Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010

Best wishes for a successful and productive 2010 (which should correctly be pronounced "twenty-ten" - collaborative pianists are the diction police after all), as well as a healthy and innovative second decade of this century. Stay tuned for a couple of important announcements over the next few days...

(Image from Erica Reid's photostream on Flickr)

Top Collaborative Piano Blog Posts of 2009 Part 4

The new decade is almost upon us! Here is the final installment of memorable articles, videos, and links from 2009:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Latest from Forgotten Keys

Here are the latest photos from the Forgotten Keys pool on Flickr. For optimal viewing pleasure of these sad but wonderful abandoned instruments, be sure to watch on fullscreen...

Top Collaborative Piano Posts of 2009 Part 3

Hope you've all had a great holiday season so far. For most of us, there are just a few more days left until the madness starts up again and continues unabated until June. Here is part the third of the best and most popular posts of 2009:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas from the Collaborative Piano Blog and best wishes that the holiday season brings you lots of quality time with family and friends. It's only a short time until the new year rolls around and the madness starts up again!

(Image at left from the Tapestry New Opera Works 30th Anniversary Gala is by Brian Mosoff Photography)

Top Collaborative Piano Blog Posts of 2009 Part 2

The second installment of 2009 top posts:
The rest of the series:

Part 1

    Quote of the Day

    Amazed at how many students of mine found the best example of a ground bass was, in fact, the "inhalitus" in Bach's Cigarette Cantata.

    --@DFelsenfeld on Twitter

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Top Collaborative Piano Blog Posts of 2009 Part 1

    This is the first in a four-part series on the top Collaborative Piano Blog articles from the last year, in case you missed them the first time around...
    And finally,

      Friday, December 18, 2009

      [Open Comment Thread] How Do You Feel About Online Piano Tutorials?

      Opening a can of worms here...

      The route that many young musicians take in starting their encounter with the piano is changing very quickly these days. I'm speaking about the rise of online piano tutorials, which are increasingly becoming part of the piano pedagogy world, with their informative, engaging, and (mostly) free content. As blogged about by David Story in the Hamilton-Halton ORMTA blog and Patrick on Piano Street, online video tutorials (including popular ones by Yoke Wong, Hugh Sung, and webpianoteacher) can be both a blessing and a curse. And while I'm still a champion of the power of one-on-one teaching, I'm increasingly asking my students to watch some of these videos as a supplement to what they learn in lessons. After all, they're on YouTube (where students hang out anyway) and they're free.

      My questions to the Collaborative Piano Blog community:

      Is the genre of the online piano tutorial a natural evolution of the piano lesson that can easily be integrated into one-on-one instruction, or is it a use of technology that will wrest increasing numbers of beginners from traditional lesson/class instruction into the more streamlined business model of online mass instruction? Should piano teachers be excited or worried about this development? How can piano teachers take advantage of online lesson videos both from the content delivery and content creation vantage point?

      (Image from piblet's photostream on Flickr)

      Thursday, December 17, 2009

      Examining in Ohio

      This week I'm examining for the National Music Certificate Program in Cincinnati, Ohio (West Chester, to be precise). The terrible internet connection in my hotel room resulted in a frantic search for fast and free wifi in the neighborhood. Fortunately, I discovered a Barnes & Noble location a few minutes from my hotel, so the B&N Starbucks is now the location of my regular West Chester office hours until Sunday.

      What makes this experience memorable is that I'm examining in the performance space at Premier Pianos, which features a brand-new out-of-the-factory Steinway D Concert Grand. It's a rare experience indeed for these young pianists to have the chance to play a world-class instrument for their exams, so thanks go out to Greg Kottmann for making the space and piano available.

      I've also quickly become addicted to Skyline Chili's 3-way chili and coneys (thanks to a recommendation from Jan Grimes). If you have any other tips on great Cincinnati restaurants and hangouts, post your comments now, as I'm only in town until Sunday...

      Monday, December 14, 2009

      Ithaca College Pianos Vandalized

      Some upsetting news out of upstate NY: several dozen pianos at Ithaca College's Whalen School of Music have been vandalized this weekend. From the Ithaca Journal:
      The damage was discovered at about 9 a.m. Sunday in the practice rooms on the first floor of the James J. Whalen Center for Music, college spokesman Dave Maley said. More than 60 pianos were damaged, many by having parts removed. In many cases, parts were removed but left in the room, which may help ease re pairs, but other instruments received major damage, Maley said. Technicians and staff of the music school spent much of Sunday assessing the damage, and the Office of Public Safety, with crime-scene assistance from the state police, began investigating. No dollar value of the damage was determined. The entire Whalen Center was closed at one point. The vandalism was limited to the practice rooms, which are used not only by piano students but also other students requiring the instruments or piano accompaniment.
      You can also find more coverage in the Ithacan. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Ithaca College music community. One thing about music schools is that they are extremely difficult places in which to keep a secret - hopefully the police will find the vandals before they are able to do more damage.

