Category Archives: Piano pedagogy

The Great Exam Experiment

I’m a believer in the piano exam system. It’s a motivator, it keeps teachers on track, it ensures students learn a wide range of repertoire style and technical and musical skills (depending on the particular exam system). Not insignificantly, it’s … Continue reading

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No tortoisian ambling, please

“Slow practice can be a complete waste of time if the mind is not working quickly. Simply to trawl through passages like a contented tortoise is a waste of the felt on your piano’s hammers. Good slow practice is more … Continue reading

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Don’t leave it to chance

I’m big on intervallic note-reading. Once the students get started, they’re away. But they need to get started. And sometimes restart mid-stream. At some point they need the ability to identify cold any given note on the grand staff. And … Continue reading

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How To Pedal Chopin’s Waltzes

Another great session at the recent APTA Conference was Allen Reiser’s Chopin in 3/4 Time. The Waltzes and Mazurkas. How they’re the same – and different – and a few tips on how to teach and play them. One topic … Continue reading

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Don’t motivate. Inspire.

“I need you to motivate my daughter.” Red flag. Big Red flag. “She won’t practice. And she keeps telling me she won’t.” I accepted the student. I needed the money.  “She’s 13 and more interested in sports than music.” I’m … Continue reading

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Top Ten Technical Tools

… for first-year piano students. One more list to make me feel completely inadequate.* This is from a workshop by the indomitable Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield that I attended almost 20 years ago. I get depressed when I realize how many of … Continue reading

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When to apply for a piano exam

Apply for an exam when the student is ready.  Of course. But is this how we really operate? I know I usually do things backwards. We – teacher/student/parent – decide at the beginning of the year that we’ll plan on … Continue reading

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Quick. What comes before A?

No beginners this year, but still enough students who cannot tell me instantly what comes before C. Or after G. Time to haul out the alphabet drill again. Taken from one of Mary Gae George’s  videos, the drill consists simply … Continue reading

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The Back Room

It was a small war-time house with white wood siding and red trim. A few metres away sat a garage. The door was nearly falling off the hinges, barely protecting the navy blue VW bug inside. In June mature lilac … Continue reading

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If you’re gonna do it, do it well

This is for me – and for any other teacher considering a year-long incentive program: Don’t do it unless you’re willing to follow through. On administrative details – like planning lesson time – and recording success along the way. At … Continue reading

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Zero to (grade) 6 in 34 (months)

Three years minus two months. From no knowledge of the keyboard to the successful completion of Grade 6. August, 2010 – a call from a mom looking for a history teacher for her 15-year-old daughter, who was working on grade … Continue reading

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I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

Thank you, Orlia for sending the title of the black note camp thing. It’s called I Love Coffee I Love Tea – and here’s a video of it being performed in Carolyn Shaak’s Studio – with a couple “verses” that were … Continue reading

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