Having fun with scales

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Yeah, right! Is it really possible to have fun playing scales? For many students, practicing scales is a chore. In fact,it is a big chore and seems to be boring and confusing while taking too much time away from practicing pieces. "If my piece does not have a scalar passage, why should I play the scale of this piece's key? That is a waste of time!"...
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Practicing double-thirds scales

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Why study double-thirds scales? Practicing double-thirds scales facilitates the performance of similar double-thirds passages encountered in the piano literature.1 Routinely practicing the double-thirds major scales readies the pianist for major and minor scale fragments, as well as challenging chromatic double-thirds passages.2 Some complete ...
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Developing triad chord fluency

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Like language students who have memorized vocabulary but are not yet conversant, pianists who have learned to construct chords may not yet be "chord fluent." So how do we help our students move beyond music theory worksheets to being able to interpret chord symbols and identify underlying harmonies in literature more easily? One approach involves a...
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The teaching of Enrique Granados

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In addition to being a great composer, Enrique Granados was also a dedicated and innovative teacher whose pedagogical approach has been explored only recently. Many of his ideas were not published during his lifetime, but rather entered into his diaries, passed on to his pupils verbally, and annotated on scores. Many of his pedagogical works were, ...
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Seeking Authenticity: An interview with Valentina Lisitsa

Valentina Lisitsa is a formidable pianist with dazzling technique and an ever-growing fan base. A self-made luminary, she was arguably the first classical musician to catapult herself from relative obscurity to superstardom using social media alone. At forty-three, the Ukrainian-American virtuoso now boasts 300,000 subscribers to her YouTube channe...
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Keyboard Kids' Companion: March/April 2017

Practice Project: Hand position review Good hand position is important for developing beautiful sound and clean rhythm. It also helps us to avoid using our hands and arms incorrectly, which can cause damage. Leon Fleisher, pianist and teacher at Peabody Conservatory, says that as pianists we should think of ourselves as "athletes of the small muscl...
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Learning & Teaching: Improving coordination

Piano technique: Improving coordination  When we consider what makes a pianist good or even great, we usually think of her mastery of the basic aspects of piano playing: correct attention to the music itself, its dynamics and phrasing, individual expression that hears and can evoke the music and the silence between the notes, and command  ...
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Tone production: Doing the right things for the right reasons

Tone production: Doing the right things for the right reasons
As a sophomore in college, I performed in a master class given by a former Van Cliburn Competition medalist. At one point, I was asked to play certain chords so that my fingers moved toward the fallboard as they depressed the keys, and this was supposed to change the timbre of these loud chords without actually changing their volume (providing a "r...
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How do you teach technique to beginning piano students?

How do you teach technique to beginning piano students?
Beginning piano technique: Back to basics "He's just trying it out, so he doesn't need an expert teacher. We'll just go to the most inexpensive teacher we can find until we know he likes it." How many times have we bristled at this kind of statement? We know that the first experience with any new endeavor is the most important, the most lasting. Be...
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Solutions to common technical problems

Solutions to common technical problems
We all agree that the best solution to problems is to prevent them before they even begin. However, even with our best intentions, problems sometimes arise. Collapsed knuckle bridge Teacher places hands on the student's hands, molding, shaping, and modeling.Start beginning students with a cluster.Descriptive language: "feel the cave," "What could f...
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What jazz contributes to the classical pianist

There is a long tradition of teaching quality classical piano in Canada. There are also a myriad of support systems to teach theory and written scores in a variety of contemporary styles. Then there's jazz. Some teachers like it and some don't. Others don't feel knowledgeable enough to include it in their studios. For many teachers it is a big unkn...
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Art song and pedaling

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I love art songs, and I've recently returned to practicing art song accompaniments on the piano. It's been good for me; I get to practice music I like without the usual piano exercises or repertoire. Moreover, I get to rethink, reconsider, and reaffirm my philosophy regarding piano playing—especially as it pertains to the accompaniment of song. Alt...
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The Teaching Legacy of Rosina Lhévinne - Part II

The year 2016 marks the seventieth anniversary of Rosina Lhévinne's first masterclass. Although Mme. Lhévinne may have started her masterclasses in Los Angeles feeling uncertain and inexperienced, she quickly became one of the top masterclass teachers in the world. She was able to impart the fundamentals of 'Russian School' technique—beautiful tone...
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Survival of the fittest: A reevaluation of traditional scale and arpeggio fingerings

Fingering holds a foundational place in fine piano technique. In the words of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "More is lost through poor fingering than can be replaced by all conceivable artistry and good taste."1 For many pianists, traditional fingerings for scales and arpeggios are chiseled in stone. Codified in C.P.E. Bach's Essay on the Tr...
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Size is key

We expect so much in our lives to be tailor made to fit our individual sizes and needs. This morning, we got up, put on well-fitting clothes and shoes, and popped on our prescription glasses or contacts. We got into our cars and adjusted our seats, steering wheels, rear view mirrors, and seat belts. If you golf, you are fitted with p...
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The role of rote teaching in the development of reading, technique, and artistry

Rote teaching is the systematic introduction of musical and artistic concepts that are best introduced by modeling rather than from the notated score. Music is an aural art and thus transcends notation. Rote teaching is not (a) training students to copy the teacher without any thought or understanding, or (b) the creation of students who will forev...
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Finding the "soul" of your foot: The nuances of pedaling

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When I was a young piano student, I reveled in the joy of hearing two clashing harmonies blur together under one pedal. In my teenage years, much like my peers, I loved to pedal emotionally, often liberally and with fervor as the beauty and passionate music of the great Romantic composers transported me. But, I never dared touch the pedal...
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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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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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Preparation, Presentation, and Reinforcement: Triads and Inversions

 Many teachers are absolute sticklers for proper fingering in triads and inversions. I am one of these teachers. Witnessing an incorrect fingering creates an unreasonable anxiety, quite possibly out of proportion with the fingering infraction. Knowing this about myself, and less selfishly, knowing the importance of establishing "friendly habit...
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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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