piano

Piano Study: Process not Mastery

One of my students recommended a book by George Leonard that globalizes the idea of gaining Mastery in any field of endeavor through a love of "plateaus." (These are pauses in forward-moving progress that can either frustrate a learner, or motivate him to forge onward with an all-embracing love of the "journey.") The author begins… Continue reading Piano Study: Process not Mastery

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Our self-made tutorials grow teaching skills

Ever since I embarked upon my very first lunge at globalizing my ideas over the Internet---devising a "chunking" strategy to play black key weighted scales B, F#, and C# Major, I realized that I was teaching myself while helping others. A "blocking" technique in its infancy, blossomed into more sophisticated analyses of how to approach… Continue reading Our self-made tutorials grow teaching skills

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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

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Imagination fuels expressive piano playing

As my local and Online piano students gear up for their bi-annual music sharing this coming Saturday over Skype, a commonly expressed concern is how to harness the imagination to feed a musical journey right from the opening measure of a piece to its final cadence. The challenge for everyone embodies a centered period of… Continue reading Imagination fuels expressive piano playing

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Capturing the first sunrise in our practicing and performing

I always ponder the process of learning a new piece and how I want to experience and re-experience a freshness that seems to come with my earliest exposure to the printed page. As I set out my fingering, isolate lines or voices, in a Bach Three Part invention, for example, or even within the Adagio… Continue reading Capturing the first sunrise in our practicing and performing

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Piano Technique: Playing beyond the fingers to sculpt beautiful phrases (Debussy Arabesque no. 1)

Many piano students who practice Debussy's Arabesque no. 1 tend to grab and articulate notes, rather than let them flow from energy streaming down relaxed arms into supple wrists. Reliance on fingers-down playing becomes the panacea for accuracy, while it sacrifices poetic musical expression. In the video below, I demonstrate how phrases can be sculpted… Continue reading Piano Technique: Playing beyond the fingers to sculpt beautiful phrases (Debussy Arabesque no. 1)

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The Chopin Bb minor Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 1, and arm/hand rotation/phrasing (Video)

Chopin's Bb minor Nocturne (Night Piece) requires a player to use a full arm rotation to fluidly play the arpeggios in the left hand that span over an octave. These broken chords which fill a large space by their expansion, create a Romantic underpinning for the molto cantabile heart-rending melody in the treble. If the… Continue reading The Chopin Bb minor Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 1, and arm/hand rotation/phrasing (Video)

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Piano Instruction: The Virtues of Slow Motion Practicing and Attentive Listening

It takes patience to approach a piece well behind tempo, tuning in to every nuance and turn of phrase. With ears alert and sensitive, the player tries to create a feeling state where he's submerged in sound to the exclusion of all else. At the pinnacle of concentration, he's "in the zone," attaining Maslow's "peak… Continue reading Piano Instruction: The Virtues of Slow Motion Practicing and Attentive Listening

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Performance Anxiety and the Pianist

For too long performance anxiety was a taboo subject, always swept under the rug. I remember grappling with paralyzing jitters during my years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts. My piano teacher at the time, a seasoned professional, would always say the same thing: "Honey, the music is bigger than you… Continue reading Performance Anxiety and the Pianist

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Music Comes from the Heart

Musical expression arises from the deepest part of ourselves so as we relax into the here and now, focused on the flow and shape of phrases, our arms, wrists and fingers work together as an ensemble to produce an artful outpouring. Mildred Portney Chase, author of Just Being at the Piano describes such an approach… Continue reading Music Comes from the Heart