An adult student and I explored sequences in the Allemande opener of Bach's French Suite in G as we parceled out the treble and bass lines. (Still another voice that danced from the alto to tenor range, was separately identified and practiced) To craft beautiful phrases in the opening movement that limpidly flows in legato,… Continue reading Sequences and Phrase contouring in J. S. Bach’s French Suite No. 5, BWV 816
I've picked the first two pages of Mozart's Sonata in Bb Major, K. 281, last movement, Rondeau, Allegro to explore breathing and blocking techniques in the learning process. (These principles can be applied to practicing music from a variety of eras) Starting a composition is often taken for granted. Sometimes students will land on a… Continue reading Piano Practicing: Breathing into phrases and blocking out passages (Mozart Sonata, example)
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
The latest provocative teacher exchange is taking place on Facebook at the "Art of Piano Pedagogy" which has now become a private forum. When it comes to teaching philosophies, many are intensely opinionated. From my perspective, I passionately believe in sharing my ground-up musical insights with students to justify my presence at the lesson in… Continue reading The business of copying the piano teacher: Who has the final say or PLAY?
Piano students, by and large, don't relish playing scales. They would rather eat spinach than practice what they view as tedious, finger-trippers. I have a different perspective. For me, scales are my playground and workout space. They keep me in shape, fine tuning my ears to their internal undulations and curvy turnarounds. They translate from… Continue reading Piano Technique: Rotation, Turnaround, and Curve around of scales, with application to repertoire (Videos)
An adult student practiced the transition from the opening Largo broken chord, to grouping double 8th-notes in the Allegro, by blocking them, then unraveling the duple figures. The Adagio that followed required phrasing with an ear toward shaping the line in a different temporal universe before a spill of note-pairs in a tension-building crescendo. Video:… Continue reading Piano Lesson in progress: Beethoven “Tempest” Sonata, Op. 31, No. 2 (shaping the opening phrases) Video
Marie, an adult student practiced measures 32-40 of "Fur Elise," enlisting the model of a singer who shapes and nuances phrases with meticulous breath control. While pianists are not operatic performers, they must imagine that their arms, wrists and fingers are making a vocal transfer to the keyboard thereby overcoming a physical distance from the… Continue reading Piano lesson-in-progress: Shaping a solo for the right hand in Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” ( a “vocal” transition) Videos