Music Reading is Fundamental

When I was a little kid growing up in New York there was a TV campaign running called RIF. A little character would interrupt our Saturday morning Cartoons to remind us that “Reading is Fundamental”. Looking back, I’m pretty sure the NEA or some other teacher related group was conspiring to get us to turn off the television and do more reading. I didn’t think much about it at the time I was busy with Bugs and Elmer Fudd. Luckily my mother made me go to school and learn how to read. And that was a good thing, because you know what? Reading really is fundamental.

Reading opens the mind in ways that that would take volumes to express. Most importantly, reading allows the reader to gather and interpret information for himself. In this way, he becomes an independent reasoning human being.

Music Reading is Fundamental

Music reading for the aspiring musician is fundamental too. Can you learn to play music without reading music? Certainly, but you are going to be severely limited. Just like you would in school without language reading.

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When to Hold Off on Piano Lessons

When to Hold Off on Piano Lessons

What! A post on when not to take piano lessons? If you been following me for a while you know that I think that music education is the best thing ever for people! Especially piano education. There are hundreds of reasons to take up the piano, it’s awesome! Ninety eight percent of students start piano and do just fine, however there are times when when I recommend that parents hold off on piano lessons. Continue reading

Robert and Clara Schumann

Robert and Clara Schumann

Romance in the Romantic Period

Robert Schumann is considered a first rate composer. In addition to piano music he wrote music for; chamber ensemble, symphony orchestra, choral music, many songs for piano and voice and even an opera. Schumann’s “Album for the Young” contains some of the most beautifully written music for young pianists! All of my early intermediate level students learn selections from this great work. Schumann’s inspiration for the for the pieces in his “Album for the Young” came from watching his own 8 children play and grow. Since this work is such a treasure for both piano students and piano teachers I thought it would be interesting to learn about Robert Schumann and his very musical wife Clara Wieck Schumann. Continue reading

10 Things You Might Not Think of That Will Make Your Piano Really Teacher Happy

The number one goal for piano teachers, parents and students should be to give students the lifelong gift of being able to play the piano. Assuming that you have found a piano teacher that you really like for your child, a teacher you trust and respect, there are some unusual things you can do to help make the family-teacher relationship a great and long lasting one. Here are 10 things you might not think of that will make your piano teacher really happy. Continue reading

The Invasion of the Piano Snatchers

alienigenas_80088 key imposters are taking over piano studios and homes all over the world. They look like pianos, they sound strangely “pianoesque”. They are cheaper, lighter, never need tuning. They are brought to life by bolts of electricity. Open one up and you will see a maze of wires and circuits. These musical aliens are everywhere and the scariest fact of all is that no one seems to know the difference! Almost no one, that is. Continue reading

100 Year Old Pianist Irving Fields

What would you like to do if you live to 99 years old? Irving Fields is almost a century young and he is still playing piano! As a seasoned New Yorker, Irving has played piano for more than 90 years. He has performed all around the world, including the Taj Mahal, Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and the Copacobana in New York City among many others. He has also performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Jackie Gleason show, and ABC’s The View! Check out this video featuring Irving as he tells us what he loves most about doing what he loves most. Published in 2014

 

10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed at the Piano

shutterstock_17243083Hearing your child play music is one of the most wonderful sounds in the world! Imagine your son or daughter sitting down at the piano and playing beautifully. Classical music, Jazz, music for holidays and celebrations. Envision you child really playing, really enjoying the piano for a lifetime. What better gift could you give? Here are 10 ways to make that dream come true. Continue reading

Yuja Wang

Yuja Wang ( born February 10, 1987) is a Chinese classical pianist. She was born in Beijing, began studying piano there at age six, and went on to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. By the age of 21 she was already an internationally recognized concert pianist, giving recitals around the world.

This is Ms. Wang playing her version of Mozart’s Turkish March (Rondo all Turca). It is really super fun and inspiring hear and watch her play.

If you have never heard the Ronda as Mozart wrote it. Here is a performance by Dr. Corey Hall.

