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JAN-FEB 2017 READ-ALONG: Josef Lhevinne’s “Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing”

fb-read-alongHello Blog Readers!

Wow!  It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but things sure have been busy on the live streaming end of things.  You could say that most of my “blogging” now has been in-person and LIVE.  There’s much more emotion and tone you just can’t put into writing.  I’ve truly enjoyed connecting with you in this way.

A new year is great time for goal-setting, new inspiration and a “re-start.”  What better way than with a project to get your wheels spinning in new directions for 2017.  Instead of our usual Play-Along, the gang over at the FB Play-Along group has voted on a Read-Along, the first ever in the blogisphere I think.  If you’re reading this after Jan. 10, 2017, no worries!  Jump in at any time during our schedule since the book is not sequential and you can always catch up later by watching the previous replays.  I’ll post the replays here on the blog about every 2 weeks.

FROM JANUARY 10  thru FEBRUARY 14 (approximately), we’ll all be reading “Basic Principles of Pianoforte Playing” by Josef Lhevinne.  Click HERE for all the info you need to get started.  There’s no official sign-up, but purchase a copy of the book soon if you don’t have one.

Basic Principles in Pianoforte PlayingYou can grab a copy HERE on Amazon if you like.  If your book arrives after we begin, no worries. You can still watch the 1st LIVE broadcast on Chapter 1 on Tuesday, January 10 (or the replay) and catch up on the chapter afterwards.

WATCH THIS video introduction of the Read-Along for all the specifics.

OR

Click HERE to read all the info you need to get started.


Read More

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Donald Waxman’s “Piano Pageants, Book 1A” Piano Play-Along: Post Four (Pages 24-35)

3Enjoyed chatting with you this week about Pages 24-35 via Periscope and Facebook Live.  Hurry and add your comment on each of the 3 sections of the book HERE so you’ll be entered in the FINAL GIVEAWAY on Tuesday, May 10.  *Comments are due by 8AM Central on May 10. I will announce the 3 winners that day at 10AM Central during the LIVE broadcast.  You don’t have to be present to win.

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the blog posts in action via LIVE video.  Sure makes it easier than writing everything I want to say!

PDF Download IconThe PDF study guide for the video below is HERE. If you don’t have the book or PDF in front of you right now, it’s OK.  I play through each piece on the video and you can follow along easily. Read More

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Donald Waxman’s “Piano Pageants, Book 1A” Piano Play-Along: Post Three (Pages 12-23)

2Here’s the Live Broadcast for this week’s discussion of Pages 12-23.  Thanks to all of you viewing the Replay here or on the Facebook pageThe PDF study guide for the video below is HERE. If you don’t have the book or PDF in front of you, it’s OK.  On this video I play through each piece so you can follow along easily. Scroll to 4:30 to get right to the content.

The pieces in this set became more substantial and less rudimentary, but that’s to be expected with a primer of progressive pieces. What were your favorites from this selection?  Please comment below in the REPLY section and add other observations, too.  Each comment earns you a ticket for the FINAL GIVEAWAY – 3 nice prizes mailed directly to you!  One comment per blog post is the max. Read More

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Donald Waxman’s “Piano Pageants, Book 1A” Piano Play-Along: Post Two (Pages 1 -11)

2Was thrilled! to chat with all of you yesterday on the LIVE broadcast.  Thanks for joining in and to all of you REPLAY viewers as well.  Below is the REPLAY for any who missed it.   The PDF study guide for the video below is HERE (covers pages 1-11).  I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts and receiving feedback yesterday.  Be sure to add your thoughts and comments about Pages 1 -11 below to share with other teachers .  There’s never enough time for posting on the broadcast. Definitely share your one-sentence description of the book (how you’d describe it to a teacher) and tell me what you thought of these initial primer-level pieces.  What did you love?  What did you learn?

PDF Download IconHere’s the PDF download with the discussion points for Pages 12-23.  Just make quick notes in the margin of your book. Remember to tune in to the LIVE broadcast at 10AM Central next Tuesday, April 26.

Don’t have the book yet?  See below. Not too late to get started.  You’ll probably receive the book in the mail before next Tuesday.

