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A new year 2012;- new batch of students wanted

12 Jan

Since I’ve been in Hawaii, I’ve only had 1 or 2 students who actually paid my fee and listened to me, their teacher. And, I feel badly that I have had to “sell” my 1st piano that I purchased upon arriving in Hawaii in order to cover my immediate need of a living space. In the past 2 years and 11 months, I have attempted to build up a piano studio. However, I don’t have enough paying students.

Some of my “students” including relative(s) of people with more established Hawaii piano studios, have not paid the appropriate fees as scheduled;- and have offered what they define as payment in other terms. So, this has not worked for my piano studio financially. Additionally, I decided that it would/will be better in the future to leave men out of my studio in entirety since some of them are belligerent and insensitive to the piano business;- and have largely contributed to destroying my studio operations in Hawaii;- despite their well-groomed upbringing in Hawaii’s better High schools. Also from their threats of cutting off my fingers for fun.

In Hawaii, my teaching services and experience goes largely unappreciated financially and otherwise. And, as an instructor I will not sign a contract with other “schools/studios” where my students and thus income can be “taken away” at the whim of some “artistic director” who governs the “broke artist” realm.

So, as it stands I will be finishing lessons with the student(s) who have already paid me on my academic calendar schedule.

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And, if there are sufficient complying students who not only fill out the application, but also pay the member fee, as well as full tuition up front I will resume teaching beginning students. Until that happens, I will only be available for more advanced students who pay and seek interpretation, technique, and other more artistic development lessons.

If there is a School/conservatory in Hawaii that will sufficiently cover my expenses and suitably meet my teaching fees;- I will resume teaching beginning students. My capacity for students remains below 15 students. However, at this time;- they must be paying in entirety since there are no funds for me to support students. My own living needs are priority.

If there is a “new batch of students” who can meet my requirements to employ my teaching services;- I will resume with studio hours and performances. My piano performances cannot happen with the strain of trying to financially carry needy and uncooperitive students as much as I would like to perform in Hawaii. I need that time to myself;- that has literally become part-time job  hours to afford my own basic housing & living needs. Aloha, & thanks.

Angela M. “Kikuchi” Kneale

Cross Cultural Understanding

28 Dec

repost: Cross-Cultural- Understanding from Piano_Noir  

First published Dec. 28, 2012


Aloha…is from a land of Hawaiian Ukulele music.  Ukelele music is popular among the local Hawaiian families and is frequently used at weddings and celebrations. Aloha land is 4920 miles away from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the East Coast of the United States where traditional Christian weddings are plentiful. Philadelphia, PA where Rachmaninoff hisself conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, where the legendary piano instructors Gary Graffman & the Sokoloffs reigned for over 50 years as the best piano instructors on the planet through the 2000 millenium. Though I was adventurous as a prior student of a Hungarian piano instructor who was a collegue of Zoltan Kodaly where local folk music was embraced, the Hawaiian attitude is anything except harsh.

I was in a condusive traditional Classical piano environment and learned piano in a very strong Christian based community. One where every church has at least one grand piano, if not two or more grand pianos and electric organ or common pipe organ. I grew up with the general knowledge that Bach and many of the great keyboard Composers were supported by the Church and wrote sacred as well as secular music, with a pethora of churches and institutions where I could perform on a variety of period instruments frequently.  In diminished comparison, Hawaii barely houses an electric keyboard at any church, let alone 1 studio upright or pipe organ.

In the current 21st century economy many Hawaii churches have “gotten rid of” their keyboard instruments due to maintenance costs and vandalism from an obtrusive population. Before moving to Hawaii, I took my east coast musical environment for granted and wished the general population was understanding of my Japanese heritage. However, most of the Christian community included everyone in the USA who has traditionally hated the Japanese;- including newly formed Korean specific churches. So I continually befell physical attacks, verbal criticism, and blatant discrimination on the East coast for most of my 30 some years of life.

So, I move to Hawaii and am inundated with a severe local attitude that is against piano.  They say I have  “too high makamaka”  think I’m better than them. I worked at piano because I loved it and my talent put me through college with a scholarship.

