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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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Part Six Piano Instruction, Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata No. 17, Op. 31 No. 2 and all FIVE teaching segments preceding

In order from Part One to Six:

I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

LINKS:

Part ONE: Beethoven Tempest Sonata in D minor

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/practicing-tips-for-beethovens-tempest-sonata-op-31-no-2-part-one-video/

Part TWO Instruction

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/piano-instuction-part-two-beethovens-tempest-sonata-hand-cross-over-with-tremolo-in-the-middle-voice/

Part THREE Instruction

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/piano-instruction-part-three-beethoven-tempest-sonata-in-d-minor-op-31-no-2/

Part FOUR Instruction

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/piano-instruction-part-four-beethovens-tempest-sonata-in-d-minor-op-31-no-2-measures-55-93/

Part FIVE Instruction

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/piano-instruction-part-five-beethovens-tempest-sonata-op-31-no-2-measures-93-to-158-development-recitative-submerged-pedal/

PART SIX, referenced in You Tube format

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwQzBpWJWqs

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Irina Morozova’s inspiring words flow through a lesson with an adult student (Beethoven’s Fur Elise-in-progress) Video

“From watching great pianists it is obvious that they incorporate quite different movements to achieve the same goals, because people do not play piano with fingers but rather with the mind and the ear. Again, it is the clear image of what kind of sound one wants to achieve, combined with the knowledge of how to get it….”

To frame a lesson with these ideas, helps to infuse it with the spiritual, analytical, and nonverbal elements of exchange.

Within this paradigm, one of my adult students continued her study of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” (C section, treble chord voicing with bass tremolo)

LINK:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

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The Most Heavenly Piano Music?

Mozart’s Theme from his A Major Sonata, K. 331, and Beethoven’s Adagio from the Sonata “Pathetique,” Op. 13, for me, have two of the most hauntingly beautiful melodies in the piano literature.

In particular, Mozart’s opening theme that threads through the composer’s innovative first movement in Variation form, is a lilting lullaby, played in TWO, though written in 6/8 meter.

In the video below, I try as best as I can, with my compromised piano, to flesh out a pervasive binary flow of notes that pulls the listener into a region of beauty that is sustained through six variations. (I will separately feature and explore)

But first the memorable opening:

***

What is your favorite theme from the vast array of piano masterworks?

Burgmuller "La Chasse", Burgmuller Inquietude, Burgmuller pastorale, Burgmuller Pastorale Op. 100, Burgmuller Tarentelle, Burgmuller The Chase, Burgmuller's Op. 100 Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, classissima, classissima.com, Friedrich Burgmuller, music, music and heart, music teachers association of california, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, piano playing, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano repertoire, piano student, piano study, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano technique, piano technique and the singing tone, piano world-wide, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano with expression, playing the piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, practicing difficult piano passages, practicing piano with relaxation, Romantic era music, Romantic era piano music, Romantic era piano repertoire, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, shirley s kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, shirley smith kirsten blog, slow mindful practicing, slow piano practicing, Steinway M grand piano, studying piano, supple wrist in piano playing, swinging arms in playing piano, teaching a piano student about melody, teaching piano, teaching piano to adults, teaching piano to children, teaching piano to teenagers, technique, The art of phrasing at the piano, Twenty five Progressive pieces by Burgmuller, video instruction, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Piano Technique: Burgmuller’s Tarentelle, Op. 100-Fueling and shaping fast passages with a dipping, supple wrist (Videos)

Most piano students will have been assigned a Burgmuller selection or two during their formative years of study. And most likely, these would have been snatched from the composer’s Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, Op. 100 that advance by steps in difficulty, though it can be argued that all contain unique technical challenges.

Composed in the Romantic style, this music is strikingly beautiful while it advances specific technique-related goals.

One of my favorites, “La Tarentelle” in a fast and furious tempo, has its origins steeped in fear.

From Wikipedia

“In the region of Taranto in Italy, the bite of a locally common type of wolf spider, named “tarantula” after the region[3], was popularly believed to be highly poisonous and to lead to a hysterical condition known as tarantism. The stated belief in the 16th and 17th centuries was that victims needed to engage in frenzied dancing to prevent death from tarantism using a very rhythmic and fast music. The particular type of dance and the music played became known as Tarantella.”

