Davies Hall, piano,

A worthwhile Journey to George Li’s triumphant Davies Hall piano recital

Facebook was abuzz with reminders of George Li’s touchdown in the Bay Area’s glittering Davies concert hall, a venue that absorbs a splash of pastel beams from the neighboring flagship government building. Glass panels reflect back montages of color that provide a rush of excitement for ticket holders slipping into seats right under the bell.

FB “friends” and faithful George “followers” were PAGE alerted to a MEET and GREET event in the lobby following the recital. It would be a shower of support for a pianist we’d seen and heard by LIVE-Stream from exotic locations including Moscow and Verbier. Frames in progress had included George’s Silver Medal triumph at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, magnified on computer screens around the world!


The Back Story

From my humble perch in Berkeley, I’d set aside 75 conscientious minutes to get to Davies Hall. It was a conservative travel measure, given lax Sunday train schedules and my propensity to get mired in Civic Center traffic as a clueless pedestrian in foreign urban terrain. (San Francisco’s maze of complex street crossings and intersections, bundled in congestion, had always seriously confused me, impeding on-foot progress in any direction).

Yet, despite well-intended, precautionary travel efforts, I couldn’t have anticipated a vexing single platform BART crisis that launched a crescendo of complications right up to my shaky finish line arrival at Davies. There, at its entrance, my concert companion/adult piano student stood patiently, dispatching block-to-block text messages to keep me on track.

With good luck and concerted teamwork, we made it to our first tier balcony seats just as George advanced toward a shining model D Steinway grand.

It was a pure bliss erasure of prior travails:

Melted deceptive cadences rippled through a crystalline rendering of Haydn’s B minor Sonata (No. 30) as trills and ornaments immaculately decorated clear melodic lines in a liquid outpouring of phrases. The middle Minuet movement was charmingly played passing with grace to a culminating Presto in brisk, bravura tempo with unswerving attention to line, shape, and contour.

Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata in F minor, op. 57, followed with tonal variation and keen structural awareness. The performance was both gripping and directional, wrapped in ethereal tonal expression.

Li’s singular sound autograph permeates his performances amidst an array of varying nuances and articulations. He has what pianist, Uchida terms “charisma” and a singular tonal personality.

Meaning and musical context are core ingredients of Li’s artistry and his wide palette of colors are at his liquid disposal through deeply felt effusions of expression. (While Li is a natural, intuitional performer, his sensitive fusion of aesthetics and intellect is always on display, exposed, as well in media interviews.)

A Presto Classical set of queries elicited thoughtful responses.



The Davies Hall recital, continued after Intermission with a rippling roll-out of works by Rachmaninoff and Liszt, all imbued with a permeating spirit of mature music-making that’s intrinsic to Li’s ongoing ripening process. And as a cap to a memorable evening of inspired artistry, George played his final encore–a pyro-technically charged Bizet/Carmen transcription that drove listeners to their feet in a chorus of BRAVOS!!! (This snapshot was provided by a friend who had permission to publicly post it, thanks to Li’s generosity and that of his representatives)

In a culminating MEET and GREET event, post-recital, audience members had an opportunity to share IN PERSON enthusiasm and appreciation of George’s artistry, while purchasing the artist’s newly released CD.

For me, a tete a tete with George, provided an opportunity to thank him for his generosity as a teen when he delivered well-conceived responses to my reams of technically framed questions about practicing, technique, and repertoire.


Finally, here’s an encore of gratitude to George for his inspired love of music, and for his reach into our hearts with each memorable performance. Come back soon!

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A Big New York Debut Recital for Pianist, Marianna Prjevalskaya

Marianna photo

After many international victories and a stash of prizes, honors and recital appearances flowing out of them, Marianna Prjevalskaya, will make her debut in New York City’s cultural limelight.



“The event, presented by the Cincinnati World Piano Competition takes place Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 7:30pm.”

(“The Cincinnati World Piano Competition is one of the top piano competitions in the United States. Held annually, it aims to recognize and promote outstanding piano artistry and support the career development of young pianists.”)


By all accounts Prjevalskaya’s performance will surely follow those that have lit up the globe, making her name well-recognized in the cosmos of solo playing and chamber music.

