Robert Schumann and the art of musical composition

Following 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 histories...
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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 models ...
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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 Clara'...
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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" progressively added until the process is nearly complete. The fini...
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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 want 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 pla...
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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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Who was Albert Pieczonka?

from the series: ​Putting It All Together: Repertoire & PerformanceNancy Bachus, EditorI do not remember when I first "discovered" the Tarantella in A Minor of Albert Pieczonka. I do know I have taught it many, many times, and always with great success. I measure "success" in different ways. One measure was that every student gre...
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You consistently have high school students that play extremely difficult repertoire such as Chopin Ballades. How do you prepare them to play this difficult repertoire at such a young age?

I am amazed when I see high school students effortlessly playing advanced repertoire, and I have observed that certain teachers seem to constantly have students at this level. Wondering how this is accomplished, I asked two such teachers, Paul Wirth and Donald Morelock, to share some of their methods. Of course success...
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What repertoire do you use when a student can play with only one hand, and how do you assign it?

from the series: ​Putting It All Together: RepertoireMarvin Blickenstaff, EditorAll teachers become skilled in dealing with the unexpected. Most of us have had stud en ts enter the studio with an arm in a sling or cast, or fingers wrapped in heavy bandages. Our creative juices start to flow and we improvise lessons and assignments which bend w...
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How do you include music history in the study of repertoire?

​from the series: Putting It All Together: Repertoire Marvin Blickenstaff, EditorMy student and I are looking over an edited version of a Bach Two-Part Invention. "Is there anything here on the page that Bach did not write?" I ask. "What about the metronome marking, and the tempo marking? How about these slurs and the staccatos here in the sec...
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What are your all-time favorite pieces?

from the series: ​​The Magic Triangle: Teacher/Student/Parent Barbara Kreader, Editor No matter what the music's style, familiarity breedsinterest.... Yet all music doesn't need to be familiarto hook a student's excitement. How many times did you teach "Für EIise" this year? Do you know every known arrangement of ...
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Do You Use Recordings to Reinforce Your Teaching of Repertoire?

from the series: ​Putting It All Together: Repertoire Marvin Blickenstaff, Editor"Listen carefully." How many times did you use that phrase yesterday in your lessons? Listen...for what? How? Why? Most of us readily would agree that the hallmarks of artistic playing involve shaping of sound, balance of the texture, and tone color appropria...
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A Fond Farewell (Für Elise)

Marvin Blickenstaff, Editorfrom the series: Putting It All Together: Repertoire One of the favorite photos I have hanging in my study is a shot of the original staff of Keyboard Companion. Pictured there is founding editor Richard Chronister and his dear wife Marjore, Elvina Pearce, Brenda Dillon, Cathy Albergo and husband Frank, Ste...
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Helping at Home: A Parent's Point of View

How Do You Buy Supplemental Music For Your Child?​Miami, Florida. Kristen Smith, nine, loves to visit music stores with her dad. Peter Smith, a choir member who plays piano by ear, peruses music for appropriate material and sings to Kristen as they shop. Then she decides whether or not to buy. Their collection includes hymns, Christmas mu...
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How Do You Teach Intuitive Students to Make Decisions About Interpretation?

Like many questions about teaching, the answer to this issue's question is a process; there simply cannot be an answer that stands as fact, or even static opinion. Every time we face this question, usually in the middle of a lesson, the answer is both a culmination of all that we have learned in the past and a beginning-without doubt, the circumsta...
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Is the Repertoire You Are Teaching in 1994-95 Different From the Repertoire You Taught in 1984-85?

Change is a highly volatile presence in our daily lives and in our profession. It is evident in our family structure and in all the institutions of our culture. There are significant changes in the way we shop, the foods we eat, the way we do business, and the way we communicate with each other. It is impossible to live in 1995 exactly as we did in...
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What Is Good Material to Use With Elementary Transfer Students Who Are Playing Music Far Too Difficult?

There are many reasons why students change teachers. In this mobile society, it is frequently because the student or teacher has moved to another loca tion. But changes can also occur for professional reasons- poor communication between the triangle of teacher/student/parent, lack of interest, a particular need that is not being fulfilled -&nb...
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How Do You Transfer Students' Understanding of Theory to Their Understanding of Repertoire?

​The color-coordinated, graphic designed, companionable theory books that are packaged with current method books are startling compared to the early workbooks and notespellers. There are many computer theory programs designed to accompany current method books or to be used as a separate course. Theory tests are now required for MTNA auditions and m...
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About Piano Magazine

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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