As mentors, we can easily recall our student days when well-practiced pieces tanked upon arrival at our piano teacher's home. Even ascending the staircase to the threshold of the apartment, our heart rate quickened, and we felt cold, clammy and faint. It was automatic over-drive for the first 20 minutes--an adrenaline crisis of magnitude. Yet… Continue reading Student: “I get so nervous when I play for you!” The Teacher responds!
I've picked the first two pages of Mozart's Sonata in Bb Major, K. 281, last movement, Rondeau, Allegro to explore breathing and blocking techniques in the learning process. (These principles can be applied to practicing music from a variety of eras) Starting a composition is often taken for granted. Sometimes students will land on a… Continue reading Piano Practicing: Breathing into phrases and blocking out passages (Mozart Sonata, example)
Over the years, Gillock's music has sparked the enthusiasm of piano students who sometimes need a kick start piece to lift them out of a rut. "Flamenco" can be such a game changer! For Fritz, age 9, who's infatuated with baseball and soccer, the sheer energy of this character piece, draws him to the piano… Continue reading “Flamenco” by Gillock is a winner! (Intermediate Level piano repertoire)
Scales can be a great workout routine if you let your arms loose, dip your pliant wrists and go with the flow. And it's a great cardio. (No treadmill or weights required) Just apply principles of balance and buoyancy. Here are snatches from an adult student's lesson (Legato and staccato playing with slow motion replays)… Continue reading Piano Technique: A Bouncy Scale workout with forward arm rolls and supple wrist motions–Enjoy the romp! (Videos)
Marie, an adult student practiced measures 32-40 of "Fur Elise," enlisting the model of a singer who shapes and nuances phrases with meticulous breath control. While pianists are not operatic performers, they must imagine that their arms, wrists and fingers are making a vocal transfer to the keyboard thereby overcoming a physical distance from the… Continue reading Piano lesson-in-progress: Shaping a solo for the right hand in Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” ( a “vocal” transition) Videos
I challenged myself to quickly learn the shortest Scarlatti sonata on record (K. 431 in G) and share the principles of developing this piece to a level of fluidity with interested students. Perhaps it would help them navigate a new musical landscape. *** Looking over the two-page Scarlatti score, we notice a preponderance of broken-chord… Continue reading Learning a new piano piece quickly and thoroughly (Videos)
Marie, a motivated adult student, revisited piano studies after a decades-long hiatus. When she resumed lessons about 6 years ago, she made "Fur Elise" her goal-setting piece. Following long-term scale and arpeggio exposure accompanied by a detailed focus on minuets, short character works, sonatinas and the Chopin Waltz in A minor No. 19, Op. Posthumous,… Continue reading Quality spot-practicing by an adult student: Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” (Video)