100 years, 6 degrees of separation, 77 Sunset Strip, adult piano students, Amsterdam Avenue and 74th Street, arpeggios, athletic coaching, athletic training, authorsden, Bach Inventions, Baroque music, Baroque trills, Beatles albums, Beethoven, blog, blogger, blogging, boxing, boxing lessons, California, Caroline Scheer, casio privia 110, cdbaby, Classical era, classical music, Classical period sonata, classissima, classissima.com, Creative Fresno, El Cerrito, El Cerrito California, El Cerrito piano studio, Facebook, Facebook friend, five finger positions, five finger warm-ups, Five for Fighting, Forever and Always, Fresno, Fresno Famous, fresno filmmakers alliance, Gospel Music, Guitar Center, humor, keyboard technique, Major and minor scales, memoir, mind body connection, MTAC, music, music and heart, Music Teachers Asssociation of California, piano, piano addict, piano instruction, piano lesson, piano scales, piano society, Piano Street, piano student, piano teacher, piano teaching repertoire, piano tuning, piano warm-ups, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, popular music, publishers marketplace, publishersmarketplace.com, Ralph Cato, satire, scale fingerings, scales, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, sparring partner, Steinway and Sons, Steinway M grand piano, Steinway piano, Steinway studio upright, talkclassical.com, Taylor Swift, Teach Street, teaching piano scales, teaching piano to teenagers, teaching scales, technique, teenagers, The Beatles, Uncategorized, video performances, whole body music listening, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Letting my hair down with a snatch of “Let It Be!” (VIDEO)

The piano room was a mess yesterday with music strewn about. Two ’60-’70’s era Beatles albums were excavated from a pile of sheet music, hard bound theory texts, and Urtext editions of Beethoven’s sonatas.

Foraging a big carton of stuff like this was a trip down memory lane. My very old Yamaha guitar, a prized possession, was off to the side, propped against a book shelf. A 1974 model with magnificent resonance, it evoked memories of my one and only group classical guitar lesson at New York University with a South American virtuoso. On the very first day of class, he tried to teach one of the more difficult pieces in the flamenco repertoire. It was Rubira’s “Estudio,” later renamed “Spanish Romance.” (The performer in this video was not related to the instructor)

Within a few weeks, class enrollment had dwindled to three and quickly, I made it two. It reminded me of several Oberlin Senior Recitals at Kulas where one audience member was seated in the front row holding a musical score. (I recalled a New Yorker cartoon with the same theme)

The NYU guitar teacher like many other music instructors I’d encountered needed a reality check. Half the students in his class had never read a note, but they expected to play guitar “in a flash.” Generations that followed were tapping iPhones and game boys with guitar tab charts and animated keyboards. It was an espresso learning revolution!

My sixteen year old student, Allyse was an anachronism in her approach to piano study. A fledgling, she went with the program, played scales and arpeggios around the Circle of Fifths, and studied the Baroque Masters as an entree to sampling Classical and Romantic literature. No short cuts for her.

Just the same, she drove a hard bargain, insisting the Beatles went with the territory somewhere along the time line.(Allyse had already niftily tackled Five for Fighting, “100 Years,” and Taylor Swift’s “Forever and Always”) She had me enslaved to these pieces, as I sifted through practical fingerings and labeled harmonic progressions. But the prep work jump started a two way roller coaster ride through the contemporary pop music landscape.

With bristling enthusiasm, I indulged Allyse’s Beatles’ request. In truth, I had a vicarious interest in reading through reams of my favorite songs besides pumping out Scarlatti sonatas on You Tube. I loved “Eight Days a Week,” “Hey Jude,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Michelle,” “Yesterday” and the tour de force, Gospel style, “Let it Be!” Ralph Cato, US Olympic Boxing coach and former student, could have put me through the paces on that one. (*”Cato, His Killer Keyboard and a Round of Piano Lessons”) No one could pound the piano the way he did.

Allyse had lobbied to study “Let it Be!” with her new found confidence flying high. Just one week into our practicing, we had divided the parts at two pianos and did some public jamming–at least a snatch.

Our musical encounter was a peak experience!

This Saturday Allyse will come back down to earth playing her Baroque Rondeau at the Music Teachers Association’s Celebration Festival. An assigned adjudicator will evaluate each student’s performance and send them off, in any case, with a handsome medallion and Certificate.

Those who earn a Superior rating will play in one of the marathon Honors recitals taking place over two days.

If Allyse is not a marathoner, she’ll still race home to practice the right hand part of “Let it Be!” We have a re-run scheduled for next week. It should be a blast!

