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Progressive progressions

​Something wonderful happened to me this year: I was assigned a new student, Chris (not his or her real name), who is a very talented pianist, and who studied with a fine teacher. Chris always arrives at every lesson motivated, eager, and excited, but even more fascinating is Chris' desire to start each lesson with scales! Chris asks me for a key, ...
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Eleventh chords in jazz and popular music

There is a swath of New York's Catskill Mountains, a two-to-three hour drive from Manhattan, that until recently was euphemistically known as the Borscht Belt. As a teenager I spent my summers playing in dance bands in the area's resort hotels. The predominant clientele were middle-class Russian Jews-one of their favorite dishes, beet borscht, was ...
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How do you work on improvisation in your group classes?

Improvisation activities with your group classes can be surprisingly effective. Working with their peers can help encourage and motivate students to try out different ideas and get over any initial hesitation they have about improvising. It is an activity that can engage everyone, and students get to develop their aural skills as they listen to eac...
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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 musi cian ...
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In the mood for modes

M usicians throughout the centuries have been fascinated by modes, their unique structure and sound, and the opportunity for expressiveness they offer. From folk songs (Scarboroug h F air) to pop music ( El e anor R igby) to jazz (Maide n Uiyage ), we have been intrigued by the mystery their distinctive elements create in our ear. Jazz musicians es...
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How Do You Use Improvisation to Motivate Your Students?

Improvisation, in the sense of the simultaneous composition and performance of music, or in the sense of using available musical materials to fulfill an immediate need, has been a part of keyboard music making for centuries. Yet, many current piano students have not had the opportunity to explore this dimension of music making. ...
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How Do You Use New Technology in Teaching Improvisation?

​Everyone reading this magazine- teachers, students, parents- is a product of the 20th-century. That means that we are, in varying degrees, modern, progressive, and up-to-date in our attitudes, teaching, and expectations. Or does it? How many of you enjoy improvising? Do you regularly teach or even encourage your students to enjoy the kind of "spon...
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Is it accurate to assume that all adult students study piano only for personal enrichment? If adult students want to improvise, what are some activities that will get them started?

The beauty of a publication like KEYBOARD COMPANION is that we can change our questions in mid-stream if our incoming mail provokes a change. Jane Karwoski wrote me a thought-provoking letter last summer challenging the assumption that all adult students study piano only for personal enrichment. I asked her to expand her thoughts into the article b...
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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 and learning.

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