I find myself reconnecting with my late teacher, Lillian Freundlich, when I borrow her approach to scale development. In this undertaking, she would always check my wrists and elbows through note groupings that were ignited by a basic roll-in energy. A scale could not start with a bang, but instead, it had a smooth, slope-like… Continue reading Piano Technique: Building scales to speed and fluency
There's nothing like a Big Mac blitz of pulsating pixels in checkered, multi-colored patterns, building to an eye-catching display of blinking lights that forewarns of a computer shutdown. A lyrical Schumann tableau, Face time streamed from Australia, becomes muted by a choir of cackling parakeets whose primal sense of impending doom is on full screen… Continue reading Computer crashes and recovery!
It's inevitable that I'll introduce a technique-heavy blog with a time worn story about an authoritarian piano teacher who fist-drummed beats to my very shaky C Major scale. (I was 7) The only perk paired with the metronome mandatory, 4-octave lesson opener, was my being able to pick the latest scale practiced. (Without a hint… Continue reading Scales and Arpeggios are front and center with their telltale history of avoidance
We are taught as piano students to have respect and reverence for what the composer notates in his score as pertains to tempo, dynamics and other embedded forms of expression. (i.e. directives such as poco rit., calando, note slurred legato and non-legato, etc.) Yet, these are only framings that give life to expression only when… Continue reading Creative phrasing or reading between the lines
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
For the past year I've devoted many daily hours to the study J.S. Bach's six French Suites while simultaneously keeping pace with my students' passage through diverse repertoire. The decision to take on this additional musical challenge apart from meeting my basic teacher obligations of being present at lessons; knowing the material assigned, and dispensing… Continue reading Our individual musical study grows our piano teaching
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