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Miracle or Monster?

Don't you love the picture?! I look like I am some sort of mad scientist who shrunk a group of musicians and put them in a box.  

Nikolai played in a concert at Toneheim Folkehøgskole earlier this week. Toneheim is a folk university in Norway, students often are in the Folkehøgskole system for a gap year while they decided what to do. 

Last year the school was closed in March, so Nikolai went back. I haven't seen him in person in over a year. He may or may not come home this summer. I only plan as far as coffee in the morning these days. They were very fortunate this year, their school is small enough and everyone lives on campus. They have been in one great big musical bubble. And, because of COVID, their concerts are live-streamed, recorded, and saved.

The first time I live-streamed a recital was around 10 years ago when I was still in Saudi. One of my good friends was in the United States undergoing chemotherapy. She couldn't make it to her...

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Latency- what it is and why it matters

Latency- what it is and why it matters

Did you ever watch the old Star Trek and hear Captain Kirk say, “Beam me up, Scotty.” Then there was a poor pixilated image of who ever was being transported to the ship from whatever planet they happened to be on.

Have you ever thought about what happens when you connect remotely to a student? Your computer opens a port which sends audio files and video files which have a ton of data. That data gets taken apart and sent through the air (wifi) under the sea (those gigantic cables which connect North America to Europe for internet purposes) through satellites (orbiting the earth and beaming things from one country to another)

When I think about all of the things that have to go right for a connection to happen, my mind is totally blown.

There is a lag between devices when signals get sent. Simply put, it takes time for a signal to travel around the world. Often it gets broken up when it leaves your device and reassembled when...

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5 to 7 years with time off for good behavior

5 to 7 years. I posted a link to the Master the Moonlight trial and got a teacher who said that she wouldn't teach someone the piece for the first 5 to 7 years of lessons!!!

It was a thoughtless comment. I don't mean hurtful-thoughtless, I mean not-thinking-thoughtless. She wasn't thinking of adult students who take piano lessons because they want to learn pieces. Nor was she thinking of students who are motivated, have time, and work hard.

I'm in my 50s If I wanted to learn how to do something and was told that I wouldn't be able to start for another 5 to 7 years, I would be disheartened and sad. Or angry and irritated. Wouldn't you?

One of the questions I keep asking myself and others is "Who's it for?" For teachers, I think it is worth asking yourself, "who do I like teaching, or who's my teaching for?" I often ask my students, many who are now adults, similar questions.  "Who are you playing for?"

Obviously, what she meant was that she isn't a very good teacher and it...

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Daylight Savings- saving you a headache :-)

Daylight Savings- saving you a headache :-)

A quick note on daylight savings.

It's coming quicker than you think. In the US it's March 14th this year (2021)

My students are in Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Canada and the United States. to the rescue again.

It is always good to check. Here’s what I learned this year:

  • Most of the US and Canada changed clocks on the 14th of March 2021one hour forward

  • Most of Europe changes on the 28th of March 2021 one hour forward

  • Much of the Middle East doesn’t change at all

  • Some of Australia changes on the 4th of April one hour back.

Google Calendar, and most of the others will automatically recalibrate your schedule. It’s easy to get this messed up (or should I say, easy for me)

Easy for your students to forget as well. They may not be in your time zone.

As you teach more online, and get students from different parts of the world, learning about time zones is...

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Measure 10 of the Moonlight- Going from Couch to Concert Hall One Measure at a Time

Uncategorized Jan 17, 2021

This measure starts in the key of e minor. The natural sign before the first g lasts until the end of the measure and has to be rewritten in the next measure for the sound to continue. 

One of the most common errors of inexperienced pianists is getting confused about the rules of the sharps, flats, and natural signs written in both the key signature, and in the music. 

Happy Playing!

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Measure 9 of the Moonlight- Going from Couch to Concert Hall One Measure at a Time

Uncategorized Nov 17, 2020

Moving on. Measure 9 is a bit of a relief.

The harmony is E Major, with a slight shift to e minor as you move to measure 10. 

I love this piece because the shifting harmonies remind me of the shifting colors of a vibrant sunrise or sunset. 

Color changes are significant, but it is difficult to pinpoint the exact place where bright salmon pink changed to a velvety midnight blue. 

Beethoven often changed harmonies by moving one key.

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Measure 8 of the Moonlight- Going from Couch to Concert Hall One Measure at a Time

Uncategorized Nov 17, 2020

Measure 8 of the Moonlight- one of the most uncomfortable measures. Why? 

Beat 4 in the right hand. Your thumb plays an A while your pinkie plays a B. It can be too much of a stretch for a smaller hand. 

The more important of the two notes is the B. 

Happy playing.


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Measure 7 of the Moonlight- Going from Couch to Concert Hall One Measure at a Time

Uncategorized Nov 09, 2020

"There is no such thing as cheating in piano." -Carolina Caralt

Learning a piece one measure at a time means that every note gets noticed.

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Measure 6 of the Moonlight- Going from Couch to Concert Hall One Measure at a Time


The trickiest part of measure 6 of the Moonlight is remembering the b sharp octave that the left hand plays.

Because the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata is slow, many aspiring pianists think it is easy and are surprised and discouraged because it isn't easy enough. 

Sometimes what makes it hard is a gap in knowledge. In this case the gap is easily closed. 

This piece uses all 7 white keys and all 5 black keys. In order to understand the notes, understanding what sharps are, and that they can be white keys as well as black ones is critical.

I created a free mini course, Know the Keys of the Piano by Name (click here to get it) to make sure that students know all of the names of the keys of the piano. It is how I start all of my students. 

Happy Playing!

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Measure 5 of the Moonlight- Going from Couch to Concert Hall One Measure at a Time


Measure 5 of the Moonlight Sonata Adagio Sostenuto is where the melody finally gets introduced.

But, only the first little bit, on beat 4. You can see this because the stems on the notes on measure 4 go in different directions. 

To play it, you need to think that your right had has been divided in half and the thumb plays the lowest notes where your pinkie plays the highest notes at the same time. 

Pay attention to beat one of measure 6 in the left. It has b sharps. It's a really common error to play either a b key or a c sharp key instead. 

Happy Playing!

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