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What you Learn by Teaching Piano

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

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J.S. Bach and the Brain

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

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The multi-step process of piano learning: but who’s counting?

One of the prevalent concerns of students, especially adults, surrounds the length of time they've invested in learning a particular composition. For some, an internalized goal of technical/musical "mastery" attaches a self-imposed deadline to completion. Boxed into this self-affixed learning time frame, is the end game of neatly shelving a composition as impetus to move… Continue reading The multi-step process of piano learning: but who’s counting?

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W.A. Mozart Minuets: Valuable Journeys of Discovery

It's easy to be dismissive of the Classical era Minuet form, though in the hands of a wunderkind like Mozart, a set of these 3/4 meter Binary dances springs to life with a myriad of embedded learning and performance challenges. For example, the Minuet in F Major, K. 2 composed by Mozart at age 6,… Continue reading W.A. Mozart Minuets: Valuable Journeys of Discovery

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Trading places with our piano students

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

piano, piano blog, piano blogging, piano instruction, piano learning, piano lessons, Shirley Kirsten

Patience reminders for impatient adult piano students

I was about to lose patience with a student this past week who lost patience with himself in the early practicing phase of a Bach Prelude. It was a common circumstance. An expectation was built into the adult psyche over decades that an overnight conquest of a piece was the only desirable outcome, leaving virtually… Continue reading Patience reminders for impatient adult piano students

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When an adult piano student advances well beyond Primer preliminaries

Peter started piano lessons from scratch about 1 and 1/2 years ago, not reading a note of music at the time, but having gads of enthusiasm about his maiden musical journey. Readers will be reminded of his earliest efforts playing Faber Piano Adventure duets with me. (I chose the Primer edition because it moved slower… Continue reading When an adult piano student advances well beyond Primer preliminaries