The other day, a local parent mentioned to me that his child was learning a popular “Traditional Christian wedding piece” on their keyboard on her own. This is the first time that I have gotten to explain that these are normal pieces, that many children on the mainland learn to play at their family weddings. It’s difficult for me to believe that the culture in Hawaii is so vastly different from the East Coast USA that these things are so “foreign” to local Hawaii. Especially since I see the religious rosary with crosses dangling from many rear view mirrors, and other Christian car markings. Just as most mainland people could not explain the differences and nuances of Hawaiian musical performances because they don’t know the Hawaiian traditional song repertoire;- most Hawaiian Islander natives could not begin to explain the subtleties of any Classical piano repertoire performance.

edited: Nov. 23, 2016 Sproutfuel.com

About Interpretations and performances

28 Dec

When I look at a masterpiece in a museum by Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso I only see that one masterpiece. Why should piano be clouded by so many performance knock-offs that don’t compare to what is an Ultimate performance of a work written by a great composer? Some performances are better, yes. That is why the critics exist. If you don’t like how you are judged;- find a refined piano teacher who will mold your playing;- provided you have a workable attitude for the teacher to tolerate.

For some is it making money? Try explaining that to someone who invests everything they have in all the wrong teachers. Then bind those teachers together to scoff at an artist. That’s the art of making money, not art of pianism.

Is it ego and sheer ability to pound out keys?  Anyone can do this given enough time. I know a student who has played the same Chopin etude for appx. 10 years and still can’t get it note-wise correct under 10 mistakes a page, but uses it to “show off” This is impressive to insensitive audiences that are greatly numbered. Though the performer and his/her family who is proud of the fact their son/daughter has completed a piece and boast to friends about it…may have spent money and time to do so and feel its enough to warrant some place in music history.

My Hawaii Studio Recital & My Birthday

22 Nov
Gifts of Hawaiian Lei & Koko-Pele

Gift & Music from students for my first Studio recital in HawaiiFlowers for the Instructor

I arrived with a batch of recording equipment. One of my adult students  immediately “lei’d” me with a beautiful and soft fragrant lei. The lei smelled soft, light and fruit-like and really changed the aura around me to being immediately pleasant.  It was only my 2nd lei made of flowers that I have received since being in Hawaii. So, it is something very special to me.  Three beginning students of mine committed to performing that day for about a half hour. My prior studio recitals were 20-25 beginners playing short works of 1 min. a piece over 30 minutes.  So, this felt more like a recital should to me. Two of the composers prepared original works for they day. We had performances of a Christian based song called “An Angel is Born” by a Hapa-American composer that I accompanied on piano in the style of Pebble Hill Inter-faith Church, and a piano piece entitled “CY7” by a young Japanese-American composer.

Others adult students bailed out on performing, days before, or had business trips and other things planned. The Studio recital this year went well. Held on the 20th of Nov. 2011. Some of my adult students were able to perform, and in the aftermath of APEC that greatly affected the island and our schedules. And, on a weekend before the Holiday season “officially begins” with Thanksgiving day in 4 days.

I was very happy with everyone’s efforts. Before the performances I gave everyone performing a copy of Ruth Laredo’s book for advice and to aid them in their first performance. And, very proud of an adult student who had to play and carry most of the music time in this beginning recital with more lengthy and intermediate classical & jazz works.
 At the end, I was given a Hawaiian Koko-Pele necklace (aka as Kokopelli) with the spirit of the music muse. And, for the first time in my 20th year of teaching;- I gave out awards. Awards are something that I usually reserved for students who were in my studio in excess of 2 years or in the rare case of exceptionalism. This time was quite different. My youngest student and only child student has studied with me since August, barely making the 3 month mark. Another student who was on-again/ off-again and never having much time for learning piano and practicing pulled through with lengthy song lyrics and a melody that I helped to arrange.  What a wonderful day! All ended with another

Asian Lillies- fragrant
Flowers for the Instructor

bouquet of Asian lillies and requests to hear me play, despite my attempts to clear the hall for recording. I realized that I normally make and evaluate self-recordings before performing as part of my artistic process.

It was nice to see happy faces. Thanks to everyone for making it a wonderful day.
Later, I got to cash in my Starbucks Birthday coffee card for a Venti Peppermint Soy Mocha. Then, I was able to get some extra hall time to try out the piano and recording in this hall (a new place for me). Afterwards, I was taken to dinner at PF Chang’s for some Vegetarian spicy eggplant and yes, a Chopin Dirty Martini- Shaken not stirred.
(reminiscent of a small group of male tweens in my  piano studio, years ago who performed the James Bond theme, and one made the Philadelphia Inquirer re: his serenades)

Recording piano music

22 Nov Self Recording at the piano
Self Recording at the piano

Hoping to start recording. I need more than prayers. Photo- self.

Recording piano music is quite a life-long endeavor for me. It’s an achievement I hope to attain in my adult life with my thorough artistic education in Classical piano as an art-form. My alma mater Music school was so against my performing;- but they kept me in the Music college regardless of demolishing a potential career in my youth. My parents, both being in the graphic arts industry & tile & textile design, never seemed to value recordings much. They even tossed away my great-grandmother’s recordings from the 20’s-40’s, as they proudly announced one day. The irony, is that I am a musician. And, aside from teachers who recorded me;- my family never cared to make recordings of my playing even for competition. I don’t even want to comment about how thankful I am for simple software to use on computers and I-pods today. However, self-recording is still difficult. Hiring the tuner, bringing equipment, doing takes of passages and all these things are time-consuming for the Classical pianist. It’s not like being in a band and tossing together everything you’re going to record in the studio. Classical piano recordings should be practiced and performance ready before entering the studio.

My Current Technique

22 Nov

 

A glimpse of Angela M. Kneale's Piano techniques

 

 

Briefly on Technique

17 Nov

Technique for the lifelong pianist is something that one grows into from the time the young pianist is able to press her/his first key on the keyboard. This is much like any child who grows into becoming an all-star athlete in his/her chosen sport. And, I try to explain to students that playing with straight and un-curved finger is like trying to run a race with locked knees.

The mindful part of the developing pianist is within the inner-ear development and leads to a delicate/sensitive musicality which emphasises subtle tones to contrast the more bombastic elements of technical power. Lest we forget, the art is NOT to bang exclusively as a show of control of the instrument. Sometimes I have male student who see my small frame and try to outplay me. When, the focus and bigger show of maturity and refinement as a pianist is in the musical control of being able to play subtle and sometimes nerve-wracking slow passages perfectly.

11.11.11 Full Moon

13 Nov 11.11.11 APEC under the Full Moon
11.11.11 APEC under the Full Moon

11.11.11 a full Moon Shines

Editions- a mention

28 Oct

What edition are you learning _____ from?

Why is this important to any developing artist at the piano? It’s important because every note is crucial. What we see, hopefully as close to the Composer’s written hand manuscript as possible.  Close to the Composer’s notes written in his students’ studied scores. All, to “recreate” a hearing of the piece that is live and as close to the “intent” of the composer as possible. Or, to know that which is intended and bring out nuances that, debatable, reflect a historical representation of sounds leading to that piece’s interpretation.

So, Tuesday, I went to the small Honolulu music store adjacent to Sanders Piano on King Street. And, I asked if they had a Durand edition of the Debussy Preludes.  Apparently, not. There was a small dose of Debussy that wasn’t much thicker than Beethoven’s complete Sonatas in Henle and the Complete Mozart Sonatas in Presser. The Debussy editions available were Henle, Alfred, and Schirmer. There wasn’t even a Dover Edition. And, then I was left with one choice for the Preludes, and I cringed…it was the Schirmer Edition. Something I was told to NEVER work from (except for my Concerti for already set competitions to be one by the highest bidder- not I).

