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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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Closer Look: Visit the Menagerie

(S4) Truly Astounding Animals , by Peter Rudzik. Canadian composer Peter Rudzik's collection of twelve short piano solos for intermediate-to-advancing pianists takes us on a delightful, creative romp through the animal world. Reminiscent in spirit to Camille Saint-Saëns's  Carnival of the ...
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Fostering collaboration: Elementary and intermediate works for pianist and narrator

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B y default, being a pianist can feel like a lonely musical pursuit. Students frequently take private lessons, practice alone, perform solo repertoire, and only occasionally play duets with a teacher, family member, or friend. It is not until after many years of private study that students are finally encouraged to collaborate with other student mu...
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DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: Music for the intermediate pianist by eight women composers

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Editor's note: This is a companion piece to the January/February 2018 article, "Women of exceptional  accomplishment: Eight women composers" by Teresa Rupp, found here . Anyone who thinks there is a lack of piano music by women composers from previous centuries hasn't looked too hard. Take the music of these eight composers as a great example....
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Winning essay from the 2017 Clavier Companion Collegiate Writing Contest

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In the Spring of 2017, Clavier Companion sponsored its ninth annual Collegiate Writing Contest, inviting college students from around the world to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. We extend our sincere thanks to professors Gail Berenson, Pamela Pike, and Suzanne Schons for serving as adjudicators for this year's cont...
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Better together: Chamber music for all levels

Miki Sawada with her students
What pieces do you remember performing as a young pianist? Were they solo pieces? As pianists, we are lucky to have at our fingertips a seemingly infinite body of solo masterworks. To be able to sit down at an instrument and create music alone is a joyful privilege. It naturally follows that much of traditional piano pedagogy centers around the gre...
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Pupil Saver: Unique; reflective music

Finding interesting late-intermediate literature can be a challenge. In addition to teaching the repertoire standards, I always look for something a bit more out-of- the box, quite often a contemporary composition. I find that the  contemporary music of Dianne Goolkasian Rah bee fits my needs perfectly, and her two sets of preludes provide a w...
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Impressionism for intermediates

​Helen Boykin's 1947 impressionistic gem, Seafoam (Schirmer/Hal Leonard), has remained a student favorite for almost seventy years. I've taught this intermediate piece many times, but it is also a solo that profoundly motivated me when I was a young student. The majority of the piece relies on a bold left-hand melody, with the right hand repeating ...
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The challenges and joys of intermediate teaching

Intermediate Students are Different  from Elementary and Advanced Students Intermediate-level piano students present unique and greater challenges than do students at other levels and ages. Elementary-level students are constantly learning new concepts and skills. Their curiosity and imaginations are aroused. They are amazed by their abilities...
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A heavenly, bravura piece

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I am often confronted with the need for intermediate literature that will not only motivate students, but cover up any deficiencies they might have (I am sure we have all had this experience). Case in point: I had a transfer student who could barely sight-read, which made learning every piece take forever, and proper technique, hand position, and p...
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How do you know when a student is ready to perform a piece?

​​​One of my studio recitals just ended. As I write this, I am  eating a leftover brownie and may snarf down a couple  more. Would wine be better? Probably, but it is only four in the afternoon. The recital went well. For one thing, everyone showed up. This doesn't always happen. For another, no one was wearing a sports uniform. While I a...
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Advancing intermediate students

In today's world where younger and younger students are effortlessly performing advanced repertoire, I want to gain insight from their teachers on how this has been accomplished with multiple students. Donald Morelock is one of these brilliant teachers. It is no accident that his students achieve a high level of playing. It is obvious that he think...
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Introducing students to the music of Schumann

B ecause of the textural , technical, and interpretive demands of music from the Romantic era, students usually do not encounter it until their early intermediate years. Most likely some of the first Romantic compositions a student will study will be by Robert Schumann, whose bicentennial is being celebrated this year. In this issue Sharon Stosur, ...
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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 musi cal playing be taught, or do some ...
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How do you assign repertoire to the "overstretched" student who has little time to practice?

In recent  conversations with piano teachers, several have expressed some discouragement in their teaching because  students frequently come to lessons too exhausted to play, or even think, and have had little time to practice. After reflecting on this, I believe as piano teachers, we are music educators first. Being professional musician...
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What is your plan for teaching a new piece? How does it vary for different levels of students?

Learning a new piece is like building a house. First there is a conception of the end result. The foundation is then laid - the more solid and stable, the  better. Then the frame is erected and the most basic infrastructural elements are added. The skeleton then has more "flesh" progres sively added until the process is nearly com plete . The ...
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The Magic Triangle: Teacher/Student/Parent

How Would You Describe a Good Teacher? by Cathy Albergo If y ou have ever moved from one city or state to another, you have gone through the careful process of finding a new doctor, dentist, aerobics teacher, dance teacher, etc. When you were searching for these new professionals to work with you and your family, you probably had an idea of exactly...
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