Tag Archives: piano

Chihuahua: A piano that made me smile

10 Dec

Phone call, the doctor’s office;- the eye doctor. I got in just by 4:30pm through the thick Friday shopping traffic. So, then I deposited the very small amount of money I had left on me into my bank account this holiday season.  This will be my 3rd Christmas in Hawaii this year. And, nothing really has made me smile so much as trying the Ritmuller 4’11” today, at a Honolulu piano store and school.

The Ritmuller I tried out, as a possible purchase should I stay in Hawaii next year and succeed enough in the USA financially next year;- was impressive for such a tiny instrument. Brand new, it was tried after I went into the Used Steinway selection room full of “out of shape” Steinway sound;- aside from some Steinway Upright. The price tag on the 4’11” Ritmuller for the holiday was just under $12,000 + taxes (4%). Perfect for a small apartment or home. And, also highly responsive to execute Ritmuller’s “Euro Sound”.  I enjoyed the small thing immensely.

The “Ritmuller” piano that performed exponentially better than many of Hawaii’s pianos that I have tested. Beethoven, check hard. I found this very challenging compared to even a Steinway or Mason & Hamlin. The precision check needs to be nearly immaculate for the performing artist. Adjust my playing?, definitely. Chopin, discriminate pedal. Hypersensitive if you will. Voicing;- Ok this is the killer;- Topped the voicing of “Hawaii’s” voicing technicians on the Steinway. This is Hawaii. It is not New York or down the road  to Elephant Rd. Pennsylvania.

The Ritmuller 4’11” in Mahogany laminate grabbed my ear when I heard the lovely singing A5-C7 registers. It is quite satisfying for the size of the instrument and lacks the boxed sound of the Upright. I’m uncertain to say however that this is a piano for every learner;- though it should be in a sense.

Steinway is dead in Hawaii comparatively. Climate is #1. #2 is the lack of decent technican/  restorer who can independently, fully regulate a restoration job, or make the keys appear as if they are evenly spaced. Price tag;- will never fallow for Hawaii’s most elite.

So, for these reasons above, not to “unmention” the Steinway Chihuahua’s from Willow Grove ;-). I’d like a Ritmuller to practice on in Hawaii.  Thanks to Ritmuller for making me smile in Hawaii, for a brief bit, to remind me about the Art of being pianist. This “teacher” definitely approves.

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.

36 = Piano Noir

16 Aug

The piano has 36 black keys. Thirty-six is a number from which all numbers can be derived by every function.
Thirty six is a number also associated with the ever dark universe. Piano Noir… is the universe at our hands.

 

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