Piano Lessons? Go Ahead, You Know You Want To!

boy playing pianoSchool is starting and you may be thinking of signing your child up for piano lessons. Maybe you play yourself and you know how awesome it is or maybe you don’t but you would love for your child to learn. There are many great reasons for your child to learn to play but there may be some things that are holding you back. Let’s take a look at those reservations one by one and how to overcome them, so you can feel comfortable and enroll your child in piano lessons. Continue reading

Bach Dynasty

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The Bach Family

If you ave ever studied the piano for any length of time, chances are you’ve played music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany smack-dab in the middle of a supremely musical family! In fact, the Bach family boasts over 50 known musicians and several notable composers. There were so many musical Bachs that in the town of Efurt, all musicians were called “Bachs” (which I guess would make me a “Bach” too). Continue reading

Teachers, Parents and Studio Policies

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Studio Policy- An annoying list of rules and expectations that a piano teacher would rather not bother with, usually presented as quickly as possible at the start of lessons, which students and parents may or may not be asked to sign and may or may not adhere to depending on how forcefully the teacher enforces said rules and expectations. The official Studio Policy is often printed on disappearing paper or featured on an obscure page of a Studio website. Either way, nobody likes them. Continue reading

10 Ways to Tell When Your Child is Not Really Practicing the Piano

Before we begin the count-down, let me set a little scene. I am a piano teacher mom so we have a studio in our home. It’s a room that has my Kawai baby grand piano and all of my other music stuff. It’s where I teach all of my students. My boys also like to “practice” in the studio. Which works out just fine. I have always encouraged my boys to practice their instruments. Continue reading

Mozart’s Sister

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Maria Anna (Nannerl) Mozart

Most of us have heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1795) child prodigy, master performer and composer of over 600 works. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many to be the greatest musical genius that has ever lived! But there was at least one other musical genius in the Mozart family. Her name was Maria Anna Walburger Ignatia Mozart but she was know by her nick-name Nannerl.

Nannerl Mozart was Wolfgang’s older sister. Many music historians believe that Nannerl was every bit as talented as her younger brother. As children they toured Europe their father Leopold amazing audiences with their talent. Leopold described Nannerl as: “one of the most skillful players in Europe”. Nannerl and Wolfgang both studied music with their father and spent their childhood immersed in music. So what happened to Nannerl?

Maria Anna Walburger Ignatia Mozart (Nannerl) was born on July 30, 1751 in Salzburg Austria. She and her brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were the only two surviving children of the seven children born to their parents Anna Maria and Leopold. Nannerl began harpsichord lessons with her father around the age of eight years old. We know that both Wolfgang and Nannerl were extremely gifted players people called them “wunderkinder” which means “wonder children.

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In addition to being a brilliant musical genius we can surmise that Nannerl was a hard working and very strong person. She practiced hard and maintained a demanding concert schedule traveling from Paris to Vienna. That might not seem like much today but back in the 1700’s transportation meant riding in horse and carriage, a slow and uncomfortable way to go. As a child Nannerl also survived smallpox, typhus, and almost died of bronchitis.

Nannerl continued performing until the age of 18 when she was left behind and no longer allowed to continue with her musical performances. At that time it was considered acceptable for female children to play in public, but public performance was considered a distasteful endeavor for grown women. Composing music was also a taboo for women at that time. So Nannerl’s musical career was ended before it had a chance to really begin.

We know from letters and writings that Nannerl and Wolfgang were very close. We also know that she did write at least one song. In al letter the younger Mozart wrote, “I am amazed, I had no idea you were capable of composing in such a gracious way! In a word your lied is beautiful. I beg you to try to do these things more often.”

Nannerl’s father Leopold was very controlling. Wolfgang stood up to him but Nannerl did not. She fell in love with Franz D’lppold, a captain and private tutor but her father did not allow her to marry him. She later married a magistrate named Johann Baptist Franz von Berentold zu Sonnenberg who had 5 children from his two previous marriages. Together Nannerl and Johann had 3 children. Nannerl named her eldest son after her father. She allowed her father to take him and raise him for the early years of his life. This continued until the older Leopold’s death in 1787. Some people think that the grandfather Leopold may have been trying to turn his grandson into the next great Mozart genius.

