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PA Posts by Month & Year

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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. (WhatIs.com)

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Rocking Piano Down The Runway

http://jasonhargrove.com/

“Whoa! Not many people could pull that dress off,” I thought as I gazed at the pictures on Pinterest. The dress was low cut and red, with the bodice made entirely of roses. Next to it, was a short dress of ivy and pink roses. As I scrolled down I saw many variations . . . → Read More: Rocking Piano Down The Runway

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Piano Fail

I was thumbing through a magazine while waiting for an appointment and came across some wisdom on reversing painful assumptions from Martha Beck. She had asked her client, who was getting divorced, to give her 3 reasons her marriage didn’t fail.

“But it did!”, Dorothy muffled a sob.

“Well, was any part of it good?”

. . . → Read More: Piano Fail

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Artist Portrait: Matthew Odell

I had the great pleasure of doing this latest Artist Portrait interview with pianist Matthew Odell—and face to face too! He is an energetic and down to earth person who inspired our students and teachers during his workshop, masterclass, and performance at EAC a couple of weeks ago.

He’s also a busy person. He has . . . → Read More: Artist Portrait: Matthew Odell

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