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The C Major Scale universe: metric and muscle memory; shaping and tapering

Most piano students celebrate the C Major scale as an “easy” journey over 8 notes and back.

But as the attached video instruction proves, the ingredients of playing this scale with a fluid, well-shaped legato (smooth and connected) in transition to a crisp and vibrant staccato touch (forte and piano) is a “challenge.”

One of my out-of-state Skype students amply described the terrain as she patiently practiced her 8ths to 16ths, (legato/staccato)

“It’s hard!”

I’d second that for these reasons:

Keeping a steady, singing pulse, ascending and descending requires presence of mind, and a sense of “breathing” through the notes.

Anticipation is out the door as 8ths double to 16ths. What about 32nds?

All the more reason to RELAX and psychologically BROADEN your perspective. Don’t crowd the notes!

Metric memory, especially, is a great asset when memorializing the scale over and again. One doesn’t want a shaky landscape to embed a curvaceous spin from C to C.. or from Sea to Shining Sea.

On a patriotic note, I love oceanic analogies when I play the piano, though more often, I draw upon images of smaller bodies of water, like babbling brooks. (Think of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet, or rippling piano accompaniments to his Lieder)

Why digress with mental imagery? Because using one’s imagination to play the C Scale will help it rise to the occasion, not crash and burn!

To play a C Major scale beautifully, sing it, shape it, and taper at its conclusion. (A supple forward wrist motion is recommended)

For certain, a lesson-in-progress is worth more than a thousand words:

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Excerpts from a SKYPED Piano Lesson to Greece

In these video segments, the student is practicing Sonatina in C, OP. 36, No. 3, first and last movements:

These replays can be very helpful for the student, who is sent copies of his lesson-in-progress.

***

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The value of sending video supplements to students between piano lessons

Since I’m in the swing of You Tubing, it’s not a stretch to whip up post-lesson videos to send to students for mid-week reinforcement.

In this instance, one of my new SKYPE pupils will benefit from a video that carefully explores the singing tone, as well as arm, wrist, hand choreography, since these are fundamental piano playing ingredients.

Rather than enumerate what I explored in this first instruction, my footage below amplifies.

The adult student is working on the James Hook Minuet. (A Level I piece)

LINK:

LIVE webcam piano classes at Powhow
http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten

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Launching a LIVE Webcam Piano Class at POWHOW! (Videos)

Yesterday was an experience! A writer friend had referred me to POWHOW, an online conduit for webcam-driven classes, and my first thought was HOW ON EARTH did this apply to piano lessons which held a sanctimonious ONE-to-ONE student/teacher space for centuries? (It had started in Italy with Cristofori and his miraculous pianoforte invention)

Would I be treading on hallowed ground, insulting a time-honored tradition embraced by icons, Anton Rubinstein and Sergei Leschetizky?

What would my late teacher, Lillian Freundlich say if she knew that I had dared to tweak my Logitech 1080 HD cam on video, YOU TUBING my set-up for a Skype lesson to London, England?

Two full-blown keyboards co-existed in harmony, separated by thousands of miles with a breathtaking landscape to consider in the MILLENNIUM.

One was up close and personal:

And what about the split-screen approach? (Was I bordering on the RADICAL?)

POWHOW took an even greater leap forward with a host of keyboards in the works, marked off in boxes, clicked for a close-up at any moment. Students might see one another, or remain anonymous if they chose.

The instructor, in a Honey I Blew Up the Professor image, could teach up to 30 students simultaneously. (I couldn’t imagine so many compressed cyber cubicles on my screen!)

“IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL” blared in my ears!

What else was new?

With a simple mouse click, I could open a full screen view of myself, or promptly revert back to the keyboard angle.

A myriad of mind-boggling options!

***

POWHOW TOOLS:

Rachel Simpson, an able POWHOW team member had walked me through a mosaic of boxes, clicks, sub-clicks, etc., in rapid pace.

A newbie, I felt inundated with dizzying directions!

(In a cyber-circuit shock to my nervous system, I called upon “USER FRIENDLY” as my MANTRA for pure survival!)

***
The POWHOW TUTORIAL:

With my Sony mini cam poised at the right angle on its tripod, I snatched a portion of the POWHOW POWER TOOLS-related footage, adding a preview of my TOP-NOTCH TONE CLASS!

http://www.powhow.com/classes/shirley-kirsten

Top-notch Tone Class Preview:

It was a dress-rehearsal for the “LIVE” event coming soon.

A POWHOW adventure to be continued….

Stay tuned!

