classissima.com, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano blog, piano scales and arpeggios, piano warm-ups

Adult sneak peek piano technique

These lesson videos-in-progress reinforce practicing approaches to warm-ups, giving a student an additional angle of the teacher’s hands.

I. Crispy Cracker Staccato
(D Major scale)

Forearm generated at FORTE level followed by “lighter” finger strokes at “piano” dynamic.
Forte=Big Projection, Piano=Soft

FLASHBACK video, (A Major scale in Staccato) before my relocation to Berkeley–same student LIVE, playing on my Steinway M Grand. Light staccato focus, smooth curve around with rotation. (relaxation, arms, wrists)

Arpeggio, D Major in 10ths–smooth passage of thumbs under “tunnel” fingers at different temporal moments between the hands. Preserve a rolling motion.


II. HOPPING in THIRDS, Ab Major and minor in Five-finger positions

Build up tempo in proportioned rhythm; divide voices of thirds; explore side-to-side (lateral) motion in prep for advanced tempo; drag thirds first in legato (dead weight in), then “snip” into staccato. Adjust position of hands when needed; develop a “feel” for geographies and new “centers of gravity”

III. Ab Major pentascale (five-finger position) Work on “feeling” the beat; reinforce “auditory memory” through clapping and syllabic routines.
(“Ear training/Eurhythmics”)

***
LINK
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/piano-warm-ups-and-the-art-of-breathing-video/

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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 to transition smoothly in the descent (legato and staccato playing in two dynamic ranges)

II. The roll-in, wrist forward motion when starting the arpeggio, or coming around in a sequence of playings

C Major Scale

I. Blocking (separate hands)–block out “tunnels” through which the thumb passes (D,E and then GAB with thumbs played softly in between)

II. Find common fingers and notes between the hands (such as 3’s on E and A) Same for common thumb points.

III. Scope out the “bridge” over the octave, B, C, D and note how the fingers of each hand are in “mirror” or reciprocal relationship with each other. (practice finding these “neighborhoods.”)

IV. Format the scale once internal relationships are explored (Practice legato to staccato)

Practice the scale with a singing-tone Mezzo Forte (and don’t forget curve around “rotation” at the top before the descent)

Two octaves, quarter notes
Two octaves, 8th notes, with wrist dips in pairs of notes
Three octaves, rolling triplets
Four octaves, 16ths (legato)
Four octaves 16ths staccato (Forte)–Staccato is “a snip away from legato.”
Four octaves 16ths staccato (piano)

LINK:

http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten

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Piano Technique: More wrist-forward rolling motion in Sonatina by Clementi Op. 36 no. 1 Vivace (Videos)

In two videos, I flesh out the need for a rolling forward wrist motion in playing the last movement of Clementi’s well-known Sonatina in C, vivace.

In addition, a 3/8 meter designation in rapid tempo requires the “feeling” of ONE impulse per measure not three. And this sense of ONENESS suggests CIRCLES of motion which are physically demonstrated in the instruction.

The supple or undulating wrist is pivotal to playing this Rondo movement with shape and contour, avoiding the pencil point, or Rosie the Riveter approach to notes. https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/piano-technique-avoiding-pencil-point-playing/

In this regard, I offer preliminaries to loosen up the wrist, and suggest rhythms that I enlist to develop streams of 16th notes.

There’s a slow motion frame inserted to graphically illustrate the rolling wrist motion that is so necessary to express this Classical era music with beauty and grace.

Note that behind tempo practicing, along with separate hands is always recommended.

Rondo movement in tempo:

RELATED LINK:

Avoiding Pencil Point Playing

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/piano-technique-avoiding-pencil-point-playing/

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Piano Lesson: An adult student continues her Beethoven “Fur Elise” learning process (Video)

These are excerpts from today’s lesson where we covered:

1. Broken chord blocking; refreshing inversions of the Tonic as applied to practicing Fur Elise.

2. Voice balancing: fleshing out the treble (soprano) melody, on page 2 (F Major section) Using supple wrist and hand rotation; relaxation of arms.

3. C section–with repeated bass notes, alternating fingers, against, thread of melody woven through chords in the treble.

Paint brush stroke motion for Left Hand repeated note patterns.

Prior adult student lesson-in-progress links to Fur Elise by Beethoven

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/when-the-piano-teacher-is-absent-between-lessons-a-you-tube-video-can-fill-in-the-gap-fur-elise-and-chord-voicing/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/piano-instruction-fur-elise-by-beethoven-video/

OTHER Instruction:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/piano-instruction-fur-elise-by-beethoven-video/

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The complete WEIGHT VARIED, WEIGHT CONTROLLED Piano workout with Cardio benefit (Video)

Here it is! The latest approach to building a full-bodied piano technique without taking Protein supplements, or gagging on raw eggs. You might even shed a few pounds if you’re committed to the regimen. But don’t run scared when you see me going into fast forward. That’s the AFTER, not the BEFORE.

I did my baby-step routines on the way, and you will, too, if you want to make progress.

Claudia, my 11-year old student, is on this program, and works out with me every week. Next lesson, I’ll provide a videotape minus the GRAVITRON. (though a few chin-ups at Bally’s can’t hurt)

I stay away from the hand weights, though, because they tax the precious shock-absorber wrists.

Note the indispensable role, and ROLL of the wrists in producing a fluid singing tone.

It’s all packed into the footage, and more, so give it a whirl and Enjoy the benefits of the REAL DEAL CARDIO!

