Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall lit up with the glow of two Mozart concertos, as Maestro Uchida seamlessly mastered the dual role of soloist/conductor. From the piano bench, with her back to the audience bathed in sea blue radiance, her baton-less hands wove expressive lines that soared in the air, before they gracefully descended on the keys.… Continue reading Mitsuko Uchida and Mozart
I often enjoy a splurge of self-produced technique videos to assist my teaching, and to clarify my latest insights. This week I examined Staccato playing, using weight transfer for dynamic variation, as I employed a legato "floating arm" as a model for snipping out a stream of well-connected, scale-wise detached notes. In this undertaking, I'd… Continue reading Piano Technique Tutorials abound this week!
Lately, I've been imbuing lessons with the word "imagination" particularly as it has applied to short pictorial works by Enrique Granados. Yet, drawing on the imagination crosses historical periods of musical composition, not limited to 19th Century "expressive" Romanticism and well beyond. In this vein, J.S. Bach Preludes, Fugues, movements from the French and English… Continue reading Playing with Imagination!
I was inspired by the sagacious words of Peter Takacs, Oberlin Conservatory piano faculty member, in response to a query by Zsolt Bognar. (Living the Classical Life interview) Zsolt: "Should a pianist teach?" (I was a bit surprised by a question that sowed doubt about the endeavor of mentoring--as if it proliferated the weak cliche… Continue reading What you Learn by Teaching Piano
At this juncture of teaching, I'm savoring diverse repertoire along with my students, the youngest of whom is 10, and the oldest being over 60. What all these pupils share in common, regardless of level, is a journey through repertoire that requires a thoughtful process of learning. Even a Beginner labeled two or three note… Continue reading No Piece is too easy to teach and play thoughtfully
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
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?
It was no accident of fate that I spotted a 90 plus, sprightly woman on you tube who registered a wish to find a partner to play "4-hand piano." (It's a musical collaboration between two players at one instrument.) The posting, exciting my interest, had been hyper-linked from the Ashby Village (AV) website that details… Continue reading Music-sharing Par Duo in an “age-less” environment
It's always a blissful coincidence when a piano teacher discovers a wealth of contemporary commentary about a composer whose music is under study in a partnered learning environment. With a framing introduction about the creator, a mentor and pupil can journey beyond details of notation, fingering, harmony, to absorb context, history, and varying compositional approaches… Continue reading Debussy framed articles and videos enrich our study