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Burgmuller’s Arabesque and Inquietude are teaching treasures

I'm always gratified to have a repository of progressive pieces that roll out smoothly from scale and arpeggio study to a universe of colorful, musical expression. Burgmuller's Op. 100 is such a learner rich album of 25 short works with infused choreographies that advance a musical/technical synthesis. "Arabesque," the second offering, is permeated by ascending… Continue reading Burgmuller’s Arabesque and Inquietude are teaching treasures

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“Listen to the Long Notes”

Five words resonated profoundly through a Masterclass given by Pianist, Andras Schiff at the Juilliard School. They framed a myriad of movements in Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. Three students offered selections by Bach, Schubert and Schumann. (The event was Live-streamed) While Beethoven did not grace the program, Maestro Schiff's mentoring had far-reaching implications for… Continue reading “Listen to the Long Notes”

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Reading Between the Lines: Making decisions about Dynamics

Dynamics cannot always be taken literally when a player embarks upon serious study of a particular composition. In fact, what often governs the shaping of phrases through many measures even with composer inserted soft (piano) or loud (Forte) directives, are harmonic rhythm and metrical considerations. So while a set of measures might attach a Crescendo… Continue reading Reading Between the Lines: Making decisions about Dynamics

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Weaving Theory and Harmonic Rhythm into a piano lesson

The flow of harmony in and out of pieces should be a big part of a piano lesson. Yet it's one thing to isolate chords in student a hand-out, but quite another to bring phrases to life with an infusion of harmonic rhythm awareness in the process of playing. In this video sample, a student… Continue reading Weaving Theory and Harmonic Rhythm into a piano lesson

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Playing J.S. Bach with an awareness of Harmonic Rhythm

In working through Bach's two-part Invention No. 13 in A minor, an adult student and I explored harmonic resolutions and their influence on phrasing. *** While many pupils expect cadences to be predictable resting points where pianists typically taper a musical line, they soon discover with teacher prompts that in the course of a composition,… Continue reading Playing J.S. Bach with an awareness of Harmonic Rhythm

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Shaping a melodic line through chord blocking (Schumann Little Etude no. 14)

To block out sonorities that spring from spun out, undulating broken chords, can provide a peak learning experience. In a baby-step advance, especially, where finding a melodic thread, may consist of a one-hand alone approach at first, the pleasure to follow, comes with cushions of harmony. One of my adult students, just launched her journey… Continue reading Shaping a melodic line through chord blocking (Schumann Little Etude no. 14)

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A relevant sequence of pieces for an Intermediate piano student

One of my adult pupils is deeply embedded in J.C. Bach's Prelude in A minor which is a soulful outpouring of broken chords with patterns and symmetries built into its harmonic fabric. Yet through a sequence of secondary dominants that heightens the composition's beauty, a melodic line is interwoven, and it needs to be fleshed… Continue reading A relevant sequence of pieces for an Intermediate piano student