Please try, try to join the Periscope broadcast if you can, because it allows me to interact with you a bit more, but if you prefer Facebook LIVE that’s OK, too.   Invite friends to come join us so they’ll learn all about a Piano Play-Along.  If they’re not on Facebook, tell them to try Periscope on their mobile phone/tablet.  Info just below.


TO BUY the BOOK at a 20% discount, go HERE.

SEE the FULL PLAY-ALONG SCHEDULE HERE.

TO VIEW on FACEBOOK:  Go to facebook.com/pianoteachercamp.  LIKE the page and sign up for Notifications (either “default” or “see first”)

TO VIEW on PERISCOPE:  The Periscope app is FREE for your mobile device.  Read about how to download it HERE.

piano_periscope_icon_mThe little buttons at the top left of this post will allow you to SHARE with your friends. See you on TUESDAY at 10AM CENTRAL!

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Donald Waxman’s “Piano Pageants, Book 1A” Piano Play-Along: Post One (Discussion Starter)

2So excited about the April Play-Along!  We just kicked it off today with both a Periscope and Facebook Live broadcast.  A first for me! Great to see all of you who were able to join in.   If you missed it, you can view the REPLAY BELOW.   You’ll learn what to prepare for our First Discussion next TUES, April 19, at 10AM Central on Periscope and Facebook Live.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts LIVE!  And tell your teacher friends – it’s not too late to join.

PDF Download IconHere’s the PDF download with the discussion points for Tuesday’s broadcast.  Just make notes in the margin of your book. Simple thoughts are OK.  The pdf will guide you.  And if you don’t have the book yet, please join us anyway.  You’ll be able to get the gist of it even without the book for now.

Please try, try to join the Periscope broadcast if you can, because it allows me to interact with you a bit more, but if you prefer Facebook LIVE that’s OK, too.   Just be sure to comment and let me know that you’re there! 🙂


TO BUY the BOOK at a 20% discount, go HERE.

SEE the FULL PLAY-ALONG SCHEDULE HERE.

TO VIEW on FACEBOOK:  Go to facebook.com/pianoteachercamp.  LIKE the page and sign up for Notifications (either “default” or “see first”)

TO VIEW on PERISCOPE:  The Periscope app is FREE for your mobile device.  Read about how to download it HERE.

piano_periscope_icon_mThe little buttons at the top left of this post will allow you to SHARE with your friends. See you on TUESDAY at 10AM CENTRAL!

 

 

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April 2016 PIANO PLAY-ALONG: Donald Waxman’s PIANO PAGEANTS, Book 1A

Begins April 19 - Click Piano Play-Along above!FROM APRIL 16  thru MAY 6 (approximately), we’ll all be studying/playing Book 1A from Donald Waxman’s beloved series “Piano Pageants”  Click HERE for all the info you need to get started and learn about the purpose of the Play-Along.  There’s no sign-up, but start now by purchasing or locating your copy of the book.

1-3122NEED A COPY?  

We begin on April 16, so hurry and grab a discounted copy HERE or two!  Use CODE:  APRILPLAY to receive 20% off any no. of copies.  If your book arrives after we begin, no worries. You can still watch the LIVE broadcasts on April 16 & 19 and review the summary blog post later.

WATCH THIS video explanation of the Play-Along (it came from a Periscope!) Read More

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Benda’s “Sonatina in A minor” Piano Play-Along: Post Four (Take-Aways)

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Hope you all enjoyed the Benda A Minor Sonatina Play-Along.  Even if you weren’t able to stay on schedule while it was happening, the beauty of a Play-Along is that you can jump in anytime even after the scheduled Play-Along has ended.   Make any Piano Play-Along our own self-guided project to learn a new piece and gain a little more insight about it.  But remember Play-Alongs are community projects also.  I want to hear your thoughts about the pieces whenever you “play-along”.    So….. practice a little, read a blog post along the way for insight, maybe make a comment on your findings, practice a little again, read another blog post, comment, etc.

I’m still hearing from folks who are reading along with the Kabalevsky Play-Along from last year.  I enjoy reading the comments and returning to the score to investigate someone else’s finding or suggestions. 🙂

BENDA INFOGRAPHIC

A little info about Benda to share with students…..

