CD Reviews: July/August 2017


David Rakowski Etudes, Vol 4 Amy Briggs, piano, toy piano and celestaBridge 9477Total Time [87:20] This is the fourth volume of Briggs's survey of the staggering 100 piano études of David Rakowski, composed between 1998 and 2010. The studies are characteristically short, stylistically eclectic, and often cleverly titled. Accor...

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Questions and Answers: July/August 2017

QUESTION: I've read that Frances Clark often used classics, literature, and social sciences that don't seem related to piano teaching in her pedagogy classes. Would you comment on this and, if possible, give some examples?   ANSWER: This is the second response of what could be dozens of answers to this wonderful question. In the last issue, we...

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The art of practicing: Broad principles


Have you ever thought that, from a young student's viewpoint, practicing is counterintuitive? Think about other skills you learned as a child: tying your shoes, for example. An adult shows you how to do it (I used the "Bunny Rabbit Ears" method with my nephews), you practice clumsily at first, then with increasing mastery, until finally there is no...

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Expanding your vocabulary of chords


 Do you think Johann Pachelbel knew how popular his Canon in D would become? When I discovered the same chord progression in a few familiar songs, my search for more examples began. As you play this chord progression are there songs that come to your mind?  This chord progression is often played with a scale in the bass:  The Canon i...

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The teaching of Enrique Granados


In addition to being a great composer, Enrique Granados was also a dedicated and innovative teacher whose pedagogical approach has been explored only recently. Many of his ideas were not published during his lifetime, but rather entered into his diaries, passed on to his pupils verbally, and annotated on scores. Many of his pedagogical works were, ...

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Enrique Granados's musical postcards


The centennial of Enrique Granados's death in 2016 and the sesquicentennial of his birth in 2017 allow musicians an opportunity to celebrate the piano works of the Spanish author, pianist, composer, and pedagogue, who lived from 1867 to 1916. Granados is considered to be the "Father of the Modern Catalán School of Piano." After a two-year...

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William Gillock: A centennial retrospective


"To provide a musically thrilling experience." --Willam Gillock, on the purpose of student piano literature I often ask my piano pedagogy students to take a few moments to reflect on their motivations for being a music major. After all, studying music is challenging and time consuming, and there's no clear-cut promise of financial riches at the end...

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Who will save the guitar?

In recent years, there's been a lot of discussion about the state of the piano teaching industry. We know that piano sales have declined dramatically, but has there been a decline in the number of people studying piano? In the absence of thorough data, we can only look to anecdotal evidence, which seems to be highly variable. I hear from teachers w...

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Teaching with backing tracks

Backing tracks (pre-recorded or automated instrumental accompaniments) are inherently motivational. Why? Because playing with a snazzy drum groove is simply more compelling than practicing with a metronome. Here are suggestions for integrating backing tracks into your curriculum to enhance technique, timing, and creativity—all at the same time...

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How to get paid on time

If you have successfully moved from a per-lesson payment system to a tuition-based structure,1 you may still be left with the challenge of parents paying on time. There are many ways to tackle this issue, so choose what works best for your business.   Prepay in full The most effective means of ensuring that payments come to you on time is prep...

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Poetry Corner: July/August 2017

The Quartet Crowd Scarce-breathing sphinxes, row on stonefaced row Glued to the plush as if some mesmerist Had stunned them, while onstage the four with fiddles Bob like weeds in the wind—how can they claim To love the sounds their bodies so resist? Fierce listeners are one of music's riddles. The casual, there for spouses or self-show, Uncrinkling...

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Putting it all together: Creating a great lesson

I've recently been inspired to think about the essential elements of a successful lesson, prompted in part by Pete Jutras's column "Quality Ingredients" (Clavier Companion, July/August 2015) and a superb 2012 workshop that Marvin Blickenstaff presented at Nazareth College, just outside of Rochester, NY. Jutras's points—that every lesson should have...

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Keyboard Kids' Companion: July/August 2017


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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Apps for teaching: Acing theory tests without theory books


Much to my pleasure (and astonishment!), a number of my students signed up to take theory tests at the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) local festival. None of these students owns a theory book. The NFMC Bulletin provides an outline of concepts covered in each test level, as well as practice tests from prior years. From the online bul...

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Piano teaching programs reviewed: ArtistWorks and Meludia


ArtistWorks OVERVIEW: Equipment needed: Computer, phone, or tablet with video recording capability; internet connection. Mac and Windows are supported. Pricing: Packages are $105 for 3 months, $179 for 6 months, and $279 for 12 months. Video lectures/ lessons, backing tracks, video exchanges and submissions, and theory cour...

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Reflections on music's life lessons

I imagine that, in one way or another, you are caught up in the drama of politics these days. My feelings have been impassioned and vocal around the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). It is not unusual for me to write when my sensitivities feel challenged, as is cur...

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New music reviews: July/August 2017

Bastien New Traditions All-in-one Piano Course by Lisa, Lori, and Jane Bastien  James Bastien's series Bastien Piano Basics has been a beloved staple in many piano studios for decades, and now, for a new generation of students, Bastien family members Lisa, Lori, and Jane have written Bastien New Traditions All In One Piano Course. Levels Prime...

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Method reviews return! A review of Piano Safari


Method reviews return! In 2009, Clavier Companion began a series of reviews exploring all of the major piano methods published at that time. Two years later, the series concluded and we had covered twelve major methods! (You can access these articles collected into a special digital issue on the website.) Since then there have ...

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Closer look: Grade by Grade Piano


A bonanza for creative teachers and students A teacher places a spanking-new repertoire book in front of a student. "We're going to learn a contemporary piece," the teacher says. The student notices, however, that the piece was composed in 1945. "How," the student asks herself, "can this music be contemporary?" Living human beings write new pieces ...

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Book review: Piano Duet Repertoire


First published in 1981, Cameron McGraw's useful Piano Duet Repertoire is an invaluable resource for teachers and ensemble pianists. In this second edition, duo-pianists Christopher and Katherine Fisher have updated and enlarged McGraw's volume to a book almost twice its original size. As in the first edition, the volume contains two appendices—"Co...

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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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