Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California,

Lettin’ go to Presto without crashin’

First, here’s my good luck charm: a keyboard bracelet that a former adult student made for me. I have a pic when it looked spiffier but time has taken its toll.

keyboard bracelet

Perhaps wearing this wrist trinket helped me advance my Haydn Sonata finale to Presto without a crash and burn, but it’s more likely that my slow, baby-step practicing did the job.

Today, I spot practiced, to fine tune measures that had some finger traps in brisk pace. (Video 1)

In video 2, I played through part of the Development, where right and left hand divide a fast melody in rapid 16ths. This is a section I had parceled out in a previous blog posting, blocking first, then unraveling it slowly while shaping the line.

Haydn tricky passage finale

Haydn p. 2 tricky passage finale, presto

It appears that my fingering revisions worked in peak tempo which tells me the choices were right. (These decisions are often based upon what suits one’s hands in many cases, so don’t always trust the Editor)

Most of all, BREATHE though a Presto movement, and think SLOW while playing fast.

P.S. And how about taking this keyboard belt and bracelet into the SPEED ZONE the next time around!
keyboard belt

Foundational practicing techniques for Haydn Sonata No. 52, Finale: Presto

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Heart Attacks and Haydn!

Haydn heart attack largerHaydn D Major

I couldn’t help but chuckle at a stream of advertising overlapping my Haydn D Major, Hoboken XVI 37 Sonata: “FOUR SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK”

The Google ad, as it ran, uncannily tracked KILLER passages in this composition that would pose a risk to cardiovascular health (Especially the brutal contrapuntal bass line in the Development section) Or any number of Fortissimo, careening diminished chord figures!

Just minutes before, as I first reviewed the posting (freshly imported to You Tube) a DEMENTIA WARNING plagued my reading. OK so I had to use my music on this one, but was it a predictor of a complete memory breakdown in the offing?

It could have been worse if my Haydn triggered the FACEBOOK UNFRIEND ad! By clicking it, I would have an instant heart attack finding out who had abandoned me!

That would not be as shocking as an ARREST record stream–though ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT applied to the Haydn RECAPITULATION if murdered.

OOPS! I noticed these malignant, if not criminal ads rotate, so I can’t easily pin ’em down!

A poor little girl named “McKenna” had a Blue and Orange Google Ad BLINKING madly through her Haydn Sonata No. 48 In C Major, causing two memory lapses.

The DEMENTIA ad probably was more suitable for this track.

What am I saying? The child was about 7, and yes, I know about DNA markers and Alzheimer predictors, but these AD purveyors should get a life!

What’s this world coming to?

Bottom line, it’s not the MP3 revolution that’s killing Classical Music, but GOOGLE Adware that’s run rampant over J.S. Bach, Papa Haydn, W.A. Mozart and their forebears.

How about a call for WORLD PIECE! (spelling intended)

Let’s dedicate one SACRED DAY to posting our You Tubes without health and well-being ALERTS!

And while we’re at it, let us purge arrest records of You Tubers around the globe with a blanket Writ of Habeas Corpus.



Haydn Unpinned! and matters of Memorization

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Two musical Eulogies for Newtown’s fallen

Seymour Bernstein sent a moving rendition of a Schumann masterpiece with this prologue:

“For years now, Part No. 6 of the Kreisleriana has haunted me. I hear it as a lament. As such, I decided to record it and dedicate it to the children and teachers who lost their lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.”

I listened to Seymour’s incomparably beautiful playing with its Old World flavor, like fine wine, and for some reason today, I was drawn to re-visit an elegiac Haydn slow movement.

No words need frame this, except to say that the Largo e sostenuto is deeply personal and poignant in the face of Sandy Hook’s tragedy.


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A Well-known Haydn Piano Sonata is pinned!

I don’t mean to inject pins into this post, but it amply introduces Haydn’s vibrant Sonata no. 35 in C Major.

Yesterday, as I diligently embarked upon learning this masterpiece, I had to deal with basic housekeeping matters: How to practice the pages-long first movement without breaks in continuity?

My short-term solution:

Harpsichordist, *Elaine Comparone e-mailed a quick reply:

“You either hire a page turner or turn them yourself. Or you can memorize the whole damn thing! Pinned up that way, only a giraffe could read it.”

My response:

“I’ll grow into it.” (like a giraffe, maybe?) even though I had an ELEPHANT (grand piano) in my room vying for undivided attention. (pun unintended) The place was turning into a zoo!

Elaine was painfully right, however, that Haydn’s pages were PINNED so high that my neck got a major workout. And besides, all scores PINNED before it, were demoted to sub-bench status. (My Little Bach Preludes? where were they? .. the ones delivered in break speed by an industrious Greek Skype student who kept me on my toes! Even on my toes I could barely reach the Haydn to make proper eye contact!)

But, resoundingly, I said, NO to an Ipad-driven page turner as recommended by a few tech-crazed nerds. As it was, my Berkeley apartment was over-run with computers, accessories, mics, video cams, etc. that ate up its precious space. Besides, my budget could not absorb more hardware?

So in a compromised spirit, I settled down to learn the Haydn Sonata, and in my baby-step journey set out to impart a few tips about tackling the Exposition:

The Development, Recap and Coda will soon follow, still pinned, until memory better serves me.

*P.S. A big thumbs up to Elaine Comparone for her index of ornament executions (directly applicable to the Haydn score)

“With turns and trills, they INVARIABLY begin on UPPER note (DCBC) so one less note for your turn. This ornament practice holds true through Beethoven and beyond— but I can’t personally vouch for later than Ludwig. The only ornaments beginning on main note are:

“1. Mordents (trill sign with a slash–usually one shake but can be more and they begin on main note and alternate with lower: e.g. CBC.
“2. Main note trills which are very long notes—at the least a half note.(CDCDCD…) These perform a different function than normal trills, which ALWAYS begin on upper note (appoggiatura) (DCDCDC).”

Comparone highly recommends CPE’s Treatise on Keyboard Playing


How to improve Memorization at the piano

Excerpted CPE Treatise on Keyboard Playing:

Piano Lessons by Webcam: