executing trills, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog

Navigating Tricky Trills

Experimentation is central to piano learning in all its phases, including that which applies to the build-up of trills. Unfortunately, for many students engaged in such a learning process, rapid alternations of notes will often ignite instant panic and fear which tighten muscles, inhibiting a smooth flowing musical line. In some instances, the initial approach… Continue reading Navigating Tricky Trills

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Liz, age 8, has her second piano lesson! (With my interspersed thoughts about materials and teaching philosophy)

As I journey along with Liz, my newest piano student, I'm collecting insights about the nature of music learning from the perspective of a child. And by this most recent experience, I've come to realize that the choice of teaching materials is wedded to a mentor's own philosophy about expressive music-making. The samples below represent… Continue reading Liz, age 8, has her second piano lesson! (With my interspersed thoughts about materials and teaching philosophy)

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An 8-Year old begins piano lessons!

An exciting musical journey has begun! Liz, an 8-year old who prances by my apartment singing mellifluously, became my newest piano student last night. Her lesson opened with, "Welcome to a universe of the imagination," an inspired framing that kept student and teacher riveted to 45 minutes of collaborative music-making. (The duet form was the… Continue reading An 8-Year old begins piano lessons!

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Baroque Ornaments, execution, style, context and taste: A Conversation with Elaine Comparone

One of the delights of my trip back to hometown New York City, was an encore visit with Elaine Comparone!

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Scenes from Manhattan

First day in the Big Apple: These are popular picture postcard themes yet worth memorializing. I took this photo set as I trekked from 34th Street and Penn station to the West Side 'Y' gym at 63rd off Central Park. Bogged down with luggage, I approached Columbus Circle at W. 59th Street (off Central Park)… Continue reading Scenes from Manhattan

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The piano learning process at all levels of study

In spite of my having studied piano for decades, each learning experience is filled with challenges that I must approach with a glut of patience. A new composition has its own form, architecture, harmonic rhythm, fingering that requires a big reserve of self-acceptance in a deadline-free frame. To the contrary, many of my students, who… Continue reading The piano learning process at all levels of study

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The C Major Scale universe: metric and muscle memory; shaping and tapering

The C Major scale is more than meets the "I," if you're the one practicing it!