As mentors, we can easily recall our student days when well-practiced pieces tanked upon arrival at our piano teacher's home. Even ascending the staircase to the threshold of the apartment, our heart rate quickened, and we felt cold, clammy and faint. It was automatic over-drive for the first 20 minutes--an adrenaline crisis of magnitude. Yet… Continue reading Student: “I get so nervous when I play for you!” The Teacher responds!
It's common for piano students to tense a hand that is not actively engaged in playing during measured rests. Beethoven's "Fur Elise," an aspirational piece for so many, is the perfect representation of interactive, woven hands, that flow across from Left to Right, with a spacious margin of relaxed breaths. (as rests are notated) This… Continue reading Piano Technique: Energy-saving, Relaxed, Resting hands
Many in the piano teaching universe KEEP a special sanctuary for adult pupils who rekindle an interest in music study. These pupils, of diverse ages and levels, often come with an initial spurt of enthusiasm to learn, grow and develop. Yet, like any demographic or body of new learners, their length of stay or commitment… Continue reading Transit among adult piano students and teachers
Amidst my morning journey to Huffington Post, Salon.com, Slate, NY Times International edition, Twittle-Tweet and Twittle-Trumpf, Democracy Now, and Facebook's Headline HQ, I check the latest humdrum at the piano forums. Some of these Internet-driven PRIVATE GROUPS by invitation only, differ by a subtle nuance of interpretation so that "Art of Piano Pedagogy" and "Art… Continue reading Cruising the piano forums
I posted the following on my Facebook page after my adult students played for their peers yesterday over Skype. Their performances were beamed from London, England; Sydney, Australia; near Asheville, North Carolina; Prospect, Kentucky; Chico, California, and Berkeley, home of the esteemed university. "Heartfelt music sharing in the wake of a tragic loss of Parisian… Continue reading Our Global-wide Skype Music Sharing: Triumph over Tragedy
As my local and Online piano students gear up for their bi-annual music sharing this coming Saturday over Skype, a commonly expressed concern is how to harness the imagination to feed a musical journey right from the opening measure of a piece to its final cadence. The challenge for everyone embodies a centered period of… Continue reading Imagination fuels expressive piano playing
I was about to lose patience with a student this past week who lost patience with himself in the early practicing phase of a Bach Prelude. It was a common circumstance. An expectation was built into the adult psyche over decades that an overnight conquest of a piece was the only desirable outcome, leaving virtually… Continue reading Patience reminders for impatient adult piano students
If you want to pick your brain, ultra-analyzing a scale: finding symmetries, asymmetries, reciprocals, common tones with common fingers, upside down, inside-out relationships between the hands, and anything else that will solidify it, you might add an extra few senility-proof years to your life. Example: I can't remember my neighbor's first name, or my best… Continue reading The Anatomy of a Scale
One of the biggest challenges for pianists, particularly in the staccato playing scale cosmos, is to avoid a downward, pack-a-punch "thumpy thumb! This unwanted lead weight-loaded attack often interrupts a buoyantly springy journey, transforming it into crowded pile-up of space-less notes. Yet it seems inevitable that the shortest finger of each hand would overcompensate for… Continue reading Piano Technique: Avoiding thumpy thumbs!
I'm ready for a shower of criticism on this one. After all, some adults want their favorite transcription of the Elvira Madigan theme song, (aka Mozart's Concerto No. 21 in C, Andante) to encapsulate their musical journey---at least for part of the time. And that's OK if the transcription route of top ten, poorly transformed… Continue reading No dumbing down piano study for adult students