LINK:

Former Googler Unveils An Online Marketplace For Live, Webcam Classes (POWHOW)

http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/10/powhow-beta-launch/

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A video supplement to a Skyped piano lesson (Instruction for Minuet in G minor from Anna Magdalena Bach’s Notebook)

Following today’s Skyped lesson to Pennsylvania, I created a video to reinforce instruction pertaining to the “Minuet in G minor” from the Anna Magdalena Bach Collection. This composition is attributed to Christian Petzold.

My adult student wanted to study this piece which has challenging Baroque-style phrasing and articulation.

During our class time today we examined the need for a rolling wrist forward motion to execute larger groupings of notes. (This fluid approach avoids finger poking, and phrase distortion)

As it played out, related choreography was woven into the pupil’s Dozen and Day “Walking and Running” five-finger position warm-ups that were extended to 32nd notes in legato/staccato.

***

Video supplements allow the student to revisit parts of her lesson and improve the quality of practicing during the week.

These are uploaded on You Tube as UNLISTED or can be marked PRIVATE if requested.

RELATED LINK:

SKYPING PIANO LESSONS

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/skyping-piano-lessons-with-an-imac-logitech-cam-and-yeti-mic-videos/

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Skyping piano lessons with an iMac, Logitech cam, and Yeti mic (videos)

Here’s my set-up for Skyped piano instruction.

A travel itinerary minus airport delays and x-ray scanners included stop-offs in Pennsylvania, Sydney, Australia; Portland Oregon, and London, England.

Lessons have been scheduled as needed.

A Power Point-less presentation offers more:

***

A Skype lesson-in-progress to Sydney fleshes out a bi-screen video landscape. (two Logitechs in synch)

I always suggest video supplements to real-time, virtual learning because they allow a closer examination of student problem areas with an eye toward remedies.

Video sharing is even better, where a pupil sends off an Unlisted or Private You Tube playing snippet, and I dash off a video response.

In a word, modern technology in various forms can be enlisted to meet the needs of students who require scheduling convenience amidst a busy work day, or who live in a rural area without easy access to a private teacher.

***

LINK: A Video supplement to a Skyped piano lesson

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/a-video-supplement-to-a-skyped-piano-lesson-instruction-for-minuet-in-g-minor-from-anna-magdalena-bachs-notebook/

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My First Skyped Piano lesson from California to Oregon


I must say I was skeptical going into this until I watched the Skype screen enlarge an 8-year old to nearly life-size proportion as she sat comfortably at her piano. Her dad, a tech savvy parent with an ability to guide me through the basics of Skyping, was co-director with his web cam weaving around at different angles allowing me a full view of the keyboard and his daughter at any given time. Not to mention that the sounds emanating from a Heilun grand piano were robust and resonant. But where was I in the picture? From my perspective in Fresno, I was compressed in a box, while the out-of-town student was center stage taking up most of the screen. From her end of the Skype universe, I was big and she was small.

I had to pinch myself.

This couldn’t be happening unless I had driven for hours on end, hopped a plane, or took Amtrak plus a bunch of buses to the suburban part of Portland. I would have had to scope out the piano, and introduce myself to the new student.

But how did I manage to avoid all the travel and still sack out in my own warm bed by 10 p.m?

Aiden cat was initially perplexed as he viewed himself fleetingly on the i Mac computer monitor but he still got with the Skype hype as he waved to the 8-year-old. After his assortment of flirtations, he stroked a piano key hoping he’d get some long distance pets but that was out of sight.

So what was accomplished during this first virtual lesson that ran for over an hour?

The student improved her singing tone and worked on some technical problems related to the wrist. She polished her legato arpeggios and learned how to melt out cadences with a delayed wrist forward movement as applied her Chopin Waltz. As things unfolded, her playing got better and better as my ears were attuned to every note.

Frankly, I was blown away as I demonstrated a wrist forward spongy motion. Looking at myself in the box beneath the student, I was sure I was in outer space floating weightless around my space capsule. Lift-off anyone?

For certain, I could get hooked on this SKYPE thing to the point of addiction. But so what. It was better than the vile habits of smoking or drinking that destroyed people’s lives.

If everyone jumped on the SKYPE bandwagon when they felt like taking a swig, or grabbing a cancerette, they’d be giving themselves a new lease on life.

I definitely can’t wait for the next virtual piano lesson because I’m itching to go out-of-state again to get a break from the Fresno heat wave. Even if the climate changes don’t register on Skype, I can still pretend and con myself into believing that I took a long delayed vacation.

RELATED:
BEFORE and AFTER SKYPED LESSONS

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/an-8-year-olds-playing-before-and-after-skype-lessons-plus-video-supplementation-chopin-waltz-in-a-minor-no-19-videos/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/long-distance-piano-teaching-a-novel-experience/