Chopin, Chopin Waltz in A minor no. 19, classissima,, Frederic Chopin, piano addict, piano technique, practicing arpeggios, you

Piano Technique: Are arpeggios “boring?” I don’t think so!

I belong to a myriad of LINKED IN, PIANO groups of all shapes and sizes. One, right now is applying the adjective, “BORING” to ARPEGGIOS. Another recently castigated SCALES!

Yet anyone who’s bounced around the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic keyboard literature, KNOWS that it’s permeated with scale passages and arpeggios.

That’s a no brainer!

In the last week, my review of Mozart’s Rondo in D, K. 311, produced so many scale passages it was dizzying.

And just today, a student found herself practicing a 3-octave E Major arpeggio lifted right out of the Chopin Waltz in A Minor, no. 19.

This heart-throbbing piece is so popular, that anyone thinking they can play it with pleasure, without practicing the E MAJOR arpeggio, to say the least, is in denial.

Rather than harp on why I disagree with a cadre of teachers, amateurs, professionals, who happen to love bashing arpeggios, I say watch this video and make up your mind.


"Tales of a Musical Journey" by Irina Gorin, acoustic piano, arioso 7, blog, blogger, blogging, blogging about piano, blogs about piano, children's music, El Cerrito, El Cerrito California, El Cerrito piano instruction, El Cerrito piano studio, emotion in music, fingering and phrasing at the piano, fingering and piano technique, five finger positions at the piano, five finger warm-ups, Irina Gorin, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Just Being at the Piano by Mildred Portney-Chase, legato playing at the piano, mental imagery, mindful piano practicing, mindful practicing, molto cantabile, MTAC,, New York City, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin, Oberlin Conservatory, pentascales, phrasing at the piano, pianist, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano playing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano studio in El Cerrito, piano study, piano teacher, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano world-wide,, pianoworld,, playing five-finger positions, playing legato at the piano, playing piano, playing staccato, playing staccato at the piano, playing the piano, POWHOW, POWHOW instruction, POWHOW piano instruction,, practicing a piece in 7 different emotions, practicing arpeggios, practicing piano, practicing piano with relaxation, publishers marketplace, publishersmarketplace, Rina, Rina 4 takes piano lessons, Rina takes piano lessons, rotation in piano playing, scales, shirley kirsten piano teacher in El Cerrito, Shirley Kirsten teaches classes at POWHOW, shirley s kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Skype a piano lesson to Australia, Skype piano lessons, slow mindful practicing, slow piano practicing, teaching piano to young children, teaching Rina piano, teachinig piano to young children, technique, word press, word, wordpress,, you tube, you tube video,

Growing piano technique in baby steps: Rina, 5, advances to hands together five-finger positions (adding in 10ths)

Rina may not know the words “pentascales” and “tenths,” but she has the intelligence to notice when her fingers move up and down together, playing the same notes an “octave” apart. With a sound knowledge of the music alphabet in both directions, she has good cognitive reinforcement. (She also knows “running notes” or 8ths, “long sounds”–half notes, “short sounds”– quarters, and “half-note dot” is a dotted-half note.)

But note-name recognition and having a concept of rhythmic values are just part of the learning process. She needs to cultivate the singing tone wedded to limpid phrasing–a dimension of playing we’ve explored from day one embracing Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Music Journey philosophy.

In this regard, Rina is working on softening the impact of her thumbs, so she can nicely roll into her LEGATO five-finger positions and smoothly taper them. (LEGATO means smooth and connected, finger-to-finger)

She has progressed from having played each hand alone through five notes ascending and descending, in a “conversational” way, to synchronizing both hands at the same time in parallel motion.

She also creates an “echo” effect on a repeat and we make sure to include the parallel minor in her playings. (Black notes also belong to the keyboard family)

Next, I thought to introduce a bit of “magic.”

How about starting the Right Hand on E while the Left Hand remained on bass C. (still five notes up and down but spaced in 10ths)

Rina took to it like a duck in water especially with an enticing harmonic landscape.

Here are two snatches from her lesson, starting with the first (both hands playing same notes in legato)

In the second video, she plays in 10ths:

Our next piece is “Little March” by Daniel Gottlob Turk. This follows Minuet by Reinagle of which Rina is separately studying the bass part. In addition she’s rendering it in the “minor,” enlisting a “B flat.” (She performed the melody on our recent Spring Recital) The Reinagle piece came with its own new landmark: Rina played detached and legato notes in one selection.

I’ve prepared a video to assist mom with ear-training experiences for “Little March” during the week. Rina will be saturated with listening; doing hand signals for melodic shape; singing notes and then rhythms. (phrase one) This is the first stage of her learning process.



Rina plays at the Spring Recital

Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano teaching, piano technique, playing piano, POWHOW,, practicing arpeggios, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press, word, you tube, you tube video

Piano Technique: Practicing an E Major Arpeggio during a lesson-in-progress (Video with tips on creating a rolling contour)

This piano student will gain a lot by reviewing footage taken at her lesson. It provides a practicing framework that zeroes in on the physical/musical aspects of creating a contoured arpeggio.

Here’s video where I’m teaching Sakura, 13, who’s studied piano with me for 3 years.

We worked on rolling, relaxed arms, supple wrists, and transitions from legato to staccato playing.


LIVE webcast classes at