My take-aways from the Benda Play-Along:

  • This is a deservedly-popular and beloved piece for student pianists because of its engaging musical characteristics.  It offers tuneful melodies, dramatic harmonies, and finger-tickling toccata-style goodness with every measure.
  • The fact that it’s short, yet full of interesting twists and turns makes it appealing to students and its show-stopper quality is appealing to audiences as well.  Makes you wish there was more of it once it’s over.
  •  Excellent study in rhythm and part-writing for an aspiring intermediate pianist and offers opportunity to explore a good range of the keyboard.
    The student will have to count like a fiend and absorb many details in articulation, but the pay-off is worth it.
  •  I find that students continue to play this piece on their own even long after they’ve completed it.  That’s a good sign of a mesmerizing piece…..
  •  Studying the Supraphon edition at imslp.org was quite revealing.  It was surprising to see how over-edited this piece has become through the years and how inaccuracies have prevailed in student editions.
  • I think a NEW student edition is in order, one that reflects Benda’s first edition more accurately with added notes to students about pedaling, accurate distribution of the voices, repeats, etc.

I’m going to prepare a new student-friendly edition for the Piano Passport catalog, and include a short learning guide for mastery of the more difficult technical areas.  How does that sound?  More teachers and students should have quick access to this wonderful piece!

Please pipe in with your take-aways below…. would love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time!

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Benda’s “Sonatina in A minor” Piano Play-Along: Post Three (Tricky Passages )

Benda TPassages

piano_periscope_icon_mI hope you all have enjoyed the Benda A Minor Sonatina Play-Along with the Periscope enhancements this time.  I’ll continue to “scope”-along with our Play-Alongs.  🙂  I think it brings our score study to life and I enjoy how it builds even more community among participants in our group.  Please comment below with your thoughts on the addition of Periscope, and tell me if there are other aspects I could highlight during a scope session.   I’ll try to add more future student performances as I am able.  And….I’m working on a plan to SAVE some of the Play-Along Periscopes for later viewing after the 24-hour expiration.  Bear with me!

 

instagram-logoDon’t forget to watch the mini-video tutes on Instagram.  FOLLOW @pianoprof at Instagram and Periscope and set your notifications to ON.

 

 

Now that you’ve been playing the Sonatina for approximately 2 weeks, what do you think is the trickiest passage(s) in the piece? Either for you or a potential student?  Please ADD YOUR COMMENT BELOW with measure nos.
Of course, there could be several “tricky” spots for students when they first begin working on this piece and I remarked on those in an earlier Periscope.  For this post, I limiting it to the TWO spots that I think cause the most concern for the teacher and student.

1.  Measures 41-48
Benda Tricky Passage photo
This sudden change in texture really blindsides students at first.  At m. 41 they lose all rhythmic precision and suddenly slow the tempo way down.  I believe the root cause is the rhythmic shift from 16th-note subdivisions (mm.39-40) into eighths, then quarters later, and then dotted eighth-sixteenths, etc.  I find that students try to approximate the pacing of the eighths in m. 41 rather than count it precisely.

As mentioned in my Periscope, students must count like fiends in this area.  There’s just no way around it.  I have students count aloud from mm. 39 forward, by just saying the rhythms aloud first without playing.  While pointing to the rhythms in the score,  I have them count 16ths in mm. 39-40, followed by eighths in mm. 41-43, and so forth.  My students recite  “1-ee-and-a” for 16ths and “ 1 and “ for the eighths (you could choose another counting method if you prefer).  Once they get their lips wrapped around the counting, they truly know it and can direct their fingers to follow what they recite aloud.  While counting they can also listen for the steadiness of their tempo.  Of course, have them work hands apart as needed.

2.  Measure 44
Benda rest
This is the first and only pause in the entire piece.  Did you notice that? And it seems that students park themselves on this rest while they scurry to arrange their fingers quickly for the dotted rhythms.  Again, working hands separately and counting 16th subdivisions very precisely will assist in the entrance, but it’s the quick consecutive double-note manuevers in the RH that cause concern here.

