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Grab Your ONLINE Piano Camp Here! But only through August 31!

Hey there!

How’s your summer been going?  Can’t believe it’s already August and before you know we’ll be back in the swing of teaching again.  Yikes!  What happened?

Did you miss your own PIANO RETREAT this summer?  We had a fabulous! Piano Camp for Piano Teachers with the brilliant Marvin Blickenstaff on June 30 in San Antonio, TX.  If you couldn’t make it or haven’t yet enrolled in the ONLINE version, grab it by AUGUST 31. After that it will not be available anymore at the Camp pricing. And guess what? There’s now a summer budget-friendly payment plan as well.  🙂

 Read all about it HERE.  And snag it before enrollment closes on AUGUST 31 at midnight!

It includes these 4 Video Sessions:

  • Warm-Ups? Who, Me? Technical Routines for All Ages Marvin Blickenstaff, presenter
  • Performance Practice Made Easy: Rules of Thumb for the Student Marvin Blickenstaff, presenter
  • A Simple Step-by-Step Start to Major Scales, All Without A Book Elizabeth Gutierrez, presenter
  • The End is in the Beginning: Coaching a Piece to Performance Marvin Blickenstaff, presenter

Plus…..

  • Downloadable handouts
  • LIFETIME ACCESS to the videos, in addition to any content upgrades later.
  • A bonus “dessert” video from Marvin.
  • 30-day money back guarantee from date of purchase if you aren’t satisfied.

View on a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device.  No special software required for viewing.


What Teachers Are Saying…..

“Thank you Elizabeth, thank you Marvin – watching this conference right now on replay and finding so many teaching tips. A true gold mine of piano pedagogy wisdom. Such well spent money and time. The info is multi-level and plentiful – am going to have to write notes upon notes!”

Sarah Arnold – Brussels, Belgium

 

“Marvin’s wealth of wisdom and knowledge is remarkable, but I equally enjoyed his humility, kindness and joyful spirit. Thank you Elizabeth for another wonderful Piano Camp for Piano Teachers. I’m especially excited that I will be able to watch the videos over the next year. You’re a huge blessing to the piano community.”

Ginny Godsey – San Antonio, TX

 


Did you miss last year’s ONLINE Piano Camp for Piano Teachers (now a course called “Sorting Out the Piano Classics:  What to Teach and When”)?  Here’s your chance to enroll in BOTH the 2016 and 2017 ONLINE Camps at a very nice investment price of only $247 (w/ lifetime access).  Even better…. it too is available on a payment plan, but hurry!  This VIP BUNDLE of piano teacher education will also go away on August 31, 2017!

Click HERE to view the BUNDLE contents.

This package also includes 3 yearly Group Coaching Webinars where I answer your pressing questions about teaching classical repertoire.


See You On The Inside!

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REGISTER NOW for the 2017 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers with Marvin Blickenstaff – Attend LIVE or ONLINE!

So excited to announce our guest clinician for this year’s Piano Camp for Piano Teachers, the highly sought-after and beloved Marvin Blickenstaff!  For years Marvin has been providing teachers worldwide with insightfully creative, thoughtful teaching techniques that just work and he’s the one they flock to for workshops, lectures, and master classes.

Now you can see Marvin in-person at the 2017 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers in the lovely San Antonio, TX or at your leisure via your computer or mobile device!

JOIN US on Friday, June  30, 2017 at RBC Pepper South Texas in San Antonio (formerly RBC Music Company) if you would like to see Marvin in action, ask him questions, and share a lovely lunch with him. OR…..Join him via your computer or mobile device beginning on/around July 10 and watch the videotaped lectures from that day.  All participants, both LIVE and online, will have access to the recorded version of the workshop (4 sessions) thru December 31, 2017.

Click HERE to view all the details plus the workshop topics. You may register for either the LIVE workshop on June 30 or the online version.

******IN-PERSON participants:  Seats are still available as of June 25.  If the registration link is open, you may still register.  All of you will have a chance for Q&A with Marvin, you’ll receive lunch on site, plus door prizes and the videos as well!

Yes! I’ll RESERVE my SEAT NOW!

Look forward to seeing you in person on June 30 or ONLINE!

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FREE PREVIEW of ONLINE “Piano Camp for Piano Teachers”!

So THRILLED to announce that the ONLINE version of the June 24 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers (Houston, TX) is now available for those who could not make it to the LIVE event.

UPDATE!!! – the online version of the 2016 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers is now an online course entitled:  “Sorting Out the Piano Classics”  Read all about it HERE.  Grab it at the introductory price BEFORE OCT. 1, 2016!

Here’s what’s included: 

  • Five intensive sessions (7+ hours of video) outlining a logical teaching order of standard piano literature, Baroque to Contemporary, from the late elementary to early advanced levels.
  • Demonstration of example repertoire.
  • Useful teaching tips and techniques you can take right to the studio.
  • Handouts to inform you what to teach at each level.
  • PDF guides to help you match method books and repertoire collections to each level of study.

You will have LIFETIME ACCESS to this course and all content upgrades added in the future. View on a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device.  No special software required for viewing.


