Watching a colleague teaching a child in Madrid (on video) brought home the complexity of playing just two notes with beauty. What might be construed as an innately "natural" approach to piano playing, must in reality be learned by beginning students with meticulous attention to vocal modeling, touch sensitivity, and an infusion of imagination. Irina… Continue reading No shortcuts in teaching beginning piano students
Most musicians fully appreciate the extra-musical "programmatic" content in works by Romantic era composers. Robert Schumann, for example, captures children playing tag by throwing "got you" accents on the downbeats of measures framed in sprightly staccato. (short, detached articulations) The aforementioned is well-illustrated in Schumann's colorful tableau, "Hasche-Mann"-"Blindman's Bluff" from Kinderszenen: (The vocabulary of art… Continue reading The Art and Music synthesis: Does it exist?
Apologetically, I must admit that as an acoustic piano purist, I often need an electronic when I'm doing a dinner party gig and there's no viable alternative. The house piano might be virtually impossible to play or there's no real piano on the premises. And while I love my Yamaha Arius YDP-141 for its touch/tonal… Continue reading Choosing a traveling (Portable) digital piano for myself
What convinces most pianists that Schumann's "Furchtenmachen" (Frightening) is an expression of fear or perhaps more specifically anxiety, are the markedly impulsive sections that contrast with lyrical, reflective ones. And not to be overlooked, are the interjections of syncopated SF's (accentuated outbursts) that are quite STARTLING and must be well communicated in measures 21-24, as… Continue reading What’s Frightening about Schumann’s “Frightening? ” (Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 11)
Within 48 hours, high-level music-making was heard in vastly different venues. Louise Davies Hall with its golden hue of lights and balconies provided a stunning backdrop for Daniil Trifonov’s heart-throbbing performance of Chopin’s Concerto No. 2 under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. Respighi’s Roman Festivals that concluded the concert, pierced the sound barrier in… Continue reading Two San Francisco musical attractions: Pianist, Trifonov and a Chinese Harpist
Sometimes we learn a floating, flowing path to beauty through the unfortunate school of HARD knocks. To this effect, I recall my esteemed Oberlin Conservatory piano teacher dealing in mindless, stressful repetitions of meaningless exercises that caused joint pain and unremarkable displays of flat-lined, tightly squeezed playing. His teaching, to an extreme level of adherence… Continue reading Piano Technique: No Pain, Much Gain
Piano students of all levels can benefit from 5-finger position romps in many keyboard geographies. That's because a player can experiment with legato and staccato on a bed of black notes; white notes, or combinations of both, without worrying about thumb shifts and complicated fingering maneuvers. In this relaxed spread of the fingers, the pianist… Continue reading Piano Technique: Five-Finger positions are good for you!
Some call it "spot cleaning," I prefer spot "refining" to describe THOUGHTFUL, isolated step-wise measure practicing. Needless to say, a troublesome measure is surrounded by others that lead in and exit out of the problematic center, so it's not enough to have only a focal spotlight on a particular glitch, though it's a good start.… Continue reading Spot Practicing at the Piano: It’s Quality, not Quantity
Powerful statements worth pondering: "I agree with you totally that it is abhorrent to pay children to practice, and I’m not sure I know quite why. It just seems that there are certain activities that should be done for their own sake, and money shouldn’t enter the picture. (Yes, art for its own sake is… Continue reading Two riveting comments on pay for practicing piano…
Rina reached a learning landmark last week when she located "little houses" with two black key roofs across the keyboard. Irina Gorin, in her book, "Tales of a Musical Journey" cleverly marks out seven "neighborhoods" (aka "octaves") that encompass small, and big houses (three-black key roofs) Students explore the geography of the piano with the… Continue reading Highlights of Rina’s fourth piano lesson, 8/25/11: Learning about Rhythm and tapping C’s and Ds to Marches (Videos in three parts)