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A Fear-less, Horizontal Approach to Staccato playing

Most piano students become DIS-connected when asked to play staccato. Their full blown trepidation wedded to DETACHMENT is so conspicuously on display during scale and arpeggio playing that a teacher must first devise mental cues to bring the student down to earth, in a comfortably secure traction with the keys. It's no surprise then, that… Continue reading A Fear-less, Horizontal Approach to Staccato playing

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Favorite Tchaikovsky piano pieces and their pedagogical value

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

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Comparing tempos and interpretation, Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 1

"Of Foreign Lands and People," is the lyrical opener to Schumann's Kinderszenen, Op. 15 ("Scenes from Childhood,") but the composer's metronome marking, 108 to the quarter, makes it a challenge to spin poetic lines, though Seymour Bernstein rises to the occasion in his memorable reading. http://youtu.be/7Ao7DHfCNvY Seymour's comments: "Concerning Metronome indications, I personally never observe… Continue reading Comparing tempos and interpretation, Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 1

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Adult student Rhythmic REHAB

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

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Perfect pitch? What’s the big deal?

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?

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Piano Technique: A fire and ice approach to learning pieces at breakspeed tempo

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

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Piano Technique: Power forearm staccato/e minor scales AND arpeggios

A good workout at the gym is a great prelim to a power trip at the piano. Take the forearm staccato. A UK piano student in cyber space landed a crisp, definitive set of notes at forte level after a few trial runs. No doubt her fortitude and focus produced a big staccato, and its… Continue reading Piano Technique: Power forearm staccato/e minor scales AND arpeggios