A glimpse of the curriculum below.  Click HERE to see the contents and watch a FREE PREVIEW! (see the module entitled “Presentation of Intermediate Pieces by Era – Romantic/Modern”)

Course Curriculum Screen ShotSee you on the inside!


What teachers are saying:

“I have watched about half of the videos and printed the handouts and can tell everyone that a LOT of work has gone into this Camp. If you are getting your repertoire lists ready for the fall and wanting a good sampling of classical pieces, this is the place to go. It is complete with an extensive list divided by levels and Elizabeth plays a sampling of most of them. The handouts include musical examples also.”

Lizbeth Atkinson – Columbus, OH

“I have enjoyed and benefited from the videos so much. I enter my students in our state program each year. Our state has 12 levels similar to Jane Magrath but 12!!! It has really been hard for me since my college back in the 70’s did not have a good pedagogy class. Thanks for your consideration!”

Betty Lawson – Tucson, AZ

 

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2016 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers will be ONLINE soon!

Adobe Spark(7)

We had a blast at our 2016 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers in Houston this past Friday!   For those of you who missed it, videos of the entire “in person” workshop will be available ONLINE for you to view at your leisure beginning July 15 right HERE.    You won’t need to download any videos or possess any special software.  You’ll simply log into the website and view/replay the sessions whenever you like on your desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device.

TOPICS PRESENTED:

2016PCPTWEBbrochurebackOnce you’ve purchased the video course, you will have lifetime access to the videos, pdf handouts, and any content upgrades I add later!  I’m so pleased to be able to bring this “virtual” camp to interested teachers for the very first time.  Many of you have told me how you wish you could have traveled to TX. No need for that!

BIG thanks! to all the teachers who attended the LIVE event.  It was wonderful to see some returning teachers and some new faces as well.  Should you have any questions about the topics we talked about, please don’t hesitate to email me at elizabeth@pianoteachercamp.com.  I know it was a long day filled with a multitude of recommended teaching pieces, tips for teaching, historical info, etc.

A HUGE thanks to the Fort Bend Music Center and owner, Rick Cochran, for providing us with such a quiet and spacious facility.  It was perfect!

And a BIG shout-out to our business donors who donated such generous door prizes for teachers in attendance:

Alfred Music Publishing
Carl Fischer
Faber Piano Adventures
Jennifer Foxx’ Music Educator Resources
Keys to Imagination
Piano Pronto
Susan Paradis’ Piano Teaching Resources
Theory Time
Willis Music Co.

Mark your calendars for our next “in-person” camp in late June 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.  In the meantime be sure to take advantage of the Early Bird Registration for the ONLINE 2016 Camp.

Pre-register before July 15 (the launch date) and you’ll receive my PDF Guide:

“A Quick Guide to the Most Popular Piano Classics Students Love to Play”

A handy outline of a balanced selection of standard repertoire most favored by students, presented by era, level, and in progressive order of difficulty.

Look forward to seeing you there! 

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Join Me for the MusicEdConnect.com Online Conference! – Feb. 2 – 6, 2016

MEC 2016 HorizontalMichelle Sisler and her team have been working hard to prepare fantastic sessions and exhibits once again this year.  Looking at the presenters and their sessions, you will be truly impressed at what’s planned. 26 NEW SESSIONS! including mine:

A Quick Guide to the Most Popular Piano Classics Students Love to Play

THURSDAY, FEB 4, 12:45pm to 1:45pm Central Time

by Elizabeth Gutierrez

Having a hard time deciding which piano classics you should teach and when? Do you wonder whether your students will like your selections? Elizabeth will help you narrow down the sea of choices to create a well-rounded, balanced repertoire for students of all abilities and especially those with discerning tastes.


 The beauty of MusicEdConnect is that all sessions will be available ON-DEMAND after the live conference dates so you can re-watch a session or view a session you missed.  While there is a specific time for each live session, you do NOT have to watch it on that date.  You may watch the 2016 sessions until December 31, 2016!

AND…..

My READERS receive a COUPON CODE! 

UPDATE:  My code has expired and if you are just now reading this post, try code “MEC1516” to save $10.  Expires Feb. 2


A little overview of the conference:

The conference will begin with keynote speaker, Pete Jutras, presenting “The Road Ahead.”  What is the future of teaching piano and what is the best way to teach this next generation effectively?  

NEW this year, Tech Tuesday will offer a wealth of beginning to advanced technology sessions including very practical applications on a shoestring budget, how to replace that spaghetti of cords in your studio and iPad iDeas!  Also part of Tech Tuesday, are the many HOW TO 30/30 sessions on topics such as HOW TO Broadcast Your Recital Over the Internet, extend your screen, use iMovie and GarageBand.  These unique 30/30 sessions will offer a half-hour live with the second 30 minutes recorded for you to watch later when you are ready for that next step.  This will help these technical sessions be a bit less overwhelming so you can take it one step at a time at your own pace.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, learn how to deal with difficult parents, conduct engaging and effective studio classes, gain new sight reading strategies, understand chord symbols, perfect your teaching language, teach beginners technical movements, teach pop music, how to make the most of your lesson time especially with over scheduled students, better engage your students, marketing magic and everything in between!  And….showcases from JoyTunes, TimeWarp Technologies and Keys to Imagination.