Here’s the fingering I suggest for m. 44 (in the photo above – Supraphon edition):
RH:  5-1 to 4-1 then 3-1 to 2-1 (which lands on beat 1 of m. 45)
LH:  2 to 3 to 1 to 2 (which lands on beat 1 of m. 45)

NOTE:  Two notes for the RH and single notes for the LH. is exactly how Benda wrote it in his first edition according to the Supraphon editors.  For more info about this Czech edition, click HERE. 

PLAYING TIP:  Rather than play directly downward into the keys on the RH double notes, stay close to the keys and use a “sliding” motion with the hand as you play each pair of double notes.  The video below demonstrates.

When you time the sliding motions with your counting it all comes together so much more easily and there’s no fumbling around with the hand jumping about. Do you hear the student counting?  He makes it look easy, doesn’t he? But…..he’s always determined to solve issues by counting.

I hope this helps.  I look forward to your REPLIES below.  Please share so we all may compare notes, OK?  A little Benda “wrap-up” post will soon follow this one. Keep on practicing!

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Benda’s “Sonatina in A minor”: LIVE Student Performance on PERISCOPE!

FINAL BENDA Periscope

To celebrate the close of the BENDA A minor Sonatina PIANO PLAY-ALONG, join us on PERISCOPE for a LIVE student performance and interview- SAT, Oct 10, 12:15 Central Time. Learn about the student’s perspective of this piece and see him in action. He’ll take your questions LIVE. You must download the PERISCOPE app on your mobile device in order to interact with him. Once you do, FOLLOW @pianoprof and set notifications to ON. *** If you miss it, the REPLAY will be available for 24 hours on your device.

QUICK PERISCOPE  HOW-TO:

  1. Download the FREE Periscope app on your mobile device – cell phone or tablet.  Go to the Apple store or Google Play to download the app.
  2. Use your cell phone# or your Twitter account to sign up.
  3. Set Notifications to “ON.”
  4. Create your account and choose your @name.
  5. Post a photo of yourself and bio on your profile later if you prefer.
  6. Search for Elizabeth Gutierrez or “@pianoprof88”  and FOLLOW.
  7. Whenever I start a broadcast, you’ll hear and see a little tweet alert on your device.  You may REPLAY the broadcast later, but it expires after 24 hours.

Without the mobile app, you may view LIVE on the web here — www.periscope.tv/pianoprof88— but you receive an alert or be able to chat with everyone. REPLAY is available for 24 hours.

FOR ADVANCE NOTICE of FUTURE #PIANOSCOPES (piano teacher workshops on Periscope), go to the SIDEBAR just to your right and LIKE the Piano Camp for Piano Teachers FACEBOOK page.  In the LIKE area, choose GET NOTIFICATIONS.

That’s it!  See you Saturday on the #pianoscope!

 

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Benda’s “Sonatina in A minor” Piano Play-Along: Post Two (Edition Comparison)

Benda Post 2 header
piano_periscope_icon_mThanks to all of you who joined in on the PERISCOPE this past Monday morning, Sept. 28.  Hope you’re enjoying this method of relaying info!

THE NEXT PERISCOPE will be TIPS for TRICKY PASSAGES & PRACTICE TECHNIQUES – Tuesday, Oct. 6, 10 AM
Stay tuned to INSTAGRAM for video tips!

Here’s a summary of Monday’s PERSICOPE when I compared a researched edition of the Am Sonatina with the the modern editions available to us. I shared information I found in the Supraphon edition below ( a 1984 Czech edition edited by a Dr. Jan Racek and Vaclav Jan Sykora). The editor of the Suprahon edition, Mr. Sykora, consulted a rare print of Benda’s own 18th-century publication of sonatinas to create this edition below.

