adult piano studies, adult piano teaching, piano teacher, piano teaching, piano techique

Piano Technique: Practicing well-shaped scales and arpeggios (videos)

It's always disheartening when students forego their scales and arpeggios at lessons, choosing instead, to dive immediately into repertoire. In their zeal to immerse themselves in the Masterworks, they neglect a pivotal Circle of Fifths journey that's wedded to keyboard geographies, key relationships, and much more. As a child, I reviled scales like most beginning… Continue reading Piano Technique: Practicing well-shaped scales and arpeggios (videos)

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Trading places with our piano students

As teachers, the empathy we have for a pupil's budding learning process with its slips and slides, is at the foundation of good mentoring. By remembering what it's like to be in the student's position, sitting at the piano under a professional gaze, we can increase our pedagogical effectiveness. If we revisit our own early… Continue reading Trading places with our piano students

piano, piano blog, piano blogging, playing scales in staccato, Shirley Kirsten, staccato, staccato scales

Piano Technique: Soft staccato scales with projection, springboard energy, resilience, and shape

One of the biggest weaknesses that present in soft dynamic range staccato scales, is a lack of projection. Students often snuff out notes, play them in a whisper without a tenacious spring UP character, or a necessary rebound effect from note to note. Instead, they become inhibited and constrained. Yet even at the Forte level,… Continue reading Piano Technique: Soft staccato scales with projection, springboard energy, resilience, and shape

eurhythmics, piano, piano blog, piano blogging, piano instruction, piano technique

Piano Technique: Working with the character of rhythms

It's easy to assess a student's difficulty with navigating scales in progressive tempo framings from quarters to 8th notes to 16ths, etc. as being the result of shortcomings in rhythmic perception, when a larger cosmos of awareness is lacking. I think immediately of the Eurhythmics course I took at the Oberlin Conservatory, taught by the… Continue reading Piano Technique: Working with the character of rhythms

adult piano instruction, piano, piano blog, piano teaching, singing tone legato

Creating a seamless, singing tone legato through arpeggios and scales

My students are often amused by my prompts that frequently include "oohs," "ahhs," and "wah's," among other spaced out sounds, to prevent consonant sounding notes or hard-liners from interrupting a smooth, "sighing" stepwise descent to the tonic. And from this universe of impromptu effusions, I've created a self-styled language, that, at times, has incorporated barnyard… Continue reading Creating a seamless, singing tone legato through arpeggios and scales

piano, piano blog, piano blogging, piano technique, Shirley Kirsten, Uncategorized

What should be natural is hard for many piano students

I often think about artificial barriers that many students erect when practicing. Of the adults whom I've mentored (and learned from) over the years some have had a formidable line of defense against "hitting" wrong notes. In many cases they've lifted action verbs from the battlefield zone, transferring them to the keyboard conquering turf. Such… Continue reading What should be natural is hard for many piano students

piano, piano instruction, piano technique

Fluid Arpeggios: No hand twisting, with floating arms and an economy of motion

Piano Technique: Arpeggios LOCATION: From: Berkeley, California To: Sydney, Australia I continue to learn from my students as I view close-ups of their arms, wrists, hands/fingers in motion across the keyboard. Most of my epiphanies occur over Skype or Face Time where I pinpoint technical problems that are MAGNIFIED by the webcam. I might use… Continue reading Fluid Arpeggios: No hand twisting, with floating arms and an economy of motion