The LINE-UP:

Five finger positions–legato to staccato in Major and minor

Breathing into broken chords, Forte and piano

Scales in root position, parallel and contrary motion (from triplets to 32nds–legato/staccato)
In 3rds, 10ths and 6ths

Arpeggios in root position, contrary motion (build rhythms and momentum–end staccato pairs, F/p)

Diminished 7ths arpeggios in root position and 10ths (build rhythms and momentum–end staccato pairs-F/p)

Dominant 7th arpeggios

Block 4-note chords through inversions up and down

4-note arpeggios in consecutive inversions (rolling arms, clock-wise/counter-clockwise circular motions)

ADDED BONUS: EMOTION RELEASE arpeggio and scale routines as Trifonov recommends. Set your warm-ups on fire, then extinguish them.

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Piano Technique: Rina turns 5 and plays two-note Legato slurs (slow motion, soundless replays)

The Good News: Rina just celebrated her big FIFTH birthday, and bestowed a lovely portrait of herself draped in a smile over her precious piano. Thank You for the beautifully framed photo!

***

OTHER:

Today, technology failed me once again, but this time I outsmarted the devilish, on/off again iMac movie program.

So what if Yeti Mic decided to go silent for this footage. I could still use the video frames to demonstrate the forward roll, two-note slur of C to D, played in every octave from middle C up and back. (using fingers 1 to 2, beginning with the Right Hand)

Rina and her parents could watch, gaining a physical understanding of what was taught at today’s lesson.

I thought about Anne Sullivan and the challenges she braved teaching Hellen Keller.

By comparison, mentoring in silence, (on replay) would be a breeze.

To begin the editing process, I HIGHLIGHTED frames where I demonstrated the legato slurs, and then tapped SLOW MOTION 50%. A slower rendering would send Rina’s folks and other viewers scampering off for a McDonald’s Big Breakfast.

I then retained a slow motion replay for frames where I guided Rina’s hands and fingers over the keys. (These examples would help mom practice with her daughter during the week)

The first video, however, in real time, added a few additional teaching maneuvers (still giving viewers the silent treatment)

I encouraged Rina to first relax her arms by imagining they were hanging over a clothesline. This mental image seemed to help her let go of elbows, wrists…and any related tension.

You can clearly observe the positive results in this first video.

I also reinforced the rhythmic value of each note, by pointing to a WHITE CARDBOARD CIRCLE on the piano rack. (C and D were each designated as “LONG SOUNDS,” or notes that were to be held for TWO COUNTS each–otherwise known as Half Notes)

The second upload, incorporated the slow motion effect, and eliminated some of the footage from the first video.

As for playing through the slurs in consecutive octaves across the keyboard, Rina tended to anticipate the forward motion on the second note D, impeding a smooth roll where the wrist naturally springs forward–but NOT with a jerk.

To remedy this problem, I will enlist other forms of mental imagery to slow down her entry into D-perhaps invoking the JELLO keyboard model, or molasses, honey, etc.

The lesson continued with Left Hand two-note slur sequences, fingers 1 to 2, C to B, down from middle C and back up. (not featured in the footage)

Earlier in today’s instruction we had practiced rainbow motions for each note of the music alphabet, played in octave spans– alternating fingers of each hand.

Repertoire:

Rina played “Frere Jacques” in C Major/minor–two hands (LH intoning WHOLE NOTES with melody in RH) and displayed good physical coordination.

She effectively produced three echoes in this piece, increasing her dynamic range.

“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” followed, played Right Hand alone in Major, and then minor.

Separately, Rina practiced WHOLE notes on C in the LH, counting through them with me.

During the week mom will play the melody as Rina practices her Whole notes. (WHOLE NOTE HOLD DOWN… or 1-2-3-4)

Then the two partners will reverse parts. (I’m not recommending hands together TWINKLE practice as yet)

***

Rina is moving along at a nice pace, making excellent progress. Her attention span is remarkably improved since she first began piano lessons at age 4. I’m using many ideas that Irina Gorin embraces in her excellent instruction, Tales of a Musical Journey.

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Down to the wire: An 11-year old piano student prepares for a competitive Baroque event (VIDEO) with a tender flashback

Claudia has made significant gains this year. She’s shaping her phrases more, and becoming ear-attentive and physically responsive to the music she plays.

Today, she made additional headway with J.S. Bach’s Prelude in C minor, BWV 847.

Coming into her lesson with two introductory readings, she was bobbing her head up and down, reinforcing beats which impeded the bigger flow of phrases above and beyond these metronomic impulses. (The playing was initially VERTICAL and without direction)

In the video attached, Claudia had a bigger conception of the work, playing it more HORIZONTALLY, with an ear toward melodic contouring AND harmonic rhythm. To play this composition requires at least a two-tier understanding of their interaction, not to mention an absorption of form or structure.

The interluding ad lib sections, are in marked contrast to what unfolds in between, requiring sensitive tempo shifts.

In this arena, Claudia is developing her sense of a Baroque rubato without going overboard.

***

It’s always valuable for a teacher to sing various sections of a composition while the student plays, and to conduct, or use body language to help shape phrases along.

The big challenge on the day of the big event is for the student to have the presence of mind to communicate all that she has learned along the way.

Videotaping allows examination of what needs improvement, while simulating performance conditions as best as possible.

Flashback: Claudia, age 6, playing at her very first recital in my home.

LINK:

Claudia’s musical time-line

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/a-piano-students-milestones-and-memories-in-photos-and-video/