|The Music Corner for Piano Lovers
- 02 Sep 2016
- Rondo alla Turca and Muscle Memory
Although I've frequently railed against muscle memory, I have to concede it has its place in piano practice. Muscle memory is invaluable when it comes to acquiring piano technique. Why? Because when you encounter a trill or any other ornament, you don't want to have to think about how to perform it any more than you would think about playing legato or staccato.
Listening to classical music while you're driving tends to give you a different perspective of it. And I've come to realize that a lot ...
- 19 Feb 2016
- Ghosts With No Home: A New Piece for Cello and Piano
It's been a year since I had any time to compose. But a few weeks back, I decided to go back to one of my songs,and complete it. And I'm happy to say that I'm ready to upload a pdf file to my web site. It's uploaded on SoundCloud, so you can listen to it here: Ghosts With No Home . The URL, if the text link doesn't work, is: https://soundcloud.com/ntcomposer/ghosts-with-no-home-ntustin-1
Ghosts With No Home is a song (pop, if you're particular about genre categories) about the dreams that ...
- 09 Aug 2015
- Unsung Father; Unappreciated Teacher
If teaching is hard work, ac ting as teacher to your own children is harder still. It takes great reserves of patience, an ability to provide structure and enforce discipline, and time—time that might more profitably be spent on one’s own interests. When my children would rather do anything else than work on their numbers or the alphabet, I’m frequently tempted to let things slide. I could use the time for my writing or my music.
So, you can imagine why Leopold Mozart has my heartfelt ...
- 22 May 2015
- Haunted: The Lyrics and the Story Behind the Piano Solo
Sometime last spring, I wrote a melody that was so haunting, I called it "Haunted." It was in 3/4 time, each measure beginning with an eighth note triplet. And four of these triplet motives formed a phrase. I wanted the melody to stand out, so the accompaniment was fairly simple. But a few months back, inspired by the hymn solos in one of my piano books, I decided to set the melody in a rich polyphonic texture and turn it into a piano solo. It's taken me a while to do it, but the score is now up ...
- 28 Apr 2015
- Knowing When It's Time To Move On—Getting Past the "OK Plateau"
This weekend I started reading an amazing book: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. While the book is mainly about developing our memories to superhuman capacities, Foer's research into memory development has led him to also delve into the strategies that facilitate the development of expertise in any field.
It may be both fascinating and a relief for you to learn that it's not so much innate ability that separates the experts in any field from those who are merely average as the strategies ...
- 22 Feb 2015
- The Problem of Sixteenth Notes in Alla Breve
Should you treat a piece written in Alla Breve (Cut Time) as though it was written in Common Time?
It depends, I think, on the piece. Some pieces lend themselves to being treated as though they were written in 4/4 time, and this may make counting easier. In other pieces, treating the 2/2 time signature as though it were written in 4/4 can add emphases where you don't want them. It's best to try counting both ways, and use your ear to determine whether or not it makes a noticeable ...
- 20 Jan 2015
- The Old and the New
First let me apologize for missing my blog dates. A fortuitous set of circumstances has meant that my writer hat must take precedence over my composer hat. I will still upload new pieces and write my blog, but I will likely have to cut back to updating my blog once a month rather than once every other week or even once a week when I first started.
With 2014 having given way to 2015, I've been giving a lot of thought to the old and the new, and all the ways in which the new is rooted in the old. ...
- 16 Dec 2014
- Beethoven's Birthday and Other Significant Musical Memories
Today — December 16 — is Beethoven's birthday, and it holds special significance for me as well. You see, it was the day I married my husband, although when we chose the day, its musical significance completely escaped us.
This time of year holds a number of other wonderful musical memories for me as well. Around about this time, some years back, my husband bought me the beautiful Weber upright I play and compose on. It was an anniversary gift. And even though we're looking to buy a new grand, the ...
- 24 Nov 2014
- Muscle Memory, and How to Resist its Effect
Muscle memory, in my opinion, is notoriously unreliable, and quite likely to fail you when you need it most — during a recital or an exam. So, in this post, I'd like to show you a few ways to avoid committing a piece to muscle memory. (Note that this is quite different from deliberately committing something to memory. Muscle memory sets in without any conscious effort on your part, by virtue of sheer repetition.)
First of all, how do you know you're relying on muscle memory? One indication you're ...
- 10 Nov 2014
- The State of New Music
Some time back, my husband and I attended a concert that included a new work specially commissioned by the director of the orchestra: Patrick Cameron's Lines of the Southern Cross. Cameron is of Australian origin, and studied film music. His work — a panoramic soundscape depicting different regions in Australia. My husband and I were suitably impressed. It's rare for a concert to include a work by a contemporary composer; rarer still for the composer to spend some time talking about his work before the ...