For most repertoire, but definitely with the "Diversions", I emphasize rhythm first. Once the student knows the rhythm, we go back to the piano - and complete our exercise.
I ask them to place the necessary finger on the necessary note.
I sometimes play the excerpt again, and ask them to "explore" the 5 finger pattern.
I ask "can you echo exactly what I play"? If they are reluctant to try (afraid to fail, perhaps?) I reward a foil star for each correct note (and yes, getting the first note correct counts!)
I always praise my students for every little accomplishment - even if some of the notes are incorrect, I note the accuracy of the rhythm, or their ability to "try" and to "listen carefully". I see positive reinforcement as inspiration.
Every little step is a major step toward developing a stronger ear and a more agile sense of musicianship.
For all students, the final step is to examine the printed score. We look at it together. I play part of the first phrase and have them POINT to the note at which I "froze" (paused/stopped). Can they follow the score correctly? Superb! You just earned another star (perhaps a fun colored one this time!)
I sometimes ask: can you tell me what kind of note that was? It was a single eighth note? Superb - you just earned an eighth note sticker.
Is there time left in lesson? I'll ask what would YOU like to do next - play one of your songs AGAIN for me? Encounter another DIVERSION? Would you like to LISTEN to something on YouTube (I've recently discovered this outstanding performance of Haydn, the first piece performed by Huesha Hu, for the 8th Bosendorfer USASU International Piano Competition Semi Finals BCSF #4 - the first movement is under 4 mins. in length - perfect to end the lesson & to gain inspiration and see outstanding posture and technique.
Left: Evgeny Kissin - La Campanella
and below: Edna Golandsky (Taubmann expert) on the technical approaches to playing Listz.
Edna Golandsky / octaves without stretching.
Juan Cabeza. "Diversions". Books 1 and 2
Copyright 2017 by Piano Safari, LLC
The diversions series features short exercise miniatures designed to "focus on a single technical pattern that the student may encounter in the early stages of piano study..."
These are excellent etudes. SEE BELOW to learn more about the progress my students are making using "Diversions" in their practice and warm-up habits.
Here is the URL for several audio and video recordings by Cathy Kautsky.
Huesha Hu. Chopin Op 10 No. 1 Etude
I love to change it up
in my studio - I'm always
looking at new teaching
Here's some of what I've
recently discovered & begun
to use in lesson.
Scroll to the bottom
of this page for video
and audio of some
favorite performers &
repertoire. I will keep adding
as I spend time thinking
and reflecting. Please enjoy!
Chopin Op 70 No 2 Waltz (A-flat/f minor, depending upon who you read).
Three performers. Which is more ornamental?
Which feels more authentic to the score you have in front of you?
Which of the three feels more like a Waltz in A-Flat, versus a Waltz in f minor?
Daniel Barenboim performing
Beethoven Piano Sonata No 20,
Op 49 No 2 - 2nd mov,
Tempo di Menuetto.
Huesha Hu. 1st piece: Haydn.
2nd piece: Ravel
3rd piece: Barber.
Some favorite YOUTUBE repertoire.
Lengths all under 4:30 are perfect repertoire to share at the end a lesson!
Geoffrey Burleson performs:
Roy Harris, Toccata for Piano
NAXOS. Length: 4:25
DIVERSIONS in lessons
My students love them! These are wonderful, short exercises. Book 1 is accessible for all students - I pick and choose exercises based upon what my students are working on.
For other teachers: All of the Diversions assume that your student can read both treble and bass clef.
For some students, these exercises work well as "rote" or extra-piano exercises.
Sometimes I sit at one piano and play a phrase. I ask the students to repeat back by "clapping" the rhythm of the phrase. After the student is able to successfully clap the rhythm - I then ask them to stand up and STOMP the rhythm - or take rhythm sticks and tap out the rhythm as if playing a drum (I ask some of my students to tap the rhythm on my plush soccer ball, others like doing this while sitting on my rug.)
For some of my students, 'Diversions' are fun mid-practice session sight-reading exercises. I always encourage my students to "take a pause" after practicing 20 minutes - no matter how successful or intense the goal at hand. This is part of our studio-wide practice, one that encourages mindfulness and healthiness at the piano. We build in mental breaks - sometimes to challenge our brain to reinforce a difficult passage we are learning. Other times, it's a respite from the challenges of a difficult piece of music. Always, it's a chance to balance study of repertoire with technique, sight-reading, ear-training and listening, theory, and musicianship.