Monthly Archives: January 2012

Musings about Chopin: Andante Spianato – and Pink Martini

My favourite band is Pink Martini – a group from Portland, Oregon that plays “music of the world.”  They’re a classy group of phenomenal musicians who cross classical, jazz and pop genres. The leader, Thomas Lauderdale, is a fine pianist … Continue reading

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The Virtuosi

The Romantic period – with its technological innovations and the invention of the solo recital with its new recital standard of playing everything from memory (thank you, Franz Liszt) – gave rise to the virtuoso musician.  “Virtuoso” is not always … Continue reading

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The Piano Guys

Just in case anyone hasn’t seen and heard The Piano Guys, this is their best one yet: It’s a song by Coldplay, and the original was shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa. Alex Boye is singing in Kiswahili … Continue reading

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Pedaling the Moonlight Sonata

Beethoven has given us the following mystifying instructions at the beginning of the Moonlight Sonata:   “Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino” which in plain English means to put the damper pedal down for the entire movement. … Continue reading

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Creative Circles of Fifths

Josh Wells at has designed a marvellous-looking Circle of Fifths. It will appeal to anyone who has read or seen The Lord of the Rings – or any number of other fantasies.  It will look great on the bulletin board … Continue reading

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Freeing up some practice time

There was a good column in this morning’s local newspaper – intriguingly titled “Why you should say ‘no’ more often than you say ‘yes.’”  It’s not about parenting (my first thought) or eating (my second thought – given that it … Continue reading

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Pondering the Thumb and the Value of Words

Typical scale sounds:  Clunk-2-3-Clunk-2-3-4-Clunk-2-3-Clunk-2-3-4-5. That heavy thumb is hard to get under control. Students so often play as if they have one straight bone from the tip of the thumb to the elbow. They actually seem surprised when I show … Continue reading

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Teaching note-reading without reading notes

To use an over-used phrase, I was forced to think outside the box with one of my young students this fall. He has now had a year and a half of lessons but can barely read any notes. Being strongly … Continue reading

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