      Update: This afternoon, Ithaca College Dean of Music Gregory Woodward posted a statement on the college's website. Here is an excerpt:
      Many of you may already have heard about the vandalism that occurred this past weekend in the James J. Whalen Center for Music. I wanted to take this opportunity to update members of the School of Music community as well as the wider Ithaca College community about that incident.

      The good news is that nearly all of the pianos that were vandalized have been put back into service and are currently being used by students. While the extent of damage varied from piano to piano, none were completely destroyed. After a thorough assessment, it appears that the totality of the damage was less than first thought. This in no way minimizes the amount of harm and disruption caused by this senseless act. The feeling of frustration and violation felt by the students, faculty, and staff of the School of Music is very real, and it was only through many hours of work by our terrific piano technicians and others that we were able to reopen most of our practice spaces by the end of the day on Sunday.
      The entire statement can be found at the Ithaca College website.

      Thursday, December 10, 2009

      Quote of the Day

      There's gotta be a story behind this...
      Ran into Steve Buscemi today at work. Someone asked him if he was an accompanist. He said he was an accompanot. My life is always amusing.
      --@MissCarlyPants on Twitter

      Tuesday, December 08, 2009

      Leonardo da Vinci's Harpsichord Viola Debuts in NYC Thursday Morning

      Nicole Tubman sends along the following info about a fascinating event coming up this Thursday morning at Discover Times Square Exposition in NYC, featuring Leonardo da Vinci's hypothetical-but-never-built Harpsichord Viola:
      On Thursday, December 10, at 11am, to mark the unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci’s harpsichord-viola designed over 500 years ago, Piffaro, the Renaissance band, will play a short concert featuring the never-before-built musical instrument at Leonardo da Vinci’s Workshop located at the Discovery Times Square Exposition in New York.

      Da Vinci’s Harpsichord-Viola - now a permanent part of the exhibition --combines the keyboard of the harpsichord and the technology and sound of the viola. It’s unknown whether Leonardo da Vinci ever actually built the Harpsichord-Viola, but he left detailed designs in his Codex Atlanticus (1493-1495). This model, created using authentic materials by Leonardo3, was built to da Vinci’s specifications, enabling walking musicians to play what amounted to a stringed instrument. A belt would allow the player to wear it and play while walking in processions. The internal “bow” grazes the strings when the keys are depressed and is continuously propelled by a motor activated by the musician's leg as he walks. Further, unlike a viola, which essentially plays one or two strings at a time, the harpsichord-viola can play chords, like on a piano, which didn't exist in Leonardo's time.

      This special performance by Piffaro for exhibit ticket holders will take place on Thursday, December 10 at 11 am. The performance kicks off a special “Meet the Curators” weekend, where Massimilano Lisa and Edoardo Zanon, of the Milan-based Leonardo3 will be available from Noon to 6 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (December 11-13) to talk about the Exhibit and
      demonstrate the Harpsichord Viola.

      Collaborative Piano Blog readers: if you're going to this event, be sure to use the promo code VIOLA at the box office...

      (Thanks, Nicole!)

      Silver Bells: A Recital of Christmas Favorites in Sudbury with Renée Salewski, Anthony Cleverton, and Charlene Biggs

      If you're in the Sudbury area on December 19, you might want to check out Silver Bells, an evening of popular and seasonal favorites performed by soprano Renée Salewski, baritone Anthony Cleverton, and pianist Charlene Biggs. From the event's press release:
      The couple who were married this summer, have, between them, performed all over the world including: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, South Korea, France, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland, and of course the UK. Since her last sold out appearance in Sudbury (Fall 2003), Renée has been busy both as a singer and an actress. Alongside her career as a vocalist, Renée has voiced animated characters for up and coming young film makers, been heavily involved in new theatrical writing in London and made her feature film debut in Penny Woolcock’s controversial film ‘Exodus’.

      These award winning and critically acclaimed newlyweds will be performing what promises to be a fun and entertaining concert of ‘Popera’ and Christmas Classics with the superb pianist Charlene Biggs on the 19th of December at St. Andrew’s Place, 7 pm. Tickets are $25 and available from Jett Landry Music, both locations of Old Rock, on the door or by calling 694-9090 to book.
      About Charlene Biggs:
      Charlene has been on the piano faculty of England’s Colchester Institute, London’s famed City Literary Institute, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and Laurentian University in Sudbury. She continues to share her talents as a professor in Cambrian’s Music department, teaching piano, piano pedagogy, music history, and music performance. She was Assistant Chair of Piano at the Eastman School of Music (Community Education Division) in Rochester. Charlene is a senior examiner and a clinician for the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Frederick Harris Music Company. She has written nationally published articles on teaching and performance. Charlene is also an adjudicator and is regularly invited to give master classes and lectures on piano pedagogy across Canada. Charlene maintains a regular concert schedule, most recently playing two performances of Beethoven’s Fourth piano concerto with the North Bay Symphony Orchestra.

