After a visit to the Exhibit Hall, it was time for another session! Next up was an intermediate teaching demonstration by Scott McBride Smith.
The first pianist was Marc Padilla, student of Larisa Topolkaraeva, playing Chopin’s Walt in B Minor, Op. 69, No. 2.
After a lovely performance, Scott began by complimenting Marc on his musicality, highlighting the appropriate use of rubato. He said that the secret to a good rubato is to keep the left hand steady. He said that because Marc is so musical sometimes his approach was too predictable (e.g. ascending passages always crescendo’d and descending passages always decrescendo’d). He also encouraged him not to move so much when he played that he distracted audience members from the sound of the music. We want people to be more interested in listening to us than in watching us.
The next student, Anna Crosby, also a student of of Larisa Topolkaraeva, played Intermezzo in B-flat Minor, Op. 117, No. 2 by Brahms. Scott began by pointing out the Brahms described this as one of his “lullabies of his secret sorrow.” He praised her use of pedal and overall musicality. He encouraged Ann to be more aware of her harmony. Sometimes the melody came out so prominently that the bass and harmony got lost. Listen to the resolution.
Some of the most beautiful moments in Romantic music are when the re-transition takes place. He likened it to when a funny moment comes back to you, or when you think of someone from your past and wonder what happened to them. They are not present, so it’s a distant memory. Likewise, the re-transition should not appear too loudly or too quickly. Make it a distant memory.
The final student, Katherine Plier, student of Bette Close,played Sacro-Monte, Op. 55, No. 5 from Danses gitanes by Joaquin Turina. Scott introduced her saying that this was one of his favorite pieces to play as a teenager so he was shocked to discover recently that his pedagogy students had never heard of it. He is excited to be re-introducing it to teachers today.
[oops! I accidentally deleted the videos from the last performer. So sorry!]
After talking a little bit about the origin of the title and what gypsies are like, he worked with her on a variety of issues from bringing out the sforzandos, to isolating and drilling difficult spots, to practicing at a “torture slow” speed. He challenged her to work on strong fingers. To illustrate, he gave her a pink flamingo and instructed her to hold it and keep it from falling without squeezing it. Strong, but without tension.