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)
"Harmony of the Angels" has a soporific effect on Aiden cat while it provided a relaxing prelude to Rina's earliest piano lessons. Students, young and old, love its thread of sonorities.
The Pastorale in D, included in Margery Halford's Scarlatti, An Introduction to his Keyboard Works, poses significant musical challenges. In the technical realm, the composer has a tricky landscape of two-note legato figures as offbeats in the treble, and these are set against bass, dotted quarter rhythms. (This counterpoint is later inverted in the middle… Continue reading Piano Instruction: Pastorale in D Major, K. 415 by Domenico Scarlatti, a stepwise approach
Every so often, I stumble upon an uploaded You Yube performance that grabs my ears. In this instance, it was a Mozart encore offered by pianist, Mitsuko Uchida, that led straight to a compelling videotaped interview with her. With my antennae up and ready for more sparkle to light up my day, I was amply… Continue reading In the Piano Universe: Two You Tube Treasures not to miss!
I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked the same question by either parents, or people I meet on Amtrak. It’s about “piano fingers,” “hand size,” and the best physiological fit for the keyboard. Next in line are queries about tone deafness and "perfect pitch." The stereotypes are: A great pianist has God-given perfect… Continue reading Piano Technique: The big hand/little hand controversy (Videos)
Rina who's into her sixth month of study, is ready to learn dotted-half notes. Up to now, she's been saturated with black and white cardboard circles included within a packet along with Irina Gorin's Tales of a Musical Journey instruction. The black notes (quarters) are known as "short" sounds, and the white ones (Half-notes), "long-sounds"… Continue reading Lesson planning for a 5-year old piano student–(Video)
From WIKI: Abby Whiteside (1881–1956) was an influential American piano teacher. She challenged the finger-centric approach of much classical piano teaching and instead advocated a holistic attitude in which the arm and torso are the conductors of a musical image conceived first in the mind and soul. This quote is riveting: "Why spend dull hours… Continue reading Abby Whiteside and playing beyond the fingers as a point of departure (Videos)
These are excerpts from today's lesson where we covered: 1. Broken chord blocking; refreshing inversions of the Tonic as applied to practicing Fur Elise. 2. Voice balancing: fleshing out the treble (soprano) melody, on page 2 (F Major section) Using supple wrist and hand rotation; relaxation of arms. 3. C section--with repeated bass notes, alternating… Continue reading Piano Lesson: An adult student continues her Beethoven “Fur Elise” learning process (Video)
Claudia, age 6 playing a duet with me I recall Elaine Comparone, the renowned harpsichordist having described a student she had mentored for 35 years before a move cut short a lasting musical relationship. "She was the real deal," the musician insisted. Seymour Bernstein, author, With Your Own Two Hands, often shared the joy of… Continue reading The joy and value of teaching a piano student over many years
I couldn't resist an opportunity to conduct my student playing the Bach Invention 13 in A minor today. She's preparing two selections for a competitive Baroque event coming up in two weeks, and the second offering is the Prelude in C minor BWV 847. Claudia, 11, rehearsed the Invention a few times with a few… Continue reading The piano teacher as conductor–sometimes shaping gestures help a student phrase better (Video)