Summer 2021: Questions & Answers by Sara Ernst

Q. My elementary students want to explore the piano pedals, but they are too small to reach without straining or dangling off the bench. What do you recommend?A. The piano pedals are certainly wonderful for the resonance and color they provide, and this does spark interest from young learners. There is an excellent variety of educational ...

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Bringing Performance Experience with a Period Piano to a Modern One

If Mozart had had a modern concert grand piano, would he have composed the same music? Absolutely not! No doubt, he would have been strongly influenced by the characteristics of the modern instrument, and his musical approach on the piano would have been completely different.  Why am I so sure about this? Did I have coffee with Mozart? Un...

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Gourmet care and feeding of the pedals: Pedal uses and their regulation


In my thirty-five years of touring, my relationship with piano technicians has always been a focal point. They are my partners in creating a memorable musical experience. In looking together at the hundreds of pianos that I've encountered, in large and small venues, from super high-quality brand concert grands to older...

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Bumping into Brahms: A conversation about the Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2

JM: Oh! Sorry sir, you startled me! I almost bumped into you. But wait, I know you! Are you not Herr Doktor Brahms? Brahms: Guten Tag? Bitte, kein Doktor. I am amazed that we have somehow encountered one another here. Might it be because I have played so many of your wonderful song accompaniments and piano pieces recently? Would you possibly be wil...

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The teaching of Enrique Granados


In addition to being a great composer, Enrique Granados was also a dedicated and innovative teacher whose pedagogical approach has been explored only recently. Many of his ideas were not published during his lifetime, but rather entered into his diaries, passed on to his pupils verbally, and annotated on scores. Many of his pedagogical works were, ...

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Art song and pedaling


I love art songs, and I've recently returned to practicing art song accompaniments on the piano. It's been good for me; I get to practice music I like without the usual piano exercises or repertoire. Moreover, I get to rethink, reconsider, and reaffirm my philosophy regarding piano playing—especially as it pertains to the accompaniment of song. Alt...

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The Teaching Legacy of Rosina Lhévinne - Part II

The year 2016 marks the seventieth anniversary of Rosina Lhévinne's first masterclass. Although Mme. Lhévinne may have started her masterclasses in Los Angeles feeling uncertain and inexperienced, she quickly became one of the top masterclass teachers in the world. She was able to impart the fundamentals of 'Russian School' technique—beautiful tone...

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Finding the "soul" of your foot: The nuances of pedaling


When I was a young piano student, I reveled in the joy of hearing two clashing harmonies blur together under one pedal. In my teenage years, much like my peers, I loved to pedal emotionally, often liberally and with fervor as the beauty and passionate music of the great Romantic composers transported me. But, I never dared touch the pedal...

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The great compensator


A full range of expressivegestures evocative of other instruments is always at our disposal. We pianists are constantly grappling with the fact that our instrument cannot truly sustain tones. A few fractions of a second past its production—marked by a meteoric rise in loudness—every new sound plummets in volume as surely as if it were bei...

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What Aspects of Teaching Pedaling Do You Think are Most Important?

Most aspects of piano playing and teaching show characteristics of both science and art. Some appear to be more on the "method" side of that spectrum, others on the "intuition" side. Pedaling seems to be significantly more than fifty percent art, due to the enormous variety and complexity of sounds that can emanate from the instrument, and also sin...

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Making music come alive

In my early years of teaching I clearly remember commenting about my students' playing to my husband, "All the notes and rhythms are correct, but they don't sound that good. I'm not sure how to help them make the music 'come alive'." I certainly have many more ideas and solutions than I did as a beginning teacher, and have learned a great deal from...

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When and how do you introduce the damper pedal?

All teachers of beginning students have asked this question at one time or another. Students love to use the pedal. Unfortunately, they often love it a little too much. And pedal habits, like all other habits, are difficult to change once they are learned. It is vital, therefore, to introduce correct pedal technique early on. Three highly successfu...

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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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