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Celebrating Leonard Bernstein at 100: An exploration of his solo piano works

Bernstein
Bernstein's Musical Legacy As the Leonard Bernstein centennial draws to a close, it is an ideal time to consider the extraordinary career of one of the most significant musical figures of the last century. A prodigious multi-talent, Bernstein became a renowned composer, conductor, pianist, author, teacher, and humanitarian. Although some counseled ...
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November/December 2018: Pupil Saver

Rev It Up! D avid Karp's Toccatina  in D Minor (FJH) is  a high-energy intermediate  piece that  will rev up any student. Written  almost entirely in the treble clef, the  rapid sixteenth notes, syncopated cadences,  and interesting mix of major  and minor sounds add up to an exciting  and riveting conte...
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Revisiting Long-lost Gems: American Folktunes in Nineteenth-century Piano Music

 I n the nineteenth century, classical  music was in its infancy in the United  States and uniquely American musical  voices were few and far between. Although  there were some notable exceptions—such as  pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk—most American  musicians flocked to Europe "only to return with  pale imi...
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Gurlitt: Aus dem Norden, Op. 130, No. 21

Gurlitt
Preparation and Presentation  Pieces that are helpful to have experienced or played before approaching this one. ​ Kohler: Etude in F Major, op. 190, no. 27 Diabelli: Vivace in C Major, op. 125, no. 7 any pieces that involve playing a LH broken-chord accompaniment against a lyrical RH melody, in either 3/4 or 3/8 Creative activities to explore...
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Clementi: Sonatina in C, Op. 36, No. 1, I. Allegro

ClementiSonatinaimage2
Preparation and Presentation  Pieces that are helpful to have experienced or played before approaching this one: ​ Lynn Freeman Olson – Beginning Sonatinas Nancy Faber - Classic Sonatina in C Major Dennis Alexander - Simply Sonatinas Theodore Latour - Sonatina No. 1 in C Major Thomas Attwood - Sonatina in G Major Creative activities to explore...
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Burgmüller: Ballade, Op. 100 No. 15

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Preparation and Presentation Pieces that are helpful to have experienced or played before approaching this one: ​ Burgmüller - Arabesque Rossi - Atacama Desert Atwood - Sonatina Kabalevsky – Clowns Creative activities to explore before the first encounter with the score, to prepare a student for deeper engagement and more immediate success: ​ What ...
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Kabalevsky: Clowns, Op. 39

clowns
Preparation and Presentation Pieces that are helpful to have experienced or played before approaching this one: ​ Beethoven - Ecossaise in G Major, WoO 23 Niamath - Playful Puppy Niamath - Penguins Creative activities to explore before the first encounter with the score, to prepare a student for deeper engagement and more immediate success: ​ Learn...
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Kabalevsky: Clowns, Op. 39, No.20

Kabalevsky: Clowns, Op. 39, No.20
Preparation and Presentation Context: pieces that are helpful to have experienced or played before approaching this one Beethoven - Ecossaise in G Major, WoO 23 Niamath - Playful Puppy Niamath - Penguins Get Ready: creative activities to explore before the first encounter with the score, to prepare a student for deeper engagement and more immediate...
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September/October 2018: Pupil Saver

From the "Motivating Bookshelf Logan is sitting on the piano bench, his mother behind us. Logan and I are discussing repertoire for both short- and long-term goals. Logan is in soccer, tennis, robotics, piano, violin, and a plethora of church activities. Following a polished performance of "The Little White Donkey" from Jacques Ibert's Histoir...
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Deciphering Chopin’s shorthand in the posthumous Mazurka in F minor

​If someone had told me a decade ago that I was going to produce the first (and, so far, only) published reconstruction of Chopin's posthumous Mazurka in F Minor that includes every uncanceled measure of the composer's sketch, I would have laughed. But apparently when a performance opportunity inspires a research obsession, unexpected things can ha...
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Performing Chopin in the style of Chopin?

