Prokofiev in a Train Station

August 20, 2016 Comments Off on Prokofiev in a Train Station

Prokofiev has been dead for some time now, and, unlike Elvis, has stayed away from public appearances since then. But here’s the lovely second movement of the 7th Sonata, alive and well and appearing in a train station in Delft.

Another reason to learn to play the piano: you can bring the dead to life.

Why Learn to Play The Piano?

December 28, 2015 Comments Off on Why Learn to Play The Piano?

“What are piano lessons FOR? ” This question from a parent of a talented student once stumped me. It’s in the category of If You Have To Ask You Won’t Understand The Answer. But I’ve been looking for answers to it anyway, ever since.

Here’s an excellent one: If you are in a French train station with time on your hands, you can start improvising on the station piano. Some stranger who also knows something about the piano might show up and play along.

You can make music together. That sentence is loaded with metaphorical meanings old and new. The literal meaning is rich enough, however, to warrant learning to play the piano.

Why learn to play the piano? You can make music with a complete stranger in a French train station.

 

 

Gunther Schuller, 88, still composing 15 hours a day

November 18, 2013 § 1 Comment

schuleer-1You may remember Gunther Schuller. In his youth, he made a big splash in the classical music world by taking jazz seriously and mixing it with classical idioms. It is hard to remember now, but just a short while ago a classically trained musician couldn’t get much respect if he dabbled in jazz.

Schuller did more than dabble. He played  with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus. He also was president of the New England Conservatory of Music and has had his works played by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. Those are pretty good credentials from both sides of the aisle.

Schuller almost single-handedly made Scott Joplin’s ragtime piano music a part of every pianist’s repertoire.

Here is a recent story on him in the Dallas Observer.

Pianist Frank Glazer, 98, plays piano recital of Haydn, Liszt, Barber

November 9, 2013 § 2 Comments

Pianists can easily keep playing into their 90’s and still have something to say. Here is Frank Glazer, a student of Schnabel, which puts him in my lineage from Leschetizky, giving a recital at age 98. He played Nov. 6 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“Glazer, 98, is a pianist, composer and music professor, who began playing piano when he was 3 years old and now has spent almost 60 years as a professional performer”.  You can read the full article on MichiganLive here.

A review of an August concert in Wisconsin is here. In other words, he plays concerts all the time.

 

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Click here to hear an interview with Glazer on American Public Radio’s “The Story”. 

Want to have a great old age? Play the piano.

 

What do pianists do when they aren’t practicing?

November 4, 2013 Comments Off on What do pianists do when they aren’t practicing?

About the same time she started taking piano lessons from me, Sherry Green took up fencing. This October she was a member of the USA Veterans team and fenced in the World Championships in Varna, Bulgaria.

The team took the gold.

The USA Veterans' Team, after their win.

The USA Veterans’ Team, after their win.

This is the fourth time she has been a member of the USA Veterans team. In 2005 she came in fifth in the World Championships. In 2006 she was the top-ranked female sabre fencer in the 60+ category.

In 2007,  she was on the USA team that went to Sydney, Australia for the World Championships but was unable to compete. The night before the first match, while in line outside the famous Sidney Opera House, she tripped on a messed-up bit of sidewalk and broke her knee. Mad doesn’t even begin to describe her state of mind, as she had to forgo not just the fencing championships, but the opera as well.

Alllez, Sherrie!

 

Brain Waves Stay Tuned to Early Lessons – NYTimes.com

September 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

Brain Waves Stay Tuned to Early Lessons – NYTimes.com.

Listening to Music Aids in Stroke Recovery

June 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

Vertical cross-section of the human cerebellum...

Vertical cross-section of the human cerebellum, showing folding pattern of the cortex, and interior structures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband Charles had a cerebellar stroke about 4 years ago. He become quite a celebrity in the local hospital. All the neurology students showed up to visit, along with an assortment of doctors, residents, nurses, etc. I guess things were slow  that week on the neurology ward and a guy sitting up in bed building Lego models was a big draw.

Charles is not normally the person you’d go to for a conversation. He’s a “Just the facts, ma’am ,” sort of guy.  But the medical types all wanted his opinion on the weather, the ball game, his lunch and the model he was building.  I’d never seen so much idle chatter in his vicinity. They didn’t care what he talked about, they just wanted  him to speak. Then, once someone got him going, they’d all watch him with keen attention, like they were dogs and he was eating a hamburger.

The talking never failed to please. The crowd would get noticeably cheerier after some remarks on the weather. Then they would move on to the next fascinating skill: Could he touch his nose with his finger? The entire crowd would watch as finger was applied to nose. Breath was held. Eyebrows were raised. Heads were shaken in astonishment.

My husband is a bright man.  He was also an AAU swimmer who swam his way to Stanford on a scholarship. Talking and touching his nose were not previously thought to be his best act. But somehow, having lost a good portion of his cerebellum, talking  and touching his nose became marvels of achievement. People missing what he was missing were not supposed to be doing what he was doing.

Somehow he missed a really terrible accident. Call me biased, but I think  a recently published article hints at why he suffered so few ill effects from his stroke. This article says that listening to music seems to help reorganize the brain after a stoke and repair the damage.

It seems to me that listening to piano music 4 or 5 hours a day must also have a protective effect or else someone near and dear to me would be a  basket case today. All those piano lessons and his wife’s practicing must have made him nearly invincible.

Four years later, he is not only fully recovered from the small effects of the stroke, but is functioning better than ever. I attribute it all to the concentrated doses of piano music he receives every day.

Ask your doctor if piano music is right for you.

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