Technique – Elvina Pearce (Quote of the Week)

“As I see it, one of the most important goals when teaching technique is to help students develop a sensitivity to the body’s relationship to the keyboard – an acute physical awareness of the whole mechanism from the head down and from the feet up.”

– Elvina Pearce

Pearce, Elvina, ed. Sale, Craig. The Success Factor in Piano Teaching: Making Practice Perfect. Kingston: The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy, Inc., 2014.

Working it Out: Rollin Prelude in D Minor (Preludes, Book 1, Alfred publishing)

This is the first in a series of posts about how we introduce new pieces with students, or to put it in Frances Clark’s terms, “work out a new piece.” Often, a warm-up preparing students for the particular challenges of a piece can enable the student to play with greater facility, sooner in the learning process. A disclaimer: this work out is fairly detailed and certainly this level of detail is not necessary, or desirable, for each piece assigned. In fact, students benefit from learning pieces independent of their teachers.

Let’s now look at Catherine Rollin’s lovely Prelude No. 3 in D Minor, from Preludes Book 1 (Alfred Publishing): An excerpt is provided below:

Rollin D Minor Prelude

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Preparation for Assessments: Technical Requirements

‘Tis the season for assessments for many teachers and students.  Syllabi vary from program to program, but often students are required to prepare a variety of skills in a variety of keys. Teachers are required to help students to “keep on top of it all” while attempting to maintain a sense of pleasure in the process.

I suppose the best way to prepare for an assessment is to play every skill, every key, every day.  For some students, this is not entirely realistic.  I have relied heavily on practice charts, most notably, Joy Morin’s Color in My Piano Music Development Program Charts (Charts – Joy Morin) for student use.  Recently, though, I thought it might be fun to introduce the element of chance into the mix.  Students were given two sets of cards, one with key signature listed and the other with skills listed.   They drew one card from each set and performed the skill in their home practice.  Students enjoyed randomly choosing cards, and this kind of activity simulates the assessment day, in terms of moving from one skill to another and performing in a variety of keys.  An example of what the student might draw from the decks:

DECK #1:                                                                                                          DECK #2:

Major                                             Scale, HS 2 Octaves