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
I admit to watching hours of great cellists (past and present) on you tube, as they breathe life into phrases with direct string contact and adjustments of weight transfer channeled through artful bowing. Icons of string playing serve as great examples for pianists in particular, because they teach us to bridge our distance from the… Continue reading Cellists and the Piano
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
"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
Often a posted comment about a You Tube video inspires a blog topic that is of interest to pianists and teachers. One such public addition to my Channel quickly streamed into a comparison between two well-known compositions in the piano repertoire. The commenter was asking about the grade "level" of Debussy's The Girl with the… Continue reading Sound imagination and tactile, tonal expression at the piano for diverse compositional eras
Once I sold my beloved Steinway 'A' grand that had eaten into the space of my neighbor's apartment where it had been well cared for over a year's time, I felt obliged to replace it. The 'A' had been the first piano for a beginning student who lived at the end of our walkway. For… Continue reading Seek and Ye shall find the right FREE piano!