Often I query my students about the "destination" and "direction" of phrases within a particular composition. Naturally, my questions are a reflection of a need to clarify what arrivals are significant in the transit of notes. Part of this exploration encompasses the awareness of sub-destinations that are on the way to the peak or climax… Continue reading Phrasing at the Piano: Direction and Destination
http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-power-of-pedagogy-1472507353 This latest piece on how to teach piano (creatively) is gathering attention far and wide, most notably as an eye-catching feature in the Wall Street Journal. And if I'm not mistaken, an article on the joys of returning to the piano as an adult accorded a similar flood of adulation and empathy in this… Continue reading Piano Pedagogy article by Byron Janis in the Wall Street Journal
All too often piano students give up on a piece after so many weeks of exposure, thinking the fingering is settled, the beats are well-measured, and the notes have fallen into place. At this juncture, a Big STOP SIGN must impede the restless from plunging into a new musical journey despite their belief that the… Continue reading Stay LONGER with a piece for higher levels of learning and awareness
The theme of today's Online lesson beamed from North Carolina was following the decay of a note from the end of a phrase into the next measure with a thread of continuity. To have good conjunction between phrases one has to listen in two directions: from the before to the after, without forgetting the BEFORE.… Continue reading Good phrasing: listen for the decay, and psyche out your piano
A new adult student is working on Beethoven's Sonatina in F, one of the composer's less played works, but nevertheless quite a musical gem. While the composition has a Mozartean flavor, the abrupt shift in dynamics in the opening theme, for example, offers a glimpse into Beethoven's later development of his larger Sonata form, where… Continue reading Adult Piano Instruction: Exploring weight transfer and supple wrist motions for improved phrase shaping
Besides having at least a rudimentary understanding of chord progressions, it's advantageous to be able to "sing" internally, or in full voice, as you accompany yourself through a cantabile movement. A good example, is the Andante of the supposedly "easy" (facile) Sonata of Mozart, K. 545, which is, to the contrary, a challenge to play… Continue reading Harmonic rhythm awareness and blocking help phrasing
https://youtu.be/hFHhwQPP2Jw Burgmuller's "SORROW" received a BOOST on FACETIME where it was the PITS on SKYPE. The latter sometimes mimics jet landings with a whoosh sound, while an echo chamber effect causes unwanted tremolos. In this "FACE"-beamed environment, a formerly LIVE student who turned VIRTUAL, experienced a musical FACE-lift. With a new media spotlight, where… Continue reading Facing the Music on FACETIME
I asked a few piano teachers and a harpsichordist if they felt playing passages, phrases for a student was a viable way to teach, and why? Seymour Bernstein, author, With Your Own Two Hands, rendered a riveting opinion: "I have never taken a lesson with a pianist-teacher who didn’t demonstrate musical and technical points under… Continue reading Should a teacher demonstrate phrasing and interpretation for a student?
How to integrate the physical, emotional and singable when learning Mozart's Sonata in C Major, K. 545, Andante.
I've chosen Burgmuller's "Tender Flower" as the springboard to explore attentive listening and its relationship to phrasing. At the outset, the right moment to begin a piece is a challenge. The player has to experience the whole dimension of silence before a first note is played. That silence is not dead, but alive with cues… Continue reading Phrasing at the piano: Listening to the ends of notes as they flow into others