How do you teach the rhythm challenges in Debussy's Clair de lune?

In this department over the past thirteen years, many authors and myself have alluded to two different meanings of the term "rhythm." Prosaic rhythm (also called counting rhythm) is the mere timing of events decoded from the printed page using counting or other methods. Poetic rhythm is much broader, encompassing virtually everything...
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"Is a physically gifted student likely to be rhythmically reliable and musically aware?"

Anyone who has taught piano or any other instrument for more than a short time invariably must deal with one of the major challenges facing a music teacher. That is, becoming a good player simultaneously involves diverse kinds of learning: perceptual, physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, etc. To make matters even more complex, each student...
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How do you teach polyrhythms?

In my college years I encountered a recurring four-against-five pattern in a 20th-century piece, and my initial attempts to do it were not successful. My teacher recommended that I approximate the pattern ("fake it") while I learned the rest of the music. He also suggested that I first try tapping the polyrhythm away from the piano, which I did aft...
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When is it appropriate to leave rhythms UNperfected for a given student? Have I mis-assigned a piece in that case?

from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Sometimes quantity is quality. As a young teenaged pianist, I had great fun learning transcriptions of Dave Brubeck improvisations. His was the first jazz piano music that I sunk my teeth into. I loved the sound of the rich complex harmonies, the counterpoint, the unique textures and voicings (I...
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How do you teach measure groupings (hypermeter) to your intermediate-level students?

from the series: ​The Heart of the Matter: RhythmBruce Berr, EditorI was introduced to measure groupings when I was a college junior - not by a teacher but a classmate. We were rehearsing the scherzo of the Beethoven Cello and Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 69 (see Excerpt 1). We did our first run-through at a moderate tempo just to see how...
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What common pitfalls occur in the teaching of rhythmic subdivisions?

from the series: ​The Heart of the Matter: RhythmBruce Berr, EditorMy colleague Craig Sale and I have swapped departments this issue by each contributing an article in the other's subject area. Both essays deal with avoiding common teaching pitfalls. It has been stimulating for us to focus on different areas, and we hope that you will fin...
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What have I learned being an editor of the Rhythm Department?

I once heard it said that no one learns more at a clinic than the clinician. As strange as that may sound, based on my own experiences, I believe it is true and it applies to more than just workshops. When someone is put in charge of something, an interesting phenomenon occurs - one perceives more and ponders it more deeply. An extra sensitivi...
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How do you get students to really play the rests in their pieces?

Introduction This same question appeared in the Rhythm Department almost nine years ago in the Winter 1997 issue of Keyboard Companion. Three excellent teachers - Linda Poquette, Steven Rosenfeld, and Mary Jane Clarke - presented insightful ideas, and a lot of ground was covered. I invite you to look (again!) at those essays in your library of...
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How do rhythm and tempo interact with each other, and how does this inform your teaching?

As unlikely as it may seem, people like myself who enjoy tinkering with old radios have to deal with a phenomenon that is similar to one that we piano teachers confront. Before the appearance of computer-synthesized and controlled devices, even high priced communications equipment such as shortwave radios and ham radio transceivers gradually d...
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What Is "Shakespearean Counting" And How Do You Use It In Your Teaching?

​from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Bruce Berr, EditorLast year I had the opportunity to review videotapes of teaching that were submitted to Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). The tapes were to be considered for use at one of the Pedagogy Saturday programs that kicked off the MTNA National Conference in Salt Lake C...
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How do you help your students achieve rhythmic continuity in slow pieces without sounding mechanical?

from the series: ​The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm The music must proceed forward at all times, and in an inevitable and seemingly uniform way. My most memorable musical moment at the 2003 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy was during one of the short student recitals that were sprinkled throughout the Conference each day. A teen-aged stu...
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How does teaching in small groups help students' rhythmic development?

​from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Bruce Berr, EditorIt is an often-discussed perception that as we get older, time seems to pass faster and faster. This phenomenon has been observed and written about throughout the ages in many different cultures. I remember my own personal suspicions about this being confirmed when I was ...
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How is Rhythm Enhanced by Solid Technique Skills?

from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Bruce Berr, editorThe question this issue straddles two departments in the magazine, Rhythm and Technique. It was therefore a natural for the editors of these two departments - Scott McBride Smith and myself- to answer the question. The interplay between these two elements is a practical an...
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Italian language rhythm as facilitator in the piano/vocal collaboration

​The problems in ensemble facilitation that occur between pianists and singers in the collaborative setting have engendered a number of humorous, and more often vitriolic, exchanges between the two instrumental disciplines. Is there a single pianist or singer who has not, at one time, heard (or hurled) such comments as "That singer can't count!" "T...
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The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm

 Marvin Blickenstaff, Professor of Music at Goshen College (Indiana) where he teaches applied piano and courses in piano pedagogy and music literature, was named 1990 Teacher of the Year by the Indiana Music Teachers Association. With Louise Bianchi and Lynn Freeman Olson, he co-authored the series Music Pathways (Carl Fischer Publis...
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How Do You Teach Cut Time (Alla Breve)?

In the Winter 1994 issue of KEYBOARD COMPANION, several writers responded to a question on teaching downbeats. As if in unison, those teachers gave suggestions for feeling large groups of beats, the sense of moving from one down beat to the next instead of from one pulse to the next pulse. We swing, conduct with sweeping circles of the arms (o...
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How Do You Teach Your Students Not to Hesitate at a Bar Line?

Keep_moving
In one of the earlier issues of KEYBOARD COMPANION, a subscriber wrote to the Rhythm Post Box offering a suggestion for handling the problem of students who pause before a bar line. Her suggestion was to "white out" the bar lines, removing that visual barrier. The possible need for such an extreme solution illustrates that the issue of rhythmi...
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How Do You Use Computer-Assisted Instruction to Teach Rhythm in Your Studio?

The greatest innovation in our teaching studios this past decade has been the new technology. This fact is made obvious by the topics of our teachers' association meetings, presentations at conferences, and the display areas of conventions. Each issue of KEYBOARD COMPANION has one section devoted to the new technology.The teaching of rhythm has rec...
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How Do You Practice Rhythm? - A Student Survey

In a recent faculty seminar our resource person was an educator whose research expertise focuses on teaching effectiveness. During the seminar he showed video-tapes of effective classroom procedures and outlined ways in which we could improve our own teaching techniques. He mentioned that, although there is much research on the components...
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How Do You Teach Fluent Rhythm Reading?

When piano teachers talk about music reading, we tend to think only of note reading. In fact, the questions we have posed for this department of KEYBOARD COMPANION have concentrated on just that one aspect of reading. Likewise, students seem to give note reading first priority when they sightplay new music. If they can't find the next note quickly ...
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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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