It's easy for piano teachers to inhabit a comfortable space, teaching mainly repertoire that they've well learned, put away and brought back for review. It can perpetuate a stale process of retreading "old" pieces without posing a refreshing self-made challenge to learn a complex "new" work from the ground up side-by-side with a pupil. About… Continue reading Learning a new and challenging piece along with a student
A particular composition that's explored during a piano lesson can afford a multifaceted examination of phrasing. In this beauty-seeking musical cosmos, no singular focus will necessarily supersede others. Instead, a panoply of framing cues or prompts can nourish well-shaped phrases and lines. As I uploaded a lesson video today, I found myself summarizing a journey… Continue reading A musical journey through a Chopin Waltz in glowing terms
It's a challenge to play scales, arpeggios, and passages lifted out of the mainstream Classical piano repertoire with a well-shaped and nicely spaced legato. (smooth and connected playing) But it can be more daunting to navigate particular sections of masterworks that have legato markings over chords, for instance, that carry a melodic thread that is… Continue reading Piano Technique: Creating an illusion of legato
During a lesson today beamed to Scotland, my student presented an invaluable opportunity to explore phrase variants in Burgmuller's "Tarentelle," Op. 100, No. 20, with particular attention to imaginatively rendered mood shifts. This charming character piece has an abundance of repeats built into its fabric, with keen dynamic and emotional contrasts. Should the player conscientiously… Continue reading Phrase variation and imagination
There's no big ocean of divide in working with children and adult piano students. In fact, today I found common threads running through two lessons: one with a local beginner, age, 8--the other, a seasoned adult. Liz, 8, completed her fifth week of instruction, with my imbued emphasis on how to produce a singing tone.… Continue reading An adult and child share common goals in playing piano artistically
If a student is well-prepared, having devoted quality time during the week to practicing scales, arpeggios, and pieces assigned, a lesson can contain a nice balance of ingredients. Barring holidays, long distance travel and time zone changes, most pupils will devote 15 to 20 minutes of their lesson to technique, and the remaining 40 minutes… Continue reading A balanced piano lesson of Technique and Repertoire
One of the biggest challenges for pianists, particularly in the staccato playing scale cosmos, is to avoid a downward, pack-a-punch "thumpy thumb! This unwanted lead weight-loaded attack often interrupts a buoyantly springy journey, transforming it into crowded pile-up of space-less notes. Yet it seems inevitable that the shortest finger of each hand would overcompensate for… Continue reading Piano Technique: Avoiding thumpy thumbs!