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
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
Many students complain about getting stuck at junctures of scales, or in the midst of passagework in a variety of pieces. As mentor, having observed these glitches from an objective distance over cyber or through person-to-person contact at my studio, I've concluded that note-to-note "vertical" playing can snatch continuity from the mind down to the… Continue reading Piano Practicing: Phrasing in Groups of notes
I often enjoy a splurge of self-produced technique videos to assist my teaching, and to clarify my latest insights. This week I examined Staccato playing, using weight transfer for dynamic variation, as I employed a legato "floating arm" as a model for snipping out a stream of well-connected, scale-wise detached notes. In this undertaking, I'd… Continue reading Piano Technique Tutorials abound this week!
It's always disheartening when students forego their scales and arpeggios at lessons, choosing instead, to dive immediately into repertoire. In their zeal to immerse themselves in the Masterworks, they neglect a pivotal Circle of Fifths journey that's wedded to keyboard geographies, key relationships, and much more. As a child, I reviled scales like most beginning… Continue reading Piano Technique: Practicing well-shaped scales and arpeggios (videos)
As teachers, the empathy we have for a pupil's budding learning process with its slips and slides, is at the foundation of good mentoring. By remembering what it's like to be in the student's position, sitting at the piano under a professional gaze, we can increase our pedagogical effectiveness. If we revisit our own early… Continue reading Trading places with our piano students
I appreciate two-timing piano students who practice their scales with acutely sensitive ears. They are made keenly aware of what it takes to repeat a faulty step-wise sequence that's been thrown out of rhythmic alignment along a 4-octave route. (Auditory memory is a vital ingredient through repetitions that require retrieval of a consistent underlying pulse.)… Continue reading Two-timing scale practice