Ivory Pulse: Piano Blogs Digest – Sep 12, 2023

Welcome to a new edition of Ivory Pulse!

Every week, we dive into a sea of articles, blog posts, and updates to gather the most interesting and inspiring pieces from the world of piano music. From the latest news on piano technology and trends, to insightful interviews with accomplished pianists, to tips and tricks that will help you become a better player, we’ve got it all!

The Music of the Wrists: Rami Bar-Niv

By: Melanie Spanswick, melaniespanswick.com

In a guest post by Rami Bar-Niv, an Israeli pianist and instructor based in the USA, the importance of wrist movement for pianists is explored. Rami emphasizes the significance of playing with a downward wrist movement, which requires less energy and provides a more balanced sound. By letting the hand fall to the keys due to gravity, pianists can achieve more powerful sounds, with the wrist acting as a shock absorber upon landing. He offers exercises for strengthening finger endurance and highlights the relationship between wrist movement and breathing. Playing with the wrist moving downwards during exhaling and upwards during inhaling can be practiced with various exercises. He also stresses the importance of sitting at an appropriate height when playing the piano to prevent strain and injury. In essence, Rami suggests that the right wrist movement is crucial for producing quality music and for the physical well-being of pianists. Watch the video demonstration in the post. Read more

Piano Intervals Explained (Music Theory 101)

By: Charmaine Li, www.pianote.com

Intervals, the distance between two notes on a piano, are fundamental to understanding music theory. In Charmaine Li’s “Piano Intervals Explained,” the concept of intervals is thoroughly explored. Intervals can be grasped by analyzing their sound, steps, and scale. For instance, associating specific songs with each interval helps in ear training, such as “Happy Birthday” for a Major 2nd or the “Star Wars” theme for a Perfect 5th. Additionally, intervals can be understood by counting the whole and half steps between notes or by examining their position within scales. Recognizing and understanding intervals is crucial for various musical activities, including playing by ear, reading sheet music, constructing chords, and harmonizing melodies. This foundational knowledge not only accelerates music reading but also enhances improvisation, chord construction, and melody harmonization. Read more

The universe of pedaling and phrasing as explored in W.A. Mozart, Andante movement, Sonata K. 545

By: arioso7: Shirley Kirsten, arioso7.wordpress.com

In this blog post the intricate relationship between pedaling and phrasing in W.A. Mozart’s Andante movement, Sonata K. 545, is explored. While discussing a pedaling-focused video from Tone Base, Kirsten highlights the often-neglected emphasis on the interplay between pedaling and touch sensitivity, particularly in ensuring clear, non-blurred sound. The post underscores a common gap in the musical education of many pianists, wherein pedaling is learned through intuition rather than formal instruction. Kirsten emphasizes the importance of understanding pedaling techniques, referencing a valuable video by Seymour Bernstein on the subject. Throughout, she advocates for attentive listening, especially when navigating Mozart’s compositions to prevent over-saturation with pedal. To provide a hands-on illustration, Kirsten includes a piano lesson demonstrating pedaling nuances within the aforementioned Mozart piece. Read more

Why do we like sad music?

By: welltemperedear, welltempered.wordpress.com

The blog post delves into the universal appeal of sad music and art. Drawing insights from Matthew Sachs, a psychologist and brain researcher at Columbia University, it posits that sad music serves an evolutionary and social function by promoting empathy and allowing for the release of negative emotions, a perspective echoed in a story and interview on NPR. This explanation bears resemblance to the ancient Greek concept of catharsis, which justified the public performances of tragedies by playwrights like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare. The post cites well-known melancholic compositions such as Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” Beethoven’s “Pathétique” sonata, Chopin’s “Funeral March” sonata, and requiems by Mozart and Brahms. It also mentions a piece by contemporary composer Cliff Masterson, titled “Beautiful Sadness.” The blog concludes by sharing a link to the NPR story exploring the nuances of musical melancholy and inviting readers to share their personal connections to sad music and art. Read more

Piano Lesson on Understanding Meter and Rhythm

By: Pianist Magazine, www.youtube.com

Graham Fitch, at Steinway Hall in London for Pianist Magazine, delves into the intricacies of time signatures, aiming to clarify the distinctions between simple, compound, and complex times. Time signatures, represented by two stacked numbers, dictate the number and type of beats in each bar. While simple time divides the beat into two, compound time breaks it into three, and the way to differentiate them lies in the top number of the time signature. The value of the lower number, such as in 3/2 versus 3/8, can give insights into the weight and pace of the music. Time signatures have evolved, with tempo in the Baroque period often based on the human heartbeat, around 60-80 beats per minute. Music can challenge the conventional strong-weak beat pattern, as composers often play against the grain, introducing elements like syncopation. Fitch showcases various compositions, from Bach to Beethoven, emphasizing how the time signature can influence interpretation, mood, and pacing. Read more

Hidden Benefits of Teaching Piano Improvisation & Composition (and how to get started!)

By: Chrissy Ricker, colourfulkeys.ie

Chrissy Ricker, a North Carolina-based piano teacher and composer, advocates for teaching improvisation and composition to piano students, highlighting its myriad benefits beyond just fostering creativity. Through regular improvisation, students can solidify their understanding and memorization of scales, chord patterns, and accompaniment techniques. Furthermore, when they transition from improvisation to composition, they gain invaluable experience in music notation, reinforcing their grasp of musical symbols, theory, and vocabulary. This holistic approach enriches their foundational musical knowledge while enhancing their creative skills. Read more

Health and Wellness as a Music School Owner [7FMS Ep. #88]

By: Daniel Patterson, growyourmusicstudio.com

In a departure from their regular discussions on business topics, Nate and Daniel shift focus to the importance of living a balanced, healthy life, especially for school owners. In the episode, they delve into their personal health challenges and share beneficial habits that have aided them. Topics discussed include crafting effective daily routines, stress management techniques, addressing mental health challenges like ADHD, exploring health-conscious diets, and the significance of exercise. The episode highlights various resources, including meditation practices from Naval and apps like Oak, Calm, and Headspace to initiate meditation. Daniel speaks about the LoseIt app, which he used for tracking nutrition, and mentions books and channels that have helped him on his fitness journey, including “The Alt-Shift Diet” by Jason Seib, “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe, and Jeff Nippard’s YouTube channel. Read more


That brings us to the end of this edition of Ivory Pulse. Don’t forget to join us again next week for another compilation of compelling piano-focused content. Until then, keep playing and enjoying the wonderful world of piano music.

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