Skills

Fundamentals

Sitting Position

  • Posture and Position on Bench
  • Rotational Mobility of the Hips
  • Height and Distance: General Guidelines
  • Height and Distance: Children and Shorter Adults
  • Sitting Position for Pianissimo Playing
  • Sitting Position Summation

Anatomy and The Point of Sound

  • The Quiet Hand
  • Master Class: Opposing Muscles
  • Review: Opposing Muscles
  • Master Class: The Point of Sound
  • The Sound Point

Natural Hand Position

  • Chopin's Natural Hand Position
  • Hand Position and Alignment
  • Common Problems

Utilizing Gravity and Alignment

  • Master Class: Free Fall on Palm Clusters
  • Free Fall: Palm Clusters and Dyads
  • Alignment Context
  • Master Class: Alignment and Support on Single Notes

Whole-Body Technique: Balancing Freedom and Support

  • Wrist Height
  • Supported Fingers
  • Common Hand Positions
  • Dyads in Different Registers

The Basic Vibrato Motion

  • Basic Knocking Motion
  • Freeing the Wrist and Cycling Arm Movement

Three-Dimensional Movement

Two-Note Slur Introduction on Fingers 2 & 3

  • Master Class: Two-Note Slurs
  • The Two-Note Slur: Preparation
  • Lift and Drop on a Single Note
  • Quiet Hand, No Pressing
  • Weight Transfer, Playing on Pads
  • Avoiding "Straight Line" Positioning
  • Alternating Single Drops and Two-Note Slurs

Two-Note Slurs: One Pair at a Time & Pausing to Evaluate

  • Moving the Arm Forward Before Playing the Second Note
  • Common Problem: Playing Only with the Fingers
  • Pausing to Evaluate
  • Evaluating for Musical Listening and Continuous Movement
  • One Pair at a Time, Ascending
  • Evaluating the "Strong-Weak" Gesture

Continuous Two-Note Slurs with Fingers 2 & 3, Ascending

  • Two Pairs at a Time, Ascending
  • Two Pairs: Musical Listening
  • Two Pairs: Released Fingers & Quiet Hand
  • Three Pairs at a Time, Ascending
  • Four and More Pairs at a Time, Ascending
  • Continuous Two-Note Slurs, Ascending

Two-Note Slurs with Fingers 3 & 4 and 1 & 2

  • Two-Note Slurs with Other Finger Pairs
  • Two-Notes Slurs with Fingers 3 & 4, Ascending
  • Sliding as the Arm Ascends
  • Producing Better Legato with Sliding
  • Two-Note Slurs with Fingers 1 and 2

Two-Note Slurs with Fingers 4 & 5, Ascending

  • Fingers 4 & 5: Overview
  • Moving From a Longer Finger to a Shorter One
  • Wrist Height in Slurs
  • Common Problem: Fingers not Releasing
  • Special Exercise for Fingers 4 & 5
  • Common Problem: The Curled 5th Finger

Descending Two-Note Slurs

  • Descending Two-Note Slur: Overview
  • Preparing to Descend: Lift and Drop
  • Fingers Gently Curved and at Rest
  • Common Problem: 3rd Finger Pulled Back
  • Sliding from Finger 3 to 2
  • Dragging Inactive Fingers
  • Alternating Single Drop and Two-Note Slur

Descending Two-Note Slurs in Pairs

  • One Pair at a Time, Descending
  • Pausing to Evaluate while Descending
  • Musical Connection and Continuous Movement
  • Alignment in Different Registers
  • Two Pairs at a Time
  • Musical Listening with Two Pairs
  • Traversing the Keyboard with Two Pairs

Three-Note Slurs

  • Master Class: Three-note slurs
  • Three-note slurs

Four-Note Slurs

  • Master Class: Four-note slurs
  • Shaping in Four-Note Slurs
  • Wrist Positioning & Alignment

The Basic Three-Dimensional Form on Five Notes

  • Master Class: The Basic Three-Dimensional Form on Five Notes
  • The Basic Three-Dimensional Form on Five Notes: Overview
  • Elliptical Shaping
  • Coordinating the Turnarounds
  • Understanding "Over" & "Under"
  • Master Class: The Basic Three-Dimensional Form on Five Notes, postscript

