Marvin Blickenstaff is known among piano teachers throughout the country for his teaching, lecturing, performing, and publishing. Currently he maintains a private studio in the Philadelphia area and teaches at The New School for Music Study in Princeton. Blickenstaff is the former Board President of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard...
Marvin Blickenstaff is known among piano teachers throughout the country for his teaching, lecturing, performing, and publishing. Currently he maintains a private studio in the Philadelphia area and teaches at The New School for Music Study in Princeton. Blickenstaff is the former Board President of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy and is on the Executive Planning Committee of the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. In 2007 the on-line journal Piano Pedagogy Forum published tributes to Blickenstaff honoring his contribution to piano teaching in America. Also in 2007 he was named Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He was honored in 2009 with MTNA’s highest honor, the MTNA Achievement Award, and was selected in 2013 by the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy for its Lifetime Achievement Award.
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The power of one--a legacy of beautiful music

Back in the 1930s a young Venezuelan pianist wished to further her musical studies , and did exactly what many aspiring musicians from North and South America chose to do in those days: she went to Europe to study. After completing her studies in Paris, she made two life-altering decisions: she returned home to Venezuela, and she became a nun. Sist...
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Independent Study Project

When I taught on the college level, I would frequently assign my freshman and sophomore students a composition to be learned on their own. No help from me. They might listen to recordings and would sometimes play for friends, but the preparation was basically independent study. Junior and senior level students would be assigned one of those indepen...
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Purple Moments

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  ​Plant a Purple Moment in every lesson. Call it what you will – every lesson needs at least one. Perhaps it came in the duet you played with the student. The ritardando and diminuendo in the last two measures left both you and the student momentarily speechless. It might have been with a piece that had been practiced slowly for several weeks...
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Making music come alive

In my early years of teaching I clearly remember commenting about my students' playing to my husband, "All the notes and rhythms are correct, but they don't sound that good. I'm not sure how to help them make the music 'come alive'." I certainly have many more ideas and solutions than I did as a beginning teacher, and have learned a great deal from...
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Sharon Reich Walton
While sorting through years of Clavier and Clavier Companion Magazines, I found Marvin Blickenstaff's article from July 2012 calle... Read More
Monday, 01 April 2019 20:54
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What repertoire do you use when a student can play with only one hand, and how do you assign it?

from the series: ​Putting It All Together: Repertoire Marvin Blickenstaff, Editor All teachers become skilled in dealing with the unexpected. Most of us have had stud en ts enter the studio with an arm in a sling or cast, or fingers wrapped in heavy bandages. Our creative juices start to flow and we improvise lessons and assignments which bend...
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How do you include music history in the study of repertoire?

​from the series: Putting It All Together: Repertoire Marvin Blickenstaff, Editor My student and I are looking over an edited version of a Bach Two-Part Invention. "Is there anything  here on the page that Bach did n ot write?" I ask. "What about the metronome marking, and the tempo marking? How about these slurs and the staccatos here in the ...
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Do You Use Recordings to Reinforce Your Teaching of Repertoire?

from the series: ​Putting It All Together: Repertoire Marvin Blickenstaff, Editor "Listen carefully." How many times did you use that phrase yesterday in your lessons? Listen...for  what? How? Why? Most of us readily would agree that the hallmarks of artistic playing involve shaping of sound, balance of the texture, and tone color appropr...
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A Fond Farewell (Für Elise)

Marvin Blickenstaff, Editor from the series: Putting It All Together: Repertoire  One of the favorite photos I have hanging in my study is a shot of the original staff of  K eyboard Companion . Pictured there is founding editor Richard Chronister and his dear wife Marjore, Elvina Pearce, Brenda Dillon, Cathy Albergo and husband Frank...
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How Do You Teach Cut Time (Alla Breve)?

In the Winter 1994 issue of KEYBOARD COMPANION, several writers responded to a question on teaching downbeats. As if in unison, those teachers gave suggestions for feeling large groups of beats, the sense of moving from one down beat to the next instead of from one pulse to the next pulse.  We swing, conduct with sweeping circles of the arms (...
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How Do You Teach Your Students Not to Hesitate at a Bar Line?

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In one of the earlier issues of KEYBOARD COMPANION, a subscriber wrote to the Rhythm Post Box offering a suggestion for handling the problem of students who pause before a bar line. Her suggestion was to "white out" the bar lines, removing that visual barrier. The possible need for such an extreme solution illustrates that the issue of rhythmi...
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What Is Your Opinion of Counting Aloud and How Do You Encourage This Activity at Home?

"I don't believe in counting aloud . I just  feel the beat." You can imagin e my sur pri se  at this respons e from an adult s tudent  who was playing incorrect rhythms in pas sages  of Rhapsody in Blue . I thought, like most  of us would, that th e fastest way to solve the  problem would be to have this student count&...
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How Do You Teach Downbeats?

To teach or not to teach downbeats is really not the question. We all realize that a sense of meter is dependent on the student's feeling of emphasis on the first beat of each measure. Just how one teaches downbeats varies from teacher to teacher, from method to method. Many helpful suggestions for a variety of rhythm activities aimed at feeling th...
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How Do You Practice Rhythm? - A Student Survey

In a recent faculty seminar our resource person was an educator whose research expertise focuses on teaching effectiveness. During the seminar he showed video-tapes of effective classroom procedures and outlined ways in which we could improve our own teaching techniques. He mentioned that, although there is much research on the components...
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How Do You Teach a Piece Containing Both Duplet and Triplet Eighths?

from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Subdividing a beat is not such a formidable task to experience and understand. Many of the words we use are made of polysyllables (that one has five!). Our names and the names of towns and states are excellent examples of the way language subdivides a pulse. Anyone can say Mississippi Cowboy or ...
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When Does Rhythmic Training Become Training for Interpretation?

When one first reads the question posed for this month's column, an initial reaction is that the question may be a loaded one. Or perhaps the reaction is: "Obviously, from the very beginning." However, the intent of the question is neither to trick the reader nor to state the obvious. Rhythm does, indeed, become one of the major considerations as w...
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How do you teach dotted rhythms?

Although the steady pulse is fundamental to the concept of rhythm, the lilt and forward movement of rhythm is created through the variety of note values. Dotted rhythms are vital to our rhythmic experience. Folk tunes, patriotic songs, hymns, and Christmas carols are replete with dotted rhythms because of the life they give to the rhythmic flow. Th...
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