So, There are no fingerings in the Schirmer edition. The print itself seems too lifeless…I don’t know how to explain that, being that I am the daughter of a Printer. And, there is no acknowledgement of where this edition was derived. There is a 1900 copyright acknowledgement and international copyright claim posted with G. Schirmer Inc., ASCAP on the 1st prelude page. I’m not sure about the notes throughout the edition. And being that Hawaii already severely lacks resources, it is quite expensive for me to order books since there is no free shipping to Hawaii;- I’m still waiting for 2 shipments of books for students that were to be here on the 18th, and have still not arrived via USPS from Amazon (5 days left before I can formally complain.)

However, with some recordings and listening and a highlighter in hand I’ll mark any stray notes and accidentals, as I have done in comparing a Dover edition of Mussorgsky’s Picture’s at an Exhibition with an International Music Company, (Frankenstein edition) of Pictures at an Exhibition. There seem to be more errors in the Dover Edition.

However, The only really decent editions I have secured after my $30,000 solo music library of good editions that I secured over the years was stolen, like my good CD’s by by college classmates, is in some Sikorski editions. Not to mention college faculty stealing my old Chopin markings with all my other scores from my Music School basement locker It would be nice, if anyone has editions to send my way;- to drop them in the mail to me. Even IMSLP is difficult for me to afford in printing costs, due to the high volume of pages that comprise my repertoire. I’m sure there’s a pianist, or anti-pianist laughing about further damaging my career while helping plenty of “their own”. This is not something new I have to contend with, though I have a love of music that is very seperate from the people who make this a most difficult path to exist on.

 

Two Metronome Method differences

27 Oct

There are a few approaches when it comes to the perpetual ticking, tocking, beeping, and flashing that aggravates any piano cat to the point of metronomic annihilation.

The two approaches are:

1. Develop strong rhythm first and then later develop artistic technique.

The first way, is usually used with developing a good sight-reader and accompanist who won’t falter the tempo. These learners can become powerful sight-readers, and we see and hear them at auditions. However, many of them lack artistic sensitivity because they are literally just pounding out the notes without a significantly more skilled control of their voicing, crescendos, and rubato. They can make decent group players rather quickly, in band and other endeavors, however for some more picky ears;- they may not be a desired accompanist to perform with another inclined artist at a different instrument.

2. Develop a personal rhythm and artistic approach to the piano and then impose the metronome.

The second way is the reason why some students attend auditions and are given comments that say they have a nice musicality about them, but have a weak rhythm that needs work. However, the artistic process is long and to develop students to masterful maturity can sometimes take years. This type of playing is where they have developed their own sense of rhythm and musicality and phrasing that is pleasing to a well-trained artistic teacher’s ears, and then that tone and touch is put into the metronome beats. Even today, online, there are pianists who display their videos and have still not reached maturity with this process. That is to have a desire to play like a master with the Composers intended tempo, and not at a tempo that is convenient for themselves. It’s important for parents to understand and support this process at the Piano.

The difficulties and the “lost” art of musical artistry

Unfortunately, there is much teasing and ridicule that befalls students of both categories of metronome and rhythm learning. The students who are avid sight-reader early on make fun of the artists who are concerned about the shading of each note and “lack rhythm”. And the artists, who have musical control, usually remain silent for a long time, detest the hoards of sight-readers who lack a decent sense of rubato and musical phrasing to make sense of a contemporary period modern piece. The battle goes on until the second category artist catches up in sight-reading ability (that many mistakenly neglect for their lesson assignments).  The first category is full of learners who usually have a more solid attitude to secure work with the public and impress people with the quantity of music that they can make. This is because masses of people  in the USA can be easily impressed with a large quantity of piano music rather than the quality. However, many of these players are not going to be winning prizes for interpretation. But, as the piano industry changes and the art of creating musical control and tone becomes “lost”, due to a high number of electric keyboard players, more of the sight-reader (I expect) will win because they have more money to spend in their industry. Maybe in time, that will make them better artists. It’s difficult to say. I can only hope, as an instructor who was held to a high artistic standard, that the art isn’t completely lost among the American masses that are so abrasive and not understanding when it comes to these things. Yes, developing your own sense of rhythm, touch, and control at the piano way of learning is an art and tradition that is ultimately expensive in numerous ways. You must afford the time, humility in practice, and such until one day you emerge like a hard-pressed diamond who doesn’t expect any reward.

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