Saturday, the networking session returns (Full Access/Live attendees only) as attendees will get to network with other attendees to give and receive great advice, all hosted by some of our presenters.

CLICK HERE for the SESSION DESCRIPTIONS 

CLICK HERE for REGISTRATION INFO (use code EG16 for $10 off)     

Look forward to seeing you there!

 

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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).
_____________________________________________________________________
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)

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Benda’s “Sonatina in A minor” Piano Play-Along: Post One (Discussion Starter)

Benda Blog Photo 1

Welcome to our September 2015 GET IN SHAPE Piano Play-Along!  with Sonatina in A minor by Jiří Antonín Benda, also Georg Anton Benda  (1722-1795).  For more information on Play-Alongs and how to get started, click HERE.  You may join this Play-Along anytime you wish and continue to reply with comments even after October 10, 2015, the day we all chime in with our final thoughts about this gem.

piano_periscope_icon_m

Follow @pianoprof on the Periscope mobile app

This is the FIRST TIME we’ve added Periscope to our Play-Alongs!  I think Periscope will be VERY beneficial for demo on my end and discussion among all of us on a LIVE broadcast.  Much more interactive!  I hope all of you liked it Monday.
*** To stay tuned to LIVE broadcasts on Periscope, please FOLLOW @pianoprof once you establish your account on the mobile app – PERISCOPE.  It’s a mobile-only app so you must download it on your phone or tablet.  You can catch broadcasts at www.periscope.tv/pianoprof on your desktop or laptop computer if you don’t have your mobile device with you during a broadcast (but you won’t be able to communicate on the broadcast with comments if you’re on your desktop or laptop).

Click HERE to learn about downloading Periscope….

A little summary of what we talked about Monday, Sept. 21 on Periscope No. 1…..

       Georg Anton Benda (1722-1795)

Background:
This sonatina is definitely Benda’s most popular from his 34 or so keyboard sonatas and sonatinas, according to Wikipedia’s count.  Benda was mostly known for his operas and melodramas which influenced Mozart.  His short and accessible one-mov’t sonatinas are mostly intermediate in level.  This A minor one appears the most often in educational piano collections and is a real favorite among students because of its dramatic flair, tunefulness, and toccata character, all of which are typical of Benda’s keyboard style.

The Focus:
Arpeggiation between hands, cross-overs, part-writing, and rhythmic variation are all present in this short work which seems to always alternate moods.  Wonderful drama is created from these contrasting elements which makes this piece exhilirating to play.

Interpretative Content:
The variety of textures and rhythmic motifs could cause one to alter the tempo from one theme to another.  Students often rush the fast-moving material (16ths) and then slow the tempo on the longer tones.   This tendency could cause the piece to lose its energy so counting aloud is really essential, especially counting in subdivisions as needed.

Study the form (ternary – ABA) and label each section to see where/if the sections share similar melodic or rhythmic material.   Note also where Benda uses A minor or E Major (the dominant) or C Major (relative major) and the primary chords of these keys. Knowing what geography you’re going to encounter speeds the learning process.

Practice Ideas to Get You Started:
You may want to review the key of A minor a bit.  Run a few scales in 16ths (all forms of the minor scales)  and the primary chords and arpeggios.  Look in the score to see where Benda includes the primary chords and how (broken?  blocked?)

After a few slow readings, divide the piece into study sections first by form (A section vs. B section) and then into smaller sections within wherever you see contrast in rhythm or melody.

EX:  Mm. 1 – 4 vs. mm. 5 -8 (16th-note flourishes vs. syncopated melody)

Perhaps study all the 16th-note areas first, solidfying the fingerings and working for evenness and steadiness in each instance.  Then shift to the melodic ideas with longer tones such as the syncopated theme (mm. 5-8 and similar).  The syncopated themes contain diverse material in each hand so be careful to acknowledge the slurs and the legato indications in the LH.

Once you have the continuity in the small sections mastered (and a consistent tempo), join sections to make 8mm. phrases and so forth.  Keep a reliable “working” tempo and gradually increase it daily to an Allegro over the next 14 days.  None of my present editions contains a metronome marking and Benda didn’t write one (since the metronome wasn’t invented yet).  A good rule of thumb for an Allegro is to play 16ths just fast enough to sound like they are indeed 16ths when compared to eighths and quarters.  We can all compare ideas on final tempo later.

I’ll post my final reactions about this piece on October 10,  but I will probably add another blog post or two before then to ask how you all are doing.  Chime in below and let me know if you’re playing-along, OK?

*** TAKE NOTE! I’ll be doing another Periscope next Monday, Sept. 28, talking mostly about tricky passages and how to work on them.  I’ll also post a mini-video tutorial or two  on INSTAGRAM.  Download the Instagram app on your phone or tablet and follow me at @pianoprof.  See my post HERE for how-to’s on downloading Instagram and setting up your account.  Easy!

See you soon somewhere on social media!

Elizabeth