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Whose Assignment Is it Anyway?

It happened again this week. I had used the word "heartbeat" to suggest the way the left- hand chords in the B section of Burgmüller's Ballade should sound. Every teacher knows the usual klunk-klunk sound most students first make when playing them. Owen had immediately responded to this image with exactly the right two-chord phrasing. Ah, success,...
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Patsy Surratt
Thank you so much for this great article. This was very helpful and very timely. I have a student working on the Burgmuller Ballad... Read More
Sunday, 22 September 2019 19:26
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September/October 2018: Variations

The music of life Serious illness visited my husband last winter. Our lives suddenly became a round of doctor appointments, surgery, tests, treatments, and continual bad news. My husband and I have received thoughts, prayers, food, visits, gifts both serious and funny, cards, and people's heartfelt love. We are gratefu...
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May/June 2018: Variations

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Rediscovering the joy of music  1950.  Rediscovering the Joy of Music Lincoln, Nebraska. I am four years old, living with my parents in a new GI-Bill financed tract house, dancing around my bedroom to Side B of my Golden Record of The Five Little Firemen . It is a 5-inch 78 RPM made of yellow plastic, and I am quickly wearing down its gro...
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Jan/Feb 2018 Variations: A nickel for every mistake

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Seven-year-old Serena's mother describes her daughter's first piano practice of every week. "We always have tears! If she makes even one mistake, she is ready to give up. She expects herself to be able to the play the piece perfectly the first time. No matter what I say, she gets upset. Eventually, she turns her frustration on me, which means she e...
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Studios are not just in living rooms anymore

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Sometimes the world brings people into your life who ignite your energy and restore your passion for teaching. Last February, on a sunny morning in Austin, Texas, last February, I met two such individuals, Wendy Kuo and Klondike Steadman, the executive directors and owners of The Orpheus Academy, a music school with 410 students employing more than...
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Perfectly managing imperfection

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. ---Vaclav Havel I am listening to seventeen-year-old Olivia play her college audition pieces: a Chopin Ballade and a Bach Prelude and Fugue. I am not her teacher; Olivia has an outstanding mentor at a renowned ...
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Closer look: The Music of Teaching

The Music of Teaching: Learning to Trust Students' Natural Development by Barbara Kreader Skalinder By inverting two words— teaching and music — Barbara Kreader Skalinder changes what could have been a fairly mundane title to one that intrigues and gives us pause. But it is her subtitle, Learning to Trust Students' Natural Development , that grabs ...
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When students quit

I quit piano twice. During my last year of high school, I left my long-time teacher a handwritten note in an envelope on her desk. In it I detailed the reasons I was "quitting piano." I no longer remember what those reasons were, but I suspect they were related to feeling I had let her down by losing a then-recent contest. I don't remember that she...
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Make parents your partners

​In her book ​The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, ​Jessica Laney writes,"... why do so many teachers cite the challenge of dealing with their students' parents as their main reason for abandoning the classroom?" 1 Throughout the public and private school systems, the relationships between parents...
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Variations: Take the leap

Do you remember your first piano student? I certainly do. His name was Steve Glickman, and I was his fifth piano teacher in four years. It was 1974. I had just completed my Master's degree in Piano Performance at Northwestern. True, I had studied Piano Pedagogy with the legendary Fran Larimer, and had already taught several students as part of her ...
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I have a student who...

I have a student who graduated from my studio this year. Leah began study with me as a curly-haired, precocious five-year old. Today she is a vibrant young woman of eighteen. Leah chose three pieces for her final performance: "Footfalls," by Wayne Shorter, which included a luminous jazz improvisation; the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight" S...
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Teaching Music in a Virtual World

​On this overly-warm Autumn afternoon, I am attempting to teach a Net-Gener 1  how to play Bill Boyd's "Swing-a-Ling." How do I know eight-year-old Panagiotis is a Net-Gener? Because he stuffs his iPod and earbuds into his pocket, carefully places his iPhone on the music rack, and begins to fidget the minute I put the music in front ...
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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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I-Hsiang Chao
This is a very instructive and well-written article, and your readers can only be grateful of its illumination of the teacher’s fu... Read More
Sunday, 29 September 2019 17:37
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C.P.E. Bach meets Death Cab for Cutie

​I think I have finally reached an age where I can say: "Teaching today just isn't like it used to be." In the "good old days," my way of working with a high-school sophomore went like this: I would peruse the MTNA Syllabus and choose several appropriate pieces listed at my student's current performance level. At the next lesson, I would demon...
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Tackling a twelve-year old's slump

Katherine, one of my more talented students, recently gave me this honest description of a typical practice session. She is twelve.  "It takes me forever to get myself to stop what I am doing and go to the piano. When and if I do get there, I usually begin my practice by playing a chromatic scale the entire length of the keyboard— first with m...
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Liszt at High Altitude

You have probably seen the cartoon: Bugs Bunny cracks the knuckles of his three fingers and proceeds to play Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. As a child I longed to perform this music the way Bugs did—with joy, élan, and, yes, like a showoff.  Many descriptions of Liszt's piano playing depict him as a wildhaired showman, a precursor of the li...
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"I have a student who..."

​The next time you are sitting with a group of teachers, count the number of times someone says, "I have a student who..." When I am on the road giving workshops and teachers approach me at the break, these words begin the phrase I hear most often. The speaker usually goes on to describe some problem with a student that he or she has so far been un...
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Clara Schumann: Ambivalence and resilience

The lives of Clara and Robert Schumann make great movies.Two exist: Hollywood's "Song of Love" (1947), starring Katherine Hepburn as Clara Schumann and Paul Henreid as Robert, and the German film "Frühlingssinfonie  (1983), starring Nastassja Kinski and Herbert  Gronemeyer. Both films present what have become  typical versions of Cla...
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Seeds for the future

Fallow periods. Farmers know every crop field needs them. The earth cannot sustain continuous growth. Why then do we humans think we can? Unflagging effort creates steady progress, or so the story goes. Yet who among us is capable of unceasing work and ever-expanding creativity? The instant communication of this twenty-first century world heightens...
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The piano magazine lives on

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L et's take this moment to celebrate the marriage of Clavier and Keyboard Companion. As these two magazines begin life as one, it is important to remember that C la vier Companion' s debut issue continues a long lineage of grand old piano magazines. Pianofort e, the first piano magazine, appeared in London in 1797. In that year John Adams became th...
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About The Piano Magazine

The 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 the Piano Magazine in 2019.

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