I was inspired by the sagacious words of Peter Takacs, Oberlin Conservatory piano faculty member, in response to a query by Zsolt Bognar. (Living the Classical Life interview) Zsolt: "Should a pianist teach?" (I was a bit surprised by a question that sowed doubt about the endeavor of mentoring--as if it proliferated the weak cliche… Continue reading What you Learn by Teaching Piano
Often I query my students about the "destination" and "direction" of phrases within a particular composition. Naturally, my questions are a reflection of a need to clarify what arrivals are significant in the transit of notes. Part of this exploration encompasses the awareness of sub-destinations that are on the way to the peak or climax… Continue reading Phrasing at the Piano: Direction and Destination
Emanuel Ax, well-known concert pianist and teacher asserts that one note struck cannot be varied by physical approach (except for volume) and I'm assuming duration (a clipped staccato release vs. a lingering sustain without pedal) Yet he didn't provide enough specific details about duration, dynamics, and how delays into notes using supple wrist motions could… Continue reading Does approaching notes in different ways at the piano affect tone production?
The video attached to this writing validates the beauty of music-making on a well-maintained, though 1940s vintage era acoustic piano. Baldwin Acrosonics were the Cadillacs of the spinet and console variety pianos. They had a noticeable innovation compared to their sister-size instruments. (A deeper sound chamber, especially noted in the consoles that measured 40" or… Continue reading Into the Hills with the Sound of Music –a Baldwin Acrosonic “acoustic” sings
In spite of my having studied piano for decades, each learning experience is filled with challenges that I must approach with a glut of patience. A new composition has its own form, architecture, harmonic rhythm, fingering that requires a big reserve of self-acceptance in a deadline-free frame. To the contrary, many of my students, who… Continue reading The piano learning process at all levels of study
I find my current musical journey down memory lane to be joyful and challenging--especially as I cut and paste the Mozart Rondo: Allegro, K. 311 pages to fit comfortably on the piano rack. (Deja Vu, Haydn C Major Hoboken XVI35--Haydn pinned and unpinned) I wrote to a musician friend during the height of my frustration.… Continue reading Revisiting an old piano piece learned years earlier
I've chosen Burgmuller's "Tender Flower" as the springboard to explore attentive listening and its relationship to phrasing. At the outset, the right moment to begin a piece is a challenge. The player has to experience the whole dimension of silence before a first note is played. That silence is not dead, but alive with cues… Continue reading Phrasing at the piano: Listening to the ends of notes as they flow into others