(Enjoy an enlightening interview with the artist)


The pianist’s artistry first came to my attention when I serendipitously stumbled upon an Online beamed competition from Alaska. Despite the pitfalls of media transmission, Marianna Prjelvalskaya’s Haydn, Schumann, Debussy, and Scriabin, resonated over the air waves with impeccable beauty. Selections were rendered with period era sensitivity–having a permeated singing tone thread so emblematic of the Russian School of playing, yet infused with a wide panorama of colors and nuances that reflected Prjevalskaya’s Pan-European exposures. (Spain is her country of origin though her musical activity and educational background rise beyond specific borders.) In the midst of her international flurry of concerts, for example, the pianist manages to pursue advanced performance degrees on the East Coast, counting Yale and Peabody among her prestigious bastions of learning.

In keeping with a unique journey of individuality that characterizes the pianist’s blossoming career, I asked Maestra Prjevalskaya to add a personal touch to her upcoming recital, by providing a set of program notes:

First half:
Debussy Preludes Book II

Second half:
Chopin Fantasy Op. 49 in F minor
Rachmaninoff Variations on a Theme by Chopin Op. 22


“Debussy’s collection of preludes is a world of sensations and emotions– a uniquely inspiring experience that draws on the listener’s imagination and carries him/her into a transcendent state.

“The composer collects his own impressions from samples of poetry and illustrations to oriental, decorative objects, transforming them into fantastic images that create a tonal and architectural unity.

“As an entire set, these preludes are rarely performed, so it’s really an exciting experience for me to share the complete work with my audience. In the future, I plan to prepare the first book of Preludes as well.”


“Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Chopin Op. 22 is one of my deeply beloved works. I personally think it is a hidden gem in the piano repertoire that unfortunately has been overshadowed by the composer’s other popular piano compositions. This particular set of variations exemplifies an infinite world of musical and technical possibilities that awaits exploration and savoring.

“Based on Chopin’s Prelude in C minor Op. 28, it’s a collage of contrasting emotions encompassing naiveté and anguish to exuberant joy. The theme becomes totally unrecognizable as the work unfolds, and it’s absolutely captivating to see, feel and experience with one’s own hands how Rachmaninoff creates a kaleidoscopic of textures with significant emotional depth.

“In addition to this work, I decided to include the very special Chopin Fantasy. Often viewed as fragile and vulnerable, the composer reveals his heroic face in a full-spirited creation. On a personal level, I felt it would be meaningful to give homage to Chopin before performing Rachmaninoff’s Variations.”


Without a doubt, Marianna’s concert is one not to miss, so gather the information below and purchase your tickets a.s.a.p.

Important Recital Details

Tickets are now on sale and may be purchased online at http://www.carnegiehall.org
To order tickets by phone, call Carnegie Charge at (212) 247-7800.

For more information about the event, please contact Laura Bock at laura@cincinnatiwpc.org or Marianna Prjevalskaya at info@prjevalskaya.com

Marianna’s Website


"A Century of Jazz" with Dick Hyman, Dave Frank, Dick Hyman, jazz, Woody Allen movies and Dick Hyman, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube.com, yout tube, youtube.com

An afternoon of all that Jazz with pianists, Dick Hyman and Dave Frank

Dick Hyman

Jazz and classical music enthusiasts have more in common than they think. A riveting conversation between Dick Hyman and moderator, Dave Frank brought that home loud and clear. On You Tube, no less!

Frank’s bistro, located at Klavierhaus in New York City, drew an intimate audience of faithful followers to watch headliner, Hyman share the intricacies of his creative process. Could he put words to it? In the big leagues with Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson, et al, he admitted to the challenge of dissecting what was basically nonverbal.

But when prodded by Frank in his “Masterclass” format, the jazz legend emphasized the importance of scales, counter-melody, counterpoint, tone, touch, temperament, and projection as if he shared a tight bond with classically-trained pianists. (Hyman’s uncle, a piano recitalist in the 20’s and 30s, exposed nephew, Dick, to a good dose of tradition-bound repertoire)

Another case in point: Hyman, who’s celebrated on LP, CD, and through his association with Woody Allen in movie productions, paid tribute to the late pianist, Ruth Laredo, with whom he formed the chamber group, “Keyboard Crossover.” The ensemble, originally based in Florida, included jazz icon, Marian McPartland.

Hyman fleshed out Laredo’s amazingly resonant singing tone against a silky, subdued bass. He watched and listened carefully, taking as his own what suited his style and grew his artistry. (It was a cross-fertilization of genres that served both musicians)

(Here’s Ruth Laredo, in top form, playing a Rachmaninoff Prelude during a Celebration of Steinway’s and Son’s 100th Anniversary!)


