As teachers, we're in a position to advise our students about navigating big stretches that may not comfortably fit hands that are small or even moderate in size. George Gershwin's Prelude No. 2, a bluesy lullaby, is exemplary in requiring artful phrasing of relentless measures that have these wide interval spans beyond the reach of… Continue reading Small hand challenges playing Gershwin’s Prelude No. 2
Most piano students experience the nemesis of hard-falling, accident-prone thumbs during their scale and arpeggio romps. If unchecked, these power-grabbing fingers of each hand have a tendency to interrupt smooth-playing keyboard journeys. As a start, a player should imagine a scale or arpeggio as a seamless outflow without "bumps" or undesirable "accents." Even in a… Continue reading Piano Technique: Folding in Thumbs for smooth keyboard transit
I often wonder why our music mentor community does not openly share a collective frustration with editors who permeate piano compositions with impossible fingerings. These sources of disarray can be Masterworks by Scarlatti, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, et al, tarnished with "un-pianistic" maneuvers that beg for labor intensive revisions. Often a preponderance of these Internet driven… Continue reading A Teacher’s Challenge: Navigating Piano music with Awkward fingerings
We clarify and refine our teaching skills through self-examination at the piano. As mentors, we simultaneously enjoy a window into our students practicing from week to week. Together we grow as music sharing partners. This leads to what I periodically post in the form of self-teaching tutorials that reach my pupils and well beyond in… Continue reading Forward Arm Rolls and Rotations
I'm always combing through You Tube videos to unearth treasures that have escaped me. One gem turned up recently that was celebrated in my blog a few weeks ago: Gina Bachauer at the Jerusalem Music Center with teenage prodigy, Yefim Bronfman. It preceded my dip into the well of Seymour Bernstein's amazing talent. He's in… Continue reading Discoveries: Horowitz, A Reminiscence, and Seymour Bernstein in conversation-Chopin and Pedagogy
With unhealthy air quality alerts and record breaking temps keeping many Californians indoors, my own piano practicing was strategically planned to offset unexpected environmental changes. (Unlike those residing in the hills who received a RED FLAG evacuation warning, I could, in the flats, cling to my Steinway in a closed door, sealed window space--Ugh!) An… Continue reading Arpeggios filled up a week of wildfires!
During Shelter in Place, where students and teachers are adjusting to virtual instruction challenges, the role of recording segments of lessons, or creating a supplementary video to review practicing goals, becomes pedagogically valuable. Mac users can use the Quick time New Screen Record option during a Face Time lesson in progress, capturing the teacher image… Continue reading Tailoring lesson recording options to meet a piano student’s needs
I was practicing well past 2 a.m.--in fairyland, as it happened, rekindling Grieg's Dancing elves, (Op. 12, No. 4) when I took a break to check comparative tempos of the greats on You Tube. In my rapid transit through renderings of Rubinstein (41 seconds), same for Richter, I stumbled a upon a gem from the… Continue reading Historic Masterclass: Gina Bachauer mentors young Yefim Bronfman (1973)
My living room, formerly known as the piano room, seems empty now, though a favorite woven octagon rug has been an eyecatcher on You Tube. While I'd hardly been playing the singing nightingale Knabe piano before its departure due to unremiting downweight resistance, it remained a nice companion to Steinway M, 1917--dimming the grand's ultra… Continue reading Knabe upright out for repair, computer out for repair, but life goes on!
I vividly recall my first exposure to the art of breathing through musical phrases. It was at Merrywood Music Camp in Lenox, MA where I played second violin in a string quartet coached by Boston Symphony Principal violist, Eugene Lehner. The Berkshires nestled cabin that reverberated with Mozart's G Major chamber offering, K. 387, was… Continue reading A Lesson in Breathing into scales and arpeggios