Most piano students experience the nemesis of hard-falling, accident-prone thumbs during their scale and arpeggio romps. If unchecked, these power-grabbing fingers of each hand have a tendency to interrupt smooth-playing keyboard journeys. As a start, a player should imagine a scale or arpeggio as a seamless outflow without "bumps" or undesirable "accents." Even in a… Continue reading Piano Technique: Folding in Thumbs for smooth keyboard transit
We clarify and refine our teaching skills through self-examination at the piano. As mentors, we simultaneously enjoy a window into our students practicing from week to week. Together we grow as music sharing partners. This leads to what I periodically post in the form of self-teaching tutorials that reach my pupils and well beyond in… Continue reading Forward Arm Rolls and Rotations
With unhealthy air quality alerts and record breaking temps keeping many Californians indoors, my own piano practicing was strategically planned to offset unexpected environmental changes. (Unlike those residing in the hills who received a RED FLAG evacuation warning, I could, in the flats, cling to my Steinway in a closed door, sealed window space--Ugh!) An… Continue reading Arpeggios filled up a week of wildfires!
Besides my daily elliptical workouts, I add in piano routines that mobilize the arms, wrists and fingers with full blown natural breath support. Enlisting free flowing energy coming down relaxed arms and supple wrists, one experiences a player's "high" that fuels a sense of well-being streaming into other activities. Most of my students will devote… Continue reading (HD) Piano Gym Romps through Arpeggios!
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)
I find myself reconnecting with my late teacher, Lillian Freundlich, when I borrow her approach to scale development. In this undertaking, she would always check my wrists and elbows through note groupings that were ignited by a basic roll-in energy. A scale could not start with a bang, but instead, it had a smooth, slope-like… Continue reading Piano Technique: Building scales to speed and fluency
It's inevitable that I'll introduce a technique-heavy blog with a time worn story about an authoritarian piano teacher who fist-drummed beats to my very shaky C Major scale. (I was 7) The only perk paired with the metronome mandatory, 4-octave lesson opener, was my being able to pick the latest scale practiced. (Without a hint… Continue reading Scales and Arpeggios are front and center with their telltale history of avoidance
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
The application of weight that's channeled into the keys through relaxed arms and supple wrists is an important ingredient of musical playing. It supports a variety of colors in "voicing" myriads of notes, while it increases attentive listening skills. Central to the "voicing" process are decisions made about what lines need drawing out, and how… Continue reading Piano Technique: Weight transfer into the keys and voicing
This week's post is, in part, a response to a Word Press inquiry about how to approach trills in Mozart's Sonata in F, K. 332. (Allegro) The measures under examination are those that lead toward the Development section with a modulation to the Dominant key of C Major. These same configured trills return at the… Continue reading Trills, Trills, Trills and how to practice them!