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
Over decades of teaching, and with relocation being the norm for students and mentors, it would have taken a bit of research to track down all my beginner, intermediate, and advanced students dating back to 1968 (NYC); and from 1979 (Fresno CA) to 2011, before my 2012 move to Berkeley, California. What I discovered in… Continue reading My Piano Students of Yesteryear: Where are they now?
World-renowned pianist, Lang Lang has attained rock star status in China, whereas here in the U.S., a sizable contingent of serious mentors in and out of the conservatory milieu register outright disdain for him. Many detractors publicly post their objections to LL's approach to music-making, citing his exaggerations, flamboyance, extraneous gestures, and erratic performances in… Continue reading The Lang Lang controversy
Last Wednesday night, Indre Viskontas, opera singer and neuroscientist explored the many facets of Creativity in a City Arts "conversation." And because a roving MIC didn't quite reach my section of the San Francisco Nourse Auditorium during the Q and A, I managed to continue the discourse Online at Indre's blog site. It's a no-brainer… Continue reading The “Talent” equation in piano playing/learning
The latest piano forum quandary surrounds daily practicing. Parents are wringing their hands as teachers impart the latest advice of the week. Even adult students are plagued by "shoulds" and perfect routes to success, planted in their psyche in early childhood. They'll cancel their own lessons if they didn't get to the piano every day.… Continue reading Piano Lessons: “My kids don’t practice so what can I do about it?”
Marie, a motivated adult student, revisited piano studies after a decades-long hiatus. When she resumed lessons about 6 years ago, she made "Fur Elise" her goal-setting piece. Following long-term scale and arpeggio exposure accompanied by a detailed focus on minuets, short character works, sonatinas and the Chopin Waltz in A minor No. 19, Op. Posthumous,… Continue reading Quality spot-practicing by an adult student: Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” (Video)
The traditional Suzuki method, devised by its pioneer advocate, Shinichi Suzuki applied originally to violin instruction. Students as young as 2 or 3 learned to play their instruments in the way language was acquired, through imitation. (I recalled black and white film footage showing hundreds of Japanese children lined up in rows with baby-size violins,… Continue reading The Suzuki Method for Piano, Pros and Cons