piano, piano blog, piano blog by Shirley Kirsten, piano technique

Practicing Contrary Motion Scales (Video tutorial)

I often use scales played in opposite directions to reinforce posture and the body's ability to lean in either direction toward the highest or lowest octave without bench wandering, or dizzying head movements. Since the third octave in these excursions is not within eye range, the advantage of a pull toward the keyboard, (even without… Continue reading Practicing Contrary Motion Scales (Video tutorial)

piano lesson, piano technique

Piano Technique: Building scales to speed and fluency

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

piano lesson, piano technique

Scales and Arpeggios are front and center with their telltale history of avoidance

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

piano, piano blogger, piano lessons, piano technique

Weaving threads of melody through W.A. Mozart, K. 545-Allegro

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

phrasing, phrasing at the piano, piano blog, piano instrucion, piano teaching, piano technique

Piano Technique: Weight transfer into the keys and voicing

The application of weight that's channeled into the keys through relaxed arms and supple wrists is an important ingredient of musical playing. It supports a variety of colors in "voicing" myriads of notes, while it increases attentive listening skills. Central to the "voicing" process are decisions made about what lines need drawing out, and how… Continue reading Piano Technique: Weight transfer into the keys and voicing

piano, piano technique, piano technique and breathing

This week’s ear-catcher: “Stay Loose and Keep Moving!”

There were a pile-up of competing events to fill a blog feature, but only one stole the show: Amidst a sweltering East Coast heat wave, harpsichordist friend, Elaine Comparone, messaged a BBC link to an astounding display of age-defying virtuosity. At her home in Paris, 103-year old, French pianist, "Colette," played mellifluous Debussy, "moving" gracefully… Continue reading This week’s ear-catcher: “Stay Loose and Keep Moving!”

piano teachers, piano teaching, piano technique, singing at the piano

From the Start: Singing through Piano Lessons

On this Mother's Day, I think of the many piano teachers who breathe life into fledgling musical journeys with a gentle prod of the hands and the warm embrace of the human voice. Phrase shaping and the singing tone, originate from the ebb and flow of the breath that fuels energy through relaxed arms and… Continue reading From the Start: Singing through Piano Lessons