http://youtu.be/7no8U9pV_SI I take my inspiration from the two Irina/Irena-s, each pronouncing their names slightly differently. Irina Gorin is the ingenious piano teacher from Carmel, Indiana via the Ukraine, and Irena Orlov is from Washington D.C.'s Levine School of Music via Leningrad. They both inspire students to explore and draw out their deepest creative expression. That's… Continue reading Piano practicing, performance, and gym routines: Always Reach Beyond! (Video, Bach Invention 8 in F)
You can't avoid it. Athletics are part of piano playing so if you abuse your hands, arms, wrists, let alone your fingers, you'll end up benched, like an overused relief pitcher. Yesterday, I pushed the envelope, practicing rapid fire repeated notes in Domenico Scarlatti's Toccata in D minor, well into the night. Ample streams of… Continue reading Pianists and Injuries
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCck4ZFNeQI When students do routine scales and arpeggios as warm-ups to their tour de force pieces, I like to spice things up a bit by playing around with voicing and weight control. (Yes, you heard me right) I'll surprise them by asking for the Left hand notes to be fleshed out, while the Right ones… Continue reading Piano Technique and Weight Control: Bringing out and balancing voices (Video) Teacher, Shirley Kirsten
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… Continue reading Adult piano students say and do the darndest things.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZxNy1VeOjk up tempo: http://youtu.be/t-3D6-s5qok Be prepared to exercise your eyeballs minus head movements when tackling large leaps, especially those hand-over-hand acrobatics that are intrinsic to many of Domenico Scarlatti's sonatas. In the first video I've isolated a few of these jumps from Sonata K. 113 in A Major, demonstrating what I've found to be the… Continue reading Piano Technique: Big Leaps, Crossed Hands, and shifty eyeballs (with slow motion video replay)
I cleared most of my Saturday morning lessons so I could be on time for a special rehearsal at Fresno State. I took no chances given the steady rain these past few days that caused dangerously deep puddles along Shaw Avenue. The inevitable flow of traffic to crowd-jamming Bulldog games would also be a time… Continue reading The Big Baroque Festival!
For too long performance anxiety was a taboo subject, always swept under the rug. I remember grappling with paralyzing jitters during my years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. My piano teacher at the time, a seasoned professional, would always say the same thing: "Honey, the music is bigger than you… Continue reading Performance Anxiety and the Pianist
We had fun videotaping part of a lesson from a different camera angle. My student and I sat in front of our separate pianos, collaborating on two Bach Inventions. (Number 4 in D minor and number 13 in A minor) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y3CaCycoHE In the first segment, my pupil is playing through the d minor Invention, mostly… Continue reading Practicing Bach Inventions 4 and 13 with my 10 year old piano student
Musical expression arises from the deepest part of ourselves so as we relax into the here and now, focused on the flow and shape of phrases, our arms, wrists and fingers work together as an ensemble to produce an artful outpouring. Mildred Portney Chase, author of Just Being at the Piano describes such an approach… Continue reading Music Comes from the Heart
I was deeply moved to have discovered the Marble Hill Reunion site which inspired my own cherished memories of the projects in the Bronx where I romped during my childhood and early adolescence. My family moved from Featherbed Lane near Tremont Avenue to Marble Hill when I was about four. It was quite a notch… Continue reading Rekindling Marble Hill memories, and a remarkable twist of fate