Hyman’s impressions of his art poured forth in an hour long videotaped exchange with Frank that was interspersed by jazz solos and duos. He opened with Cole Porter’s “It Was Just One of Those Things,” and joined Dave in more than one extemporaneous collaboration. “Pennies from Heaven” was a featured selection, and it sizzled with contrapuntal interplay!

Dick shared how jazz musicians used to be trained—by ear, imitation, listening to fine recordings and improvising. He added that his own “relative pitch” sense fell short of absolute–though not a liability.

He declared Teddy Wilson as his personal idol– the man who gave him 12 free lessons after a contest win!

What a twist of fate!

Finally, Hyman capped the afternoon, with a demo of his “A Century of Jazz Music” package. (5 Cds and a DVD). In a video sample originally produced in Florida, replayed on a small screen, Dick showcased Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s “Pasquinade,” an antecedent of “cakewalks” and Scott Joplin’s Ragtime double syncopations.

Besides serving up an afternoon of inspired music, Hyman parceled out inner voices in Chopin’s Waltz in C# minor as a demonstrative reply to an audience member needing advice about finding and practicing counter-melodies? (A Romantic era musical tie-in)

When all was said and done, classical and jazz mavens fit snugly under an all-embracing umbrella–along with a community of Dick Hyman lovers who wanted to be a party to his history-making appearance.

And a party it was, as Dick received a surprise birthday cake for his 84th!

LINK to Hyman’s Official Website:


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“The Secret Genius” of Pianist, Vitaly Margulis

A serendipitous Facebook Friend request from Jura Margulis on the eve of my birthday, led to this bundle of love delivered on You Tube. As oxymoronic as it may sound, the pianist’s father, Vitaly, channeled through cyber, wooed me into a sanctuary of beauty by his liquid phrasing and total immersion in Chopin’s palette. It was an unforgettable display of Old World playing, like fine wine that lingers after the first sip, only to invite more.

As I combed the Internet for additional samplings of this age-mellowed performer who sadly departed this earth last year but left a treasure trove of his musical genius, I was rewarded for my effort:



Vitaly Margulis, pianist, pedagogue, writer and author of music philosophy studies, was born on April 16th 1928 in the Ukrainian City of Charkov.

He received his first piano lessons from his father, whose teacher, Alexander Horowitz, studied with the composer Alexander Scriabin. Vitaly Margulis continued his studies at the renowned Leningrad Conservatory under Professor Samarij Sawshinskij where, from 1958 until his emigration to the west in 1974, he had his own piano class. During this time, Vitaly Margulis triumphed in more than one thousand concerts throughout Russia. In 1975, Vitaly Margulis became a full Professor at the esteemed Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany. In 1994, he accepted the post of Professor of Piano at the University of California in Los Angeles. In addition, he holds piano seminars in Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, Holland, France, Japan, Russia, and America.

His concerts over the years in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Berlin, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg, his numerous recordings were received with great enthusiasm. German critics spoke of him as a "secret genius" (Joachim Kaiser, Süddeutsche Zeitung), a "world class pianist" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), and one of the foremost pianists of our time. The Salzburg News hailed his performance in the 1991 Salzburg Festival as "an event of outstanding significance." A review of his 1996 recital in Santander, Spain said: "The three sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, Moonlight, Les Adieux, and the colossal Op. 111 were in quality and maturity unique and irreproducible. Certainly his Beethoven interpretation was a very personal one and set an unsurpassable standard." In a 1994 review of Margulis' Chopin CD, Musica Italia raved: Here I found an exciting and fantastic recording with two interpretations, the Chopin Etudes Op. 10 #2 and #9, which, in my opinion, enter straight into the history of art." In a review of Margulis recording of Scriabin’s Sonata No. 3, La Disque Ideal, Paris, 1993, wrote: “Despite the existence of such acclaimed records of Horowitz and Sofronizky, in my opinion, Margulis exceeds the standards set by these masters. His CD is a true masterpiece.”

In his teaching, Professor Margulis prioritizes the study of the works of Bach and Beethoven. His book Johann Sebasatian Bach and Symbolic Language and The Well Tempered Clavier points to new ways of understanding the religious symbolism and spirituality in Bach’s music. In his publication “Formula for Timing Relationship and Beethoven’s Timing Principles,” Professor Margulis explores new concepts in musical architecture. His book “Bagatelles”, translated and published in seven countries, describes principles of piano pedagogy in an aphoristic manner. His book “Paralipomenon,” published in Moscow in 2006, met with enthusiastic delight. In a Moscow news paper, it is praised: “To those who consider themselves aficionados of literature, I highly recommend the book of Vitaly Margulis. It is without a doubt a fine specimen of amazing literary style, and refined Jewish humor—sometimes sparkling and light as air, sometimes bitterly poignant and devastating.”