Interest in historically-informed performance continues to evolve as scholars and serious-minded pianists gain more knowledge regarding nineteenth-century performing styles. Though much progress has been made in this field, a question still remains: Is there a definitive performance practice that enables pianists to play the works of Chopin in the ...
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Touching Debussy, Teaching Alchemy

faries-are-dancing The Fairies are Exquisite Dancers, Illustration in 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' by J.M Barrie
Sound is touch at a distance. Jad Abumrad, from Radiolab "Sound is touch at a distance." I heard this quote at a recent talk given by Radio Lab creator, Jad Abumrad, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Over and over it repeated itself. Mothers sing to babies after they put them down as a way of continuing physical contact, Jad told us. So, i...
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Elizabeth Medici
Wonderful discussion of Debussy's elegant and refined style that gives us so much emotional freedom at the piano. It is also a ver... Read More
Thursday, 12 July 2018 10:22
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First Debussy piano pieces with pedagogical advice

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Claude Debussy was a person of great restraint and even considered elusive by some. He was not concerned with the technical issues of a pianist, and yet was highly attentive to the quality of a pianissimo and its relationship to softer or louder levels of sound. We know his playing generally did not reach a forceful fortissimo . He cared less about...
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Connections between the music of the United States and Claude Debussy

Debussy_1900
It has been more than one hundred years since Claude Debussy was composing masterpieces that were part of a general revolutionary movement that challenged European musical traditions. Debussy was looking for ways to distinguish himself as unique and French, while at the same time using sources from other countries. He found inspiration in varied an...
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July/August 2018: Pupil Saver

Preludes-picture_edited-1
A grand setting for C minor by Carmen  Doubrova Some students diligently practice their repertoire pieces, but are less enthused about scales and exercises. Fortunately, long ago, I discovered Ballade from Betty Colley's early-intermediate collection Styles for Piano (Kjos). This piece is a brilliant study of the natural minor scale. The C-min...
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Linda Mannering
Hello Carmen, Thank you for this article. I cannot find Betty Colley's early-intermediate collection Styles for Piano (Kjos) or ... Read More
Saturday, 21 July 2018 09:33
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Why don't you come out of the pantry? Is left-handed piano music anything more than just a historical curiosity?

pantry
Why should a pianist with both hands in perfectly working order bother to devote their time and energy to study—not to mention perform—compositions or arrangements for the left hand alone? Is there any value in exposing oneself to that obscure genre? And what if you actually have some inclination towards it, but a...
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From Schumann to Schoenberg

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Cover: Blaues Selbstportrait, 1910 by Schoenberg Breakfast was not a good idea before tackling measures seven and eight that featured sixty-fourth notes and tremolos, as well as a meter shift from 6/8 and 3/8 to 2/4, among other mind-bending directions. Is playing music meant to induce nausea?  At age ten, I took one year of piano lessons. Ado...
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March/April 2018: Pupil Saver

Got a Pupil Saver? We love to hear from you. If you are interested in submitting your Pupil Saver for consideration, please contact Susan Geffen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Pikes Peak Rag by Melody Bober Sometimes, a jaunty little rag is just what students need to rejuvenate their musical juices. Melody Bober's thirty-measure early-inte...
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​​Too much of a good thing: The dangers of over-demonstrating in a piano lesson

The Piano Lesson.1871, George Goodwin Kilburne
The scope of teaching tools at the disposal of any music instructor is often as rich as the music they teach. Since the earliest days of education, there has been an ongoing evolution of what teaching is, how learning happens, what role the teacher plays in a pupil's education, and what teaching methods produce the highest degree of learning. A pri...
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Celebrating the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage

Suffragists_Parade_Down_Fifth_Avenue_1917
  In March of 2017, I had a delightful experience that I thought I'd share with you, and as a result, introduce you to some exciting and marvelous music you may wish to explore further. In 1917, women were given the right to vote in New York State. Three years later, on August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote...
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