Piano Pentathlon and Piano Hullabaloo: Celebrating the piano

Piano Pentathlon and Piano Hullabaloo: Celebrating the piano
​Many music organizations host annual festivals for student pianists each year where students play in a master class atmosphere, are critiqued, and are given suggestions for improvement. These learning opportunities can be extremely valuable, especially for those preparing auditions and recitals.  Yet, I have often wondered exactly what is "fe...
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The future of piano teaching - gamification in teaching

The future of piano teaching - gamification in teaching
PRESS PLAY ​Jane McGonigal, The Future of Piano Teaching author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and other books, is a video game designer. In a TED talk from 2012,1 Jane tells her inspirational, emotional story of getting a concussion that did not heal properly. This is what happened:  I was tol...
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In the Moment recital

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An arranging workshop

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Time certainly flies when you're having fun. I realized this year that my first published arrangement was copyrighted in 1984. Math was never one of my strongest subjects, but I think that means I've been at this for more than thirty years. That adds up to a lot of staccatos, phrase marks, altered chords, and double bars. It has been a privilege to...
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Comping 103—Waltz-time broken chords

​ Here's a riddle: What do you break to fix? Answer: bland blocked chords. ​Whether improvising teacher accompaniments or helping students dress up ho-hum arrangements, broken chords are a very useful trick to have in your bag. Broken chords sound great with lyrical, long-note melodies that beg for a busier accompaniment. They are also particu...
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Comping 102 -- Going further with "boom-chicks"

Last time, we explored playing a basic (boom-chick) stride pattern to accompany students when no duet part is provided. Now, we'll consider two ways to enhance and adapt this useful "stock" accompaniment. 1. Passing note bass Add variety and momentum to the steady boom-chick of a basic stride by connecting the roots of chords with passing bass note...
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Comping 101 - Accompanying Students

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Accompanying students is an enjoyable way to transfer musicality from veteran to rookie efficiently without so much "teacher talk."  For students, it  • tightens up their sense of time;  • helps them listen while playing;  • enables them to feel more like "real musicians";  • prepares them to play in ensembles;  • and ...
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Questions and Answers

Q: Recently I've noticed that creativity as a theme for conferences and workshops seems to be coming up more and more. What are your thoughts on creativity in piano lessons for the average student? A: I'm glad you asked because I'm on a mis-sion. First, I believe (no, I know) that all children are naturally creative—until we teach it out of th...
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Creating by chance

Can't get started making your own music? No excuses! Use the laws of chance to prime your creative pump. In the eighteenth century, Mozart devised a game for composing minuets by assigning pre-written melodic fragments to the numbers on dice. Here's a similar activity you can use to prompt creativity in your studio. 1. Rhythm a. Easy waltz rhy...
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Introductions

A good musical introduction creates anticipation for the listener by suggesting the key and style of a tune about to be played. Ready? Go!  The easiest way to set up a tune is to play a V7 intro chord. This works because it takes advantage of our expectations about functional harmony. Since most tunes begin with the I chord, a V7 chord pl...
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Create and Motivate

​One fun and important area of teaching music that sometimes gets overlooked is creativity. While most of us would agree that improvising, composing, arranging, and playing by ear are necessary ingredients for developing comprehensive musicianship, somehow we may not get around to teaching these skills often enough in our lessons. One thing is for ...
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Silent movie accompanying for students and professionals

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In 2012, we are so far removed from the so-called silent film era (ca. 1894-1929) that most of us have only a vague concept of what it was really like. Although the films of that period were silent, their presentation was not. In the small venues, films were accompanied by the local pianist (who was often the neighborhood piano teacher) or a small ...
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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 E...
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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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Chord Substitution

One thing that has always drawn me to jazz is the harmony. It is fascinating to hear how a single chord change can define one artist's interpretation of Autumn Leaves or Night and Day from another artist's interpretation. Applied judiciously, these harmonic variations will add touches of color to your own arranging and performing. When one chord is...
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The rhythms of jazz: Syncopation

An important aspect of rhythm (in any style of music) is the alternation of accented and unaccented musical elements. When the accented elements differ from what is expected, we have syncopation, an essential part of jazz. This article will examine two kinds of syncopation first outlined by Winthrop Sargeant in his pioneering 1938 work Jazz: Hot an...
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Creative being and the disciplined life

Imagine living our lives sans creativity.We would never vary our diets or the kinds of books we read.We would dress in similar styles every day, no variety, ever. Inevitably we would slow down our personal growth.We would minimize the "highs" in life, and reduce possibilities for personal discovery. And, we would probably practice piano by mindless...
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Preluding with the Masters

For centuries, improvising introductions to keyboard works, also known as preluding, helped inspire musicians and prepare audiences for what was to come. (The German verb präludieren and the French verb preluder can simply mean "to improvise.") Preluding had practical functions as well, allowing performers to warm up, test tuning, or adapt to unfa...
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How do you teach musicality?

We have all heard it from our beginning (and sometimes more advanced) students-that awful, wooden, unmusical playing. What can we do to fix it? If we tell them to crescendo to a certain note and then get softer, they stiffly climb up and down the dynamic ladder, and it sounds even less musical! Can musical playing be taught, or do some st...
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Understanding the jazz language

If you are interested in becoming an orchestrator, there is no better teacher than the music itself. Find an orchestral score and recording of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker: listen, read, and learn! In so doing, you are making a connection between the written page and how it translates into sound. If you want to become a better jazz musician, ...
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The art of the vamp

A vamp is an improvised piano accompaniment, sometimes containing melodic figures (licks or riffs), other times simply consisting of block chords played in rhythms. Or it can have both! You usually vamp when you are accompanying a soloist. A basic chord progression is provided and it's your job to "fill in." Here's a fun chord progression to p...
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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 Piano Magazine in 2019.

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