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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–

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The Transfer Piano Student

I would hate to pigeon hole all "transfer" students in one way or another. It would be unfair, and unfortunately many piano teachers shy away from prospects who were immersed in learning environments where little progress was made over a period of years. Some reluctant piano instructors might say, "there's just too much work involved… Continue reading The Transfer Piano Student

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Rina, 4, played “Frere Jacques” with two hands, adding a bass part in whole notes (Video)

Charming little Rina has made a big leap in progress. Last week we were exploring WHOLE NOTES, and I asked her to practice one whole note per measure in the Bass to support the Treble melody in "Frere Jacques." Today, I enjoyed her lovely reading. (This particular piece is mapped out on paper, with rhythmic… Continue reading Rina, 4, played “Frere Jacques” with two hands, adding a bass part in whole notes (Video)

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The Formative Years of Piano Study and the basic building-blocks of learning (Videos)

Just as a child needs a wholesome diet from birth through adolescence to insure healthy growth and development, a beginning piano student requires the equivalent in musical nourishment. Cocoa Puff pieces that squeeze out whole grain servings of the classics will not in the long term cut the cake. (And I don't rule out compositions… Continue reading The Formative Years of Piano Study and the basic building-blocks of learning (Videos)