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Music together: Creativity in preparation for the book

Children are excited by sound, they want to make sound, and they want to explore possibilities and express themselves at the keyboard. Children are brilliant— until someone tells them they aren't. When faced with too many rules and layers of abstract concepts at the beginning stages of study they are often just overwhelmed by information they don't...
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The imaginative piano teacher: Musings on being more creative in the piano studio

As we start a new year of teaching, I believe that many of us wonder how can I improve and become a better, more efficient, and more productive teacher this year? I know I do, even as I start my 44th year of teaching. Of course, I prepare by consulting past lesson plans and pedagogy syllabi. As I meet new students and welcome back returning on...
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Consonance vs. dissonance: Inborn or cultural?

F or many years, I have taken  issue with the notion (held by  some) that consonance—the  absence of musical tension— equates to combinations of pleasant and  agreeable musical sounds, while dissonance—the  presence of musical tension—equates to combinations  of unpleasant and disagreeable musical sounds. It is  a...
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Perspectives: Why I love teaching learning-challenged children

As a piano teacher, I love working with students who catch on to new concepts quickly, who are respectful and obedient, who are able to give polished performances, and who progress rapidly. Yet, over my two-and-a-half decades of teaching piano lessons, I feel my biggest success stories are students who did not do any of these things. My biggest suc...
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Twenty-first century trends in computer-assisted ear training

A fine chef is expected to taste a dish and identify the key ingredients and an artist is expected to identify the nuances of color and shade,  ​yet many young and inexperienced musicians do not fully understand or appreciate the need to accurately hear and identify musical details. Ear training is one of the most essential skills that a compe...
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Learning to play by ear

The purpose of this exercise is to plant a seed of playing by ear in fertile minds , a seed that could germinate and result in life-long learning. A command of basic chords is important, but expanding your vocabulary of chords can become a source of pleasure for you and for your listeners. Hearing the different chords that go with each pitch of the...
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The dynamics of sound and time

Music is at once simple and complex. We hear it, and we are moved by the feelings the music evokes. Yet, it is also a complex matter. There are eight ingredients of music: medium (the sound), meter-tempo-rhythm (the time), melody (the tune), harmony  (the chords), texture (the thickness or number of voices), form (the organization), dynamics (...
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Blues 103-Improvisation

In the last two columns, we looked at the steps involved in composing and varying a basic Blues melody. The next step is to stretch the form even further by adding improvisation. Blues scales You know how it feels good to complain a little now and then? It gets your concerns off your chest and clears the air. Sometimes, yesterday's problems can eve...
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Pencil practice 102

As a student pianist at music camp, I once asked an improvisation teacher for tips to help me improve my creative skills. "Learn everything you can about harmony" was his quick answer. Today, I agree that, especially for pianists, chord fluency opens more doors to creativity than any other element of music. Writing chords by root In addition to mas...
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Instant alto clef fluency

Reading alto clef can be a snap for pianists. In fact, if you can read the grand staff, you already have the skills necessary to read the alto clef fluently. The method to accomplish this is a simple one—it involves some imagery and an application of what you already know. Just envision the alto clef as the exact middle of a grand staff that has be...
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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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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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Music by heart: Tips on memorizing more efficiently

​ More than one hundred years ago, at a Paris book stall by the river Seine , a young German scientist had a flash of inspiration—an idea that changed our knowledge of human memory's mechanisms. Hermann Ebbinghaus wondered if memory and the process of forgetting could be measured scientifically, and, on his return to Germany, devised experimen...
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Notable next-door neighbors

Many music theory textbooks illustrate melodies  that often consist, in part, of chord tones—the notes that match an underlying harmonic progression. An example of this may be seen below, in the folk song Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair . The first three pitches, above the words "Black, black, black," are chord tones outlining a D mi...
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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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