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REGISTER NOW for the 2017 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers with Marvin Blickenstaff!

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 home via your computer!

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 early-bird register NOW for either the LIVE workshop on June 30 or the online version.  Early bird pricing goes away on June 20, so grab your seat!

******IN-PERSON participants: I really do urge you to book early. Seats are truly limited due to the filming crew that will be on site. All of you will have a chance for Q&A with Marvin, and the door prizes are looking quite mah-velous, too!

Yes! I’ll RESERVE my EARLY BIRD 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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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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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” 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

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NEW Piano Play-Along for September: Cast Your Vote

Sept. Play Along voteHi everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed a great summer. Mine was busier than expected but I’m back to my usual groove and ready to start another Piano Play-Along!  Who’s ready?

We’re voting on topics over at the Piano Play-Along Facebook discussion group, but please vote here in the COMMENTS below if you don’t belong to that group.

And SURPRISE!  This time we’re going to have LIVE BROADCAST with the Play-Along.  You’ll see me broadcasting LIVE on your phone or tablet and you can interact with me.  I’ll show you soon how that works (so easy!) and it comes at no cost to you!

More on this later, so select from these PLAY ALONG choices by SUNDAY EVENING, Sept. 13 if you can. I’ll announce the winning topic on Monday.

1. VINTAGE PRIMER Play Along – I love using certain oldie primers as supplements for my beginners and I’ll give you a tour of one of my favorites.
OR
2. “GET in SHAPE” Play Along – We’ll all practice a certain intermediate-level piece or etude for 2 weeks and then share our discoveries and inquiries with each other via the LIVE VIDEO chats, plus here on the blog, and maybe a little on IG.

Sound good? Are you in? VOTE for #1 or #2. Can’t wait to interact with everyone via LIVE BROADCASTING!

 

 

 

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Heller’s “L’avalanche, Op. 45, No. 2” Piano Play-Along: Post One (Discussion Starter)

Heller Blog Post 1

Welcome to the first GET IN SHAPE Piano Play-Along!  with L’avalanche, Op. 45, No. 2 , by Stephen Heller (1813-1888).  For more information on this play-along and how to get started, click HERE.  You may join in anytime and reply with comments even after June 15, the day we all chime in with our thoughts about this gem.

A little discussion-starter here to get us going…..


 


Stephen_Heller

Stephen Heller (1813-1888)

Background:

This particular etude is probably Heller’s most popular from his sets of etudes — Ops. 45, 46, and 47, which all stem from the year 1866 when he was at the height of his career.  His etudes are actually character pieces at the intermediate level and students love to play this one because of its high energy and showy style.  Most of Heller’s etudes bear titles, though it is unlikely Heller supplied them.  Generally, publishers added them at the time of publication. Read More

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Welcome to the GET IN SHAPE Piano Play-Along!

First, thank you all for submitting your votes for a summer Play-Along topic.  The majority of folks voted on getting their fingers in shape for now, but not to worry… we’ll cover the other Play Along topics later this summer.   

FROM JUNE 1 through JUNE 15, we’ll be practicing Stephen Heller’s “L’Avalanche.”  Click HERE for all the info you need to get started and learn about the purpose of this particular Play-Along. Read More