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I saw Mozart in Motown

You may think that I'm losing my mind—that my elevator no longer stops at all of the floors (and you may be right), but I just saw Mozart in Motown. I wasn't in Detroit, and there wasn't any time travel involved. Indulge me for a moment, and I'll try to explain. It was late afternoon, another beautiful day in northeast Georgia. The sun was starting...
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A Life among Legends

Jacques Leiser. © Jacques Leiser
Richter, Michelangeli, Berman, Arrau, Cziffra, Callas. These are just a few of the legendary artists that Jacques Leiser has worked with in his remarkable career.  As an agent, impresario, and photographer, he played no small part in the successful careers of many of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century. As a confidant, advisor...
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Beyond the Keyboard

Dr. Edwin Gordon was one of the most distinguished and influential music educators of the twentieth century. His work on the measurement of music performance, audiation, and Music Learning Theory had far-reaching implications for a wide variety of musical settings. In November of 2015, Dr. Gordon was named a Lowell Mason Fellow by the National Asso...
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The teaching legacy of Rosina Lhévinne

The teaching legacy of Rosina Lhévinne
Rosina Lhévinne found herself in an awkward position in the late 1940s. Later famous as the teacher of Van Cliburn and John Browning, among others, and as an outstanding pianist who made her debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1963 at the age of eighty-two, in 1946 she was "at a loose end." Her lifework until then had been to serve as the helpm...
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Piano Talk

​For quite some time, I've found myself noting the vocabulary we use to describe our peculiar life-enterprise as pianists. We steal from everywhere, and each theft seems to convey some facet of our identity. Some of those identities might best be discarded; others serve to remind us vividly of music's broad affinities.  I was first struck...
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Wael Farouk and the Rachmaninoff piano oeuvre

​ Wael Farouk was born with extremely short hand ligaments. He can't make a fist, open a jar, or button his shirt, but he can play the complete solo piano works of Sergei Rachmaninoff, who is known for complex and demanding music. At thirty-two years of age, the youngest piano faculty member in Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing A...
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To use, or not to use?

​ Peter Serkin uses it. So do Emmanuel Ax and Richard Goode. Sviatoslav Richter started using it.  As a faculty member in 1980, Gilbert Kalish promoted a policy about it at Stony Brook University; it was ok to use it during degree recitals. Many top competitions prohibit its use. Its use has been discussed and debated at great length in recent...
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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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The great compensator

pedals
A full range of expressive gestures evocative of other instruments is always at  our disposal. We pianists are constantly grappling with the fact that our instrument cannot truly sustain tones. A few fractions of a second past its production—marked by a meteoric rise in loudness—every new sound plummets in volume as surely as if it were b...
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The legacy of Guy Duckworth

Guy Duckworth works with a group class at the University of Colorado
Dr. Guy Duckworth, a pioneer of group piano pedagogy, died on January 27, 2015, at the age of 91. He was my professor in the unique graduate programs that he created and directed at the University of Colorado at Boulder in Piano Performance Literature and Pedagogy: Process of Group Environments. His legacy will live on through the students he taugh...
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The value of music

Piano teachers have great jobs, and I think most of us are thankful that we get to spend our days sharing something we love with our students. It is immensely gratifying to see our students grow as musicians and watch music become an important part of their lives. At times, however, it seems like the rest of the world doesn't see music study in the...
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The 2015 GRAMMY® Awards

The 57th GRAMMY® awards were held on February 8th, 2015 , 2015, and  I had the distinct pleasure of attending. Behind the glitz and glamour of the broadcast you see on television is an incredibly well-run organization staffed and served by industry professionals who care deeply about music and its impact...
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Dorothy Stolzenbach Payne: Remembering a legendary Cincinnati piano teacher

Dorothy Payne
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Ruminations on Musicality

Ruminations on Musicality
The conversion of a series of black dots into a piece of music is a magical process, but one all too easily derailed. The alchemy occurs in two steps: the first step—relatively simple—converts dots into audible pitches, while the second—far more complex— converts pitches into intelligible language. As teachers, we're responsible for teaching both, ...
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A trip down memory lane: An unmarked, homemade tape recording leads to a reassessment of salon music and what constitutes musicality

​ It started out as a "name that tune" exercise. In January 2010, my husband and I flew to New York to attend the annual Chamber Music America conference. During our visit, we had brunch with my brother Marc, a rock guitarist. In the course of our conversation, he asked a favor. His friend Dan Francazio, another rock musician, had a sister who died...
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With this gigue, I thee wed

​For better or for worse, in sickness and in health..." As I think back to my marriage vows, I wonder how they might have changed if I knew then what I know now: "In forte and piano, in Scriabin and Prokofiev, until you are parted by death or insanity...?" My husband, Salam, is a Renaissance man, a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde. By day, he works as an...
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How do we honor a child’s musical voice?

​My eleven-year old student Corey arrived at the year-end recital dusty and sweaty from playing two tournament soccer games. With fifteen minutes to start time and no audience yet present (graduation parties, other soccer and baseball games), Corey sat down at the piano to try out his pieces. He ran through the ABRSM Jazz Piano arrangement of Duke ...
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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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Franz Liszt the Teacher

Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt was a legendary pianist, famous for his overwhelming technical prowess and expressive power. Many today do not realize that as a teacher he had a lasting effect upon piano playing throughout Europe and even in the United States. Most of the great pianists of the nineteenth century came under his influence, whether or not they attended h...
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The completion of De Profundis: Instrumental Psalm for Piano & Orchestra by Franz Liszt

Excerpt 1: Liszt’s dedication page. “De Profundis Psaume Instrumental pour Orchestre et Piano Principal by F. Liszt.” Dedicated to the Abbé Felicité de Lamennais.
The instrumental psalm De Profundis for piano & orchestra by Franz Liszt (Raabe: 668, Searle: 691) is an unfinished, though virtually complete manuscript held by the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar, Germany. It was composed during the late summer of 1834 while Liszt was staying at La Chênaie, in Brittany, having sought out the company of ...
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