It’s no surprise that over time, many composers tried their hand at writing their own Tarantellas. (Italian form)

Rapid, frenzied passage work characterizes Burgmuller’s “Tarantelle,” which requires whole arm activity and supple wrists.

And while it may seem that the fingers are propelling the composer’s music along, they can easily tire if not fueled by a bigger physical energy.

Breathing long, relaxed breaths, being in the moment and thinking slowly through fast stretches of notes, keep the music flowing.

Rolling through three note group figures that are characteristic of 6/8 time, also helps to style and phrase streams of eighth notes. This is where a supple wrist allows an infusion of energy when most needed. For shaping lines, it’s indispensable.

(Notice a SLOW MOTION video-only replay that’s sandwiched into the Lesson video)

A defined section of punctuated quarter note chords found on page 2, shifts the mood and character of the composition giving it a robust, march-like character. At this point, it’s best to style, cajole, and phrase the notes in such a way, that draws listener interest.

Piano Lesson:

Playing Tarentelle in tempo:

RELATED:

La Chasse (The Chase) by Burgmuller


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/piano-technique-re-arranging-hands-for-speed-and-agility-in-burgmullers-la-chasse-the-chase-videos/

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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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Abby Whiteside and playing beyond the fingers as a point of departure (Videos)

From WIKI:

Abby Whiteside (1881–1956) was an influential American piano teacher. She challenged the finger-centric approach of much classical piano teaching and instead advocated a holistic attitude in which the arm and torso are the conductors of a musical image conceived first in the mind and soul.

This quote is riveting:

“Why spend dull hours with Hanon when the arm can easily furnish all the power that is needed without specialized training? If we could only believe in nature’s way instead of in traditional concepts, so much wasted time, boredom, and ultimate frustration could be avoided.” Mastering the Chopin Etudes and Other Essays, p. 178

The Hanon reference evokes a teacher at the Oberlin Conservatory who assigned all his students the same package of taxing Schmitt five-finger exercises for the piano, op. 16 (c1922) Pupils were instructed to practice these on a daily basis for months, if not years, in pursuit of a BIG, enviable Technique.

Unfortunately, the paper thin walls of a NEW (at the time) Conservatory structure, allowed these time-warped exercises to filter into rooms from every angle, producing a sad choir of droning, pedantic interludes. (My own Schmitt-driven efforts were drowned out by students inhabiting cubicles above and beside me.)

Overdosed on Schmitt, I desperately sought a teacher change in my Freshman year, jumping from one studio to another, meeting up with the same fruitless prescribed regimen in vogue at the time. And most often it led nowhere, causing pain and injury by its rigid embrace of a fixed hand position.

Obviously, Abby Whiteside, sensed a need for REFORM, that predated the referenced scourge at Oberlin and other conservatories and made a whopping contribution in the teaching arena. But so did others, like Mildred Portney-Chase who became personally enlightened through her self-explorations, carefully logged in Just Being at the Piano, Berkeley Press.

A changed consciousness about piano playing, however, is often limited by the written word, so the physical presence of a teacher beside a student is the ideal. Still, in this day and age, the Internet imports Masterclasses where distinguished mentors impart wisdom about technique, phrasing and overall musicianship.

In this spirit, I often go You Tubing, like others surf the Malibu waves, expanding my consciousness.

Watching an artist flowing in and out of phrases with fluidity is for me, a prime learning experience.

By example here’s a video performance that I revisit, study and try to emulate as a remarkable fusion of the physical and musical aspects of playing: (with a permeating SINGING tone)

Irina Morozova–Chopin Mazurka, Op. 63, No. 3

And another for liquid phrasing and enlistment of rolling arms, undulating wrists: Yeol Eum Son plays George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.” (Arr. Earl Wild)

George Li, 16, performs Liszt Consolation no. 3

Lang, Lang plays Liszt’s Liebestraum

Having an up front and personal teacher demonstrating the use of bigger energies in playing the piano, in lieu of fingers down reliance, is always a nice start. Enrichment of private lessons with concert attendance and selective You Tube excursions fills out the learning triad.

LINKS:

Morozova:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/ethereal-piano-playing-another-irina-with-an-i-in-the-middle-brings-heaven-to-earth/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/irina-morozova-pianist-shines-playing-gershwin-virtuoso-transcriptions-on-cd/