Contact me for additional information on any of the presentations and workshops listed below.
Effective Memorization Strategies for Pianists.
Mental Practice (MP) Workshop
An introductory workshop on Mental Practice (MP) is designed in two parts. (Offered in English and Italian.)
The present workshop on effective memorization strategies based on mental practice illustrates techniques by which someone with the intent of practicing creates a mental representation of a preconceived idea or action to enhance performance. Through increased focus and concentration, pianists will learn how to study portions of a score in their minds without spending considerable time at the piano.
Among the techniques illustrated in this workshop are:
- Motor imagery (visualizing the feeling of moving the fingers).
- Organizing groupings found in the text (also through formal, melodic, and rhythmic analysis).
- Singing and feeling intervallic relationships.
- Scene memory (rapid eye movements to identify the next position on the key).
- Switches (slight changes of patterns often resulting in memory slips).
These tools are helpful, and while they cannot replace the actual practicing at the keyboard, they are invaluable mental rehearsal devices.
MENTAL PRACTICE is a technique by which someone with the intent to practice creates a mental representation of a preconceived idea or action to enhance performance (van Meer & Theunissen, 2009).
The proper exercise in the head forces the mental inclusion of the entire body apparatus.
Advanced Practicing Strategies
Interactive Workshop Supported by PowerPoint
Often, as I walk by the practice rooms in the corridors of music schools, I hear young students repeating large chunks of the pieces they are learning. The repetitions often happen over and over and generally in the same performance tempo.
I pay attention to how students practice, and I often find that the physicality of playing the instrument takes over. The goals and thoughts behind the actual learning experience become secondary. This happens because of inattention and an inability to retain the explicit purpose of practicing. As a result, some students spend too much time at the keyboard without obtaining the same results they would achieve if focused attention remained vigilant.
This project is born out of the frustration we, pianists, sometimes feel when we fall into ineffective practice. Therefore, I offer some practical pointers in the lecture to avoid moments of mindless practicing. I also use tips and practical examples at the piano, and the student’s involvement is a necessary component of the workshop. Young pianists are encouraged to bring some works they are learning and share their difficulties while practicing by showing trouble spots on the keyboard for further comments.
Damper Pedal and Sound Alchemy in the Context of Interpretation
Lecture-Demonstration Supported by PowerPoint
How often do intermediate students take the damper pedal for granted? Why do their instinctive reactions based on nearly automatic acoustic feedback provide limited results? This workshop will focus on the damper pedal in the context of interpretation. A few examples will reveal how the composition’s horizontal aim—its “future”—and vertical conception—its ”present”—are part of an all-inclusive, temporal context from which some thoughtful considerations on pedaling may be derived.
The six Partitas for harpsichord are the last of Bach’s keyboard dance suites, stretching his French and English Suites’ formal structures that preceded them. They present new technical and musical challenges for the interpreter as well. Enrico Elisi was in residence at Yellow Barn discussing the recording of Partitas 1 and 6 and shorter works, which occurred in Italy. A particular focus of his residency was the various possibilities of ornamentation and articulations in those works. Building on his interpretive insight and historical evidence, he also studied selected ornaments and articulations used by keyboard players who have previously recorded this repertoire, creating a compendium of possibilities that can be drawn upon in an improvisatory way. See https://www.yellowbarn.org/blog for more information.
From Public State to Private Parlour: An Introduction to Rarely Performed Piano works from Rossini’s “Years of Silence”
Rossini, born just a year after Mozart’s death, lived to witness Berlioz and Wagner’s innovations – a world so ideologically different from the ancien régime. He had abandoned the theatre before the première of Guillaume Tell, at the height of his career, in 1829. Except for the Soirées Musicales (1835), the Stabat Mater (1841), and a few functional compositions, Rossini wrote practically nothing for nearly twenty-six years. Most importantly, he stopped producing operas.
Much has been speculated about his withdrawal from public life; little attention has been devoted to the large body of keyboard compositions written during that period. Rossini maintained an over-protective attitude toward these pieces. He did not allow their publication and had them performed at his Parisian salon in 1858. Today, the mysterious fate of the Péchés de vieillesse – Sins of Old Age, as Rossini affectionately entitled them – still prevails in the concert halls since these compositions are seldom performed.
The lecture-recital will focus on selected Rossini’s Péchés, supported by a PowerPoint presentation, highlighting the most essential elements shaping Italian music according to Rossini: “melodia semplice e varietà di ritmo” (simple melody and variety of rhythm). It will also show many colorful ways in which Rossini’s orchestral sound world influenced his piano writing and, finally, reveal the composer’s attempt to combine the two main trends in keyboard compositions of his time: intimate or sensitive and virtuoso. The lecture will be interspersed with the playing of several examples and will include a performance of selected works.