Most piano students experience the nemesis of hard-falling, accident-prone thumbs during their scale and arpeggio romps. If unchecked, these power-grabbing fingers of each hand have a tendency to interrupt smooth-playing keyboard journeys. As a start, a player should imagine a scale or arpeggio as a seamless outflow without "bumps" or undesirable "accents." Even in a… Continue reading Piano Technique: Folding in Thumbs for smooth keyboard transit
With our ultra exposure to You Tube, MP4s, CDs, etc. we often forget what it's like to experience a LIVE performer inhabiting an acoustical paradise such as Davies Hall, San Francisco. In a give and take between pianist and audience, a swell of dynamics and limpidly melting cadences elicit an intimate exchange of emotions that's… Continue reading A memorable Evgeny Kissin Piano Recital!
In a May 2018 Living the Classical Life interview, the distinguished pianist, Emanuel Ax admitted that his "brain would be twice its size" had he played more Bach. "It is one of my great regrets that I did not play a lot, a lot, a lot" (three times reiterated) of this composer's music. "And of… Continue reading J.S. Bach and the Brain
Yesterday marked a special event in my life--a rekindled tie to an Oberlin Freshman dorm mate made possible by Anita, my 92-year old, 4-hand piano partner. A twenty-year donor/subscriber to Philharmonia Baroque (PBO) a celebrated Bay area-based orchestra, Anita had placed its glossy program brochure on the coffee tray right at our mid-point playing break.… Continue reading My duo piano partner sparks an Oberlin reunion with a long lost classmate!
It was no accident of fate that I spotted a 90 plus, sprightly woman on you tube who registered a wish to find a partner to play "4-hand piano." (It's a musical collaboration between two players at one instrument.) The posting, exciting my interest, had been hyper-linked from the Ashby Village (AV) website that details… Continue reading Music-sharing Par Duo in an “age-less” environment
A former student of legendary pianist, Artur Schnabel, Jeanne Shapiro Bamberger sat comfortably at her piano bench, nestled in her Berkeley Hills home. She meticulously traced her East to West Coast journey that's reached beyond the boundaries of piano performance. Through decades of creative discovery, Bamberger has synthesized elements of music and cognition; form, structure,… Continue reading Jeanne Bamberger, 94, shares a rich and abundant musical life
"The loneliness doesn't worry me......I spend most of my life alone, even backstage.......I'm there completely alone. I like the time alone...." - Stephen Hough, concert pianist The pianist’s life is, by necessity, lonely. One of the main reasons pianists spend so much time alone is that we must practice more than other musicians because we… Continue reading A Guest Post by Frances Wilson: The Pianist’s Solitude
I'm the first to admit that not every learning journey through a particular composition will produce results we might have hoped for. After weeks or even months of methodical practicing in baby steps, we can find ourselves literally over a barrel, wading through ornaments, for example, that are crystal clear in slow tempo, but suffer… Continue reading Practicing Challenging Pieces: If we’re over a barrel, we can still learn something valuable
As teachers, the empathy we have for a pupil's budding learning process with its slips and slides, is at the foundation of good mentoring. By remembering what it's like to be in the student's position, sitting at the piano under a professional gaze, we can increase our pedagogical effectiveness. If we revisit our own early… Continue reading Trading places with our piano students
No need to say Play it Again Sam, to Sam P. who's been a super dedicated piano student ever since he approached me for lessons in Berkeley, nearly 4 years ago. And if we factor in a significant interruption of instruction due to Sam's Acrosonic Console having been shipped to London when his company transferred… Continue reading A Jet-setting adult student makes time for piano