It was no surprise that Judy, one of my adult piano students came to her lesson yesterday gushing about Seymour: An Introduction. And naturally, in the nick of time, I grabbed my super-charged, helium packed iPhone and added the latest film rave to my growing collection. Need I say more?... or is it SEE MORE?..… Continue reading Judy, Seymour, and Ludwig
Turning back the clock to my early years as a piano student, I regarded ANDANTE as the slowest tempo marking in the musical universe. So did all my friends who foot dragged their pedal and stumbled through the doldrums of any piece that had the "A" for power down the pace and lower volume while… Continue reading Piano Study: Tempo shifts from Childhood to Adulthood
Mozart's Theme from his A Major Sonata, K. 331, and Beethoven's Adagio from the Sonata "Pathetique," Op. 13, for me, have two of the most hauntingly beautiful melodies in the piano literature. In particular, Mozart's opening theme that threads through the composer's innovative first movement in Variation form, is a lilting lullaby, played in TWO,… Continue reading The Most Heavenly Piano Music?
Seymour Bernstein, author of With Your Own Two Hands, remarked that "Chopin wrote out an outline for an intended method of teaching piano. And when he died he left it to Charles Alkan who never finished it. Wouldn't you think that Chopin would stress at the beginning that everything depends upon a deep emotional involvement… Continue reading The Piano Repertoire: Does making fingering/hand adjustments constitute a “swindle?”
I wonder how many P.A. grads still have the emblematic school pin? I just recovered mine among other memorabilia contained in a big cardboard box sent from New York City. And as I perused various Dance, Music and Drama Programs, I looked for names that might be in bright lights in each field. For starters,… Continue reading My New York City High School of Performing Arts (FAME) Yearbook and what I found
Rina has had three romps on my staircase, of which I'm fortunate to have as a playground substitute. Like most children in her age group, she has an abundance of kinesthetic energy waiting to be channeled creatively, if a teacher has the time, patience, and resources to do so. Back in the 70s the ideas… Continue reading Rina, 4, proves that the best teacher is the playground (15 weeks of piano lessons completed) Videos
To spice up and vary today's lesson, I had Rina transfer her stair climbing to hands-on piano exploration. She already knew her 7-letter music alphabet and had followed flashcards with note names placed consecutively on each step in three previous stair-related activities, so it was time to put "Frere Jacques" into motion, with a few… Continue reading Piano Lesson: Rina, 4, learns “Frere Jacques” in steps (using my staircase) Video
Phase one of lessons is a lively romp over the 88s. It sets the geography of the piano through a host of keys. Establishing a "feel" for the instrument with a supportive knowledge of key signatures, framed in buoyant rhythm, kicks things off. Here are few examples from Claudia's lesson. At age 11, she's advanced… Continue reading Piano Technique: Nifty warm-up routines (Videos)
Today, I launched the piano Olympics.. well not really. No one in this studio of hard-working adults and children is competing for a medal, but just the same, I have shimmering GOLD stickers that are individually awarded to deserving students. Today, Marie earned her sparkling medallion and proudly displayed it after some prodding. In addition… Continue reading An Adult “Piano Student of the Week” lands the Gold!
One of the biggest challenges for piano students of all levels is to produce a lovely singing tone. And the most significant physical impediment to molto cantabile (very singable) playing is having a taut wrist. Without its being supple or flexible, the descent of the finger onto the key is the equivalent of landing stiffly… Continue reading Piano Technique: Avoiding pencil point playing