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Fostering a Healthy Interaction between piano student and teacher

With time-honored articles proliferated about emotionally abusive piano teachers and their negative impact on students, it's time to explore the ingredients of a positive, growth-affirming relationship between two parties striving toward the same goal of creative musical expression. Such a discussion that embodies week to week lessons, addresses an environment of nonjudgmental self-acceptance, patience, and… Continue reading Fostering a Healthy Interaction between piano student and teacher

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Jeremy Denk, pianist, embraces a humanistic approach to music

A friend residing in California's Central Valley, e-mailed a link to a consciousness-raising interview with Jeremy Denk that aired on the City Arts and Lecture Series. (Location: Linda Ronstadt's home in San Francisco) It was a joyful, music-loving celebration, exploring so many dimensions of creativity at the piano that are rarely shared in the Classical… Continue reading Jeremy Denk, pianist, embraces a humanistic approach to music

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Pianists can learn from Joyce DiDonato and the vocal model

The renowned mezzo soprano, Joyce DiDonato hosted three inspiring Masterclasses at Carnegie Hall's intimate recital venue this holiday season, and made "process" her resonating theme of creative musical growth. While a select group of young opera singers were by application, brought into a spotlight of "playing" with DiDonato, as she termed the mutual give and… Continue reading Pianists can learn from Joyce DiDonato and the vocal model

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The value of revisiting past repertoire, while learning new pieces

For many piano teachers as well as their students, keeping repertoire (old and new) in balance supports musical growth. Yet with time constraints for students influenced by in-school academic demands and after school activities, preserving the growth of one piece, partnered with a technique regimen, is a mountain to climb. Teachers who learn side by… Continue reading The value of revisiting past repertoire, while learning new pieces

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Working with One Hand when a piano student has an injury to the other

I recall my piano teaching years in California's Central Valley where I easily counted 10 or more students (usually boys) who had sports injuries. Most often a mom would call about her son's fractured arm or wrist that was incurred on the playing field--soccer, baseball, or during any number of childhood activities. As a consequence,… Continue reading Working with One Hand when a piano student has an injury to the other

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Experimenting with Phrasing and Choreography in Expressive music-making

Often, as pianists, we make our most significant musical strides in a relaxed, un-pressured home environment--experimenting with tonal variation, voicing, phrasing -- allowing ourselves to be open to newfound discoveries. The truth is we are all eternal students with a desire to explore sounds, silences, mood-settings, in ways that can spark our imaginations to new… Continue reading Experimenting with Phrasing and Choreography in Expressive music-making

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Expectation should not be a part of piano learning in the adult student, non-competitive environment

As I trekked down a steep hill with my knapsack swelling with groceries, I found myself percolating with ideas about piano study. In a reflective state of mind, I was centered on learning process challenges that are not tied to the basics of producing a singing tone, improving technique, nuancing and shaping phrases, allowing relaxed… Continue reading Expectation should not be a part of piano learning in the adult student, non-competitive environment

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Back To Burgmuller for phrasing in the Romantic genre

Friedrich Burgmuller's Twenty-Five Easy and Progressive Pieces, Op. 100, provide a feast of opportunities to develop a tonal vocabulary of well-contoured phrases. Regardless of tempo or mood set, these individual tableaux draw on the player's imagination to realize picturesque titles, while creating clean melodic and harmonic lines. "Tender Flower," (Tendre Fleur), No. 10, opens with… Continue reading Back To Burgmuller for phrasing in the Romantic genre

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A return to the basics of relaxed arms, hands, and supple wrists in a 4-note arpeggio romp

It's always a pleasure to re-enter the cosmos of a self-hypnotically induced journey across the keyboard in seamless arpeggiated streams. The experience of Oneness produced by well-contoured strands of wave-like, root-third-fifth-root progressions, is surely like dancing lithely across the keyboard. It hearkens back to my most beloved piano teacher, Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich, who emancipated my… Continue reading A return to the basics of relaxed arms, hands, and supple wrists in a 4-note arpeggio romp

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Piano Technique: The Weight transfer cosmos, and thumb fluid motions

In the course of teaching that encompasses interactive learning and partnered journeys of discovery, I find myself wanting to share pupil/mentor epiphanies that flow from lessons. Most recently the subject of arm weight transfer in legato and staccato emerged from a cocoon of mystery for many. Some of my adult students kept saying, "I just… Continue reading Piano Technique: The Weight transfer cosmos, and thumb fluid motions