I often wonder why our music mentor community does not openly share a collective frustration with editors who permeate piano compositions with impossible fingerings. These sources of disarray can be Masterworks by Scarlatti, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, et al, tarnished with "un-pianistic" maneuvers that beg for labor intensive revisions. Often a preponderance of these Internet driven… Continue reading A Teacher’s Challenge: Navigating Piano music with Awkward fingerings
My hopes were dashed for posting a Back to Bach blog when I sprang upon a 4 minute feast to my ears! It was so pertinent to our lives as music teachers, where we must put words to real time demonstrations at the piano-- searching for the right balance that will amply communicate an idea… Continue reading Gems of wisdom about piano playing from Lisitsa!
Over decades of teaching, I've observed that "autodidacts" who embark upon formal lessons, experience a common awakening related to the piano as a "singing" instrument with its well of tone/touch discovery. Their epiphanies about the cosmos of piano tone and color are also shared among some transfer pupils who were previously unexposed to varying dimensions… Continue reading Self-learners transition to Piano lessons
Schumann's Album for the Young opens with an ethereal duet that meanders through heart-rending harmonies by its seamless flow of broken intervals and chords in the lower line. (The bass is intentionally composed in an alto range, and read in the left hand with a second treble clef, bringing the duet to poignance by its… Continue reading Beauty in Simplicity: Robert Schumann’s “Melody” No. 1
Looking back at my archive of blogs, I decided to snatch this favorite that has a link to another, “A Piano Teacher’s Worst Nightmare!” Both reflective pieces may resonate with mentors and pupils.
For many piano teachers who’ve nursed along students from Primer toddlerhood to an Intermediate level confidence-climbing phase, through to the Advanced, smooth riding finish with flashy fingers, the pupil’s farewell is an emotional event.
Of course, it depends on the circumstances of the departure and who is saying goodbye to whom.
I remember my heart-wrenching farewells to two private music teachers going back a few decades. My mother as proxy delivered the news first to my violin teacher who taught me with great passion but missed too many lessons to make music study meaningful. Frustrated by her absences, starts and stops, the only way I dealt with my anger, was to channel my sturm and drang (storm and stress) into the piano. But at this very time, my piano teacher who had been referred by the violin instructor, was giving me pieces so way over my…
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Maeve, aka "Liz" was welcomed into the universe of music sharing in the beautiful Oakland Hills of California. What better backdrop, cloaked in nature, as breezes wafted through branches, shaking out leaves in graceful patterns. The images, extracted from the East Bay's gorgeous panorama are in Maeve's mental repository, as they feed relaxed energy down… Continue reading A Happy Day for a 9-yr. old piano student playing on her first recital
Sometimes winners of piano competitions are not true messengers of great musical artistry. They might succeed in pleasing a panel of judges who often reward interpretive conformity and convention bundled in pyrotechnical displays, bestowing the Gold medal upon the least offending contender. Yet such a career launch may be short-lived once the round-by-round environment is… Continue reading Alessandro Deljavan is a uniquely gifted pianist
A particular composition that's explored during a piano lesson can afford a multifaceted examination of phrasing. In this beauty-seeking musical cosmos, no singular focus will necessarily supersede others. Instead, a panoply of framing cues or prompts can nourish well-shaped phrases and lines. As I uploaded a lesson video today, I found myself summarizing a journey… Continue reading A musical journey through a Chopin Waltz in glowing terms
At first glance, most piano students will not realize the amount of detailed work and analysis that applies to learning one of Tchaikovsky's most endearing miniatures from his Op. 39 Children's Collection. However, after an initial reading and overview, it becomes crystal clear that each voice must be parceled out and then re-integrated in a… Continue reading Tchaikovsky’s “Sweet Dream” requires a balanced synthesis of voices
I often think about artificial barriers that many students erect when practicing. Of the adults whom I've mentored (and learned from) over the years some have had a formidable line of defense against "hitting" wrong notes. In many cases they've lifted action verbs from the battlefield zone, transferring them to the keyboard conquering turf. Such… Continue reading What should be natural is hard for many piano students