First day in the Big Apple: These are popular picture postcard themes yet worth memorializing. I took this photo set as I trekked from 34th Street and Penn station to the West Side 'Y' gym at 63rd off Central Park. Bogged down with luggage, I approached Columbus Circle at W. 59th Street (off Central Park)… Continue reading Scenes from Manhattan
I made a promise to myself well before the New Year, that I would learn one new Tchaikovsky composition each day from the composer's Op. 39 Children's Album. (24 tableaux) Not that I'm recommending to piano students that they assimilate new music at lightning speed, but for me the challenge was to make a spurt… Continue reading Favorite Tchaikovsky piano pieces and their pedagogical value
An adult piano student who continued her lessons by Skype after I relocated to Berkeley from Fresno, brought along her choir of parakeets. Despite a muddy transmission last night, they registered cackles of chagrin and chirps of approval through Burgmuller's "SORROW." But their intuitively musical avian responses were trumped by Frostie the Parrot's feather-ruffling, SHAKE… Continue reading Birds invade the Piano/Skype universe, but this one on You Tube stands out!
It's easy to stare at a Presto Rondo from the Classical era, and wonder how to navigate scads of notes that can end up on the assembly line, pumped out with no sense of individuality. And while herds of them might be corralled with a sensible fingering, their shape and direction often remain out of… Continue reading Piano Practicing: Taking the robot out of fast passages
Model 1098 was eased out my front door by two piano moving Zen masters, Greg and Jeremy. (I'll give them a Yin/Yang Yelp for their artful twists and turns) http://www.mcpianomove.com http://youtu.be/tNexl2D3NsU It wasn't the first time McCrea's picked up or delivered a piano for me. Two years ago, they transported my Kawai GE20 grand from… Continue reading My Steinway upright has a “new” home, and so do I
I have four piano students in rehab who are grappling with metrical issues. They might start with a healthy quarter note in a five-finger position warm-up; manage proportioned 8th notes, but totally relapse playing 16ths. That's when their confidence sinks to new lows. It's just in time for the metronome, not used as a crutch,… Continue reading Adult student Rhythmic REHAB
As I foraged through old e-mail files, I stumbled upon my note to Oberlin alum, Robert Krulwich, WNYC RADIO LAB program moderator. http://www.radiolab.org/search/?q=robert+krulwich#q=robert krulwich He and his co-host had featured psychologist, Dr. Diane Deutsch's podcast on Perfect Pitch. One of her published papers, among others, provided a springboard for discussion: Tone Language Speakers Possess Absolute… Continue reading Perfect pitch? What’s the big deal?
One of my Oberlin Conservatory piano teachers regarded Vladimir Horowitz as a fire and ice player. He referred to the maestro as having the uncanny ability to turn out a hot performance with a cool demeanor. (The physical control, of course, was AMAZING!) Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75ZAOwgzoAE Same applies to Yuja Wang, pianist, who delivers a sizzling… Continue reading Piano Technique: A fire and ice approach to learning pieces at breakspeed tempo
I asked a few piano teachers and a harpsichordist if they felt playing passages, phrases for a student was a viable way to teach, and why? Seymour Bernstein, author, With Your Own Two Hands, rendered a riveting opinion: "I have never taken a lesson with a pianist-teacher who didn’t demonstrate musical and technical points under… Continue reading Should a teacher demonstrate phrasing and interpretation for a student?
First, here's the documentary that drew my admiration for a Chinese pianist who suffered childhood adversity and abuse, yet triumphed, carving out a career most would never dream of. http://youtu.be/5Ft_xSw9Q54 We learn that Lang Lang's father fostered an "almost lunatic competitive environment," according to the narrator. At the age of 2, the toddler was already… Continue reading Two sides of the Lang Lang story in and OUT of the heart-wrenching DO OR DIE Documentary