Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Garden of Grands

Looking into the concert-grand scene, I’m delighted by its richness, and heartened to know that pianos—what some call “acoustic pianos”—are still beloved of many. After all, learning to play the piano is possible only by playing the piano; in an ideal world, every beginner would practice on a concert grand.

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Play Softly and Have Lid on Full Stick

Question: My flutist friend says I accompany too loud. (We’re rehearsing for our middle-school variety show.)

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Two Clichés and a Question

It’s a cliché in teaching that every student is different. But how chancey it is that we encounter the differences! In the fifth year of our working together—but it could as easily have been the sixth, or the first, or never—my piano student Shanti Rao, a Ph.D. candidate in physics, happened to say while playing, […]

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Soft Piano Playing, Part 6

Lessons with a Lady, concluded Before we even sat down, I said, “I did isometric exercises, ten minutes a day.” She asked, “You are careful to avoid discomfort?” “Yes! I do it just strong enough to feel it; no more.”

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Soft Piano Playing, Part 5

Lessons with a Lady, continued… There were fresh flowers in the studio—nasturtiums—and the windows were open a bit. The old lady asked, “Do you remember my question?” I said, “Two ways to make soft playing reliable.

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Soft Piano Playing, Part 4

Lessons with a Lady, continued… “And we can’t play with fingers braced with thumbs,” she said, while continuing the Bach with index fingers braced with thumbs, giving me an impish smile. I got a flash of what she must have been like as a young woman.

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Soft Piano Playing, Part 3

Lessons with a Lady So I went to the lady with the dancing pianissimo, and told her I wanted my soft playing to be like hers; and she gave me that old-lady smile and an ordinary pencil to hold vertically in a snug fist, with the eraser sticking down an inch. I was to play […]

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