Repeated Single Notes

Vibrato on Single Notes

  • Vibrato Motion on Single Notes Context
  • Common Problems: Fingers curled or held outward
  • Different Arm Impulses
  • Repeated Notes: When to Use Alternating Fingering

One-Octave Arpeggios

One Octave Arpeggios Overview

  • One-Octave Arpeggios: Overview
  • Three-Dimensional Shaping
  • Common Problems: Fixed Wrist and Curled Fingers
  • The Importance of the One-Octave Arpeggio in Playing Two and More Octaves
  • Starting with a Smaller Arpeggio

Foundational Elements in One-Octave Arpeggios

  • Avoiding Twisting
  • Allowing the Hand to Remain Small
  • Supple Wrist and The Quiet Hand
  • Common Problem: Wrist Tension
  • Levers and Joints
  • The Thumb and The Quiet Hand

Preparing Three-Dimensional Motion

  • Initial Lift and Drop
  • Continuous Drop on Two Notes [C-E]
  • Avoiding Swiveling
  • Integrated Three-Dimensional Motion

Cultivating Three-Dimensional Motion

  • Cultivating Three-Dimensional Motion, Context
  • Lateral Adjustment
  • Shaping The First Three Notes
  • Fingernails Near the Key Edge
  • The One-Octave Arpeggio, Ascending
  • "Under" and "Out"

The One-Octave Ascent

  • Wrist height adjustments
  • "In" and "Out"
  • Common Problem: Staying In for the 3rd Finger
  • Common Problem: Accenting with the Thumb
  • The One-Octave Ascent

Momentum and the Descent

  • Momentum and the Descent
  • Momentum and the Descent: Released Fingers
  • Isolating Each Pair of Notes

Isolating Three Notes at a Time

  • Isolating Three Notes at a Time
  • Isolating the Turnaround
  • Isolating the "Over" Gesture
  • Releases and Alignment
  • Planning Wrist Height
  • The Turnaround at the Thumb

The Complete One-Octave Arpeggio

  • Isolating Four Notes at a Time
  • Isolating the Upper Turnaround with Four Notes
  • The One-Octave Arpeggio, Descending
  • Isolating the Turnaround with the Thumb with Four Notes
  • Fluid, Continuous Motion
  • Isolating Five and Six Notes
  • The Three-Dimensional One-Octave Arpeggio

Sound Quality

Approaches to Sound

  • Three Families of Sound Overview
  • The Round Sound Context
  • The Round Sound in Chords
  • The Rhythmic Sound (Thrust)
  • The Ringing Sound

Two-Octave Arpeggios

Learning "The Throw"

  • Introducing the Throw
  • Understanding the Role of the Upper Arm
  • Understanding the Role of the Forearm
  • The Role of the Upper Arm in Small Throws
  • Reducing the Throw Interval to a Second

The Throw on the Interval of a Second

  • Slowing Down to Observe: "Rolling"
  • Moving the Hand on the Interval of a Second, Ascending
  • Moving the Hand on the Interval of a Second, Descending
  • Observing Movement and Wrist Position
  • Fluid Movement and Alignment

Moving Toward Throws on Thirds

  • Listening for a Musical Connection
  • Noticing the Gap and Accents
  • Small Throws in Different Registers, Part 1
  • Small Throws in Different Registers, Part 2
  • Throws on the Interval of a Third, Part 1

Throws on Thirds, Fourths, and Larger Intervals

  • Throws on the Interval of a Third, Part 2
  • Throws on the Interval of a Fourth
  • Preparing the Throw Exercise
  • Throw Exercise: Up a Fourth, Down a Third
  • Throws on Larger Intervals

The Check-Mark Motion

  • Continuous Drop on Two Notes (E-G)
  • The Check-Mark Motion, Part 1
  • The Check-Mark Motion, Part 2
  • The Check-Mark Motion, Part 3
  • The Check-Mark Motion, Part 4
  • The Throw vs. Thumb-Under

Combining Three Dimensional Momentum with the Throw

  • Combining 3-D Momentum with the Throw, Part 1
  • Combining 3-D Momentum with the Throw, Part 2
  • Combining 3-D Momentum with the Throw, Part 3
  • 3-D Momentum and the Throw: Released Fingers

