adult piano instruction, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Lara Downes, music study and ripening, patience, pianist, piano, piano blogging, piano learning, piano study, piano teaching, San Francisco Classical Voice, Stephen Hough

Pianist, Stephen Hough talks about growing a piece over time

In this excerpt from Lara Downe's San Francisco Classical Voice interview with Stephen Hough, the universe of growth and musical ripening is explored. Lara Downes: Your teacher, Gordon Green, was a great influence and inspiration to you, and you’ve quoted him as saying to you, when you were a young student: “I don’t care how… Continue reading Pianist, Stephen Hough talks about growing a piece over time

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The universe of piano study: Too Little or Too Long on a piece

Not a bullet-proof analysis, but based on decades of teaching piano, I've come to a set of conclusions about why students give up on pieces too soon, or in reverse, prolong their agony, through time-warped months of static practicing. In truth, giving up too soon, or dragging a piece through months of inertia, both result… Continue reading The universe of piano study: Too Little or Too Long on a piece

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Piano technique is about flexibility not finger strength

I remember my days at the Oberlin Conservatory pumping out meaningless Schmitt finger exercises, often holding notes down, while a selected persecuted finger had to brave the pain is gain ritual. (tap, tap, tap, tap, and move on to the next unlucky digit) Looking back, it was a wasted effort which had NO relationship to… Continue reading Piano technique is about flexibility not finger strength

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The piano learning process at all levels of study

In spite of my having studied piano for decades, each learning experience is filled with challenges that I must approach with a glut of patience. A new composition has its own form, architecture, harmonic rhythm, fingering that requires a big reserve of self-acceptance in a deadline-free frame. To the contrary, many of my students, who… Continue reading The piano learning process at all levels of study

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Phrasing at the piano: Listening to the ends of notes as they flow into others

I've chosen Burgmuller's "Tender Flower" as the springboard to explore attentive listening and its relationship to phrasing. At the outset, the right moment to begin a piece is a challenge. The player has to experience the whole dimension of silence before a first note is played. That silence is not dead, but alive with cues… Continue reading Phrasing at the piano: Listening to the ends of notes as they flow into others

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Using piano repertoire as a springboard for a theory lesson: Major, minor and Diminished Chords (Videos)

One of my adult students is working on the gorgeous J.C. Bach Prelude in A minor which has a second page full of "Major," "Minor" and "Diminished" chords. The sonorities progress in sequences, but they also have a secondary dominant relationship to resolving chords. The "harmonic rhythm" moves quickly. While this particular pupil may not… Continue reading Using piano repertoire as a springboard for a theory lesson: Major, minor and Diminished Chords (Videos)

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Piano Technique: Focusing on Rotation in arpeggios, and building up a scale (Videos)

These are two supplementary videos that I created for adult students between lessons. As previously mentioned, they clarify and reinforce the content of our class, and map out ways to practice. I. ROTATION at the turnaround of a B minor Arpeggio Exploring the curve at the very top of the figure with an energy boost… Continue reading Piano Technique: Focusing on Rotation in arpeggios, and building up a scale (Videos)