This question, posed on numerous Internet piano forums, elicited varied opinions from teachers and students. One participant asked about Dorothy Delay, who taught some of the most celebrated violinists at the Juilliard School. When this esteemed mentor had reached an advanced age, would she have been able to demonstrate challenging technical passages for her pupils?… Continue reading Should a piano teacher be able to play pieces assigned to students?
I thought of E.M. Forster's novel as an inspiration for this blog, but "The Hills are alive with the Sound of Music" would have more aptly described what I was writing about. Every week, a breathtaking view of the El Cerrito Hills streams into my piano room through an open, maple-paneled door. Depending on the… Continue reading A Piano Room with a View
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk7Bnd6xD9Y The great pianist, Josef Hofmann, imparted words of wisdom when he answered the following question posed by a student that related to the thumb and piano technique: "What is the matter with my scales? I cannot play them without a perceptible jerk when I use my thumb. How can I overcome the unevenness?" The… Continue reading Piano Technique: Thumb Shifts in Playing Scales and Arpeggios (Video)
Music Theory doesn't have to be drudgery If I turn the clock back to my early days as a piano student, I can say without a doubt that I absolutely HATED “Music Theory” or anything remotely related to it. And I can clearly thank my very pedantic teacher, Mrs. Schwed for this aversion. She made… Continue reading Music Theory and Piano Study: It doesn’t have to be drudgery
Was I dreaming? Did I wake up in a chicken coop on a hot and humid July morning? The summer before I was a Merrywood camper, encapsulated in a forest of pines bordering Lenox, Massachusetts. A short journey to Tanglewood for a Sunday morning BSO rehearsal, was followed by a breakfast of sizzling waffles and… Continue reading Appel Farm Music Camp and the Chicken Coops
There's always a piece of music lurking somewhere that can save a young student from quitting piano. For those of us who teach the great masterworks, passing a cultural legacy to the next generation, we know lickety-split when it's time to break out our ammunition: the magic bullet piece. Example: An 11-year old had gotten… Continue reading In a Piano Teacher’s Arsenal: The Magic bullet piece (VIDEO with Aiden Cat joining in)
There are two sides to every story, so in all fairness I've posited a number of situations that crop up in the piano lesson environment, with an analysis from the Teacher and Student's point of view. In some instances, I've substituted PARENT for STUDENT where I think it applies. RESOLUTIONS of various issues are explored.… Continue reading PULLS AND TUGS: Two sides of the piano student/teacher relationship
If I let my imagination run wild, I would frame this writing around Robin Hood. The backdrop was the Merrywood Music Camp, nestled in the Berkshires in a dense forest where a friendly outlaw could easily rob from the rich in Lenox, and retreat into the pines, practically unnoticed. Merrywood was a stone’s throw from… Continue reading A Breathtaking Merrywood Music Camp Finale!
In Tempo reading: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHFOPFzUxUw Slow practice build-up approach: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8AYC4WemeE This Romantic era Impromptu will always benefit from the type of slow practicing that permits careful shaping of phrases, attention to dynamics and other nuances. In the video, I magnify the contours of the work through a deliberately behind tempo approach. Many students will say, that… Continue reading Piano Instruction: A Slow Practice Approach to the Schubert Impromptu Op. 90, no.2 in Eb Flat Major (Video)
The piano room was a mess yesterday with music strewn about. Two '60-'70's era Beatles albums were excavated from a pile of sheet music, hard bound theory texts, and Urtext editions of Beethoven's sonatas. Foraging a big carton of stuff like this was a trip down memory lane. My very old Yamaha guitar, a prized… Continue reading Letting my hair down with a snatch of “Let It Be!” (VIDEO)