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Navigating Tricky Trills

Experimentation is central to piano learning in all its phases, including that which applies to the build-up of trills. Unfortunately, for many students engaged in such a learning process, rapid alternations of notes will often ignite instant panic and fear which tighten muscles, inhibiting a smooth flowing musical line. In some instances, the initial approach… Continue reading Navigating Tricky Trills

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Liz, age 8, has her second piano lesson! (With my interspersed thoughts about materials and teaching philosophy)

As I journey along with Liz, my newest piano student, I'm collecting insights about the nature of music learning from the perspective of a child. And by this most recent experience, I've come to realize that the choice of teaching materials is wedded to a mentor's own philosophy about expressive music-making. The samples below represent… Continue reading Liz, age 8, has her second piano lesson! (With my interspersed thoughts about materials and teaching philosophy)

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Piano Technique: Trills and the vocal model

Joyce Di Donato, "lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano," is my model for trilling. In an embedded you tube video, the opera singer emphasizes the undulating character of a beautifully executed trill that leans on the upper note. (Too often pianists deliver a robotic stream of alternating notes that's shapeless and out of breath, ignoring an internal flow and… Continue reading Piano Technique: Trills and the vocal model

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Piano Instruction: Mozart Sonata No. 16 in C Major, K. 545, Allegro (updated Video)

http://youtu.be/YF5kiQfLces Play through http://youtu.be/rETIvT6Cr2k

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Piano Technique: Reeling off parallel thirds in staccato (with a trampoline effect)

The playground as music teacher applies: My brood of students and I enjoy the romp through a set of parallel thirds within a five-finger position. In our escapade, we usually dance through the Major and parallel minor tonalities. Interplay, back and forth always helps. It allows the teacher to model physical ingredients of a buoyant… Continue reading Piano Technique: Reeling off parallel thirds in staccato (with a trampoline effect)

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Rolling wrist motion for J.S. Bach Invention 4 in D minor

Just a video snippet exploring the rolling wrist forward motion in phrasing Bach Invention 4. The streams of scale-like 16th notes and their surprising melodic displacement (descending 7ths) suggest a slope up, then curve around motion that's best realized with relaxed arms and supple wrists. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed353Af5d2Y

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My blind date with a “new” piano–

I'm meeting a 5'2 Baldwin Hamilton in El Cerrito today, Sunday, and I'll videotape the introduction for posting on You Tube. This is the piano that had a verboten phone interview with a follow-up long distance tech eval. Good report, but the verdict is still in my hands when I run my fingers over its… Continue reading My blind date with a “new” piano–