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)
A teacher/student musical collaboration is a uniquely poetic experience..
I use various motions extracted from daily life to teach fluidity in piano playing. In this particular example lifted from a lesson-in-progress, Ilyana, 9, applies a door knob-turning gesture to smooth out a passage from William Gillock's "Splashing in the Brook." It's also helpful to enlist mental imagery to capture the mood of a composition.… Continue reading Piano Technique: Turning a door knob helps a 9-year old piano student in her practicing (Videos)
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)
One of my adult students is working on the gorgeous J.C. Bach Prelude in A minor which has a second page full of "Major," "Minor" and "Diminished" chords. The sonorities progress in sequences, but they also have a secondary dominant relationship to resolving chords. The "harmonic rhythm" moves quickly. While this particular pupil may not… Continue reading Using piano repertoire as a springboard for a theory lesson: Major, minor and Diminished Chords (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
Scales can be a great workout routine if you let your arms loose, dip your pliant wrists and go with the flow. And it's a great cardio. (No treadmill or weights required) Just apply principles of balance and buoyancy. Here are snatches from an adult student's lesson (Legato and staccato playing with slow motion replays)… Continue reading Piano Technique: A Bouncy Scale workout with forward arm rolls and supple wrist motions–Enjoy the romp! (Videos)