      (Thanks, Renée!)

      Monday, December 07, 2009

      [Open Comment Thread] Why Are Original Keys So Darned High?

      Often readers send me questions to ask publicly on the blog, since the superior hive mind of the CPB readership is incredibly diversified and eager to hold forth on matters of interest to the collaborative field.

      Doug MacNaughton asked the following question about composers and key choices in art song:
      Why is it that the default original key tends to be for the high voice? For women, I understand, as the Soprano is the most common voice type, but for men about 70% of singers are Baritones. Why did Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Faure, Debussy et al write so much of their rep for the high voice?
      Leave your answers below in the comments. If you don't feel comfortable disclosing your identity, you can either invent a nom de plume or comment anonymously...

      Sunday, December 06, 2009

      Abandoned Wegman Piano

      From j/bimages on Flickr, this Wegman piano was discovered in an abandoned farmouse. Auburn 13021 has an interesting history of this former piano company that closed down in 1915. Anyone else own a Wegman? (Might they be referred to in upstate NY parlance as a Weggie?)

      Friday, December 04, 2009

      Some Thoughts on the Battlestar Galactica Piano Version of All Along the Watchtower (aka the Cylon Activation Song)

      WARNING: Battlestar Galactica Season 4.5 Spoiler Alert! Do not read this posting unless you are okay with knowing important information pertaining to the final season of BSG.

      Earlier this evening, I taught a student how to play Bear McCreary's piano arrangement of the Cylon Activation Song (based on the Bob Dylan song All Along the Watchtower). The piano version of the song can be found in the Someone To Watch Over Me episode from Season 4.5, where Kara Thrace (Starbuck) becomes obsessed with remembering a song that her father had taught her on the piano years previously on Caprica. Someone To Watch Over Me is fascinating in that, only a few hours from the end of the entire series, piano music permeates the soundtrack of the episode whose principal plot line is essentially about piano playing. The segment below shows the moment of discovery when Starbuck realizes that the dots on the sheet of paper given to her by Hera earlier in the episode (the girl who is kidnapped during the segment) when superimposed over staff paper, become the activation song that was previously heard by the Cylon Final Five in the nebula (Crossroads Part II).

      I teach a lot of adult pianists who had played extensively in their younger years, but who left musical life for careers, family, and the other things that come with adult life. What I find fascinating about this episode, (in addition to the sense of despair that permeates much of BSG 4.5 and the setting in motion of events that will lead the entire series to its conclusion), is just how much in common Starbuck's experience returning to the piano has with other adults who return after many years. There is the weight of remembered emotional baggage, parental control and conflict, the need to please, the pressure, and discovery that come back all at once. And only once all those issues have been understood and honored can adults returning to the piano truly move forward in their musical development.

      Note: I haven't found the sheet music to this arrangement yet so I teach it by ear, which is not too difficult given the repetitive nature of the song.

      Update: More commentary on All Along the Watchtower's BSG significance from The AnthroLOLogist can be found here.

      Thursday, December 03, 2009

      Roger Vignoles in The Battle Hymn of the Accompanist

      Roger Vignoles' accomp-er-collaborative pianist version of the Victor Herbert classic:

      Lied Austria International Seeks Collaborative Pianist for the Summer 2010 Season

      Lied Austria International in Liebnitz is looking for a collaborative pianist for the summer of 2010. Tracy Brighty sends along the following information:
      Lied Austria International seeks collaborative pianist/coach to compliment its artistic teaching team during the summer of 2010. Lied Austria International is a summer training program for Artistic Advancement in Lieder, taking place each summer in Leibnitz, Austria. The intimate size, innovative approach, and close, team teaching at LAI necessitate special qualities in our team members, including: willingness and ability to fit into LAI’s team approach to teaching; willingness and ability to fit into our poetic approach to Lieder performance and study, led by Dr. Wolfgang Lockemann; very good working knowledge/fluency of the German Language; strong collaborative keyboard performance skills; knowledge in appropriate musical styles for German Lied from Schubert to Schoeck and beyond; ability to teach German Diction.

      Please see for more information.

      Priority will be given to applications received before January 5, 2010. Applications should include: letter of interest, bio, CV, and CD(s)/DVD(s) of recent performances.

      Please send to:

      Tracy Brighty
      Lied Austria International
      8855 SW 171st St.
      Miami, FL 33157

      Questions should be addressed to Tracy Brighty.

      info [at] liedaustria dot com


      (Thanks, Tracy!)

      Tuesday, December 01, 2009

      Outside the Copenhagen Opera House

      Fullscreen mode will give you the most jaw-dropping virtual view of this stunning building.

      Copenhagen Opera at the Waterfront in Copenhagen

      More about the Copenhagen Opera House
      Photos of the same building on Flickr