Preparing for the Two-Octave Ascent in the Right Hand

  • Preparing for the Two-Octave Ascent
  • Linking with Reduced Intervals [E-G-A-C]
  • Linking with Reduced Intervals [E-G-B-D]
  • Linking with Actual Arpeggio Intervals [E-G-C-E]

The Complete Two-Octave Ascent

  • Linking the First and Second Octaves, Part 1
  • Linking the First and Second Octaves, Part 2
  • The Complete Two-Octave Ascent, Part 1
  • The Complete Two-Octave Ascent, Part 2
  • The Complete Two-Octave Ascent, Part 3

Preparing for the Two-Octave Descent in the Right Hand

  • Avoiding Swivel and Maintaining Alignment
  • Reviewing the Throw on the Interval of a Second
  • Isolating the Throw: E-C-B
  • Isolating the Throw: E-C-A
  • Isolating the Throw: E-C-G

The Complete Two-Octave Descent

  • Releasing the Hand Over the Thumb
  • Descending Triad and The Throw
  • Keeping The Hand Small
  • One Octave and The Throw
  • One Octave and Larger Throws
  • Completing the Two-Octave Descent

Putting It All Together

  • Linking the One-Octave Arpeggio with the Throw
  • Linking the One-Octave Arpeggio with Larger Throws
  • Linking One Octave Ascending with Two Octaves Descending
  • Reviewing the Ascending Throw with Momentum
  • The Turnarounds
  • Two-Octave Arpeggios Beginning from the Top
  • Two-Octave Arpeggios Beginning from the Bottom
  • Two Octaves with Double Turnarounds

Vibrato Technique Context

Vibrato Technique

  • Master Class: Vibrato Technique—Basic Motion, Part 1
  • Master Class: Vibrato Technique—Basic Motion, Part 2
  • Basic Vibrato Motion, Part 3

Repeated Chords

Repeated Chords

  • Repeated Chords Exercises
  • Repertoire Example: Mendelssohn Tarantella
  • Master Class: Vibrato and Repeated Chords
  • Repertoire Example: Debussy General Lavine

Octaves

Preparing to Play Octaves

  • Right Hand Ascending: Starting with Sixths
  • Right Hand Descending Sixths and the Left Hand
  • Vibrato and Focus with Thumbs Only
  • Working with Sevenths
  • Releasing the Abductor Muscles

Octaves for Individual Hand Sizes

  • Octave Preparation: Playing only with the 5th Finger
  • Loose Octaves
  • Octaves for Larger Hands
  • Octaves for Medium-Sized Hands
  • Octaves for Smaller Hands

Practicing Octaves

  • Using the Fourth Finger--or Not
  • Vibrato Octave Exercise Ascending
  • Vibrato Octave Exercise Descending and Left Hand Practice
  • Practicing Octaves in Various Keys
  • Repertoire Example: Brahms Capriccio in D Minor, Op. 116 No. 1

Tremolos

Tremolo Basics

  • Tremolos, Part 1: Rotation
  • Tremolos, Part 2: Vibrato Motion in Eighth Notes
  • Tremolos, Part 3: Vibrato Motion with Cycling
  • Tremolos, Part 4: Vibrato Subdivisions in Three and Six
  • Tremolos, Part 5: Initiating from the 5th Finger (Right Hand)

Tremolo Topics

  • Tremolos, Part 6: Left-Hand Process
  • Tremolos, Part 7: Figures in Opposing Hands
  • Tremolos, Part 8: Postscript
  • Master Class: Intermediate Tremolos with Vibrato Technique
  • Repertoire Example: Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12

Trills

Trill Preparation

  • Trill Preparation (2-3 Trill)
  • The Two-Note Slur on a Single Note
  • Common Problem: Thumb Tension
  • Trilling on Three Notes [C-D-C]
  • Trilling on Three Notes [D-C-D]
  • Common Problem: Pulling Back The Third Finger
  • Master Class: Trill Preparation on Three Notes

