"In the Garden" by Samuel Maykapar, classissima, classissima.com, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Maykapar Russian Composer, piano, piano addict, piano instruction, piano lessons, Piano Street, piano teaching, Piano World, Rada Bukhman, Samuel Maykapar, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, The Russian School of Piano Playing, word press, word press.com, wordpress, yout tube, youtube.com

A Russian composer’s colorful pieces with a strong teaching dimension

Native Russian, Samuel Maykapar (b.1867, d. 1938) composed a set of gorgeous, program-inspired pieces, that are carefully phrased, articulated, and fingered. The music is ear-catching in the spirit of Dimitri Kabalevsky and William Gillock as all three composers were highly expressive and imaginative within a pedagogical framing.

Maykapar aims to teach an ebullient, crisp staccato beside a tenuto (leaned on, detached note) in his beautiful miniature, “In the Garden.”

In the attached instruction I explore the flexible wrist and its role in realizing a beautiful tenuto. At first I demonstrate an exaggerated motion in slow demonstration that becomes attenuated in the assigned Allegro tempo.

(Baby step, separate hand practicing as always is recommended in a layered-learning process)

Samuel Maykapar In the Garden

Rada Bukhman, author, has a generous serving of Maykapar’s compositions in her book, Discovering Color Behind the Keys, The Essence of the Russian School of Piano Playing. An interview with Ms. Bukhman can be found at:
https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/an-interview-with-rada-bukhman-pianist-teacher-author-about-the-russian-school-of-piano-playing/

"Tales of a Musical Journey" by Irina Gorin, blogging, blogging about piano, blogs about piano, Dozen a Day by Edna-Mae Burnam, Faber Developing Artist Original Keyboard Classics (preparatory album), five finger positions at the piano, Irina Gorin, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, pianist, pianists, piano, piano addict, piano auction, piano blog, piano blogging, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessons and parental support, piano lessson, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano practicing motivators, piano repertoire, piano student, piano teacher, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano teaching repertoire, piano technique, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing pentascales, playing piano, playing staccato at the piano, playing the piano, Randall Faber Developing Artist series, Samuel Maykapar, William Gillock, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

The Formative Years of Piano Study and the basic building-blocks of learning (Videos)

Just as a child needs a wholesome diet from birth through adolescence to insure healthy growth and development, a beginning piano student requires the equivalent in musical nourishment.

Cocoa Puff pieces that squeeze out whole grain servings of the classics will not in the long term cut the cake. (And I don’t rule out compositions by William Gillock that include, “Argentina,” “Stars for a Summer Night,” “Little Flower Girl of Paris,”) as well as Samuel Maykapar’s “In the Garden,” a particular favorite.

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Starting a piano student at age 6 or 7, requires a thoughtful menu of goals. As I define them, they would include teaching a physical relationship to the instrument and how to produce a singing tone.

Under the heading of tone production, the following should be nurtured from day one:

1) A whole arm, relaxed infusion of energy

2) A supple, “spongy” wrist

3) Arc-like, “rainbow” movements in octave spreads, one note sampled at a time, enlisting each finger (right hand, then left hand)

If these sound like they’re lifted from Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey, then you’re correct.

Ideally, musical symbols and notation should flow into a course of study, though some teachers may postpone these based on age considerations.

Proponents of the Suzuki method set aside note reading for years at a time, copying the model of language assimilation–where a child doesn’t read or write for the first few years of life but instead, is taught by imitation through parental interactions.

Gorin spends a good amount of time dwelling on the physical dimension of playing, using prerecorded music of high caliber as children tap individual notes to Russian themes from the classical literature as well as folk music sources.

I tend to favor a mixture of more than one teaching philosophy, though I can’t embrace Suzuki’s ultra-long tabling of music reading.

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If I enlist a more traditional method book approach, I will modify it to suit the needs of individual students. In the same vein, if I draw upon Irina Gorin’s material, I might tailor it to include earlier exposure to notational symbols–one example is where I insert a flat to flesh out the minor mode, sooner than expected.

But above and beyond contrasts in teaching styles and choice of materials that might be of Major or minor proportion (pun intended) I insist on giving my students a serving of good music at the very beginning of piano study.

Sometimes, a parent will try to upset the apple cart, and egg me on to substitute the pop stuff for classical. In this lobbying effort, a pitch for pop might please the dad or mom, but it runs counter to what’s in the best interests of the child.

In such a case scenario I provide a simple reply:

The basic building-blocks come first with no room for the musical equivalent of a junk food filled menu.

Under the heading of a nourishing learning program comes intertwined technique advancement.

About 6 to 9 months into piano study (and it varies from child to child), I introduce penta-scales or five-finger positions, borrowed from Edna-mae Burnam’s Dozen a Day. (These precede full blown 4-octave scale and arpeggio romps around the Circle of Fifths)

The student will play Major and companion (parallel minor) ascending and descending, step-wise progressions in “Walking and Running” sequence and he’ll engage his whole arm and supple wrist in the process. Arc-like motions are likewise encouraged to realize faster note values.

In the video examples below, I first demonstrate the technical routine myself, followed by a second bit of footage that showcases an 8-year old student warming up in the same way.

In the repertoire arena, one of my Bay area beginners in his second year of study, is working on “Melody” by Beyer; “Ponies” by Low, and a third selection, “Circle Dance,” that has imitative counterpoint. All compositions are contained in Faber’s Developing Artist Original Keyboard Classics. (preparatory piano literature)

Contents: Allegretto (Köhler) • Ancient Dance (Praetorious) • Circle Dance (Beyer) • Country Ride (Köhler) • Echoes (Köhler) • Five-Note Sonatina (Bolck) • The Hero’s March (Vogel) • In an Old Castle (Beyer) • Little March (Turk) • Melody (Beyer) • Ponies (Low) • Sonatina (Wilton).

