On this Mother's Day, I think of the many piano teachers who breathe life into fledgling musical journeys with a gentle prod of the hands and the warm embrace of the human voice. Phrase shaping and the singing tone, originate from the ebb and flow of the breath that fuels energy through relaxed arms and… Continue reading From the Start: Singing through Piano Lessons
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
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
The earliest dip into piano study includes many ingredients some of which are overlooked or minimized. When mentoring a young child of 6 or 7, or a beginning adult student, sensitivity to tone/touch seems very basic to making music, yet it's underplayed. While assigning finger numbers to notes and absorbing letter names are fundamental to… Continue reading The earliest steps in piano learning
Emanuel Ax, well-known concert pianist and teacher asserts that one note struck cannot be varied by physical approach (except for volume) and I'm assuming duration (a clipped staccato release vs. a lingering sustain without pedal) Yet he didn't provide enough specific details about duration, dynamics, and how delays into notes using supple wrist motions could… Continue reading Does approaching notes in different ways at the piano affect tone production?
As I foraged through a closet filled with old picture frames, entangled extension cords, discarded lamp shades and pencil sharpeners, I stumbled upon an ancient Digital 8 camcorder that was my original You Tube movie messenger. With its mega-size cassettes and whooshing audio, it still managed to capture my earliest piano lessons with Rina, age… Continue reading A Walk Down Memory Lane with Two pint-sized Piano Students
Teaching wee beginners a natural approach to the piano, that includes a relaxed hand position, flowing arms and supple wrists allows the birth of beautiful music-making while it promotes injury avoidance. Irina Gorin is one of the best teacher models in this universe. A dedicated proponent of early exposure to "weeping willow" arms, and "rainbow"… Continue reading Piano Instruction: Teaching a good hand position and technical skills to very young children
This blog mishmosh is as ridiculous as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a best-selling children's book title, though it's the perfect segue way to an unmatched set of events that transpired yesterday in Berkeley. Coffee was my first preoccupation after Marta Vago, a long lost "connection" to my late piano teacher, Lillian Freundlich, surfaced… Continue reading About Coffee, Cats, and Non-legato
In spite of my having studied piano for decades, each learning experience is filled with challenges that I must approach with a glut of patience. A new composition has its own form, architecture, harmonic rhythm, fingering that requires a big reserve of self-acceptance in a deadline-free frame. To the contrary, many of my students, who… Continue reading The piano learning process at all levels of study
Pianists are expected to perform on stage without music. It's a controversial area worth probing.