As I journey along with Liz, my newest piano student, I'm collecting insights about the nature of music learning from the perspective of a child. And by this most recent experience, I've come to realize that the choice of teaching materials is wedded to a mentor's own philosophy about expressive music-making. The samples below represent… Continue reading Liz, age 8, has her second piano lesson! (With my interspersed thoughts about materials and teaching philosophy)
When considering ways to pedal Chopin's ethereal A minor Waltz, I think back to Stephen Hough and his teacher's comments about the learning process: “I don’t care how you’re playing the piece now, what I care about is how you’ll play it in 10 years.” (Gordon Green) Well as a segue way to this posting,… Continue reading Pedaling Chopin Waltz No. 19 in A minor, Op. Posthumous
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
"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
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
I borrowed a few hours from my Haydn immersion to review a Beethoven Sonatina that is absolutely charming but very challenging. One would think that such a work labeled -mini, by its "-ina" suffix spelled an easier passage to the final cadence by comparison to a composition in SONATA form. Not so. For example, many… Continue reading Navigating a robust Beethoven Sonatina (not the one everybody plays)
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?