Healthy technique for beginning students

Technique is such a broad term— thousands of pianists with different physical approaches to the instrument play well and (hopefully!) without injuries. But often when we discuss injury-free techniques, we are talking about advanced pianists playing extremely demanding repertoire. Very few of us, however, will ever teach students at this level —a gr...
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lyom
There are very few of us, though, will train pupils at this stage - many of us are mostly teaching"normal kids" in our home theate... Read More
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 06:48
Sarah
These tips are really great, I'm glad I found this article, as I didn't know what to start with. I'm a beginner, but in my school ... Read More
Friday, 14 May 2021 18:07
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Children Get Hurt, Too!

In the last twenty-five years a great deal of much needed attention has been given to musicians' injuries. It seems, however, that an overwhelming majority of the conference sessions and articles on this topic only address the potential injuries of advanced pianists—either at the collegiate or artist levels. In th...
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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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The trapeziectomy diaries: Part two

The trapeziometacarpal joint, also called the "trapezium," is at the base of the thumb. Osteoarthritis, a well-known condition suffered by many adults, affects the trapezium in some people. Sufferers experience pain, stiffness, and weakness in the thumb joint. This is particularly troublesome when the sufferer is a pianist.  Luckily, there are...
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Boiling it down: Recipes for effective teaching

When I think back on the great teachers I have encountered in my life, I find that they all had one thing in common—the ability to boil things down to their essence. These teachers' abilities to reveal the essence of the subject matter made my understanding possible. Perhaps it was an applied teacher communicating the essentials of tone production,...
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Scalin' the chords

When I was about twelve years of age, my parents took me to a restaurant that featured a live jazz trio. I was amazed to see the pianist playing without written music. Unaware of the awkwardness I might cause by interrupting a performing musician, I approached the stage and asked him how he did it. His succinct reply changed my life. Without missin...
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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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Unveiling the Enigma: A Tête-â-tête with Marc-André Hamelin

Marc-Andre-Hamlin
A native of Montreal who now makes his home in Boston, Marc-Andre Hamelin is noted for his expansive repertoire, virtuosic technique, and thoughtful expression. The 47-year-old pianist studied at the Ecole Vincent-d'Indy in Montreal and Temple University in Philadelphia; his teachers include Yvonne Hubert, Harvey Wedeen, and Russell Sherman. He won...
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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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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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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 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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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 do you help an adult student who has ingrained poor technical habits?

from the series: It's Never Too Late: Adult Piano Study Michelle Conda, Editor by The Adult Learning Committee of the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy Okay, let's face it - I'm not talking about the good habits your adult students have, but the bad habits that form the foundation of so many recreational pianists' technique. W...
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Teaching artistic phrasing

from the series: Let's Get Physical: Technique Pete Jutras, Editor My wife and I have spent a lot of time lately teaching our young children how to read. I've never taught anyone to read language before, and it has been a fascinating and enlightening experience. One mild surprise was that after all the work on letters, sounds, sound combi...
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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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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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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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Shouldn't technical study be fun? Liszt, etude practice, and attention to detail...

It rests in a corner of a neo-classical style building from the 1920s - a beautiful temple, faced with Indiana limestone. The central court in which it slumbers is full of beautiful things: several pieces of Chihuly art glass, mounted high on the wall; a seventeenth century Claude Lorrain portrait of a young boy; and a Fairfield Porter paintin...
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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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