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Lectures upon request

I.“How Style Determines the Hand Shape – and How to Teach It”

The age-old “orange in the hand” method is past its prime! In this lecture I discuss the various hand shapes needed to accommodate the diverse styles of music that even beginners need to know. Just as painters have varied brush styles, teachers need to introduce hand shapes and varying ways of using the hand in order that students immediately know about the palette of colors they can create and how to achieve those colors.

This lecture includes examples from piano literature for students in the early stages – the first and second years of study – through the intermediate and early advanced literature. Handouts present many compositions that include stylistic variety that require subtle changes in the hand shape. Come with questions regarding different styles in literature and go home with answers!

II.“It All Begins With the 2-Note Slur!”

Do you remember your teachers discussing how to drop arm weight into the keys, then release it? The 2-note-slur is a very good place to begin—and it may be easier than using a single note approach. Many students gain understanding once they realize this simple gesture mimics the natural inflection of many of our words. Once they learn how to incorporate this natural accentuation, they become more facile as slurs stretch into 3 and 4-note groupings. In many instances, this approach can alleviate troubling technical passages while creating more musical phrasing. Please join me for a stimulating discussion of this basic pattern we learn at an early age, and how it effectively shapes much of our advanced literature.

III. “Music of a Mystic” – Alexander Scriabin: A Russian Symbolist

Scriabin’s relationship to the Russian Symbolist Movement has fascinated me since I began reading about this Movement’s poets and painters and their theories and practices. I believe that Scriabin was greatly influenced by his friends who were part of this eschatological movement, and who resorted to symbols and abstraction to convey the deeper significances of life and death.
In this lecture I describe the relationships and influences which shaped Scriabin’s works and how his ideas merged with those of the Symbolist writers and painters in their mystical perceptions about the world’s nearing apocalypse. Using illustrations from the Fourth and Seventh Piano Sonatas, I discuss how these mystical theories influenced Scriabin’s use of harmonies, rhythms and styles.

IV. “The Russians Are Coming” – Music of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Prokofiev and the Evolution of Russian Music

At the turn of the 20th Century, Russia experienced the culmination of enormous artistic, scientific and political movements, now referred to as the Russian Silver Age. These years were preceded by a short period of attempts by Russian composers to create a nationalistic sound of their own. In this lecture I talk about the origins of Russian music during these earlier years, of Glinka and the "Mighty Five,"then continue by highlighting works of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Prokofiev. In addition to including biographical information, I describe the evolution of their compositional styles and perform selected works of these three great Russian composers.

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