2013 MTNA Conference – Monday Late Morning – Intermediate Masterclass with Ingrid Clarfield

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Ingrid Clarfield began by greeting the audience and, after asking for applause on her coordinating outfit, said that she really doesn’t like the term “masterclass.” Instead, she prefers to think of it as a 3-part sharing experience. First, the students are sharing their interpretation of the pieces. Second, she will be sharing her ideas about the pieces. Third, the audience will be asked to share input and feedback on the performance and ideas.

First, she made the students promise not to be perfect, and then told them to have fun and enjoy playing.

After the first student played the Waltz in C sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2 by Chopin, Ingrid started with the things she loved about the performance:
* Tempo
* Pedaling
* Wonderful Control

She asked how many waltzes were played? She thinks of this as three waltzes. As a side note, she said that Chopin was not as good of a businessman as Schubert. Schubert would have sold this as Waltz 1, Waltz 2, and Waltz 3. Chopin combined them and sold them all as one waltz. For this reason, there needs to be more difference between each of the parts, and even between the first several measures.

The opening theme character was brought out by singing, “OY VEY! I want to dance, I want to dance.”

She worked on a circular arm motion during the B section for a better tone and more fluid technique. Then she had the student work on what she called “McDonald’s arches” for the transitions to release into the new section with a richer tone and a better sense of timing.

An audience member asked about the pedaling of the A section. Ingrid said that “we all know that Chopin’s pedalings are wrong.” They worked for his piano, but they don’t work for us. We have to ignore his markings and play with a longer pedal.

The next student played Arabesque No. 1 by Debussy. After addressing the bow (in the above video), Ingrid emphasized the importance of approaching the very first note. She said to put your head down, breathe, and gracefully lift your hands before playing the keys. Then everyone will think you’re an amazing pianist and you haven’t even played a note yet. Then she primarily worked on pacing, helping the student make gradual changes in dynamics so that each peak in the music gets a little bigger, but not too much too soon.

The final selection for the masterclass was “The Circus” Op. 68: Clowns by Joaquin Turina. Ingrid worked with the student on creating more drama, getting more sound out of the bass notes and a little more emphasis on the treble melodies.

Ingrid ended by teaching her “tush chord,” explaining that the student should “lift your butt off the bench” before hitting the big chord to give it more sound. 🙂

In a nutshell: Tell the student what you want to achieve right off the bat so that they understand the end objective of your teaching and instruction.

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