The art of practicing: I really should be practicing well

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I do apologize to Gary Graffman for filching his title as blatantly as I have, but let's face it—although the quality of one's practice may be just one factor in determining how fast and far one progresses at the piano, it's a critical one. In the studio lessons and piano classes I teach, a large percentage of the time is devoted to how to practice...

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Mind Matters: Stage fright on my mind

Stage fright is on my mind for various reasons. I have spent my entire life dealing with it since my first memory slip at age six, and it has continued to arise in my career as a performer and subsequently as a psychotherapist. Stage fright is not a topic that is easily discussed or admitted, because shame is an embarrassing component of this anxie...

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Bumping into Brahms: A conversation about the Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2

JM: Oh! Sorry sir, you startled me! I almost bumped into you. But wait, I know you! Are you not Herr Doktor Brahms? Brahms: Guten Tag? Bitte, kein Doktor. I am amazed that we have somehow encountered one another here. Might it be because I have played so many of your wonderful song accompaniments and piano pieces recently? Would you possibly be wil...

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Questions and Answers: September/October 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 (Part III): In the last issue, we explored an essay entitled "The Aims of Education" by English mathematician and p...

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Having fun with scales

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Yeah, right! Is it really possible to have fun playing scales? For many students, practicing scales is a chore. In fact,it is a big chore and seems to be boring and confusing while taking too much time away from practicing pieces. "If my piece does not have a scalar passage, why should I play the scale of this piece's key? That is a waste of time!"...

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New music reviews: September/October 2017

Happy Holidays! (S1-4) We Three Kings, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Deck the Hall Hoedown, arranged by Wendy Stevens. For teachers wanting some fun and creative options to spice up their holiday recitals, three new arrangements by Wendy Stevens are fantastic choices. "We Three Kings" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" even invite the audienc...

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Letter to the Editor: September/October 2017

Dear Editor, The Editor's Page ("Who will save the guitar?" July/August 2017) commented on the 10,000 hour rule of thumb. This has been rumbling around in my mind for a little while as a confluence of discussions that all reference this "law" have been keeping the idea active in my head. The comment about taking 10,000 hours to reach expert or mast...

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In Memoriam: Edward Francis

Edward Francis, a beloved teacher, mentor, and friend, passed away on July 6, 2017, surrounded by family and friends. He was a tireless educator, teaching at several schools around southern California, maintaining a full-time private studio, and organizing and helping out with many not-for-profit musical organizations. He treated every student he t...

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The Alexander Technique as a "means whereby"

In the summer 2015 issue, Clavier Companion published an article that was dedicated to the Feldenkrais method, and in a little box at the end of the article the Alexander Technique was mentioned. Knowing Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was actually a pupil of Alexander (1869-1955), I thought the Alexander Technique also deserved an article. Frederick Matth...

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Gourmet care and feeding of the pedals: Pedal uses and their regulation

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In my thirty-five years of touring, my relationship with piano technicians has always been a focal point. They are my partners in creating a memorable musical experience. In looking together at the hundreds of pianos that I've encountered, in large and small venues, from super high-quality brand concert grands to older...

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Hélène Grimaud: Reflections in the water

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The January 2016 release of Hélène Grimaud's recording Water (Deutsche Gramophone) was landmark in many ways, perhaps most significantly as a memento of a concert that took place in Wade Thompson Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory in New York in December 2014. tears become…streams become… was its name. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times...

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Practicing double-thirds scales

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Why study double-thirds scales? Practicing double-thirds scales facilitates the performance of similar double-thirds passages encountered in the piano literature.1 Routinely practicing the double-thirds major scales readies the pianist for major and minor scale fragments, as well as challenging chromatic double-thirds passages.2 Some complete ...

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Yoda eats mushroom pizza

It's the last lesson before the recital. Garrett, age five, is playing "Graduation March," the final piece in Time to Begin from The Music Tree. The B section is made up entirely of half notes and whole notes. The good news? Garrett's rhythm is perfect; a huge improvement over last week, when all of the long notes were being cut short and the accom...

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Studios are not just in living rooms anymore

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Sometimes the world brings people into your life who ignite your energy and restore your passion for teaching. Last February, on a sunny morning in Austin, Texas, last February, I met two such individuals, Wendy Kuo and Klondike Steadman, the executive directors and owners of The Orpheus Academy, a music school with 410 students employing more than...

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Developing triad chord fluency

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Like language students who have memorized vocabulary but are not yet conversant, pianists who have learned to construct chords may not yet be "chord fluent." So how do we help our students move beyond music theory worksheets to being able to interpret chord symbols and identify underlying harmonies in literature more easily? One approach involves a...

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The legacy of Leopold Wolfsohn

Leopold Wolfsohn. You may look at this name and wonder why it seems vaguely familiar. If you access Leopold Wolfsohn on Google, it will notify you in 0.27 seconds that you have 18,700 results. Of course, as the search continues it gets further away from its initial goal. However, there is a common denominator in the vast majority of sites: Leo...

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Cliburn 2017

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Every four years, piano fans gather in Fort Worth, Texas, for one of the piano world's biggest parties: the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. At this year's Cliburn—the fifteenth—Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, earned the Gold Medal. Although a native of South Korea, Sunwoo has degrees from Curtis and Juilliard (and, yes, he played the Rach 3). The S...

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Solution to the September/October Puzzle

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Keyboard Kids Companion: September/October 2017

Click here to download the solution Antonín Dvořák Born: September 8, 1841, in Bohemia Died: May 1, 1904, in Czechoslovakia Fact: Dvořák made a living composing and teaching at the Prague Conservatory in Czechoslovakia. In 1892, he came to America to work. While in the United States, he wrote the "New World" Symphony.  Famous Works Symphony No...

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Apps for teaching: Tools for triggering creativity with pop music

Why integrate popular or "non-classical" music into piano lessons? Retain students Integrating pop music into your curriculum can meet students "where they are." Encouraging them to learn what's on their Spotify or iTunes playlist may draw them to practicing more, which results in progress. Progress motivates, and will keep them on the bench. Devel...

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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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