An interview with Seymour Fink, master technician

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"But that's the way my professor showed it to me!" Her eyes were open wide, her voice a wail. I was talking to a young teacher whose student had just played—poorly—in an international festival. In a subsequent masterclass I tried to show her a more efficient, better sounding way to teach her students to play chords. It hadn...
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Hélène Grimaud: Reflections in the water

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The January 2016 release of Hélène Grimaud's recording Water (Deutsche Gramophone) was landmark in many ways, perhaps most significantly as a memento of a concert that took place in Wade Thompson Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory in New York in December 2014. tears become…streams become… was its name. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times...
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The art of practicing: Broad principles

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Have you ever thought that, from a young student's viewpoint, practicing is counterintuitive? Think about other skills you learned as a child: tying your shoes, for example. An adult shows you how to do it (I used the "Bunny Rabbit Ears" method with my nephews), you practice clumsily at first, then with increasing mastery, until finally there is no...
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The teaching legacy of Rosina Lhévinne

The teaching legacy of Rosina Lhévinne
Rosina Lhévinne found herself in an awkward position in the late 1940s. Later famous as the teacher of Van Cliburn and John Browning, among others, and as an outstanding pianist who made her debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1963 at the age of eighty-two, in 1946 she was "at a loose end." Her lifework until then had been to serve as the helpm...
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Alan Fraser discusses piano technique

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It must have been something in the air, in the early years of the last century. From Australia to Israel, independent thinkers were looking for solutions to make living physically in the modern world easier. What does it take to live comfortably and pain-free? How can we function more efficiently— and effectively?  The theories of one of ...
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Piano As Art: An Interview with Shauna Holiman

Piano As Art: An Interview with Shauna Holiman
Fascinating for anyone interested in the piano, music or art..." wrote John Rockwell, former Arts Critic of the New York Times. Brian Levine, Executive Director of the Glenn Gould Foundation, called Piano as Art "a wonderful re-imagining of the piano as sculpture, architecture, and the stuff of mythic creatures." What are they talking about? It's a...
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Bodywork for pianists

What is good piano technique? Is it the ability to play fast scales? loud chords? hard pieces, that go on for a long time? Yes. All of these things. But they are part of a bigger whole. It's healthy, efficient, and pain-free movement at the piano that enables you to express the music in all the ways you need. What if you are one of many pianists wh...
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Is Teaching Really That Different in Asia?

"East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet" may have held some truth in 1889, when Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem The Ballad of East and West, but the phrase has little relevance in 2012. World-wide communication, increased travel, and global industry have made our planet avery small place. So it's...
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Edna Golandsky on Taubman technique

It wasn't so long ago that people aged 50 were considered elderly, and those 65 or more downright old. In 1940, you probably wouldn't have reached the latter milestone anyway, since the average life expectancy for men was 60.8. You lived, you worked, you had as much fun as you could—and you died. There wasn't a lot you could do about it. I remember...
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An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet

An interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet has had a home in the U.S. for many years, first in New York, and, since 1998, in Los Angeles. French in his accent and his Gallic enthusiasm, he is really a citizen—and a musician—of the world. His programs and recordings incorporate the big Romantic monuments of the piano literature, but also excursions into jaz...
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Adele Marcus: Master teacher

"They don't make them like they used to," my grandmother often said, shaking her head. She was referring, of course, to some deed—or misdeed—of mine, compared to her own generation, who were much too busy and exhausted from getting up at dawn to plow the fields and walk barefoot to school to ever get into any kind of trouble. I listened silent...
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Donald Waxman: An American Classic

Are all piano composers dead?" my student asked. The question seemed a bit ironic since we had just finished working on a folk song that was arranged for the piano by me. Last time I checked, I wasn't dead. But I understood what she meant. It does sometimes seem that piano teachers spend an inordinate amount of time working on the music o...
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Building a healthy technique: Ideas from Matthay

The piano as we know it reached its full bloom in the late nineteenth century. Inventors have tinkered with the design in years since with varying degrees of success, but the acoustical grand piano we play today is largely the same piano on which the students of Liszt performed. Would it then be fair to say that piano technique, too, has not develo...
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What role does mental preparation play in piano technique?

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States Mental attitude, to use Jefferson's term, is crucial to learning the piano. I tell my students, if you can hear it, then think it - you ca...
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Lang Lang: A life so far

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Anyone who believed that Lang's Lang's fame would only last fifteen minutes would have had to think twice when they saw the audience at New York's Town Hall on October 20, 2008 It sometimes seems that everyone in the world knows about Lang Lang. He was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics. He performed at t...
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What do Beethoven's piano sonatas reveal about his pianism?

from the series: Let's Get Physical: Technique  Scott McBride Smith, Editor  Hans von Bülow, the nineteenth-century pianist, conductor, and master class teacher won fame for his meticulous musicianship and formidable technique. His sarcastic bon mots to students were legendary. "You have but one qualification for playing th...
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Is slow practice always the best way to develop technique?

from the series: Let's Get Physical: Technique Scott McBride Smith, Editor  I had the great good fortune to study, at intervals, with one of the grand ladies of American piano teaching, Adele Marcus. She was quite a character, to say the least, and she put a strong emphasis on slow practice. I'm being tactful. It would be more accura...
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How does good technique relate to ear training?

Recognize this student? I confess. I'm not sure what to do about my student Roger. He's a nice boy. Tall (about 3 inches bigger than last year, he's in middle school now), friendly, talkative, he sometimes reminds me of a large and only partially housebroken dog. With him, as with a puppy, there's always some kind of mess that needs cleaning u...
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How do you teach choreography to young students?

Subscribers to Keyboard Companion know the importance of a good beginning. And this month's Technique column offers some wonderful tools to help students get started with good technical habits. Marilyn Taggart has made an important contribution to the understanding of teaching piano technique. Her thorough study of physiology has given he...
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Is fingering an important part of technique?

I was recently sharing thoughts with a respected colleague after a long day at a piano conference. Yes, if you must know, we were in the cocktail lounge. "I've given up on checking students' fingering," he said. "I've decided that if it sounds beautiful, it doesn't matter what fingering they use." He paused and looked furtively around the room...
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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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