Professor Margulis has become a very fortunate teacher. His students have won more than a hundred prizes at international competitions over the last decades, twenty-eight of which were grand prizes.

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Yevgeny Sudbin, another Russian Pianist topples my day!

I had my heart set on working out at the gym before noon, but as fate had it, I was stopped in my tracks by the breathtaking artistry of Yevgeny Sudbin. (only 32 years old) And it was merely 24 hours after I’d cried over Nikolai Lugansky’s Schumann Intermezzo from Faschingsschwank aus Wien.

Could these two synchronized angels of the Muse share a gene for impassioned piano playing?

Regardless, I would sing like a nightingale about Sudbin, spreading his immense gifts far and wide.

Let’s start with the artist’s Scarlatti, a composer so very dear to me.

Three exemplary performances sweep the listener into a universe of beauty from the first measure to final cadence. Nuance, dynamics, impeccable phrasing, just the right touch, and tone to please. It’s manifestly clear that one of the pianist’s teachers was Murray Perahia. I can tell by the way in which the Baroque repertoire is communicated. Not too loud, too soft or frivolous in any way. A nice range of dynamics are bundled into the playing.

These examples are heartfelt:

Finally, a mouse tap to Sudbin’s official website fills in the missing details that surround his remarkable life and musical accomplishments.


Classical Music with Cathy Fuller, Cyprien Katsaris, Eugene Ormandy, Georgy Cziffra, Sergei Rachmaninoff, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video, Yuja Wang

The Gift that keeps on Giving: Cyprien Katsaris shares thoughts about pianist, Gyorgy Cziffra and his ‘Bumblebee’ transcription

In a compelling and somewhat controversial radio broadcast beamed from Boston, Katsaris takes the reigns and regales Georgy Cziffra, a celebrated pianist whose career never reached the summit that Horowitz attained. Katsaris is brutally honest about his own displeasure with this state of musical affairs and harps on the “transcriptions” that Cziffra composed and realized with unparalleled virtuosity. “Purely pianistically, Cziffra was superior to Horowitz,” Katsaris insisted. And then he more clearly focused on the transcriptions and their performances by the Hungarian pianist.

As example, here’s the artist/transcriber’s own reading of ‘Bumblebee’ that is ear shattering! (Everything Katsaris fleshed out about Cziffra’s phrasing, imagination and musicianship is realized in this performance)

Ironically, an anonymous You Tuber managed to catch Katsaris playing the same Cziffra transcription back when, and posted it. Re-played on the air in Boston, it put Katsaris in the hot seat as coyly noted by the interviewer, Cathy Fuller.

Here’s the second version for comparison. It’s certainly a far better recording environment, but I can see why Katsaris took the time to praise Cziffra on this score and others. (pun intended)

In the course of Katsaris’s interview, he revealed himself as an impeccable music historian, recounting fascinating stories about Eugene Ormandy and Rachmaninoff. For this generous and colorful serving of pianorama, I’d recommend a hasty visit to:


You won’t be disappointed.

(Station Name: 99.5, Boston’s All Classical Station, a service of WGBH
Host: Cathy • Producer: Alan McLellan • Engineer: Jane Pipik)

By the way, here’s Yuja Wang adding her bedazzling ‘Bumblebee’ to the mix.

The crescendi in Cziffra and Katsaris’s readings seem more convincing. One can feel the bumbleebee’s buzzing at close range, then circling around.

Biography: (excerpted from http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Cziffra-Gyorgy.htm)
György Cziffra (Piano)

Born: November 5, 1921 Budapest – Hungary
Died: January 15, 1994 – Morsang-sur-Orge (Senlis), France

“The noted Hungarian-born French pianist, Georges [originally György] Cziffra, was a son of Hungarian Romas (his father, György Cziffra Sr., a cembalo player who played in cabaret halls and restaurants in Paris in the 1910’s).

“Cziffra was noticed at the age of 5, as he improvised on popular tunes in bars and circuses. His teachers at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest included Ernő Dohnányi.