Trills on Five or More Notes

  • Trilling on Five Notes, Part 1
  • Trilling on Five Notes, Part 2
  • Trilling on Five Notes, Part 3
  • Trilling on Five Notes, Part 4 (2-3)
  • Trilling on More Than Five Notes, Part 1
  • Trilling on More Than Five Notes, Part 2
  • Master Class: Five-Note Trills
  • Master Class: Trilling on More Than Five Notes

Left-Hand Trills and Using Fingers 1 and 3

  • Trills in the Left Hand
  • 1-3 Trills up to Five Notes
  • 1-3 Trills on More Than Five Notes
  • Master Class: The 1-3 Trill (white to black notes)

Master Classes on 3-5 Trills

  • Master Class: The 3-5 Trill, Part 1 (black to white notes)
  • Master Class: The 3-5 Trill, Part 2 (black to white notes)

Basic Trill Exercises

  • Common Problem: Excess Tension
  • Basic Trill Exercise on 2-3
  • Basic Trill Exercise on 1-3
  • Basic Trill Exercise on 1-2
  • Basic Trill Exercise on 3-5
  • Trill Exercise with Vibrato
  • Master Class: Trill with Vibrato
  • Master Class: Trills from 9 to 17 Notes

Scales

Three-Dimensional Principles in Scales, Part 1

  • Case Study: Thumb-Under
  • Topography in B Major: Overview
  • Master Class: The Quiet Hand in Scales
  • Master Class: Topography and Shaping in B Major

Three-Dimensional Principles in Scales, Part 2

  • Master Class: Continuous Alignment Adjustments in Scales
  • Master Class: Curled 5th Finger
  • Slow-motion Analysis of Curled 5th finger
  • Master Class: Vertical Alignment Adjustments

Released Fingers and Adjusting for the Turnaround

  • Master Class: Released Fingers
  • Master Class: Coordinating the Turnaround

Scale Fundamentals in B Major

  • B Major: Shaping of First Three Notes
  • Thumb-under vs Integrated Motion
  • Master Class: The Throw vs. Thumb-Under
  • Shaping and Momentum with Five Notes, Part 1
  • Shaping and Momentum with Five Notes, Part 2
  • Shaping and Momentum with Six, Seven, and Eight Notes

Keyboard Topography

  • Master Class: Topography of Half- and Whole-Steps
  • Topography and How to Invert Figures for Each Hand
  • Recommended Order of Learning Scales

Shaping and Momentum in the Left Hand, in D-Flat Major

  • Shaping and Momentum with Five Notes in the Left Hand
  • Momentum with Six, Seven, and Eight Notes in the Left Hand

The Turnaround

  • The Turnaround in Scales, Part 1
  • The Turnaround in Scales, Part 2
  • The Turnaround in Scales, Part 3
  • The Turnaround in Scales, Part 4
  • The Turnaround in the Left Hand

Playing Together in Ensemble

  • Master Class: Playing Scales in Ensemble
  • Playing Scales in Ensemble
  • Playing Passages in Ensemble with a Chamber Music Partner

Exercises for Speed and Evenness

  • Speed and Evenness: Practicing with Different Rhythms
  • Speed and Evenness: Practicing with Accents

Practicing for Speed Using the Metronome

  • Speed and Evenness: Practicing for Speed Using the Metronome, Part 1
  • Speed and Evenness: Practicing for Speed Using the Metronome, Part 2
  • Speed and Evenness: Practicing for Speed Using the Metronome, Part 3
  • Repertoire Excerpt: Rachmaninoff Prelude in B-Flat, Op. 23 No. 2

Insights in Entrada

The Insights library will continue to grow quickly as Fred creates new content in response to your and other members’ questions.

Season 1 of Insights contains the following:

  • S1E1: Ravel: Jeux d’eau

    The widely-spaced arpeggios in m. 11 are carefully considered with three-dimensional principles and practice strategies.

  • S1E2: Albeniz: Malagueña, Op. 165 No. 3

    Timing and effortless movement help us capture the lilt and spirit of this Spanish dance.

  • S1E3: Schumann: Wild Rider, Op. 68 No. 8

    Proceeding to a new section of a piece calls for careful and effective practice.

  • S1E4: Burgmuller: Arabesque, Op. 100 No. 2

    The B section of this famous piece often is played poorly. Why?

