Why do you play the piano?

For years, I have written about and counseled many people regarding their performance anxiety. I have lectured on the topics of symptoms and symptom reduction, as well as deeper psychological issues that fuel stage fright. I have heard numerous comments about "wanting to play perfectly," "wanting the audience to like me," and "not letting...

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The complete musician: A conversation with Robert Levin

The complete musician: A conversation with Robert Levin

Robert Levin is a master keyboard artist who performs on the harpsichord, fortepiano, and modern concert grand. He is also a conductor, theorist, musicologist, author, and professor, and his career has taken him all over the world. He is especially known for improvising embellishments and cadenzas in Classical repertoire, and he has recorded for pr...

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Questions and Answers

Q: If a family with an active child is trying to decide among competing, high-quality extracurricular activities such as martial arts, dance lessons, guitar lessons, art classes, horseback riding, or piano lessons, what would be your arguments in favor of piano lessons? A: Let's face it. Today's young people (at least in middle-class America) ...

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Learning to play by ear

The purpose of this exercise is to plant a seed of playing by ear in fertile minds, a seed that could germinate and result in life-long learning. A command of basic chords is important, but expanding your vocabulary of chords can become a source of pleasure for you and for your listeners. Hearing the different chords that go with each pitch of the ...

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Blues 103-Improvisation

In the last two columns, we looked at the steps involved in composing and varying a basic Blues melody. The next step is to stretch the form even further by adding improvisation. Blues scales You know how it feels good to complain a little now and then? It gets your concerns off your chest and clears the air. Sometimes, yesterday's problems can eve...

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Girl Scout tricks: What music teachers can learn about retention from scouting

Girl Scout tricks: What music teachers can learn about retention from scouting

Who would have thought that my experiences and the training I received as a Girl Scout leader would influence my approach to piano teaching? Good retention is as important to the Scouts as it is for piano teachers. Teens everywhere are busier than ever, and it's increasingly difficult to fill the spaces they leave in our schedules when they drop ou...

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The Sound of the future

The Sound of the future

Editor's note: In the November/December 2014 issue, Clavier Companion launched a series of articles addressing the future of piano teaching. The following article is part of that series. In the mid 1900s, electronically produced sounds were only available to an elite group of composers, artists, and recording studios. Today, our students have easy ...

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Tone production: Doing the right things for the right reasons

Tone production: Doing the right things for the right reasons

As a sophomore in college, I performed in a master class given by a former Van Cliburn Competition medalist. At one point, I was asked to play certain chords so that my fingers moved toward the fallboard as they depressed the keys, and this was supposed to change the timbre of these loud chords without actually changing their volume (providing a "r...

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Twenty-first century trends in computer-assisted ear training

A fine chef is expected to taste a dish and identify the key ingredients and an artist is expected to identify the nuances of color and shade, yet many young and inexperienced musicians do not fully understand or appreciate the need to accurately hear and identify musical details. Ear training is one of the most essential skills that a compete...

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The dynamics of sound and time

Music is at once simple and complex. We hear it, and we are moved by the feelings the music evokes. Yet, it is also a complex matter. There are eight ingredients of music: medium (the sound), meter-tempo-rhythm (the time), melody (the tune), harmony (the chords), texture (the thickness or number of voices), form (the organization), dynamics (t...

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Learning John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes

I couldn't use percussion instruments for Syvilla's dance, though, suggesting Africa, they would have been suitable; they would have left too little room [on the stage] for her to perform. I was obliged to write a piano piece. I spent a day or so conscientiously trying to find an African 12-tone row. I had no luck. I decided that what was wrong was...

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If my studio is full, why should I keep marketing?

Marketing piano lessons is most often used to refer to the process of obtaining new piano students. ​Consequently, when our studio is full or has a waiting list, it is easy to think that we no longer need to market. But marketing is also about retaining current students, especially since we want the diligent ones to continue in our studio. In ...

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Music notation: A brief look at its historical evolution

In early Medieval times, if one wanted to learn a song, one listened to someone sing it. ​It wasn't until the ninth century that monks began to experiment with various ways of notating music in written form, with the goal of helping people across a wide geographical area remember the many musical accoutrements of Roman Catholic religious servi...

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Winds of Change

In the heat of this political season, the airwaves are full of talk about systems that don't work, about reform. I recently gave a political speech of sorts at the MTNA national conference, not carried by any of the networks, in which I said that we all needed to be activists. With apologies to those who heard it, I will revisit some of my thoughts...

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Vivid imagery in a piece from China

The Chinese composition "The Young Shepherd with his Little Flute" (in Chinese Folk Music for Children, Schott/Hal Leonard) is not only accessible for late-intermediate pianists, but has a colorful image that will motivate students. When I presented a poster session about the piece at the Ohio Music Teachers Association Southwest conference, many t...

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About Piano Magazine

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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