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)


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!

phrasing, phrasing at the piano, piano

Phrase relationships: Questions and Answers

At my alma mater, Oberlin Conservatory, through a four year Theory course regimen, students were saturated with Antecedent and Consequent relationships. The pairing was readily explained as 4 measures of "Question" followed by 4 measures of "Answer." And lending support to such indoctrinated phrase SYMMETRY were harmonic underpinnings that bundled in a Half cadence of… Continue reading Phrase relationships: Questions and Answers

piano, piano blogger, piano lessons, piano technique

Weaving threads of melody through W.A. Mozart, K. 545-Allegro

I've come full circle back to a "signature" piece that has grown over decades as I've worked with students discovering its many challenges. The so-called "facile" Sonata in C, K. 545, by W.A. Mozart that's quickly retrievable from my memory-labeled archive, is not "easily" dismissed as a thinly composed romp through C Major. With its… Continue reading Weaving threads of melody through W.A. Mozart, K. 545-Allegro

phrasing, piano instruction

Piano Practicing: Phrasing in Groups of notes

Many students complain about getting stuck at junctures of scales, or in the midst of passagework in a variety of pieces. As mentor, having observed these glitches from an objective distance over cyber or through person-to-person contact at my studio, I've concluded that note-to-note "vertical" playing can snatch continuity from the mind down to the… Continue reading Piano Practicing: Phrasing in Groups of notes

piano,, piano, piano teaching, piano playing

The “Best Interview” with Seymour Bernstein

Seymour's fan club encompasses a vast array of e-list recipients who feel the pulse of the pianist's response to a universe of infinite wonders. In a steady stream of emails FROM: see.less (not more--mour), TO: his many cyber-connected admirers, a cascade of attachments might contain a photo display of newborn puppies snuggling with a feline… Continue reading The “Best Interview” with Seymour Bernstein

Direct Pedaling, piano pedaling, Preliminary Pedaling, Syncopated pedaling

Piano Teachers and Pedaling

In the cosmos of pedaling, where the "soul of the piano" is explored, I asked a few teachers about when and how they introduce students to the use of the sustaining or damper pedal. Definition of Terms: https://www.pianocub.com/blog/3-piano-pedal-techniques-you-need-to-know Legato/Syncopated Pedal "In legato pedaling, the sustain pedal is pressed down after a note or chord has… Continue reading Piano Teachers and Pedaling