A Show-Stopper from Norman Dello Joio

Norman Dello Joio's Simple Sketches (Edward B.Marks/Hal Leonard) provides a rewarding musical and technical challenge for the late-intermediate student. The collection contains three fairly short pieces, the first of which, Allegretto, is my favorite to teach. For some students, the quirky tonality—a trademark of Dello...

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Still on fire or burning out?

W​hat type of music teacher burns out? Often she is an idealistic, "on fire" individual who does not have a firm pedagogic sense of what is real and what is fantasy. Someone who believes that all children can achieve a high level of mastery at the instrument, regardless of their level of intelligence, talent, discipline, and parental support. He ma...

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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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What matters more: talent or effort?

Recently I saw a cartoon that showed two smiling parents watching their child as he brushed his teeth. A banner was posted over the top of the bathroom mirror that said, "Congratulations on brushing your teeth!" One parent was looking adoringly at the child, hands clasped, while the other stated, "I just feel like we're setting him up to be disappo...

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Thoughts on the Tiger Mom debate

To say that Amy Chua has touched a nerve with parents is an understatement akin to saying that Franz Liszt had an influence on piano performance and teaching. Since the publication of her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in January, and the subsequent Wall Street Journal article "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," a firestorm of discussion and ...

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How do you assign repertoire to the "overstretched" student who has little time to practice?

In recent conversations with piano teachers, several have expressed some discouragement in their teaching because students frequently come to lessons too exhausted to play, or even think, and have had little time to practice. After reflecting on this, I believe as piano teachers, we are music educators first. Being professional musicians,...

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Culture of caution

Our culture is saturated with slogans, advertising and otherwise, encouraging people to be bold and brave and fearless. No fear.  You go, girl!  Go for it!  Just do it!  Yes you can! Given the sheer volume and intensity of these and other slogans, one would think that we all would have assimilated the message by now and our...

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Praise for nothing means nothing

My six-year-old granddaughter plays soccer in a league where the coaches and parents refuse to keep score, because they want the children to "feel good about them- selves and their performance." One afternoon my husband made the mistake of cheering on Corinne's team as it made a goal. Within earshot of our granddaughter, the coach took him aside an...

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You consistently have high school students that play extremely difficult repertoire such as Chopin Ballades. How do you prepare them to play this difficult repertoire at such a young age?

I am amazed when I see high school students effortlessly playing advanced repertoire, and I have observed that certain teachers seem to constantly have students at this level. Wondering how this is accomplished, I asked two such teachers, Paul Wirth and Donald Morelock, to share some of their methods. Of course success...

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Shouldn't technical study be fun? Liszt, etude practice, and attention to detail...

It rests in a corner of a neo-classical style building from the 1920s - a beautiful temple, faced with Indiana limestone. The central court in which it slumbers is full of beautiful things: several pieces of Chihuly art glass, mounted high on the wall; a seventeenth century Claude Lorrain portrait of a young boy; and a Fairfield Porter paintin...

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A Teacher's Roundtable on Solutions to Common Practice Problems

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Elvina Pearce, Editor For our Home Practice column in this issue, we have invited five highly successful teachers to become a roundtable panel and share with us some of their solutions to the most common issues which have to be addressed in their own studios, and which those of us who teac...

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What motivates adults to continue piano lessons?

from the series: It's Never Too Late: Adult Piano Study Brenda Dillon, Editor A walk down memory lane ... It has been said that inside the body of every seventy-year-old is a thirty-five-year-old saying, "What happened to me?" When one of the writers for this issue backed out near the deadline, I suggested to Elvina that I answer this question...

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How Do You Motivate the MTV Lover to Be a Serious Piano Student?

The two contributors to this issue were asked to answer the same question-How do you motivate the MTV lover to be a serious piano student? However, having spent some time with their responses, it seems clear that they have answered two different questions. Thus, before you read what they have written, I invite you to consider the nature of this kin...

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How Do You Motivate Your Students to Practice Technique?

I am often touched by the sincere desire of music teachers to improve themselves and the lives of their students. It's ironic that so many large international corporations have only recently discovered the virtues of continuous improvement (one of the buzzwords of business in the '90s), for indeed we music teachers have known its benefits all along...

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How Do You Balance Your Emphasis on Accuracy and Interpretation?

In the last issue, students and parents responded to the question, What makes piano study a positive experience for you or your child?, and I invited readers to read the comments and to form their own conceptualization of recurrent theme(s). As I searched for common themes, it seemed to me that the major one was that the teachers of these children ...

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How Do You Decide What to Say After Your Student Finishes Playing? Part II

Piano teachers have to make dozens, perhaps hundreds, of decisions during each teaching day. But, have you ever really thought about how you make all of those decisions? Do you just say the first thing that comes to mind? Do you have a particular procedure for deciding? In the Autumn 1993 issue of KEYBOARD COMPANION, Alana and Richard Kennell ...

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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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What Makes Piano Study a Positive Experience for You/for Your Child

​​by Joyce Cameron with the help of seven students and parents Imagine. You have engaged in some activity for a number of weeks- or months- or years. Now you sit back and think about what you have been doing. How do you go about evaluating your participation in this activity?​ It is likely that you find yourself grouping qualities of...

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Can a Student Have Fun and Learn at the Same Time?

Fun, a simple three letter word which is probably a part of every young child's vocabulary, can be used to communicate two very different kinds of meaning. One meaning is pejorative in nature; the other is associated with the experience of pleasure. The resulting potential for confusion can be seen in the following pairs of sentences:  Do...

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From the Inside Out: Motivation

How Do You Decide What to Say After Your Student Finishes Playing? In any teaching/learning situation, a teacher's behavior is the result of decisions made before, during, and after a particular teaching/learning transaction. The difficulty for piano teachers who would like to improve their teaching is that rarely do we get an opportunity to observ...

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About Piano Magazine

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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