“His education was interrupted by World War II, when he served in the Hungarian army. After the war he continued his studies at the Franz Liszt Academy with Ferenczi, but was once more distracted from music when he was arrested in 1950 for his rebellious political views. Held under forced labor, he was eleased from jail in 1953, but was again endangered by the abortive Hungarian revolt in 1956.

“In 1956, convinced that he could have no peace under Communist rule, on the eve of the Hungarian insurrection and after a stunning account of Béla Bartók’s second piano concerto (EMI References), György Cziffra escaped with his wife (Soleilka – of Egyptian origin) and son to Vienna where his recital at the Brahmsaal caused a sensation. News of this event reached The New Yorker. His Paris debut the following year caused a similar furor – and his London debut at the Royal Festival Hall playing Franz Liszt’s first concerto and Hungarian Fantasy was equally regaled.

“His meteoric career continued with concerts throughout Europe and debuts at the Ravinia Festival (Grieg and F. Liszt concertos with Carl Schuricht) and Carnegie Hall New York with Thomas Schippers.

“It should be noted that he always performed with a large leather wristband, as a memento of his years in labor. In 1968 he became a naturalized French citizen, and in 1973 he founded the St.-Frambourg Royal Chapel Foundation in Senlis, France to assist young musicians and artists.

“He died in Senlis, 72 years old, from a heart attack resulting from series of complications from lung cancer due to smoking and alcohol.

“György Cziffra was best known for his interpretations of works of the Romantic repertoire. He is most known for his brilliant and extravagant recordings of Franz Liszt’s virtuoso works. He also recorded many of Frédéric Chopin’s compositions and those of Robert Schumann. His interpretation of “Carnaval de Vienne” was admired by Alfred Cortot, and his famous transcription of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee,’ written in interlocking octaves was celebrated.

“Many of his recordings are controversial, claimed by some to be showy and unmusical. Others regard these reactions as professional jealousy. In any case there is generally little doubt that Cziffra had a remarkable virtuoso technique and was a master at improvisation. He published “Des canons et des Fleurs” (Paris, 1977).

“György Cziffra’s son, György Cziffra, Jr., was a professional conductor and participated in several concerts and recordings with his father. However, his promising career was cut short due to his death by burning accident in 1981 – said to have been accompanied by a suicide note – an event that sparked a progressively diminishing morale in Cziffra, Sr. Cziffra never again performed or recorded with an orchestra, and some critics have commented that the severe emotional blow had an impact on his playing quality as well. While many thought that his pianism deteriorated after the death of his son, some felt that his playing was deeper than before.”



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Should a piano teacher be able to play pieces assigned to students?

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? And was this a necessary ingredient of teaching?

From my perspective, I strongly believe that advanced repertoire requires thorough study by a teacher so that he/she can impart valuable information to a student in the areas of Tone Production, Fingering, Phrasing, Performance Practice, Articulation/Technique and Form. Even a student with a virtuoso level technique requires a mentor who has embedded himself in a composition thoroughly enough to communicate graduated learning steps from the first reading to performance level.

If a student is not a performing musician and doesn’t aspire to a concert career, a teacher should still respect the composition and its demands, trying to attain the best possible understanding of its features, with attention to details that assist the pupil along the way. If the teacher studies a composition from the ground up, with a particular awareness of the problems/challenges it might pose for the pupil, then it’s an introduction that lays an important foundation. In addition, layered learning, where a piece is taken apart, voice by voice, and put together numerous times, sets up a paradigm for independent study in the future. To ignite this process, a teacher can take baby steps along with the student, as they both experience each and every learning landmark. Having said that, it’s probably advantageous for the mentor to have walked the walk in advance of the student.

In this regard, I always remember my teacher, Lillian Freundlich telling me at my very first lesson, that it was her job to teach me how to learn on my own, a metaphor related to life, growth, and self sustenance. And it was apparent that she did her homework as was revealed by her understanding of tone production, voicing, harmony, fingering and phrasing.

A Teaching/learning Example:

One of my pupils who had a predilection for studying some of the most technically challenging pieces in the literature, would come to her lesson with a “free” score, like “Flight of the Bumblebee,” by Rimsky-Korsakov, arranged by Rachmaninoff, downloaded from the Internet with no trace of fingering. (My preference would have been a better edition, but nowadays, we sometimes work with what we are given)

While I knew Bumblebee from many recorded and “live” performances, having a perception of its hallmark chromatic movement, I couldn’t begin to teach it with enough depth required to make instruction meaningful. “Meaningful” carries many associations and so does the word, “depth.” For each teacher, both words have their own valid definitions. It might be that working on phrasing and fingering is an area that a teacher feels comfortable with, having a sense of security and confidence associated with it. For others, theory and harmonic analysis might be their strength, making this dimension of study a “meaningful” and in-depth” experience for the student. Not all teachers are equipped with powerhouse techniques or comprehensive theory backgrounds, but each brings something unique and substantive to the learning environment.

