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Practicing Challenging Pieces: If we’re over a barrel, we can still learn something valuable

I'm the first to admit that not every learning journey through a particular composition will produce results we might have hoped for. After weeks or even months of methodical practicing in baby steps, we can find ourselves literally over a barrel, wading through ornaments, for example, that are crystal clear in slow tempo, but suffer… Continue reading Practicing Challenging Pieces: If we’re over a barrel, we can still learn something valuable

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Sound imagination and tactile, tonal expression at the piano for diverse compositional eras

Often a posted comment about a You Tube video inspires a blog topic that is of interest to pianists and teachers. One such public addition to my Channel quickly streamed into a comparison between two well-known compositions in the piano repertoire. The commenter was asking about the grade "level" of Debussy's The Girl with the… Continue reading Sound imagination and tactile, tonal expression at the piano for diverse compositional eras

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Two-timing scale practice

I appreciate two-timing piano students who practice their scales with acutely sensitive ears. They are made keenly aware of what it takes to repeat a faulty step-wise sequence that's been thrown out of rhythmic alignment along a 4-octave route. (Auditory memory is a vital ingredient through repetitions that require retrieval of a consistent underlying pulse.)… Continue reading Two-timing scale practice

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The Importance of Analytical Practicing

Needless repetitions that are unfocused, without attaching an analysis of what requires improvement will impede a piano student in the advancement of a composition. And while a tricky, isolated passage or complete section of a piece may have been carefully learned by layers in slow tempo, the very same area of the piece can develop… Continue reading The Importance of Analytical Practicing

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Keeping up our skills as piano teachers, with an “eye” to taking on challenges

I couldn't resist juxtaposing the importance of learning new and challenging music with an "eye" toward how we can best accomplish our short and long-term goals within our teaching milieu. (The EYE metaphor becomes CLEARER and dual serving as the posting progresses.) *** So many music teachers have a tight schedule of back-to-back students that… Continue reading Keeping up our skills as piano teachers, with an “eye” to taking on challenges

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Piano repertoire: Review and Refresh

Striking a balance between learning new pieces and keeping a connection to older ones, requires a commitment to well-parceled, organized practice time. It presents a challenge that invites a particular focus on preserving familiarity with repertoire that can easily slip into obscurity during months or years of neglect. As time passes, tactile estrangement grows. A… Continue reading Piano repertoire: Review and Refresh

Claude Debussy, piano

Teaching the Language of Debussy in Reverie

Yesterday afternoon I found myself mentoring a student about the nuances of a composer's language and style in the Impressionist genre. Claude Debussy's Reverie, with its palette of blended colors was on display--naturally intoned in vowels rather than consonants, while its liquid phrases begged for supple wrist and relaxed arm infusions of energy. My pupil's… Continue reading Teaching the Language of Debussy in Reverie