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The Score Speaks: Steps to Interpretation for Growing Musicians

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As teachers, we know that there are effective ways in which to analyze a score for musical learning. During my study at the New School for Music Study, Frances Clark taught us systematic ways in which to do this—from the very beginning stages of learning a piece. Among these steps were the following: 1. Look at the piece and think about how it shou...
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The Beethoven Piano Sonatas: Frequently Asked Questions

As the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) approaches, it is a good time to get in the celebratory spirit by answering some FAQs. A warning, though: behind every seemingly straightforward answer, there are always more questions! 1. What editions should I use?  Simple answer: There are excellent Urtext editions av...
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Bringing Performance Experience with a Period Piano to a Modern One

If Mozart had had a modern concert grand piano, would he have composed the same music? Absolutely not! No doubt, he would have been strongly influenced by the characteristics of the modern instrument, and his musical approach on  the piano would have been completely different.   Why am I so sure about this? Did I have coffee with Mozart? ...
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Steps to Parnassvs: Preparing Students to Play Advanced Masterworks

All learning of complex knowledge and sophisticated skills must be approached by first learning more limited and simplified versions of what students are eventually needing to master. The nature of the simplifications—the substance and magnitude of each task, the sequence in which the tasks are presented, the speed of ...
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The Neglected Consolations of Franz Liszt

F ranz Liszt's beloved Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major from the Six Consolations S.172, is a character piece frequently performed by  the advancing pianist in recital and festival adjudications. Reminiscent of a nostalgic nocturne, Consolation No. 3 features a stunning melodic line and unpredictable harmonic nuances that have surely contribu...
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Deciphering Chopin’s shorthand in the posthumous Mazurka in F minor

​If someone had told me a decade ago that I was going to produce the first (and, so far, only) published reconstruction of Chopin's posthumous Mazurka in F Minor that includes every uncanceled measure of the composer's sketch, I would have laughed. But apparently when a performance opportunity inspires a research obsession, unexpected things can ha...
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First Debussy piano pieces with pedagogical advice

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Claude Debussy was a person of great restraint and even considered elusive by some. He was not concerned with the technical issues of a pianist, and yet was highly attentive to the quality of a pianissimo and its relationship to softer or louder levels of sound. We know his playing generally did not reach a forceful fortissimo . He cared less about...
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​​Too much of a good thing: The dangers of over-demonstrating in a piano lesson

The Piano Lesson.1871, George Goodwin Kilburne
The scope of teaching tools at the disposal of any music instructor is often as rich as the music they teach. Since the earliest days of education, there has been an ongoing evolution of what teaching is, how learning happens, what role the teacher plays in a pupil's education, and what teaching methods produce the highest degree of learning. A pri...
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