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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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Dean Elder: Forever Missed, But Never Forgotten!

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On December 3, 2018, the piano world lost a true icon of the profession, Dean Elder. His life ended, but his brilliance lives on in the amazing legacy that he left for  generations of future pianists. Harold Schonberg said, "Dean Elder is one of the few real  piano connoisseurs in the country." As consulting editor and record reviewer for...
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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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Performing Chopin in the style of Chopin?

Interest in historically-informed performance continues to evolve as scholars and serious-minded pianists gain more knowledge regarding nineteenth-century performing styles. Though much progress has been made in this field, a question still remains: Is there a definitive performance practice that enables pianists to play the works of Chopin in the ...
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Touching Debussy, Teaching Alchemy

faries-are-dancing The Fairies are Exquisite Dancers, Illustration in 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' by J.M Barrie
Sound is touch at a distance. Jad Abumrad, from Radiolab "Sound is touch at a distance." I heard this quote at a recent talk given by Radio Lab creator, Jad Abumrad, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Over and over it repeated itself. Mothers sing to babies after they put them down as a way of continuing physical contact, Jad told us. So, i...
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medicimusic
Wonderful discussion of Debussy's elegant and refined style that gives us so much emotional freedom at the piano. It is also a ver... Read More
Thursday, 12 July 2018 10:22
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Bringing it Home

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For a pianist without high-level management, organizing a tour can feel like an impossible undertaking. There are many reasons why touring is harder than ever before: venues for classical and jazz music have been shuttering their doors all over the country, audiences are far from guaranteed even at the most reputable venues, most major papers no lo...
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Digital-Only Content: Dartington Hall celebrates 70 years!

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Dartington Hall is a creative institution and historical meeting ground for those hungry to explore a new musical landscape, renowned for its compelling and diverse community of performers, composers and thinkers. Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the internationally renowned Summer School is at the heart of everything Dartington stands for. The 14...
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Rediscovering the past: Alexander Borovsky

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Editor's note: Clavier Companion reviewed these recordings for the May/June 2018 issue. Click here to read it.  It is a delight to uncover lost gems from the last century such as Alexander Borovsky, a great 20 th century pianist and teacher, and his paper entitled "The Bach Specialists of the World." Borovsky was born in Mitau, Latvia, March 8...
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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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¿Por qué no?

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Upon completing my master's degree, I considered various ideas as to where and how to continue my education. Although pursuing a doctoral degree is essential for musicians who wish to achieve careers in academia, the time commitment and financial investment did not feel right for me at that point. During my years in undergraduate and graduate schoo...
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East meets West: Connecting with Chinese students

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Currently, an estimated 40 million students are learning piano in China, and the number continues to grow. In this age of the China boom, there is also a burgeoning interest in the West, leading more Chinese to study abroad than ever before. Now practically any active piano teacher, regardless of where she teaches, is likely to interact with Chines...
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On boating and the pleasures of ear training

Yes. You read right. I bet you never thought you'd see the words "pleasure" and "ear training" mentioned in the same sentence. Pleasure and boats seem so much more compatible. People tend to grimace at the very thought of ear training, as if they'd just discovered half a worm in their apple. When I was a student at McGill, "Ear Training and Sight S...
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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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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 ha...
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Jascha Spivakovksy: Rediscovered Romantic

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Our appreciation of pianists of the past is based primarily on their recordings. How amazing it is that in this age of digital technology we can listen to the actual playing of pianists born and trained in the nineteenth century—including pupils of Liszt and pianists who studied with Chopin's students—hearing with our own ears pianism from an era t...
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