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Becoming an Artist, Part 8: Tools for Success 

It’s really wonderful how a good teacher can give you just the right tools to enable you to play better. Recently I was fortunate to be able to work once again with Pawel Checinski , who was visiting from Chicago. I played for him a little and then we got to work. He primarily focused on helping me come up with a decisive interpretation, achieve a singing tone, and use arm weight to produce a lovely sound. 

I had been struggling with the memory of the Bach Toccata in C Minor, BWV 911, often getting lost in…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 7: Working with Pawel Again 

It’s funny how you can hear that something is off as a pianist and not know exactly what is wrong with it or how to fix it until a teacher explains it. When I sit at the keyboard I often don’t ask the same kinds of questions of myself that I would if I were a teacher. It doesn’t come as naturally to me, perhaps because the work on notes and rhythms and memory and the physicality of what’s going on is consuming enough that to think beyond that is not automatic. However, as a teacher, you are physically…

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Memorizing Bach...Again 

Today I finished re-memorizing Bach’s Toccata in C Minor, BWV 911. I say re-memorizing, because I memorized it 6 years ago for a house concert. And then I moved on to learn and memorize other music and I forgot the piece. Well, I didn’t forget it entirely. My fingers remembered what to do when I pulled out the score, and it came more easily to me physically than it had when I first learned it. But remembering the piece away from the score took a grand amount of effort. And I asked myself, “Why am I putting…

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Back to Bach 

I am reworking a Bach Toccata I learned a few years back in preparation for my concert with Molly Tomlinson for the October 11th Ladies Musical Club concert. "Toccata" literally means "touched" and refers to the virtuosic nature of the music's fingerwork. Originally conceived for early keyboard instruments such as clavichord, harpsichord, and organ, the toccata is not necessarily a "piano" piece. However, I believe that if Bach were to live in our time, he would use the piano to its fullest extent…

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Bach on the Brain: Inside the (Wandering) Mind of a Pianist 

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the mind of a performer during a concert? When I am in the audience, I am usually so engrossed in the music that I don't think about that until afterward. However, when I am the one performing, it is hard to shut out the self-conscious voice and concentrate solely on the music!

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to play the first movement of Bach's Italian Concerto as part of Master Chorus Eastside's Masterworks concert. The conductor, Dr. Linda Gingrich, had…Read more