Last Thursday, I was working with an adult student on a Joplin Rag and a piece by Nazareth. These are pieces that she has returned to several times and they are becoming seasoned. She is charmed by the fact that the pieces have the same form yet one is totally North American and the other South.
. . . → Read More: A Totally Healthy High
I felt a jolt of electricity when I heard the NPR story, Why You Love That Ikea Table, Even If It’s Crooked. In the first place, I could happily get lost in Ikea for days and, in the second, my teacher persona came out to play. I feel like I am good . . . → Read More: The Ikea Effect & Teachability
“I’ve played piano for over 30 years and nobody has ever told me to start in the middle of a measure,” said one of my adult students last week.
She had been attempting to practice a Brahms passage where the motives echoed across the bar-lines by starting at the beginning of each multi measure section. . . . → Read More: Middle Parts & Orphans
Do you remember the instant you knew you were a pianist? Perhaps for you it was a gradual realization? The father of a former student of mine sent me this essay on his daughter’s journey to becoming a pianist, which she wrote for her English class.
It is always wonderful to learn that a student . . . → Read More: Becoming A Pianist: A Worthwhile Journey, Gloria Fast
Often when I am teaching and practicing, I say or do something successful and think, “How did I know that?” Sometimes, I can mentally thank the person who blessed me with a particular tidbit. Other times I just throw a blanket thank you out to the universe. So, I collected some sage tidbits to share. . . . → Read More: Some Sage Advice
In my capacity as QOTS (you had to be there- if not, see my Essential Skills Series) I quite often need to be the instigator of radical change in my students. When interviewing transfer students in my private studio, we discuss both the student’s and my goals for their musical studies. I feel that this discussion . . . → Read More: Vintage PA: Change, Change, Change
Last night on The Next Food Network Star, Alton Brown asked several contestants about the worst thing that could possibly happen during their demo. The answers were predictable- the equipment could fail, the oil might not come to temperature, the mic might not work, there might be a knife incident involving blood, etc. He shook . . . → Read More: Uh…
Inspired by Steven Nachmanovich’s book, Freeplay, my friend and mentor, Dr. Lisa Zdechlik talks a lot about galumphing as we learn. (you know- the playing part of playing piano) We galumph when we take a tricky passage and practice it in rhythms, or improvise on it, or create an exercise from it and transpose it . . . → Read More: Galumphing With Mr. Hanon
A gonga post by John Terrauds of Musical Toronto made me sit up and take notice last week. In it, he wrote about his experiences taking on a group of students for a teacher on leave. Working with these students caused him to reflect on lessons as toil, duty, and obligation through rigid adherence to . . . → Read More: Duty or Joy?
Last Saturday I had the privilege of judging the piano portion of an arts competition in Northern Arizona. I heard 28 pianists play 48 pieces—everything from Cobb’s Chocolate Soldier to Chopin’s Etudes. But wait there’s more!
Not only did I write comments and choose winners (normal parts of adjudicating), I also gave each pianist a . . . → Read More: Body Parts, Chocolate, & Equality
Some thoughts for my student as she prepares for a competition…
Welcome to the next step of your personal musical journey. You will meet some colleagues who are musically much more mature and experienced than yourself. You will also meet those who are less experienced and mature. You have to be strong enough to be . . . → Read More: Thoughts On An Upcoming Competition
I was shocked when of one of my teen students developed an alarming tendency towards passive aggression. Is she suffering from middleschoolitis? Is she bored? Is she a victim of raging hormones? Last fall her parents expressed the desire for the children to participate in our state evaluation program. We began the theory . . . → Read More: PA Shorts: Student vs. Teacher
My Townie came with a Shimano twist gearshift integrated into the right handgrip. This configuration caused my right hand to be supinated at an awkward angle (who thought that was a good idea I ask you?). As our rides lengthened my right thumb began to hurt so badly that I literally couldn’t squeeze the brake . . . → Read More: Bike Shifters and Octaves
Remember my story wherein Teacher 42 became so uncomfortable with musical choices that she finally said, “You mean there’s no right way?” I concluded that I had given that teacher more doubt and uncertainty than she could handle. (PA Shorts: 42)
Well, I read an article, Helping Students Deal With Uncertainty In . . . → Read More: PA Shorts: 42 Redux aka The Uncertainty Principle
Years ago, we spent a day at the San Diego Wild Animal Park with our family. As we were leaving, we heard a man on the phone (a pay phone mind you) say, “ Well, I don’t know about you but after you have seen over 20 species of antelope they kinda all start lookin’ . . . → Read More: Decisions Decisions