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Marko Tajčević's Songs from Mur Island

Piano teachers are always looking for fresh music for their students to make lessons and recitals more interesting. One collection that could be a welcome addition to the teaching repertoire is Songs from Mur Island by Marko Tajčević. This collection, largely unknown in the U.S., is an attractive set of pieces useful for developing musicianship and...
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An aural journey through "Spring is Here"

​I recently performed a concert celebrating the arrival of spring with a program featuring songs with the word "Spring" in the title.  ​It Might As Well Be Spring, Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, You Must Believe in Spring,  ​and  ​Joy Spring ​ proved to be fun to play and provided me with many harmonic and rhythmic opportuni...
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Marga Richter's Character Sketches for piano

Marga Richter's Character Sketches for piano
Easy-to-intermediate level twentieth-century teaching works Marga Richter has said she might be characterized as the ultimate "accidental" composer (no pun intended), although, in her own words, some of her music is exceedingly, even obsessively chromatic. Richter was born in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, into a musical family. Her mother, Inez Chandl...
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Music for one hand

When I was in eighth grade, I fell while roller-skating and broke my right arm just above the wrist. I assumed that piano lessons would be on hold for at least six weeks as it healed, but instead, my teacher assigned me a piece for left hand alone called "Andante Finale" from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor by Theodore Leschetizky. I loved the challe...
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Preluding with the Masters

​For centuries, improvising introductions to keyboard works, also known as preluding, helped inspire musicians and prepare audiences for what was to come. (The German verb präludieren and the French verb preluder can simply mean "to improvise.") Preluding had practical functions as well, allowing performers to warm up, test tuning, or adapt to unf...
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Opposing perspectives

Respected  as a celebrated concert artist throughout his lifetime, Sergei Rachmaninoff 's compositions were not as universally appreciated until more recent years, and were in fact sharply criticized at times. In this issue, Robert Palmieri provides an illuminating  retrospective as he observes Rachmaninoff 's passionate public struggle a...
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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 g...
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The life of Chopin (and autographed piano)

T he Chopin Foundation of the United States has in its possession a rare and unique item: a Pleyel piano with the autograph of Frederic Chopin. This well-traveled piano has touched many lives and resided in multiple countries, not unlike the man who signed it. As we celebrate the 200th birthday of this influential composer, it  is notable to c...
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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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The Pedal Piano and the Schumanns

I n 1845, Robert Schumann wrote what are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and enduring pieces of music for the pedal piano, his Six Etudes in Canon Form, Op. 56; Four Sketches, Op. 58; and Six Fugues on the Name B-A-C-H, Op. 60 (for organ or pedal piano). Schumann was an enthusiastic student of counterpoint, and his interest in the pedal pian...
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Which Chopin?

There have been numerous collected editions of Chopin's music since his death, and few of them agree on anything. Why is this? The answer lies principally in the complexity of the source tradition, and I include under that heading both manuscript and early printed sources. It may be helpful to attempt a rough classification of these sources. Sketch...
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Chopin and Pleyel

Translated by Deana Shuman   The first concert in Paris Chopin's first concert in Paris (February 25th, 1832)  played a determining role in the artist's career, leading to his recognition as a composer and a pianist, providing him contacts with music publishers, opening the most influential salon doors to him, and thereby assuring him a s...
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Robert Schumann and the art of musical composition

F ollowing hard on the heels of the Mendelssohn bicentenary, 2010 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann (1810-1856), a composer who will surely garner his full share of symposia, concerts, and special events reassessing his place in the European canon. To a large extent, Schumann has fared  better in music histori...
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Chopin's teaching

We all know Chopin's piano literature-almost every serious piano student plays (or aspires to play) his works. But what do we know about Chopin's teaching? After  all, teaching was an important part of his life and provided his main source of income . 1 What can we take from Chopin's teaching in the 1800s and apply to our own professional mode...
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Clara Schumann: Ambivalence and resilience

The lives of Clara and Robert Schumann make great movies.Two exist: Hollywood's "Song of Love" (1947), starring Katherine Hepburn as Clara Schumann and Paul Henreid as Robert, and the German film "Frühlingssinfonie  (1983), starring Nastassja Kinski and Herbert  Gronemeyer. Both films present what have become  typical versions of Cla...
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A survival manual for college teachers

Every year it's the same - a group of my students prepare to leave the hallowed halls of academia and search for the elusive "job." For these students, this is BIG - and not just a little scary. As the "professor," part of my job is to prepare these changelings for what will be one of the most exciting times in their lives. For me, mentoring my stu...
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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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What do you consider when planning and choosing repertoire for students?

Marvin Blickenstaff has stated that the " hook" for students to continue their piano studies is to assign challenging and motivating repertoire they wan t to play. That is always in my mind when I select literature. My students play  music from all four style periods, as well as a concerto each year. During the Christmas season, most of them p...
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Eugénie Rocherolle - An American Treasure

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"One of the fundamental problems," says Eugenie Rocherolle, "is the fact that music in America is viewed merely as an extracurricular activity. We teachers need to reframe it in the public mind as a noble subject which develops character and skill through self-discipline and artistic relations with other people." A composer since childhood, Eugenie...
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From notes to beauty: When, why and how?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor  This department generally focuses on the teaching of secure music reading. Although our regular consideration of how to successfully teach students to play correct notes and rhythms is important, we also need to widen our view and consider how "music reading" becomes som...
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