Looking back to my earliest piano lessons in an early 20th century townhouse attic space in the Bronx, off Kingsbridge Road, I recall my happiest moments floating through all white key melodies. It was a Diller-Quaile par duo journey with Mrs. Vinagradov, a very warm and encouraging Russian teacher, who sang line by line lyrics… Continue reading Navigating those skinny black keys without fear!
With gratitude to our mentors who light a path of learning with love, inspiration, knowledge, commitment and enduring patience. *** SEYMOUR BERNSTEIN http://seymourbernstein.com/ https://youtu.be/k-XngqDcJdg My intent in teaching is to make the pupil better than they are by leading them through musical and technical obstacles and helping them find solutions right there at the lesson.… Continue reading Teaching approaches: Seymour Bernstein, Marianna Prjevalskaya and Karen Magruder
I've come full circle back to a "signature" piece that has grown over decades as I've worked with students discovering its many challenges. The so-called "facile" Sonata in C, K. 545, by W.A. Mozart that's quickly retrievable from my memory-labeled archive, is not "easily" dismissed as a thinly composed romp through C Major. With its… Continue reading Weaving threads of melody through W.A. Mozart, K. 545-Allegro
My students continue to teach me as we move along at a pace that does justice to the unfolding of a work over time without a rush to destination. For each pupil the journey is different and varied, without definitive markers of absolute progress. Having said that, a movement that is brisk (as metaphor to… Continue reading Thinking in One through a brisk 3/8 movement (Clementi)
I often enjoy a splurge of self-produced technique videos to assist my teaching, and to clarify my latest insights. This week I examined Staccato playing, using weight transfer for dynamic variation, as I employed a legato "floating arm" as a model for snipping out a stream of well-connected, scale-wise detached notes. In this undertaking, I'd… Continue reading Piano Technique Tutorials abound this week!
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?
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
Piano teachers often welcome the opportunity to use student repertoire requests as a springboard to nourish new learning adventures. Such pupil-driven musical endeavors can lead to deep-layered immersions in short, Romantically framed character pieces. The value of dipping into miniature variety compositions encompasses taking on a learning challenge in compact form. For example, Schumann's Album… Continue reading The value of studying short Romantic era Character pieces
Five words resonated profoundly through a Masterclass given by Pianist, Andras Schiff at the Juilliard School. They framed a myriad of movements in Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. Three students offered selections by Bach, Schubert and Schumann. (The event was Live-streamed) While Beethoven did not grace the program, Maestro Schiff's mentoring had far-reaching implications for… Continue reading “Listen to the Long Notes”
What is under-emphasized in discussions about satisfying piano study, is the role of a student's attitude toward lessons, practicing, and progress. Particularly within the realm of adult music learning, an individual's decision to return to a structured instructional environment after a weighty absence from childhood lessons will often attach a set of negative associations: 1)… Continue reading Attitude and Adult Piano Study