Having been handed Bumblebee without ample advanced notice, I decided to learn the piece page-by-page alongside the student, but with a head start of a week, so I could assign fingering and explore rudimentary chordal movement in the bass. Harmonically mapping out a piece, deepens knowledge, orients a student to keys and modulations, and aids memorization. It presumes the student has had consistent theory exposures and Harmonic Analysis. But even a pupil with a minimal theory background can benefit from a capsuled understanding of a piece’s harmonic flow of harmony without precisely mapping out secondary dominants and pivot chords.

When a teacher, wades through a piece to pre-discover form, content, harmonic motion, as well as technical and musical challenges, he can be the best guide through a pupil’s musical journey.

I’ve extracted the first page of Bumblebee, to relate what I learned in my initial reading and what awareness it offered the student. We were both engaged in a simultaneous musical/technical exploration, knowing that practicing in slow, deliberate tempo was a necessity.

If I had the benefit of a video, I would enlist it to flesh out more details, but just as a visual overview of the score, I had to explain how the stem down, single sixteenth note preceding a stream of those slurred together, was played with the left hand. Naturally, I waded through the composition, fingering it to finite detai. Because the “standard” chromatic fingering did not always apply (white, black, white, black using 1, 3, 1, 3 Right Hand) and for white/white 1,2, I went out of my way to finger each and every note. This involved careful “housekeeping.” (What I term as laying the bare groundwork of finger choreography to advance smoothness of phrasing) This fingering was not necessarily set in stone, as minor adjustments were made as the student and myself progressed along. But basically, we had in place a very firm and practical fingering that proved to be efficacious in the long run. A Presto tempo was set aside as a future goal, without a fixed deadline for attainment.

As an overall suggestion to the flow of notes, I modeled a legato (in slow motion) that was shaped and contoured. It was easy for the student to fall into a typed out rendering of chromatic notes without realizing they needed to roll out, imitating a buzzing, swirling bumble bee. Grouping notes and using various rhythms such as the dotted eight/sixteenth figure advanced fluidity and firmed up fingering.

I had also outlined some basic harmonies to give TONAL context and to compare melodic and harmonic sequences as they unfolded.

Looking at the Key Signature alone might not assist a student in defining the key center, as the choice of no flats and sharps could be C Major or A minor. And since the opening measures had no appearance of a bass line, inserting an A minor or C Major chord through the first few measures would have confirmed the MINOR key. On line three I pointed to the A Minor chord as reinforcing the tonality. To flesh out chords that did not belong to A minor was also important. The D MAJOR chord following the Tonic A minor, would have been a conversion of the sub-dominant (iv chord) from Minor as it would exist in the A minor scale, to MAJOR. (D MAJOR CHORD) This Tonic i to IV (upper case Roman Numeral for Major) progression happened to re-appear at many points in the piece, transposed to other Key centers.

On the bottom line, the composer modulated to D Minor, and therefore used a conversion of its sub-dominant or iv chord to Major IV (a G Major Chord) setting up a sequential pattern that occurred at various junctures of the piece.

Experiencing a deeper level of assimilation, noting a change of key as transpired on the last line of page one, helped with navigating so many closely spaced, chromatically driven 16th notes, giving them an underlying harmonic frame.

The AURAL experience of the Tonic minor i to the Major IV, if nothing else would enrich the student’s learning experience and could be a springboard to more complex harmonic analysis.

“KNOWING” on many levels is pivotal to musical assimilation and retention. It’s not enough to play only the right notes. Putting them in context on a horizontal and vertical level, while perceiving the FORM of a composition are great long-term learning assists.

Assessing “The Flight of the Bumblebee” as a whole, marking out key centers, and discovering melodic similarities and differences, helps reinforce learning. Finding places that are not strictly chromatic is another form of processing. Circling pertinent measures, flags departures from expectation.

These rudimentary steps taken by the teacher and student are the seeds of learning that should blossom over time into a fully satisfying musical result. If the teacher can model and GUIDE the pupil through the creative process by having done advance work on the piece, it will always be helpful in nurturing the student along.