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
One of the biggest weaknesses that present in soft dynamic range staccato scales, is a lack of projection. Students often snuff out notes, play them in a whisper without a tenacious spring UP character, or a necessary rebound effect from note to note. Instead, they become inhibited and constrained. Yet even at the Forte level,… Continue reading Piano Technique: Soft staccato scales with projection, springboard energy, resilience, and shape
It's easy to assess a student's difficulty with navigating scales in progressive tempo framings from quarters to 8th notes to 16ths, etc. as being the result of shortcomings in rhythmic perception, when a larger cosmos of awareness is lacking. I think immediately of the Eurhythmics course I took at the Oberlin Conservatory, taught by the… Continue reading Piano Technique: Working with the character of rhythms