  • S1E5: Chopin: Nocturne in D-Flat, Op. 27 No. 2

    What did Chopin really mean when he used hairpins?

  • S1E6: Bartok: For Children, V. 1 No. 3

    Sliding facilitates three-dimensional motion in two-note slurs.   

  • S1E7: Mendelssohn: Tarantella, Op. 102 No. 3

    Playing fast repeated chords benefits from organizing groupings and using the vibrato technique.

  • S1E8: Brahms: Waltz in A-Flat, Op. 39 No. 15

    Momentum and three-dimensional shaping are key to bringing this waltz to life.

  • S1E9: Debussy: La fille aux cheveux de lin

    The large chord in m.6 presents a special pedaling challenge that is easily remedied.

  • S1E10: Haydn: Sonata in G, Hob.XVI:8, 4th mvt

    The tremolo figure in the left hand is broken down for effective practice incorporating the basic vibrato motion.

  • S1E11: Rebikov: Valse mélancolique, Op. 3 No. 3

    The composer’s hairpins provide clues to playing with greater sensitivity and lilt in this waltz.

  • S1E12: Mozart: Sonata K. 331, Rondo alla turca

    The “Turkish band” figures in the left hand become effortless when we cultivate a “small” hand integrated with the vibrato technique.

  • S1E13: Glinka: Contredanse No. 1 “Le pantalon”

    Focus on repeated notes, sforzandi, and agogic accents leads us to the elegant character of this dance.

  • S1E14: Liszt: Consolation No. 1 in E, S. 172

    In just four measures, Liszt provides us with opportunities to interpret portato, legato, dolce, and hairpins; each marking has a meaningful effect on expression.

  • S1E15: Schumann: Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, 3rd mvt

    Leon Fleisher’s fingering advice is combined with the vibrato technique to produce the dynamic sweep needed at the opening of the finale of Schumann’s concerto.

Season 2 of Insights contains the following:

  • S2E1: Beethoven: German Dance in C, Pt. 1

    Does sforzando only mean a “loud” note or chord?

     

  • S2E2: Beethoven: German Dance in C, Pt. 2

    The Vibrato Technique makes playing repeated chords easy, even in elementary-level music--and helps us inflect gestures more musically and stylistically.

  • S2E3: Mozart: Sonata in C, K. 545 1st mvt

    Here’s a great trick for playing the problematic trill near the beginning of this famous piece.

  • S2E4: Mompou: Scènes d'enfants I

    Finger substitutions allow us to maintain legato, and the vibrato technique helps us play effortlessly and with better rhythm.

  • S2E5: Beethoven: Ecossaise in G, Pt. 1

    Finger staccato combined with three-dimensional elements (quiet hand, shaping, vibrato) helps project the musical character of this elementary piece with ease.

  • S2E6: Beethoven: Ecossaise in G, Pt. 2

    In this example, a whole-body approach includes releasing your hand after each ‘plucked’ attack and keeping it ‘small’ with quick jumps. This frees you to play jumps of any interval, rather than ‘reaching’ and keeping the hand tense. (And look for an appearance by Leo the kitten!)

  • S2E7: Bartok: 3 Folksongs from the Csik District -- White Lily

    In this exciting final piece of Bartok’s Three Folksongs from the Csik District, the left hand’s large rolls are challenging. This Insight focuses on how to release your hand to keep it small, so you can accompany the right-hand melody in time.

  • S2E8: Burgmuller: Ballade, Op. 100 No. 15

    Sixteenth notes in the left hand are often played with fingers only. This passage becomes much easier when you choreograph it with three-dimensional shaping.

  • S2E9: Handel: Aria from Suite in G Major, HWV 441

    Integrating rotation with active fingers and three-dimensional movement is the focus of this Insight, in a highly pianistic figure that becomes commonplace in Mozart and others, in the generations after Handel composed this work.

  • S2E10: Granados: Spanish Dance No. 1

    How do we use the Vibrato Technique to help us play rhythmically? Whole-body gestures allow us to play the piano easily; in turn, our music becomes more freed.

  • S2E11: Beethoven: Sonata Op. 2 No. 3, 1st mvt

    The opening measures of this Sonata instill anxiety in many advanced pianists, right at the moment when we need to be confident and to play with good coordination. This insight offers steps to master this passage, and to apply this process to double notes encountered in other repertoire.

