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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)

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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.

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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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September 2015 PIANO PLAY-ALONG: Benda’s Sonatina in A Minor

Benda Play-Along GraphicFROM SEPT 21 thru OCT 10 (approximately), we’ll be practicing Georg Antonin Benda’s “Sonatina in A minor”  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 music.

On Sept. 21 I will broadcast the Play-Along Introduction LIVE from your mobile phone or tablet using the PERISCOPE app.  Periscope is booming all over the world!  You’ll see and hear me and you’ll be able to interact and ask me questions.   I’m not a techie and it took me only 5 minutes to download Periscope and follow someone to view a broadcast.

QUICK PERISCOPE HOW-TO: 

  • Download the FREE Periscope app at the App Store (Mac devices) or Google Play (Android devices). Use your cell phone# or your Twitter account to sign up.
  • Set Notifications to “ON.”  Create your account and choose your @name.  Post a photo of yourself and bio on your profile when you get the chance.
  • Search for me “@pianoprof”  and FOLLOW.  Whenever I’m about to do a broadcast, you’ll hear and see a little tweet alert on your device.  If you miss the broadcast Periscope will save it for you for 24 hours.  You can view it later, but you won’t be able to comment.  LIVE viewers can comment

THIS WILL BE THE FIRST #PIANOSCOPE on PERISCOPE! 

piano_periscope_icon_mto the best of my knowledge!

Look forward to “playing-along” with you.  Share this post with your friends, and tell them to tune in to Periscope for my #pianoscopes!

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Heller’s “L’avalanche, Op. 45, No. 2” Piano Play-Along: Post Three (Edition Comparison)

Heller Blog Post 3Thanks to all of you who held in there despite some setbacks in the Play Along schedule so far.  I hope you all enjoyed “getting in shape” with the Heller L’avalanche as much as I did.  I haven’t taught the piece in a while and think it’s time I insert it again into my curriculum.  Matter of fact, I have a young boy learning it this summer.  He was quite attracted to how it scampers about and he said it would be great for Halloween.  Hadn’t thought of that, but it would.  I find that many students are attracted to pieces in minor keys.  Have you noticed that as well?

Anyway, as promised, I will dispel some of the mysteries in the various editions of “L’avalanche”  with this post.  I am taking the Schott edition below (which is probably the most authoritative edition available; no urtext was found) and will perform a little cross-comparison with 4 other student editions on my desk.

Schott Edition

You might want to pull out your copy as you read this and make a few notes.  I think it’s easier for me to list inconsistencies measure by measure, according to a particular aspect.  Most of the editions had inconsistencies in pedaling and dynamic (accents mostly).

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Accents:

First, some editions did not include both rooftop and regular accents (horizontal).  The Schott edition differentiates between the two.

mm.1 -12:  Only the half notes have accents (rooftop).  The same is true for similar sections.

mm. 34 and 36 (50 and 52):  There are rooftop accents on the downbeats of these measures.

m. 56:  There is an accent on this downbeat, but it is a regular accent this time around, not a rooftop like before.  Found this odd, but I did see it in a couple of other editions as well.

mm. 57 – 59:  There are no accents at all on the downbeats here.

mm. 69 and 71:  Though these are forte, they are not accented.

m. 75:  A regular accent on the downbeat of the RH

m. 77:  RH has no accent here (probably due to the subito P)

Pedal:

mm. 1 – 8:  There is pedaling on the half notes with a release on beat 2.

mm. 10 and 12:  Strangely, there was no pedaling indicated for these half notes which made me curious.  Mistaken omission?  I might  pedal as in mm. 1- 8.  3 of the 4 editions added the pedal.

mm.13-14:  This is indicated to be played portato without pedal. Almost all editions added pedal here.  If I added pedal, it would only be a speck.  For sure I’d want to keep the chords from blurring together.

mm. 34-36 (and similar sections):  This section has no pedaling indicated, though many editions added a pedal for each chord of the RH.  I would probably add it for warmth and assistance with the cresc.

mm. 44 – 46:  No pedaling is indicated here, but most editions added it probably so it would match the indicated pedaling in m. 47.

mm. 69 and 71:  There is definitely pedaling indicated for each of the two chords here.

mm. 85 – 89:  Believe it or not, these last few measures should be held under one long pedal.  Some editions did include it and some removed the pedal indication entirely. It’s a 19th century thing.  I’d do it.

Dynamics:

m. 43:  No dim. here!

m. 83:  There is indeed a subito P on the downbeat.

m. 84:  most editions used 8va here for the RH, though I found one that didn’t.  Yikes. Lots of ledger lines…..

Other:

mm. 13 -16 and similar:  It’s poco meno mosso and not rit.

m. 82:  One of my editions included this measure on the final system.  Sure made it easier to read the upcoming LH quarter-note entrance on “A.”  Other editions weren’t so friendly. 🙂

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Hope this revelation into the Schott edition helped.  Will be in touch soon regarding our next summer Piano Play-Along topic.  I’m away from July 2-16 presenting at teacher conferences and workshops.  I’ll post where I’ll be and if I’m in your neck of the woods, stop by and stay “hi.”  I’d love to meet you!

