piano, piano blog, piano blog by Shirley Kirsten, piano technique

Practicing Contrary Motion Scales (Video tutorial)

I often use scales played in opposite directions to reinforce posture and the body's ability to lean in either direction toward the highest or lowest octave without bench wandering, or dizzying head movements. Since the third octave in these excursions is not within eye range, the advantage of a pull toward the keyboard, (even without… Continue reading Practicing Contrary Motion Scales (Video tutorial)

phrasing, piano, piano blog, piano blog by Shirley Kirsten, piano instruction, Uncategorized

Beauty in Simplicity: Robert Schumann’s “Melody” No. 1

Schumann's Album for the Young opens with an ethereal duet that meanders through heart-rending harmonies by its seamless flow of broken intervals and chords in the lower line. (The bass is intentionally composed in an alto range, and read in the left hand with a second treble clef, bringing the duet to poignance by its… Continue reading Beauty in Simplicity: Robert Schumann’s “Melody” No. 1

piano, piano instruction

Repeated groups of notes, metrical framing, and phrase contouring

With one big eyeful of Friedrich Burgmuller's "La Candeur" (Frankness), one observes repetitious strands of melody that can be stultified by a rigid 4/4 framing. The erroneous "study" or etude effect, furthered by a beat-hammering mentor, can thrust a struggling player into an inescapable auto-pilot zone Yet, the opening measures, with twin note groupings, can… Continue reading Repeated groups of notes, metrical framing, and phrase contouring

tutorial

Domenico Scarlatti and trills!

What would our precious Domenico be without his Baroque era adornments, embedded trills, heart-throbbing melodies in gypsy, folkloric framing! And who can overlook the flamenco guitar, rhythmic castanets and tambourines in full keyboard orchestration under Portuguese and Spanish royal influence. Yet the very first Scarlatti sonata given to me by my beloved NYC mentor, Lillian… Continue reading Domenico Scarlatti and trills!

piano repertoire, piano repertoire for the beginning student

Delightful “Primary” Level Repertoire for Teachers and Students

A few years ago, I recorded a set of the most charming tableaux from Alexandre Tansman's Pour Les Enfants, thinking the composer had surely reached a peak of immeasurable poetic expression in his "Very Easy" volume 1. In truth, the contents could not be described in such Primer-like terms, because each miniature had built-in technical… Continue reading Delightful “Primary” Level Repertoire for Teachers and Students

Cliburn International Junior Competition and Festival 2019, Cliburn Junior Competition 2019, piano

A bedazzling Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition 2019!

I'm reluctant to compare the rise of younger and younger athletes to Olympiad performance levels with pyrotechnic displays of pianistic virtuosity at the Cliburn International Junior Competition, but we're witnessing an era of precocious technical development in our piano playing universe. Just perusing a set of filmed profiles that are featured lead-in's to 23 Preliminary… Continue reading A bedazzling Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition 2019!

piano

Seymour Bernstein’s legacy to piano students and teachers

When my blog well runs dry, I have only to draw on a reservoir of wise words from pianist/teacher/author/composer, Seymour Bernstein. And if replenishment is an overarching need coupled with inspiration, this referenced interview provides both in bucketsful. Intro: In 2018 Seymour had the honor of being guest artist at the Young Artist World Piano… Continue reading Seymour Bernstein’s legacy to piano students and teachers