabile style was aided by suggestions from Eugene Lehner and Lillian Freundlich.

It has also been awe-inspiring to hear the composer’s trios played with a harpsichord instead of piano, creating a timbre, that perhaps Mozart intended. I’ve included a link to performances of this genre.

In a word, I thank those who’ve helped me realize the spirit and soul of the Master’s music so that it’s realized in a style that is convincing and aesthetically pleasing.

***
BIO (Eugene Lehner, Wiki)
Eugene Lehner (1906 – 13 September 1997) was a violist and music educator.

“Mr. Lehner, as he preferred to be addressed, was born in Hungary in 1906. Originally named Jenö Léner, he performed as a self-taught violinist from the time he was 7. When he was 13, the composer Bela Bartok heard him play, and arranged for him to pursue his studies formally. At the Royal Conservatory of Music in Budapest, he studied the violin with Jeno Hubay and composition with Zoltan Kodaly. In 1925, soon after his graduation from the conservatory at 19, he joined the Kolisch Quartet.

“Lehner was a violist with the Kolisch Quartet from 1926 until 1939, performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 39 years (the only player to be invited to join without an audition by Serge Koussevitzky), and continued teaching chamber music at the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University well into his retirement. Late in his life most coachings were given at his home in Newton. The modest upstairs room he coached in contained photographs covering every wall from all the quartets that he mentored – a real “wall of fame”. Lehner was widely regarded as one of the greatest living experts of the interpretation of chamber works by Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Arnold Schoenberg, and Béla Bartók, having been involved in the premieres of several of such works during his time with the Kolisch Quartet. As a member of the quartet, Lehner gave the premieres of Berg’s Lyric Suite, Schoenberg’s Third and Fourth String Quartets, Bartok’s Fifth Quartet and Webern’s Second Quartet.

“When the Juilliard Quartet was formed, they spent a summer in intensive coachings with Lehner. He advocated playing string instruments with tempered intonation, in the spirit of Bach.

“Lehner studied violin with Jenö Hubay and composition with Zoltan Kodály.”

Related Links:

A Breathtaking Camp Finale: About Merrywood

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/a-breathtaking-music-camp-finale/

Mozart: The 1788 trios Elaine Comparone, Peter Seidenberg, Robert Zubrycki & The Queen’s Chamber Trio

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mozart-the-1788-trios/id257027599

"Portrait of Lívia Rév pianist / teaching / 90th Birthda, Bela Bartok, Bela Bartok and Livia Rev, Edna Golandsky, Hungary, Livia Rev, mind body connection, Mozart, music and heart, music and the breath, musical inspiration, musical phrasing, musical phrasing and breathing, phrasing at the piano, pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lessons, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano student, piano technique, pianoaddict.com, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Taubman piano method, teaching piano, technique, The art of phrasing at the piano, the art of piano playing, Uncategorized, W.A. Mozart, whole body listening, whole body music listening, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

The Old World playing, like fine wine, of Livia Rev, Hungarian pianist and teacher (see her teaching segments on the pliant wrist)

So now I am into documentaries about piano teachers/performers who leave an eternal imprint on their students and upon the world. Livia Rev is one such special person who belongs in the good company of Irena Orlov, Irina Gorin, and Rosina Lhevinne. Note the frames on Bela Bartok, and Ms. Lev’s connection to– a letter signed by Bartok to Livia. And some bravos about her teaching.

You don’t have to know Hungarian to appreciate the content of this moving profile.

***

I stumbled upon a you tube film about Livia two years ago: “Portrait of Lívia Rév pianist / teaching / 90th Birthday”– It showed her teaching a student in Hungarian, and in one riveting segment Lev takes her pupil’s hand and demonstrates the freedom of the supple wrist. She literally rotates the hand around, and then dips the wrist. These frames support the unconventional–they do not regale a frozen wrist or inflexible hand–Edna Golandsky, are you listening? (Taubman followers curiously rule out the “wrist break”) It’s counter-intuitive.

See the following pertinent segments in this short film that apply to piano technique and the wrist.

2:28 to 4:28 as Livia Rev is teaching

and 5:04 to 5:14 A big dip of the wrist in a technical display by the pianist, herself.

One can’t go against nature and refuse to “break” the wrist. I apologize for my over-emphasis.

About Livia at the website:

http://www.forte-piano-pianissimo.com/liviarev.html

LIVIA REV (b 1916)
Hungarian Pianist

“Livia Rev is one of the pianistic marvels of our age. She was born 95 years ago in Budapest, Hungary. She was a child prodigy. She studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, at the Leipzig Conservatory, and at the Vienna Conservatory. She has performed the world over as a soloist with conductors of the stature of Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri, and Walter Susskind, a veritable who’s who of the great conductors of the 20th Century. She teaches, gives master classes, and is still currently playing the piano.

“In her prime, Livia Rev was one of the world’s greatest interpreters of the music of Chopin. The recordings of the 24 Preludes Opus 28 are among the finest the writer has ever heard, and as he wrote these words, he was tempted to place them at the top of his list.”

Like the writer, I favored Livia’s Chopin as exemplified in this reading: Chopin Nocturne in F Major

Even more musical ambrosia is offered in these Chopin Preludes recorded in 1988 when Livia was 74:

If there are any fluent Hungarians out there, please render a translation for the impatiently waiting Internet audience.

Link:

Livia Rev’s Official Website. She currently resides in France.

http://www.livia-rev.com/en