  • S2E12: Tchaikovsky: Waltz, Op. 39 No. 9

    What is the difference between a dynamic accent and an agogic accent? How do we play accents to aid the character of the music we are playing?

Masterclasses in Entrada

Right now, there are over fifty masterclass tutorials on repertoire ranging from elementary to intermediate to advanced.

Organized by approximate level of difficulty, these pieces include:

Elementary

  • Alt: On the Ocean Floor
  • Anonymous: Bagpipe
  • Berens: Etude in C, Op. 70 No. 10
  • Czerny: Etude in C, Op. 261 No. 81
  • Diabelli: Morning
  • Gurlitt: Morgengruss
  • Köhler: Allegretto
  • Mouret: The Highlander
  • Rebikov: The Bear
  • Reinagle: English Minuet
  • Schytte: Little Prelude
  • Schytte: Melody for the Left Hand
  • Türk: Little March in C Major
  • Wohlfahrt: Little Romance in D Minor

Early Intermediate

  • Anonymous: Musette in D Major, BWV Anh. 126
  • Beethoven (attributed): Sonatina in G Major, 1st mvt
  • Beethoven (attributed): Sonatina in G Major, 2nd mvt
  • Beethoven: Russian Folk Dance
  • Burgmuller: Etude in C, Op. 100 No. 1 “Sincerity”
  • Clementi: Sonatina in G, Op. 36 No. 2, 2nd mvt)
  • Czerny: Etude in C, Op. 261 No. 1
  • Czerny: Etude in C, Op. 261 No. 3
  • Duvernoy: Etude in C
  • Haydn: Minuet in G
  • Mozart: Minuet in F, K. 2
  • Petzold: Minuet in G, BWV Anh. 114
  • Schumann: Soldier’s March, Op. 68 No. 2
  • Tchaikovsky: Old French Song, Op. 39 No. 16

Intermediate

  • Bach, C.P.E.: March in D (from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach)
  • Bach, J.S.: Invention No. 4 in D Minor, BWV 775
  • Bach, J.S.: Prelude in C Major, WTC I, BWV 846
  • Bach, J.S.: Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999
  • Beach: Canoeing
  • Burgmuller: Etude in G, Op. 100 No. 21 “Harmony of the Angels”
  • Chopin: Waltz in A Minor, B. 150
  • Clementi: Sonatina in G Major, Op. 36 No. 2, 3rd mvt
  • Clementi: Sonatina in F Major, Op. 36 No. 4, 2nd mvt
  • Ellmenreich: Spinning Song
  • Grieg: Watchman’s Song, Op. 12 No. 3
  • Gurlitt: Miniature
  • Heller: Avalanche, Op. 45 No. 2
  • Rebikov: Dance with a Bell
  • Schubert: German Dance in Bb, D. 783 No. 7
  • Spindler: Sonatina in C, Op. 157 No. 4
  • Tchaikovsky: Playing Hobby Horses, Op. 39 No. 4

Late Intermediate/Advanced

  • Bach, J.S.: Sinfonia No. 5 in E-Flat, BWV 791
  • Beethoven: Sonata in C Minor, Op. 10 No. 1, 1st mvt
  • Beethoven: Sonata in G Major, Op. 49 No. 2, 1st mvt
  • Chopin: Mazurka in E Major, Op. 6 No. 3
  • Chopin: Nocturne C-sharp minor, Op. Post.
  • Chopin: Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28 No. 4
  • Godowsky: Alt Wien
  • Granados: Spanish Dance No. 5
  • Grieg: March of the Trolls, Op. 54 No. 3
  • Grieg: Nocturne, Op 54 No. 4
  • Hofmann: Scherzo, Op. 77 No. 7
  • MacDowell: To a Wild Rose, Op. 51 No. 1
  • MacDowell: Alla Tarantella, Op. 39 No. 2
  • Schytte: Jumping Competition, Op. 107 No. 10
  • Scriabin: Prelude in E Major, Op. 11 No. 9
  • Tchaikovsky: The Hunt: September from The Seasons, Op. 37a No. 9