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

adult piano teaching, piano, piano blog, piano blogging, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten

A Jet-setting adult student makes time for piano

No need to say Play it Again Sam, to Sam P. who's been a super dedicated piano student ever since he approached me for lessons in Berkeley, nearly 4 years ago. And if we factor in a significant interruption of instruction due to Sam's Acrosonic Console having been shipped to London when his company transferred… Continue reading A Jet-setting adult student makes time for piano

Christmas music, piano, piano blog, piano instruction, piano teaching, Shirley Kirsten

Piano Lessons during the holidays: Inserting a creative composing dimension to chord exploration

Every winter holiday season most music teachers are asked by parents to devote at least a few weeks to the absorption of Christmas and related celebratory selections. In the traditional musical cosmos, "Silent Night," "Deck the Halls," "Hark the Herald Angels" and "Jingle Bells," are popular learning requests. This year, my 9-year old student who… Continue reading Piano Lessons during the holidays: Inserting a creative composing dimension to chord exploration

piano, piano blog, piano blogging, playing scales in staccato, Shirley Kirsten, staccato, staccato scales

Piano Technique: Soft staccato scales with projection, springboard energy, resilience, and shape

One of the biggest weaknesses that present in soft dynamic range staccato scales, is a lack of projection. Students often snuff out notes, play them in a whisper without a tenacious spring UP character, or a necessary rebound effect from note to note. Instead, they become inhibited and constrained. Yet even at the Forte level,… Continue reading Piano Technique: Soft staccato scales with projection, springboard energy, resilience, and shape

piano blog, piano blogging, piano instruction, Shirley Kirsten, teaching piano to children

A 9-year old’s “complete” piano lesson integrates theory and ear training

After 9 months of study, "Liz" whom I've followed at regular recorded intervals since her first lesson in mid-February, has been exposed to multi-tiered music learning that's incorporated a Theory and Ear Training dimension. (Note the choice of Frances Clark's Time to Begin as a 6 month Primer, with my imposed creative modifications that expanded… Continue reading A 9-year old’s “complete” piano lesson integrates theory and ear training

Chopin, Frederic Chopin, phrasing at the piano, piano, piano blog, piano blogging, piano instruction, piano lessons, Shirley Kirsten

Phrasing at the Piano: Direction and Destination

Often I query my students about the "destination" and "direction" of phrases within a particular composition. Naturally, my questions are a reflection of a need to clarify what arrivals are significant in the transit of notes. Part of this exploration encompasses the awareness of sub-destinations that are on the way to the peak or climax… Continue reading Phrasing at the Piano: Direction and Destination

piano, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano teaching, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten

A 9-year-old piano student devises a plan to improve her practicing

Into her seventh month of music study, Liz has more clearly defined her approach to practicing various pieces by devising a well-written outline of phrase-loving reminders. And though her vocabulary is an understandable offshoot of her teacher's, with its emphasis on floating, flowing wrists, side-by-side with "pokey" finger prohibitions, she manages to offer an original… Continue reading A 9-year-old piano student devises a plan to improve her practicing