In addition to all of her other troubles Nannerl lost her beloved brother Wolfgang in 1791 when he was only 35 years old. I can only imagine that this was a devastating loss for her. She spent her later years teaching music lessons and eventually became blind. She died on October 24, 1829.

No one knows what became of the lied Wolfgang spoke of in his quote,or if Nannerl wrote any other music. Some people like to imagine that she may have written music and that her famous brother presented it as his own but there is no evidence to support this theory.

Things have certainly come along way since Nannerl’s day. In most places women today have many choices about what they would like to do. We can only imagine how much more beautiful Mozart music the world would have if Nannerl would have had the opportunity to become a composer like her brother.

98 Year Old Piano Player

How amazing is this?

Country music performer, Josh Turner, was having a good time during his performance at the Grand Ole Opry this past February.

But what he would announce as the feature act was yet to come. The pride of Hannah, South Carolina, surprised the audience by introducing his 98-year-old grandmother-in-law Lois Cunningham.

This proves that piano lessons are a gift  that lasts a lifetime.

 

Lang Lang Plays “La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin”

“La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin” is a piece written by the French composer Claude Debussy.  1862-1918 “The name means The Girl With the Flaxen Hair” It is a piece that many of my students have played. Practice hard and you will one day play it too.

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Lang Lang was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China. At the age of two, Lang watched the Tom and Jerry episode The Cat Concerto which features the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt. According to Lang, this first contact with Western music is what motivated him to learn the piano.He began piano lessons with Professor Zhu Ya-Fen at age three. At the age of five, he won first place at the Shenyang Piano Competition and performed his first public recital.

It wasn’t at all easy for this piano great. He was made to practice for hours and hours each day. At the age of nine his teacher stopped teaching him stating that he lacked talent!

Lang Lang did not quit playing and today he is considered the world’s top pianist. He has played concerts all over the world. He has even played at the White House. Lang Lang is considered a piano “virtuoso” which means he can play any piece of music. He is amazing to listen to and to  watch.

Students, we can all learn so much from Lang Lang:

First of all, NEVER QUIT! Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to negative people.

Secondly, PRACTICE HARD! If you don’t practice you will never play well. Piano playing is like a perfect equation, what you put into it is exactly what you will get out of it..

PLAY MUSICALLY! It matters how you sound when you play but it also matters how you look. Are you enjoying playing? When you are well prepared and put your heart into your playing it will show. Just look at Lang Lang play, beautiful!

Flight of the Bumblebee

“Flight of the Bumblebee” is an orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899–1900. The piece closes Act III, Tableau 1, during which the magic Swan-Bird changes Prince Gvidon Saltanovich (the Tsar’s son) into an insect so that he can fly away to visit his father (who does not know that he is alive). wikipedia

This is a piano transcription played by Maksim Mrvica a wonderful Croatian pianist. It happens to be one of my favorite Youtube performances of the piece. It has gotten almost  7 million views!

10 Wacky Facts About the Worlds Most famous Piano Players

From time to time we have gotten  an awesome guest post from Ms. Neuman and the folks  at TakeLessons.com. on our sister site palomapiano.com. This is the first guest post for PianoParents.net and we are all so excited!

TakeLessons.com matches students with teachers. They have an extensive list of qualified teachers that teach just about any subject you can imagine. Do you want to learn Chinese? Does you child need help with math? Would you like to learn to knit? Check out TakeLessons.com. You’ll find a great teacher right in your area or online!

If you are by chance looking for a piano teacher why not log on to TakeLessons.com you’ll find some really great teachers there. Including me!

Without further ado here’s the infographic;

10 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players

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Why Summer Piano Lessons are a Great Idea

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School will soon be out, summer will soon be here, what does this mean for piano teachers and students?

Summer is finally coming. Great news for kids and school teachers to be sure. But for parents?? Summer can be a mixed blessing. While the pressure of school work being off of children and families is a relief, trying to organize vacations and keep kids busy over the summer can be a challenge. Life for parents is so demanding! It’s tempting to just want to take a break from all of the activities that take place during the school year.  I am often asked if students should take piano lessons over the summer
my answer is a resounding yes! Here’s why; Continue reading