process and procedure
My lessons are designed with each individual pianist in mind.
I am always looking for ways to organize the thinking, the emotions, the body; and for the different ways of explaining or demonstrating that will bring about clarity and understanding in my pupils. Success through performing is the best gauge of understanding.
It is the chemistry and rapport between us and the music, coupled with knowledge, that inspires what is taught.
All lessons are taught, one-on-one, in my air conditioned studio on my Steinway concert grand piano.
In 2015, my beautiful rosewood Steinway Concert Grand Piano, Model D, built in 1879, was lovingly restored to BRAND NEW CONDITION.
To play well, there first must be an emotional response to the music, then...
Performance follows the emotional response to the music. It must be such that the mind, body and feelings are caught up in a consuming continuity of rhythm, carrying the performer and listeners seamlessly to the resolution of the music. A state best described as controlled abandon.
Music is a language, directly comparable to any other language in the way it functions. When music is beautifully played, it is a passionate progression flowing inevitably to the last note.
In order to create a core foundation with which to guide the physical realization of the music:
All music is approached and discussed as language, as structure, as architecture and as beauty. This is done to bring order, organization, clarity and understanding, so that we may take that which appears on the surface to be very complex, and discover the underlying simplicity.
When this is done well, it becomes much easier to study, learn, memorize and even sight-read.
Learning the physical side of playing music with real virtuosity begins with a question:
What is the difference between a performance that is a struggle, that is undependable and cannot reach top speed and a performance which is effortless, dependable and seems to fly in the most consuming manner?
The difference begins with a thought:
On the one hand a thought which strives to hear each note, in a way best described as note-wise listening, accompanied by reaching with the fingers and other faulty physical habits which at best produce a mechanical performance that never reaches top speed.
On the other hand a thought which flies free and paints with sound, the color and shape of a living phrase and a language of ecstasy and delight.
When the body is inspired by and responds correctly to the emotional drive, pulse and aural image of the music and is not blocked by faulty habits of movement and logic, the upper arms, assisted by the torso, will instigate all action for controlling distance, power, speed, tone and dynamics. The elbow, forearm, wrist, hand and fingers simply cooperate in a blended activity that solves all difficulties. The music flows effortlessly and swimmingly with irrefutable logic.
There are many brilliant pianists who play extremely difficult music at top speed and with no mistakes, yet never become known or famous. The reason for this (aside from issues involving "connections") is that they demonstrate no real, imaginative and passionate interpretation of the musical phrase, its elements and subtleties. They hear only the high notes and the glittering fast passages. Little or no attention is given to actual indications of the composer, such as: extra stems on notes, subtlety of phrase markings, marks or words of expression and texture, such as: tenuto, portato, fp, sfz, rubato, ritardando, ritenuto, legato, legatissimo, subito, etc.
Inner and lower parts with melodic and contrapuntal interest are not noticed and, as result, no effort is made to bring out these important tones. When the performance also lacks much of the subtlety of dynamics and tempo, which bring life to the music, and are necessary, in order to create "phrase modeling" and delicately "sculpt" moments of great beauty from the notes, the resulting performance does not thrill or inspire the listener.