As teachers, the empathy we have for a pupil's budding learning process with its slips and slides, is at the foundation of good mentoring. By remembering what it's like to be in the student's position, sitting at the piano under a professional gaze, we can increase our pedagogical effectiveness. If we revisit our own early… Continue reading Trading places with our piano students
It's easy to assess a student's difficulty with navigating scales in progressive tempo framings from quarters to 8th notes to 16ths, etc. as being the result of shortcomings in rhythmic perception, when a larger cosmos of awareness is lacking. I think immediately of the Eurhythmics course I took at the Oberlin Conservatory, taught by the… Continue reading Piano Technique: Working with the character of rhythms
My students are often amused by my prompts that frequently include "oohs," "ahhs," and "wah's," among other spaced out sounds, to prevent consonant sounding notes or hard-liners from interrupting a smooth, "sighing" stepwise descent to the tonic. And from this universe of impromptu effusions, I've created a self-styled language, that, at times, has incorporated barnyard… Continue reading Creating a seamless, singing tone legato through arpeggios and scales
As we age, we're reluctant to look at our reflection in the mirror, but as we grow over time as musicians, the mirror of our playing in recorded "reflections" can foster quality adjustments in phrasing and interpretation. If we nudge ourselves to step back and be "objective" about what we're hearing, we may try to… Continue reading Mirrors and piano playing
If a student is well-prepared, having devoted quality time during the week to practicing scales, arpeggios, and pieces assigned, a lesson can contain a nice balance of ingredients. Barring holidays, long distance travel and time zone changes, most pupils will devote 15 to 20 minutes of their lesson to technique, and the remaining 40 minutes… Continue reading A balanced piano lesson of Technique and Repertoire
This morning I was greeted by a Timeline addition to my Facebook page that was worrisome. The header was, "Is this your student?" It framed a precociously youthful performance of the Fantasie-Impromptu that was at best hammered out and musically insensitive. Yet one could peel away layers of fast and furious, disorganized playing and find… Continue reading Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu rises above Facebook etiquette
Apologetically, I must admit that as an acoustic piano purist, I often need an electronic when I'm doing a dinner party gig and there's no viable alternative. The house piano might be virtually impossible to play or there's no real piano on the premises. And while I love my Yamaha Arius YDP-141 for its touch/tonal… Continue reading Choosing a traveling (Portable) digital piano for myself
It would be easy to reel off a list of prizes in 4 separate Moscow competition categories and characterize all recipients as "winners,"--that is if we put music-making into the sports arena with a clear cut victor and an opposing loser. In pro-tennis, for example, where a point-scoring system is in part influenced by calls… Continue reading The Big Winner in the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition!
After decades of observing students practicing their scales, arpeggios, five-finger positions, and myriads of permutations (parallel/contrary motion, longs strands of 10ths, 6ths, etc) I've observed many jumpstarts, anticipations, and anxious out-of-synch doubling of tempo on the turnarounds in scales, that if repeated over and again in haphazard ways will put a student at risk for… Continue reading Piano Technique: Selective, MINDFUL repetition to avoid overuse injury
A bleary-eyed, overnight jet traveler, I was instantly re-charged upon my early morning arrival at Kennedy. The City never sleeps. Avoiding the Sky train maze, I jumped the shuttle bus, belted in and felt the bumpy ride of ensnaring traffic before being DROPPED at Penn Station. Imagine carting swelling luggage with wheels revolving in every… Continue reading Arrived! Big Apple energy abounds!