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Piano Instruction: Gershwin Prelude no. 2 in C# minor (Videos)

About Prelude #2:

Published in 1927, the work was first performed by George Gershwin in a concert at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City. A challenge to play, it doesn’t fit easily under the fingers because of large note spans, and it requires a tasteful amount of tempo rubato of a bluesy, moody character.

Part of a three Prelude set, the composition is framed by the more spirited #1 and #3.

1) The opening ostinato or repeated bass pattern starts with a 10th that is a large span for many pianists.

At least in the beginning, where there are introductory measures without the treble line yet entering, the bass can be divided between the hands as I demonstrated in the video.

2) Capturing an improvised, bluesy character throughout this composition is a challenge. I find that singing the melodic line before I play it, helps me to shape phrases. Translated to the level of the arms, wrist, and fingers, I think of a delayed entry into certain notes.

3) Hearing more than one voice is necessary, (the chromatic meandering) and on the second page where the melody is scored in octaves, a middle voice should be noted.

4) The crossed-hand middle section must have a fleshed out, bluesy bass line. (Some pianists choose not to cross hands)

5) The way Gershwin scored this piece, it is rather awkward to play, so you do the best you can.

Instruction

Play Through: (divided hands in opening to avoid broken 10ths)

With broken 10ths:

James Hook Minuet, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, pianist, piano, piano lessons, piano teaching, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Skype piano lessons, skyped piano lessons, Skyping piano lessons, studying piano, the singing tone in piano playing, video piano instruction, video supplementation to lessons, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video, yout tube, youtube.com

The value of sending video supplements to students between piano lessons

Since I’m in the swing of You Tubing, it’s not a stretch to whip up post-lesson videos to send to students for mid-week reinforcement.

In this instance, one of my new SKYPE pupils will benefit from a video that carefully explores the singing tone, as well as arm, wrist, hand choreography, since these are fundamental piano playing ingredients.

Rather than enumerate what I explored in this first instruction, my footage below amplifies.

The adult student is working on the James Hook Minuet. (A Level I piece)

LINK:

LIVE webcam piano classes at Powhow
http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten

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Piano Technique: A Bouncy Scale workout with forward arm rolls and supple wrist motions–Enjoy the romp! (Videos)

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)

C# NATURAL minor in parallel and contrary motion

First Aiden cat joins in:

http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten

Join me for a Piano Cardio class.. See my class schedule at POWHOW

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Piano Instruction: Pastorale in D Major, K. 415 by Domenico Scarlatti, a stepwise approach

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 section)-Note that 12/8 meter is felt in 4.

Intertwined with this mosaic are a series of apoggiaturas, or non-harmonic tones that resolve into the bass chords through redundant two-note groupings. These passing harmonic clashes in duple 8ths are strongly “motivic” meaning they reflect the composer’s main idea in its smallest form.

In realizing these redundant figures, the pianist has to carefully lean on the dissonant note, and artfully resolve it. A supple wrist helps to shape down these slurs.

In my video instruction, I show ways to practice the Pastorale, starting with separate hands, isolating voices, blocking, and tracking harmonies. The application of a flexible wrist is naturally indispensable to this whole learning process, and playing with a singing tone should underlie all practicing.

LINKS:

LIVE webcam instruction at POWHOW

http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten

***

Scarlatti Sonata in G, K. 431 Tutorial

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/learning-a-new-piano-piece-quickly-and-thoroughly-videos/

Scarlatti Minuetto in C, L. 217 Tutorial:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/piano-instruction-domenico-scarlatti-minuetto-in-c-l-217-videos/

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Piano Instruction: Mozart Minuet in F Major, K. 2 (a rolling forward wrist motion aids phrase-shaping) Video

Mozart composed this Minuet when he was 6. Its beautifully crafted melody woos the listener from the very first measure with a curvaceous broken chord springing into graceful quarter notes. A forward wrist motion helps with shaping lines, softening the impact of weaker second and third beats.

(The repeated C and Bb in consecutive sequence are best realized with finger shifts to add nuance.)

In measure 5, there’s a change in melodic direction which is ear-catching. The player should communicate its novelty.

The B section (starting in measure 9) is like a Development, modulating to G minor through its dominant and quickly back to F by way of the primary dominant. The key transition is a SEQUENCE.

A moving DECEPTIVE cadence occurs in measure 20 (V to Vi chord) just before the piece tapers to a final cadence.

All dynamics and phrasing should be observed.

Practicing:

The video fleshes out a separate-hands approach along with an analysis of harmony and voicing.

LINKS:

http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten

Shirley Kirsten

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Piano Instruction, Part FOUR, Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (measures 55-93)

This tutorial references measure 55 to 93.

The composer settles into A minor through these measures and reinforces the A minor tonic to Neapolitan progression. (A minor to Bb Major chord) He elaborates, varies, and introduces a beautiful contrapuntal interplay of voices between treble and bass in measures 69-87. (All in A minor)

With a touch of majesty, Beethoven sneaks in a G7 chord that terminates the chromatic (half-step) movement in measure 69, leading to C Major, though not for long. A minor is promptly reinstated with a lovely dialog transpiring between treble and bass. (In counterpoint)

Not soon enough, the composer meanders back to the opening ROLLED chord which is the Dominant of D minor, the home key –and we are at the beginning again, with a REPEAT.

LINKS:

Part ONE: Beethoven Tempest Sonata in D minor

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/practicing-tips-for-beethovens-tempest-sonata-op-31-no-2-part-one-video/

Part TWO Instruction

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/piano-instuction-part-two-beethovens-tempest-sonata-hand-cross-over-with-tremolo-in-the-middle-voice/

Part THREE Instruction

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/piano-instruction-part-three-beethoven-tempest-sonata-in-d-minor-op-31-no-2/

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Practicing tips for Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata, Op. 31 No. 2, Part ONE: (Video)

Because I found myself rambling on and on about the first page, I decided to compartmentalize the instruction to make it easier to absorb.

And since I played the “Tempest” years ago, the surest route to my restoring the piece to a respectable performance level, was to practice it from the ground up in slow tempo.

As I re-approached this Sonata, I relied heavily on CLUMPING or CLUSTERING groups of notes.

The opening two measures that resonate with a peaceful broken chord in the Dominant, are followed by a rapid stream of melodic seconds in a tempestuous descent. (The duality of the motif is clear)

In the video, I demonstrate a wrist forward motion as I clump the seconds which embody non-harmonic upper neighbor tones that are passing dissonances.

Clumping these 2nds (appoggiaturas) and throwing the wrist forward for each group of two allows a bigger and more effective energy to mobilize the passage.

It also helps with developing a “feel” for the composer’s keyboard landscape before advancing tempo.

The Video Instruction further amplifies: Part 1

LINK

PART TWO, Instruction, Beethoven “Tempest” Sonata

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/piano-instuction-part-two-beethovens-tempest-sonata-hand-cross-over-with-tremolo-in-the-middle-voice/

Another Beethoven Sonata landscape:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/practicing-a-difficult-section-in-beethovens-sonata-pathetique-op-13-movement-1-video/