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!

Beginning students: when the student surprises you.  A six year old student at her third piano lesson.

January 10, 2021

C.P.’s lesson on 12/31/20

For the beginner, learning to interpret music notation is sometimes difficult, in particular merging information coming into the eyes from the page of music and physically producing ordered sounds at the piano.  Part of this in turn has to do with whether the student is aware of everything that is on the page or only notices part of it. We must begin with finding out what the student consciously sees.

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Beginners. C.C.’s lesson on 12/16/20

January 10, 2021

C.C.’s default is to memorize.  She finds this easiest, and less confusing then trying to turn on her ability to comprehend what she sees on the printed page and convert it into a series of actions and sounds at the piano keyboard. For instance, before she plays two first two measures of a particular piece she says to me: “Is this where the notes go C C D C?”  And if I say yes then she plays the notes by recalling from her short term memory the order of what she just said.

She has difficulty multi-processing.  Especially when it involves two

simultaneous procedures that initially seem very distinct and unrelated one to the other, but which is presented to her in such a way as if as if they are somehow meant to accompany each other in time, and a confusing promise that eventually she will form a synthesis of the two so that they appear to her as a single activity.   In this case, she was being asked, on the one hand, to process the visual symbols on the page of music (and to do so in the correct temporal order) while, on the other hand, learning the physical coordinations necessary to manipulate the keys of the piano to produce a series of sounds in the same temporal order.

 

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Bach: Well Tempered Klavier: Book One: Prelude in C# Major

January 10, 2021

A.B.’s lesson from several weeks ago.

Confusing the student…the “feel” of what key is under a finger versus the name given that key in the score:

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The voice as an ideal model for the piano.

January 10, 2021

W.B.’s lesson

By singing, you are taking control over the piece instead of the piece taking control over you.  The latter case occurs when the piece forces your body to follow a certain order of muscle movements and thus hiding from you the inner soul of the music.

Singing molds the phrase:

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Bach: The Goldberg Variations: #29: “Pas De Deux”

January 10, 2021

When performing a ‘pas de deux’ in ballet (“steps” taken by “two” people at the same time) one of the goals is that when the bodies of the two dancers are in close proximity, the audience sees a sort of fusion of the two in space and in time.  Each motion by one dancer being designed to support, advance, sustain, facilitate, or even betray, the current motion of the other dancer.In piano playing, there is an analogy to the pas de deux.  The two dancers are transmuted into two parts of the pianist’s body.  Parts, such as for example the thumbs of the two hands, which sometimes get quite near each other on the keyboard, and can therefore exert a negative or positive influence on the actions of the other.

In this particular Goldberg variation, in the indicated passages, the thumbs of the two hands repeatedly take turns playing the same note on the keyboard, usually in short temporal proximity to each other, so that there are only a bare minimum of other notes interceding between the iteration of a note by one thumb and a second iteration of the same note by the other thumb.

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