Fostering Artistry And Healthy Playing Habits In Beginning Piano Lessons

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Slow Looking: Applications of Shari Tishman’s Observational Strategies in Piano Study

One of the most difficult aspects of teaching music and art is the ambiguous and subjective transmission of abstract concepts to the learner. Teachers often fail to communicate the concept of musical interpretation effectively, due to the subjectivity of language and delivery. How can one identify the feeling of "calmness" in music? Furthermore, ho...
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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 shoul...
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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 avai...
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Steps to Parnassus: 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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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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​​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 prim...
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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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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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Playing composers' slurs: From Mozart to the nineteenth century

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In recent decades, scholars and publishers have reproduced composers' original notations in so-called Urtext editions. In these scholarly editions and facsimiles of composers' autographs, pianists will notice two slurring patterns—slurs obviously cutting off a phrase or a melody, or a slur ending before the bar line when the end of the phrase or me...
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Developing sound expectations: Does the sound match the picture?

How do we develop a student's sense of musical awareness in performance? So often the wonderfully phrased and dynamically diverse musical performance in a lesson becomes a lifeless memory of its former glory when presented in public. How do we help our students develop the ability to maintain this musicality when performing for their families and f...
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Recent Comments
Amy Glennon
Wonderful article!
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 12:52
Paige Frost
Learning piano from the legendary artist Trevor Barnard is going really fine for me. I need to get resume writing help for my perf... Read More
Tuesday, 10 March 2020 03:46
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What about that bass?

As piano teachers, we commonly show our students how composers divide pieces into three parts, such as in Sonata or Minuet and Trio forms. What is often missed is that most music is composed with a vertical division of three as well. We are adept at teaching students to focus on—and voice—the melodic content. However, often overlooke...
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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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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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Copy of Tone production: Doing the right things for the right reasons

Copy of 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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The role of rote teaching in the development of reading, technique, and artistry

Rote teaching is the systematic introduction of musical and artistic concepts that are best introduced by modeling rather than from the notated score. Music is an aural art and thus transcends notation. Rote teaching is not (a) training students to copy the teacher without any thought or understanding, or (b) the creation of students who will forev...
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Ruminations on Musicality

Ruminations on Musicality
The conversion of a series of black dots into a piece of music is a magical process, but one all too easily derailed. The alchemy occurs in two steps: the first step—relatively simple—converts dots into audible pitches, while the second—far more complex— converts pitches into intelligible language. As teachers, we're responsible for teaching both, ...
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Making music come alive

In my early years of teaching I clearly remember commenting about my students' playing to my husband, "All the notes and rhythms are correct, but they don't sound that good. I'm not sure how to help them make the music 'come alive'." I certainly have many more ideas and solutions than I did as a beginning teacher, and have learned a great deal from...
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Sharon Reich Walton
While sorting through years of Clavier and Clavier Companion Magazines, I found Marvin Blickenstaff's article from July 2012 calle... Read More
Monday, 01 April 2019 20:54
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Basic crescendo: What is wrong with it?

Basic crescendo: What is wrong with it?
The crescendo. It is a basic and universal musical concept, one of those words that has drifted out of the realm of music and into the everyday lexicon to describe anything that is building, increasing, gathering momentum. The concept (getting louder) is easy enough for beginners to grasp in their first lessons, yet accomplished artists expend a gr...
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How do you teach musicality?

We have all heard it from our beginning (and sometimes more advanced) students-that awful, wooden, unmusical playing. What can we do to fix it? If we tell them to crescendo to a certain note and then get softer, they stiffly climb up and down the dynamic ladder, and it sounds even less musical! Can musical playing be taught, or do some st...
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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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