In a May 2018 Living the Classical Life interview, the distinguished pianist, Emanuel Ax admitted that his "brain would be twice its size" had he played more Bach. "It is one of my great regrets that I did not play a lot, a lot, a lot" (three times reiterated) of this composer's music. "And of… Continue reading J.S. Bach and the Brain
I admit to watching hours of great cellists (past and present) on you tube, as they breathe life into phrases with direct string contact and adjustments of weight transfer channeled through artful bowing. Icons of string playing serve as great examples for pianists in particular, because they teach us to bridge our distance from the… Continue reading Cellists and the Piano
As I stepped out my front door to investigate what sounded like three lawn mower engines powered up at FULL BLAST, eviscerating an Online piano lesson to Arizona, I spotted a tree removal squad slashing a young Oak to smithereens just a few yards from the piano room. The tree, about 10 feet tall, not… Continue reading Salvaging the remains of a Ravaged piano lesson
On this Mother's Day, I think of the many piano teachers who breathe life into fledgling musical journeys with a gentle prod of the hands and the warm embrace of the human voice. Phrase shaping and the singing tone, originate from the ebb and flow of the breath that fuels energy through relaxed arms and… Continue reading From the Start: Singing through Piano Lessons
Yesterday marked a special event in my life--a rekindled tie to an Oberlin Freshman dorm mate made possible by Anita, my 92-year old, 4-hand piano partner. A twenty-year donor/subscriber to Philharmonia Baroque (PBO) a celebrated Bay area-based orchestra, Anita had placed its glossy program brochure on the coffee tray right at our mid-point playing break.… Continue reading My duo piano partner sparks an Oberlin reunion with a long lost classmate!
If there ever was a pianist who embraced a style of playing that was in the service of sculpted phrases, regardless of wrist-breaking rules, it was Livia Rev. Her playing had choreographic freedom as she responded to the here and now of music-making, crafting phrases with a thoughtful relationship to what unfolded, in the before… Continue reading The sad news of Livia Rev’s passing at 101
One of the prevalent concerns of students, especially adults, surrounds the length of time they've invested in learning a particular composition. For some, an internalized goal of technical/musical "mastery" attaches a self-imposed deadline to completion. Boxed into this self-affixed learning time frame, is the end game of neatly shelving a composition as impetus to move… Continue reading The multi-step process of piano learning: but who’s counting?