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/teens-popular-music-then-and-now-taylor-swift-throw-in-five-for-fighting-100-years/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/teaching-piano-to-teenagers-classical-pop-taylor-swift-liz-on-top-of-the-world-and-more-videos/

* https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/cato-his-killer-keyboard-and-a-round-of-piano-lessons/

6 degrees of separation, adult piano students, Album for the Young, Apple iPhone, arpeggios, Art Linkletter, athletic coaching, athletic training, attorney, authorsden, Baroque music, Bay area, blog, blogger, blogging, boxing, boxing lessons, California, Cato, cd baby, cdbaby, Children's pieces, Circle of Fifths, Classical era, classical music, classissima, classissima.com, counterpoint, Creative Fresno, crossed hands, diminished 7th arpeggios, diminished 7th chords, Domenico Scarlatti, El Cerrito, El Cerrito California, El Cerrito piano studio, essercizi, Facebook, Fig Garden Village, five finger positions, five finger warm-ups, Fresno, Fresno California, Fresno Famous, fresno filmmakers alliance, gymnastics, humor, Internet, iPad, iPhone, keyboard technique, kids say the darndest things, lawyer, Major and minor scales, memoir, mind body connection, MTAC, MTAC Baroque Festival, music, music and heart, music history, Music Teachers Asssociation of California, musicology, my space, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, pentachords, piano, piano addict, piano finding adventure, piano instruction, piano society, Piano Street, piano student, piano teacher, piano teaching repertoire, piano warm-ups, Piano World, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, publishers marketplace, publishersmarketplace.com, Ralph Cato, satire, scale fingerings, scales, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Shirley Smith Kirsten, sparring partner, sports, Steinway grand piano, Steinway M grand piano, Steinway piano, Teach Street, technique, Theory, trills, tritone, uk-piano-forums, video performances, videotaped replay, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Adult piano students say and do the darndest things.

I remember Art Linkletter’s show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” which made me think of a few adult piano students and their hauntingly memorable words.

Yesterday, for example, I was forewarned by a 70-year old pupil, that I should expect a call from her during the night about the key of “F# minor.” What impending crisis was she talking about? Did it have to do with the Melodic form of the scale and its raised notes going up, but not coming down? Was it the temporary shift in fingering or the modal turnaround? I’d concede that the “melodic” was a cliff-hanger on the ascent with its “raised” 6th and 7th notes, but definitely a descending blow-out in its restored “natural” form. Would this duality catapult a student into full-blown despair?

F# G# A B C# D# E# F#
E D C# B A G# F#

The Circle of Fifths for Major and Minor Scales

Wait a minute, my 70-year old, wasn’t assigned the more complicated Melodic minor this week. She was supposed to practice the NATURAL FORM with mirror fingers, 4, 3, and 3,4 on F# and G# in every progressive octave, with 3’s meeting on C# in both hands. We’d spent a few lessons on these reciprocal relationships and symmetries, though she’d planted her 4th finger on two different notes in the same octave, hoping I wouldn’t see the guilty left hand from my vantage point at the second piano. But my peripheral vision had been fine-tuned from hunting down crossed-hand notes with rolling eyeballs.

All humor aside, it’s always difficult to navigate scales that are not strict patterns of two and three-black key groups with thumbs meeting like those of B, F# and C# Major and their “enharmonics” spelled in flats: Cb, Gb and Db. But just about every scale has an internal symmetry that can be explored to best advantage regardless of its location on the Circle of Fifths.

The scales of C, G, D, A and E fall under one heading where the bridge between the octaves has a reciprocal fingering or mirror.

In the case of C Major, the 7th note B crossing over C to D, uses finger numbers 4, 1, 2 in the Right Hand while the left plays 2,1, 4. The anchor finger over which 4 passes in either direction, holds things together.

In previous writings and videos, I also pinpointed where finger number 3 met in both hands, providing another internal organizer.

For the student who was rattled by F# minor, a scale that had a novel identity, we found a different location for mirror fingers, but still a helpful aid.

Another pupil, a US Attorney who’d been chasing robber barons in South Carolina, was worried that he didn’t get to the piano this past week, so he let me know in no uncertain terms by telephone and text message, fax, email, registered mail, certified mail, and just plain 3rd class snail mail, that his upcoming lesson would “just be a practice.” I wondered to myself, had he otherwise feared a public flogging in front of Starbucks?

He had done very well over the years, reconciling the relationship of scale study with his desire to improve his understanding of the Beethoven sonatas and other repertoire.

I’d previously mentioned Ralph Cato, the US Olympic boxing trainer who was my sparring partner for ten minutes following his lessons. Every week he’d use my staircase for athletic training and balance routines. Was I dreaming? Because his coaching was pert and perfect, I’d wished his precise directions were recorded for posterity, though they remain a lingering memory.

Up in the Bay area, a retired lawyer, used her iPhone to capture angles of her hand and fingers that were used as learning reminders between lessons.

I had started to believe these technology based aids were helping her and I had to get with it without resisting change.

She’d admitted that her first piano teacher, a nun in a rural Texas parochial school, had used a ruler to beat her hand into a rigid, arched position.

Oops, maybe I’d mixed her up with my paternal grandpa who ran away from the Cheder in Latvia after his knuckles were skinned with a cat o’ nine tails by the head Rabbi. He’d ditched his Torah lessons.

Oh well, some teachers over generations used this same dastardly approach.

In a few years, none of us would be collecting colorful stories about our piano students. We’d be replaced by micro robots who’d comb the keyboard, electronically marking fingerings for every major and minor scale.

An exaggeration, perhaps.

In retrospect, I should have appreciated middle-of-the-night calls from my 70-year old student. At least I could log them for a growing anthology of pianorama.

RELATED:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/piano-instruction-learning-the-f-minor-scale-video/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/piano-technique-related-videos/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/the-iphone-invades-piano-lessons/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/cato-his-killer-keyboard-and-a-round-of-piano-lessons/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/a-piano-teachers-worst-nightmare/

.