Helen Smith Tarchalski teaches in her independent studio in Maryland and on the faculty of Anne Arundel Community College, and has taught at the U.S. Naval Academy. She is a graduate of Peabody Conservatory and holds the MTNA Master Teacher Certificate. Her students have been featured performers with the National Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Terrace Theater. She serves as keyboardist for the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra and as a clinician throughout the United States.

Keyboard Kids' Companion: July/August 2017

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Did you know? There has long been a fascination with the connection between the universe and music.In a theory known as the "Harmony of the Spheres," the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras proposed that the sun, moon, and planets put out their own unique sounds based on their orbits, that their movements can be explained in math, and th...
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Keyboard Kids' Companion: March/April 2017

Practice Project: Hand position review Good hand position is important for developing beautiful sound and clean rhythm. It also helps us to avoid using our hands and arms incorrectly, which can cause damage. Leon Fleisher, pianist and teacher at Peabody Conservatory, says that as pianists we should think of ourselves as "athletes of the small muscl...
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Thoroughly learned: Playing by memory and/or using the score

​Try that passage again with your eyes closed." I heard myself today repeating to a student the advice I heard from my own teachers during my student days. This simple practice technique can focus the mind, fine tune the capacity to listen, and expand the imagination. Practicing with eyes closed is one of many benefi ts we reap from memorizing...
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Opus 111: A revelation

No one questions that Beethoven's controversial choices in his work are appreciated as groundbreaking. But nearly anyone would question a choice made by a young pianist to deviate from instructions printed in Urtext scores. As a young student, celebrated pianist and best-selling author Seymour Bernstein made that conscious choice in a passage of Be...
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A Liszt Odyssey: An interview with Alan Walker, part II

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In the September/October issue, awardwinning biographer and former BBC producer Dr. Alan Walker shared discoveries and reflections on the life and work of Franz Liszt. Dr. Walker also discussed the early years of his own career and his evolution as a biographer and a leading Liszt authority.  How has Liszt's reception evolved since his death?&...
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A Liszt Odyssey: An interview with Alan Walker

A Liszt Odyssey: An interview with Alan Walker
More than 20,000 published works exist featuring charismatic trailblazer Franz Liszt. But biographer Alan Walker sets a new standard for Liszt scholarship, as well as musicological research and biographical writing. "The Volumes" (Dr. Walker's reference to his mammoth three-volume Liszt biography) have been honored by the Royal Philharmonic Society...
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Opposing perspectives

Respected as a celebrated concert artist throughout his lifetime, Sergei Rachmaninoff 's compositions were not as universally appreciated until more recent years, and were in fact sharply criticized at times. In this issue, Robert Palmieri provides an illuminating retrospective as he observes Rachmaninoff 's passionate public struggle aga...
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An Interview with Nelita True: Part II

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In the March/April issue, Nelita True, one of the world's great artist-teachers, discussed her childhood and teen years as a piano student and her evolution as a teacher. She also described the contributions of her major influences: Helen Titus, Leon Fleisher, Fernando Laires, Nadia Boulanger, and Sascha Gorodnitzky. P...
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An interview with Nelita True

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Nelita True made her debut at age seventeen with the Chicago Symphony in Orchestra Hall; her New York debut was with the Juilliard Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall. Since then, her career has taken her to major cities throughout the world performing, presenting master classes, and serving on the juries for international piano competitions.  The ...
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An Interview with Leon Fleisher, Part Two

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In the Autumn issue of Keyboard Companion, Leon Fleisher discussed his childhood years, his studies with Artur Schnabel and Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and the early years of his career. He also discussed the onset of focal dystonia, the diagnosis and management of the condition, and his advice to other pianists for avoiding dystonia.  "The&nbs...
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Happy 80th Birthday, Leon Fleisher! Nearly four score of legendary music-making: Part one

from the series: The Word Around Us: News & Views Appearances on 60 Minutes, NPR, and CBS Tonight; features in The New York Times, People, Vanity Fair, and Reader's Digest; blog reminiscences from a childhood neighbor; Grammy Award nominations and an Academy Award nomination for a film documentary about his life; recipient of the Kenn...
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What is our role in teaching music as culture?

from the series: The World Around Us: News & Views Helen Smith Tarchalski, Editor  Because I am a dedicated music educator like you, my studio probably resembles yours - all of my students are eager to practice, their parents' idea of a family outing is attending a classical music concert, and television and video games are not w...
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How do you respond when a student says, "I want to pursue a career in music"?

from the series: The World Around Us: News & Views Helen Smith Tarchalski, Editor Inform your students by Helen Smith Tarchalski Many years ago, I read a memorable article in a publication from my Alma Mater, Peabody Conservatory, that was written by the Director of Admissions, David Lane. It was an amusing, and at the same time,...
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An interview with Dan Coates: "A Place at the Table"

Dan Coates, perhaps the best-known popular music piano arranger in the world with thousands of arrangements to his credit, is noted for his outstanding contemporary arrangements for all skill levels. Lauded for his work by such pop luminaries as Elton John and John Williams, Dan's influence reaches countless teachers, students, and professional per...
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How do you counsel a student after a disappointing performance?

Know and understand your student as a person by Phyllis Pieffer  Is there any performer who has not experienced a "disappointing" performance at some point in his or her career? Is there any teacher who has never had students experience a "disappointing" performance? Of course not!  I still remember the sage advice of ...
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Views: An interview with the Bastiens

from the series: The World Around Us: News and Views Helen Smith Tarchalski, Editor Introduction The Bastien name and outstanding early-level piano materials are often considered synonymous. With more than 300 books published in 13 languages, the Bastiens' influence on millions of teachers and students, coupled with the entire family's partici...
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Views: How Do You Counsel a Student Who Receives an Adjudication Report that Conflicts with Your Teaching?

from the series:The World Around Us: News and Views Helen Smith Tarchalski, Editor Serendipity? Just as I prepared for this issue of Keyboard Companion, one of my high school students received an adjudication report that stopped me in my tracks: "... Although it was an excellent performance I would have liked to hear more focused sound at time...
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Views: How do you help to make your students' lessons more relevant to their lives?

from the series: The World Around Us: News and Views Helen Smith Tarchalski, Editor Becoming familiar with our students' favorite movies, books , and activities provides a wealth of context in teaching. I believe that good teaching is comparable to good parenting. I can't think of a better way to capture stud...
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Views: What Factors Do You Consider When Setting Tuition Rates?

The World Around Us: News and Views Helen Smith Tarchalski, Editor Charging appropriate tuition rates benefits all involved. I told Lionel that this is going to be very expensive, so he must follow directions and practice a lot. Piano lessons are very important to us, but we're not going to fool around when this kind of money is being invested...
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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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