Supraphon

Editio Supraphon Praha – 1984

I located this score at the International Music Score Library project website HERE.  This website is an invaluable source to any musician looking for public domain music whether it be urtext editions, early editions, or something more scholarly than what you may own.  Downloads are available to you under some conditions which are stated at the site.  You should definitely refer to this site often when you question the authenticity of any score you own (for public domain music only; composers who died before 1922).
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STATEMENTS MADE in the SUPRAPHON PREFACE that apply to the A minor Sonatina:

  • Benda was indeed friends with CPE Bach whose friendship stimulated his growth as a musician.
  • The Allegro tempo indication is Benda’s own.
  • The notation in our modern editions is correct, with the exception that Benda used the soprano clef instead of the treble clef. The Supraphon editors         changed it to treble in their edition.
  • Benda always included specific ornamentation and it should be realized according to CPE Bach’s Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments (according to the editors).  After all, the two were close colleagues.
  • The rhythm in our modern editions is true and accurate, including the division of the hands (16ths).
  • – Dynamics are almost non-existent in Benda’s original, so what you see in today’s editions is editorial.  The Supraphon editors added dynamics based on the hammer action of the modern piano (i.e., areas of the piece with lots of rhythmic activity would be louder than those with little)
  • Phrasing that you see in our modern editions has been added (by this I mean slur markings) to follow modern principles of interpretation. Benda used phrase marks rather haphazardly.
  • Pedaling is entirely lacking in Benda’s original!  What you see in our modern editions is editorial.  Interesting…..
  • Fingering is not mentioned in the preface, but more than likely Benda didn’t include it.  In those days you were expected to know how to finger appropriately.

_____________________________________________________________________ COMPARISON of the SUPRAPHON edition vs. MODERN STUDENT EDITIONS on my desk. Get your pencils out.

PEDALING:
Note that Benda DID NOT include pedaling in any of his music according to the editors of the SUPRAPHON edition, so don’t be so inclined to strictly follow what you see in our modern editions.  The editors of the SUPRAPHON included some suggestions for pedaling the 16ths for a more “modern interpretation” and perhaps this is what our modern editors have been following.  In keeping with the Pre-Classical tradition, I would only add pedal for warmth and resonance in certain areas of this piece.  I advocate “half-pedalling” or “dabs of pedal” in order to make the piano ring a bit more in the forte areas.  The clarity of the 16ths should never be compromised or obscured.  I advise “undetectable” pedaling in this piece (i.e., no obvious blurriness).

ARTICULATION:

  • The staccatos you see in the modern editions are indeed Benda’s own, but note that the first 16th of the piece (RH “A”) should not be staccato as I notice in a couple of editions.
  • Slurs were not written by Benda, but if so, rather haphazardly.  The editors of the Supraphon editors included what you see in your scores for the most part, with a couple of minor instances in the LH.  (EX:  mm. 23-24 — the LH is detached).  Playing the LH quarter notes in detached style throughout would be considered stylistic for the time period if you preferred to do that.
  • Accents — m. 5 (F) and m. 29 (A) are the only accents included in the Supraphon edition, but the editors did not indicate if they added them or if they were Benda’s.
  • The leggiero indication in m. 17  — added by the Supraphon editors, but no mention of whether it’s Benda’s.  But it’s a good idea given the texture and the toccata style of this piece.

DYNAMICS:
Benda did not include any in his original, including hairpin cresc. or dim. marks. The editors of the Supraphon edition included the following  suggestions based on what keyboardists may have performed on early pianos (or harpsichords) of the time.

mm. 1 – 16 (A section):  All forte
m. 17 – piano
m. 23 – crescendo toward m. 25 — forte
m. 33 – piano
mm. 35-36, 39-40 – swells (cresc., then dim.)
m. 41 – piano
m. 44 – forte

* I generally agree with the editor’s suggested dynamics based on the texture and the performance practice of the time.  You certainly could add hairpin cresc. and dim. marks to certain areas of 16ths to create more melodic shape.  Nothing wrong with making your 16ths sound melodic on the piano, right?

ORNAMENTATION:  The only ornament Benda included is the trill in m. 42.  Since the sonatina is from the Pre-Classical period, it’s best to follow the practice of the time and perform the trill as a 4-note trill (E-D#-E-D#).

_____________________________________________________________________  Hope this revelation into the Supraphone edition helped.  Please feel free to comment BELOW with any other questions you might have about your score.  
See you TUESDAY, OCT. 6, 2015 at 10am CENTRAL TIME on PERISCOPE!  (find me @pianoprof)