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PA Posts by Month & Year

Vintage PA: Piano Fail

I have done a lot of judging this spring. It is inspiring to hear young pianists who are doing their very best to make music and push their skills to the limit of their abilities. Sometimes, they shake so badly they can hardly let the music out. One year, a teenager looked at me at . . . → Read More: Vintage PA: Piano Fail


What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Wow! This is finals week. How exactly did that happen?

We have a Mockingbird nest in our tree and have been amused as the parents have patiently enticed their little ones out into the world by patiently moving the food further and further away. They have flown now and we can walk in our backyard . . . → Read More: What I Did On My Summer Vacation


PA Shorts: Finding Waldo

“You need to find Waldo,” I said. It was true. Maggie was working on polishing the Bartok Sonatina and it needed character, action, detail, and nuance to truly come to life.

We talked about how there are so many details in each Waldo illustration that tell the story of exactly where Waldo is. There is . . . → Read More: PA Shorts: Finding Waldo


Those Awkward Disappointments

Zack Rosenblatt / Arizona Daily Star

Last Saturday night, after our Wildcats lost to San Diego by a single point in overtime, there was a scuffle between students and police. Bottles were thrown. Words were exchanged. It made the national news. Awkward.

The “riot” was the talk of the town and the next day, . . . → Read More: Those Awkward Disappointments


PA Shorts: Interference! No Penalty.

Last week I found myself focusing on practice strategies again and again—specifically how to change up passages and scales/arpeggios etc. when practicing with repetitions. I have quite a few new students this semester along with some continuing students who have progressed to the point where they need more than simple repetition to keep moving forward. . . . → Read More: PA Shorts: Interference! No Penalty.


Scales. What? Double Thirds

I loved hearing about how you all teach scales and your plans to incorporate the paired fingerings from Scales. What? into your personal practice and teaching. JP and Marie, among others, requested my paired fingering charts for Isador Philipp’s double third fingerings and post them too (thus enabling me deeper into scale geekdom.) So, I . . . → Read More: Scales. What? Double Thirds


Resolutions: Salvage & Recycle

It happens to all of us. We set goals and start out with such good intentions. Then, the world gets in the way and, little by little, we lose our inspiration and our focus. I’ve put together some links to posts and sites that just might help you stick to your musical resolutions—or even inspire . . . → Read More: Resolutions: Salvage & Recycle


Piano Pride

“I’m so proud of myself!,” said Marty. She has been taking class piano since August. Before that, she had a few lessons, played the violin, and taught herself the basics.

The class is a mix of community members and general students. The levels vary widely. I’m challenged to come up with a format that will . . . → Read More: Piano Pride


The Anti-Masterclass

Antimatter: Any substance that, when combined with an equal amount of matter, results in the complete and direct conversion of all substance to energy. (

Anti-Masterclass: Any masterclass that, when combined with an equal part of input from all participants, results in the complete and direct conversion of all playing to energy and artistry.

I . . . → Read More: The Anti-Masterclass


Vintage PA: Yodeling Puff The Magic Dragon

It started with a performance of a method book piece with the word Yodel in the title. “It sounds weird,” said my young student, “and I don’t understand why that B is there.” “Do you know what yodeling is?”, I asked. She shook her head sideways, “uhuh.” I certainly can’t yodel, so demonstration was out . . . → Read More: Vintage PA: Yodeling Puff The Magic Dragon


PA Shorts: Not Exactly Pre-Reading

My students have been full of questions about how to best help their beginning readers- especially those who look at the score as though it had lobsters crawling out of it. I myself recall answering, “Fly spot?” when my teacher asked me the name of a particularly pesky ledger line.

My problem was that I . . . → Read More: PA Shorts: Not Exactly Pre-Reading


Creativity & Method: Redux

It’s the start of the school year and with it has come much discussion among colleagues, questions from new students, and personal observations about transfer student readiness. I have read several posts and even a rant or two against piano methods in general. I find this very disturbing. Everyone who knows me knows that I . . . → Read More: Creativity & Method: Redux


Smart Choices

Do you judge yourself as you practice? Those negative inner thoughts are human nature. Sometimes voices from the past echo in our heads. Sometimes, the thoughts have nothing to do with the task at hand at all. Every good book, that I have ever found, on practicing anything—from tennis, to a musical . . . → Read More: Smart Choices


Vintage PA: Six Onions & 10,000 Hours

Will 10,000 Hours really get you to elite status? This article in The Wilson Quarterly, on the research of Michigan State University psychology professor David Z. Hambrick and five other psychologists, says maybe not.

Ten thousand hours of toil may not put you on par with the masters. But if people assess their prospects and . . . → Read More: Vintage PA: Six Onions & 10,000 Hours


Learning Ogi Matsuri

Everyone who teaches should try to learn a completely new skill every few years. It keeps you humble. It keeps you patient and kind to both yourself and to your students.

I heard our local Taiko group play at a wedding reception a few months back. I was entranced by the sound and the dance . . . → Read More: Learning Ogi Matsuri

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