 

 

 

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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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Indispensables of Piano Teaching #6 – Good Lighting

This indispensable seems like a no-brainer, but how many of us really give our studio lighting proper attention?
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#5 – GOOD LIGHTING

I used to think that a “proper” piano lamp should be one of these:

pianolampWhile it does look lovely on a grand piano and illuminates the music rack quite well, I later discovered just how hot these little babies get when I accidentally burned my hand on one.  Ouch!  I learned fast not to reach up and adjust it while it was on (!).
As I started adding more young students to my studio, I began to worry about their little hands reaching up to adjust it and forgetting about my warning to them about the lamp’s heat, so….. I now use this one instead:
Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 9.42.43 PM

OttLite Battery Task Lamp

I originally purchased this compact Ottlite for my needlework (it’s intended for craft work), but it’s been wonderful sitting on the left side of my music rack shining clean “daylight” on sheet music.  I can see all the fine print with ease with hardly any glare and almost no heat.   And who needs more heat while teaching during a Texas summer?

I also like that this little lamp is energy-efficient and I just fold it down to turn it off like this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 9.43.10 PMMine can run on a rechargeable battery so I can move it around to wherever I need it, but not all styles have that feature.    It weighs only 4 lbs with a very stable base and so far it hasn’t fallen over.  There are some that weigh less, and besides black or white, Ottlite offers them in some cool nifty colors.  I purchased a floor lamp style (for almost 1/2 price!) which I now use for my needlework and sewing.  Love it!

BEST PRICE:  23.68 to 49.99 for a desktop version at Amazon HERE, depending on the particular features you desire.  Joann Fabric and Craft stores has them on sale this week HERE and in their stores. The store will always honor the online price. If you miss the sale, check for weekly coupons at their site.  They come in handy! 

So do you have a particular lamp you really favor for your studio or studio piano?  Please share if so.  Remember….be kind to your eyes! And that of your students as well!

 

 

 

 

 

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Indispensables of Piano Teaching #4 – Interlocking Plastic Keyboard

Interlocking Plastic Keyboard
Here’s an oldie, but a goldie tool for studio teaching, especially if you teach in groups once in a while.  I recall using these in group theory classes when I was child.  How’s that for dating this item? and myself….

#4 – PLASTIC INTERLOCKING KEYBOARD

I didn’t really think I’d have a need for these in my private piano studio since I have 2 pianos in the studio, several flat laminated keyboards, a floor keyboard, and even a fabric keyboard, but this plastic dimensional keyboard has really come in handy.

This interlocking keyboard features full-sized white and raised black keys. Each two-octave keyboard can be interlocked to make a longer keyboard.

Here’s a close-up of how two interlock: Interlocking keyboards copy

I occasionally take this little keyboard with me to piano teacher workshops especially when I know there won’t be a projected view of the piano keyboard on an overhead screen. I just hold this up in the air for all in the audience to see as I demo a maneuver with my opposite hand.  Of course it goes without saying that these are great for any sort of group teaching you might do when there’s just not enough keyboards to go around.  They are light and sturdy, and they store easily too.

Here’s a few photos of how I’ve used them:

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I.D. of black-key groups

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I.D. of Half and Whole Steps using Susan Paradis’ clever Robosteps

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Excellent silent-practice keyboard while at the dining room table waiting for your lesson!

The possibilities are endless….

BEST PRICE:  $9.95 at Valentine’s House of Music in Houston, TX.   Amazon or other online retailers in my Google search couldn’t beat Rick Valentine’s price. I don’t see it listed on Valentine’s website at this writing, but you can call (713) 868-7447 to order.  He says he has plenty available. Rick is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about educational piano music and keeps his shipping affordable for piano teachers (free shipping on all orders over $50).  Certainly try your local sheet music retailer first.  They may be able to order them for you.

If you’ve used these keyboards in your teaching, please comment and share your ideas!

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Indispensables of Piano Teaching #1 – Highlighter Tape

Indispensable_  TAPE
Welcome to the new weekly series “Indispensables of Piano Teaching.”  Like me you probably have several teaching manipulatives, tools, gadgets, or maybe a reference book that you always find yourself reaching for during lessons.   I’ll be sharing one of my “can’t do without” items each week here on the blog for the next several weeks (not games or a specific activity, but an actual tool or gadget that I can’t do without). Please comment if you use any of the same tools and don’t hesitate to tell us how you use them in your studio.   And maybe later I’ll highlight one of your favorite tools!

#1 – COLORED HIGHLIGHTER TAPE

I have found more uses for this tape than I could have realized!  It’s fantastic for highlighting troublesome spots in a student’s music.  You can write on it, see through it, remove it when a problem is corrected, and then reuse it!  Students love the colors (pink, green, blue, yellow, red or purple) and I find it the MOST useful in guiding their home practice.   Read More