A Pianist's Dictionary: Reflections on a Life by Alan Hersh

By Alan Hersh

This ebook explores the area of the classical pianist and piano professor, deconstructing many universal phrases that describe this surroundings. dependent upon the author's event as a live performance artist and faculty professor, this publication resonates with either prior and present scholars of the piano in addition to song enthusiasts.

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Another teacher I knew taught a large number of individual lessons for three consecutive weeks, but every fourth week gathered her students into groups of ten or fifteen, to play for each other and be a bit more social. This meant that every fourth week, she had a sharply reduced teaching schedule and the students had a different lesson experience. Everyone seemed pleased with the arrangement, and I am not aware that this teacher was any less effective in getting the job done. I’ve always thought this was a very practicable and intelligent compromise between the individual and group lesson.

A group of accomplished or apprentice pianists gather, the master teacher listens, and each member of the group takes a turn playing for the others. Usually everyone— colleagues and teacher—offers comments. But generally, these classes are supplemented by individual lessons at another time. So this MASTER CLASS is a kind of mid-point between lessons and concert hall, a time and place to try oneself and compare notes. This is quite a different circumstance from today’s group piano lesson where individual playing is minimal or nonexistent.

In my opinion, I don’t think there is any real correlation between skill and success as a pianist and the ability to read an unfamiliar score at sight. Certainly, a high level of pianistic skill and training improves sight-reading, but I believe that score reading is a different order of thinking from learning and performing a score. The good reader sees patterns, makes instantaneous judgments about leaving out some notes and rearranging others, and often “improvises” the ideas of the music without becoming bogged down in 39 40 Chapter Thirteen the details of note accuracy.

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