I posed the following question to six well-regarded pianists/teachers whose responses were varied and informative. "If after you have performed a concerto, or composition many times over, or if you are learning new repertoire, or are revisiting works in your recital repertoire, will you search for other performances on the concert stage, (or by CD)… Continue reading Should pianists consult performances of others to grow their learning process?
One of my students recommended a book by George Leonard that globalizes the idea of gaining Mastery in any field of endeavor through a love of "plateaus." (These are pauses in forward-moving progress that can either frustrate a learner, or motivate him to forge onward with an all-embracing love of the "journey.") The author begins… Continue reading Piano Study: Process not Mastery
As teachers, and eternal students of the piano, we often have epiphanies that are worth jotting down at peak moments of enlightenment. Certain words, attached to insights that spring up in the course of lessons become thematic, resonating beyond a particular composition under study. To this effect, over months and years, I've heard myself redundantly… Continue reading Piano Playing time zones: Past, Present, and Future
One of the prevalent concerns of students, especially adults, surrounds the length of time they've invested in learning a particular composition. For some, an internalized goal of technical/musical "mastery" attaches a self-imposed deadline to completion. Boxed into this self-affixed learning time frame, is the end game of neatly shelving a composition as impetus to move… Continue reading The multi-step process of piano learning: but who’s counting?
Most piano students don't get ample opportunity to play piano trios, quartets, quintets, etc. because they're consumed with learning solo repertoire and developing their technical/musical skills. Thankfully, the ongoing Cliburn International Piano Competition, in progress, fills this common void by reminding us that chamber music is integral to the development of a well-rounded musician. It… Continue reading Chamber music and pianists: seamless interaction, ensemble, and musical growth
In the course of teaching, a situation may arise where a particular favored piece is requested by a student that I've never studied--which means a deep-layered journey is ahead of two learning partners. And given that J.S. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in Ab, (Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1) requires thoughtful fingering choices; an awareness of Baroque… Continue reading J.S. Bach Prelude in Ab, BWV 862: A Fresh Start for Student and Teacher
I'm ready for a shower of criticism on this one. After all, some adults want their favorite transcription of the Elvira Madigan theme song, (aka Mozart's Concerto No. 21 in C, Andante) to encapsulate their musical journey---at least for part of the time. And that's OK if the transcription route of top ten, poorly transformed… Continue reading No dumbing down piano study for adult students
I recall my early childhood in the East Bronx on Featherbed Lane. At age 2 or 3, I was exposed to music emanating from a victrola perched on a corner table in a small two-room flat. From sunrise to sunset, heart-throbbing violin concertos, interspersed with operatic solos of Puccini played endlessly. My mother, standing by… Continue reading Early Musical Exposure and its importance
https://youtu.be/paGtKTD4RfA I think Maestro Berman said it well, yet from my own experience, over-practicing is less a problem than failing to listen attentively through every phase of learning a composition. If a student does not fine tune each repetition, but considers only right notes in fast speed as the desired end, then phrasing, nuance and… Continue reading Boris Berman: How to connect with the music after over-practicing
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