Joe’s Blog

Welcome to my blog!

A reminder that these blog entries are not ‘timely.’  They do not address issues that relate to the present news of the world.  They address perennial issues faced by most pianists when striving to excel in their playing.  I encourage you to search through the posts to find the ones that will yield the greatest benefit to you.

You can also use this list of all blog posts in order of keyword, which you can also sort by title.

You are also welcome to contact me to suggest a topic that you would like to see appear on the site, or ask questions or comment below each entry. Enjoy!


July 11, 2020

J.M  is having difficulty getting her F# Major Chopin Nocturne to sound the way she wants it to. She listens and re-listens to Rubinstein performing it but can’t seem to produce something that mimics his style, sound, or interpretation. 

Usually I encourage students to find their own sound and interpretation, and to not intentionally imitate others. However, in J.M.’s case, she is having difficulty finding her own unique musical voice. So this time we are making an exception and attempting to mimic the Rubinstein recording, but in a special way: 

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Never max out in volume, it leaves no room in which to maneuver musically

January 11, 2020

This entry in the blog is related to an earlier one that spoke about how many small degrees of increments in loudness are perceptible by the ear between, say, pianissimo and piano, as against the number of such increments  between piano and mezzo piano, mezzo piano and mezzo forte, etc..

Two interesting facts emerged in that earlier blog.  1. When ‘shaping’ a phrase we should, from note to note, make use of every possible increment of relative loudness and softness, down to the most minimal ones that the ear can perceive.  2. That the number of these minimal subdivisions in loudness does not remain constant as we go from pp, to p, mp, mf, f, ff..  As we get louder, there are fewer and fewer minimally perceivable gradations in loudness before we have already spilledd over into the next ‘milepost’ of  loudness for which we have a notation symbol. That, for example, between f and ff there are fewer distinguishable degrees in loudness than there are between mf and f, which in turn has fewer than from mp to mf.

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The many “directions” of legato

December 4, 2019

Part one:

Legato is the existential complaint and rebellion by the piano against its  mechanically percussive nature and thereby against the inevitable decline  in loudness of every note it makes once that note starts.

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A tangible feeling of connection between each part of the arm mechanism and another

November 25, 2019

This is a way to help the student feel the connection between the various parts of their arm mechanism – from shoulder to finger tip.

In the steps that follows the teacher or the student can follow the instructions by doing the things described either to themselves by themselves, or the student and teacher can it to the other.

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Sometimes the hand has to figuratively divide itself into separate parts

November 24, 2019

The hand has often, figuratively speaking, to divide itself into two parts so that it can pivot from the one side to the other.   From one to four fingers lying either on its right side subdivision or its left side subdivision.  What is most interesting about this process is that there is no firm line of demarcation between the two parts of the hand. Rather ,the hand can  subdivide itself at any point along its left-right span.

List of the possible ways of diving the five fingers into two parts:

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