In between lessons, this student practices “Melody” together with my prerecorded secondo TEACHER part (uploaded to You Tube) giving it a grander, ensemble proportion. (His folks have recently made the connection between a companion CD and the Teacher accompaniments)

Faber’s choice of pieces in this particular collection is admirable though I always hunt down supplements from other sources. These might include the Toronto Conservatory Celebration series, or individual albums of Kabalevsky’s music such as the Op. 39 Children’s Pieces. “Joke,” “Melody,” and “Funny Event,” for example, are first and second-year appropriate repertoire choices that have musical substance while advancing technique.

For the most part, I tend to steer clear of musical cliches, harmonic formulas, and insipid arrangements.

In summary, the formative years of piano study require substantial musical nourishment. Imbuing the singing tone, teaching the physical means to achieve it, and selecting quality pieces for students, are ingredients that support a solid musical foundation.

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An extra treat: Ilyana, 8, practices “Argentina” by Gillock, a favorite composer.

Add “Flamenco,” a show-stopper:

RELATED LINK:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/taking-piano-lessons-skimming-the-surface-or-getting-deeply-involved/

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Stimulating the imagination: choosing piano repertoire that embraces childhood themes (Video)

I was awakened this morning to an inspired Facebook post that featured a six-year old captivated by a delightful piece that amounted to a “playground” of light-hearted chords with engaging harmonies. The piano teacher, Irina Gorin played snippets of Samuel Maykapar’s “In the Garden” that seemed to share character kinship with Kabalevksy’s Op. 39, Children’s pieces. Both Russian composers set aside time to compose a body of work for children embarking upon piano study.

“Maykapar was born on December 18, 1867 in the city of Kherson, to Karaite Jewish parents and spent his childhood in Taganrog. In 1885 he graduated from the Boys Gymnasium where he studied with Anton Chekhov. He also took private music lessons from Gaetano Molla, director of the Italian Opera in Taganrog.”

According to an entry in the Wikepedia, The image of Taganrog and its people was featured in numerous Anton Chekhov works, including Ionych, The House with an Attic, The Man in a Shell, Van’ka, Three Years, Mask, My Life and more. It is believed that the Taganrog image may have been used as Lukomorie (fairy tale land) in Alexander Pushkin’s Ruslan and Lyudmila (1820). It also appeared in the novels of Ivan Vasilenko, Konstantin Paustovsky and in the poems of Nikolay Sherbina and Valentin Parnakh.”

What a backdrop to a composer whose music contained more than an incidental repository of child-centered themes to engage the ears of children and motivate them to dance across the keyboard from the beginning of piano study.

Here’s an example drawn from a lesson in progress, as a child and his teacher are in a playground on the same imagination-driven turf. What could be a more divine immersion in the fantasy world of music and its evoked emotions.

Repertoire that springs from childhood activity is a big attention getter and technique builder. I have countless times found that particular miniatures work wonders in motivating practicing. Just to name a few: Kabalevsky’s “Clowns,” “Joke,” “Galop,” (from his Op. 39 Children’s pieces), and from Tschaikovsky’s Album for the Young, Op. 39 for the piano: “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” “Playing Horse Games,” “Morning Prayer” among others.

Robert Schumann had his own Album for the Young that included a host of harmonically engaging pieces: “Soldier’s March,” “The Happy Farmer” and the “Wild Rider.” For more advanced students he produced a tableaux of Childood “Scenes,” known as Kinderszenen. Who could not fall in love with music for a “Sleeping Child” or be rhythmically engaged by “Catch Me!” a child’s lively spree of tag.

Not to forget Grieg’s Lyric pieces and his ebullient, “Elf Dance” with elves prancing in staccato through Norwegian caves.

Bartok’s Children’s pieces are also musical enticements. Bathed in the Hungarian folkloric idiom they include an engaging “Magic Dance” and “Sewing Song” among others. These compositions imbue a rhythmic consciousness as they teach various ways to phrase and articulate.

William Gillock is a favorite composer of mine. Untold students have been lifted out of their practicing doldrums with his animated pieces. Favorites include “Flamenco,” “French Doll,” “Little Flower Girl of Paris,” “Stars on a Summer Night,” “Fountain in the Rain,” “Dragon Fly” as well as “Soaring” from the composer’s “Lyric Preludes in Romantic Style.”

Burgmuller’s Op. 100 25 Progressive pieces are an assortment of imagination-grabbing miniatures in the Romantic genre: “Ballade” in C minor might as well be titled “Spooks” with its “misterioso” opening and punctuated minor chords. Students insist it’s a Halloween inspired piece by its overt mood and character.

Other popular compositions in this album include “Arabesque,” “The Chase,” “Tender Flower,” and “Chatterbox.”

Shostakovich’s “Children’s Notebook” includes harmonically sparkling miniatures such as “Clockwork Doll,” “March,” and much more.

Here, the composer plays his own compositions:

Add in selections by Prokofiev from his repertoire of Children’s pieces, Op. 65:

(Irina Gorin includes the “March” from this album in her “Tales of a Musical Journey”) Children tap, clap and move with alacrity to this miniature as they begin their piano learning adventure.

Please share your own favorite compositions inspired by childhood themes and how they influenced your piano study.