Pei-Shan Lee writing in The Huffington Post:

Pianists have increasingly come to understand that collaborative piano is not an escape for a failed solo pianist but is an exciting, rewarding field open to wonderful musicians who love making music and exchanging ideas with others. It’s also the career path with perhaps the largest number of opportunities for pianists. After all, we are the most indispensable of musicians—whether vocalist or instrumentalist, no one can do without us! (I sometimes joke that we could rename the “collaborative pianist” the “indispensable pianist”.)

There’s also some interesting info on Samuel Sanders and the origin of the term “collaborative piano”. I agree with Pei-Shan on career opportunities – take a look here to get an idea of the career options that open up with a collaborative piano degree.

from The Collaborative Piano Blog


Visiting Artist (Vocal Coach) Position at the University of Northern Iowa

A spring semester position at the University of Northern Iowa:

UNI’s School of Music invites applications for a full-time one-semester temporary position beginning January 9, 2017. Duties include providing individual vocal coaching to undergraduate and graduate students in voice performance and coaching/accompanying opera singers in rehearsals and productions.

Salary looks to be $22,000+, and might be an interesting position for either those in the area or a recent graduate looking to get some experience in the field.

Visiting Artist (Vocal Coach) – University of Northern Iowa

BTW Cedar Falls is 5 hours west of Chicago – I’ve done the drive and the route through northwest Illinois is highly recommended for its scenery and small towns.

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano Position, Louisiana State University

Information about a major opening in the collaborative piano field:

The School of Music at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Collaborative Piano to begin Fall 2017. 

This appointment will be full-time (nine month), and will contribute to the College of Music and Dramatic Arts’ mission to offer a comprehensive music program. This position will teach at both undergraduate and graduate level, administrate the collaborative piano program, and contribute to the Keyboard Area as needed. Duties will include teaching and coaching undergraduate and graduate students, collaborating with faculty and guest artists as part of their research and creative activity, and recruiting high quality students into the collaborative piano program.

The posting date was yesterday, and the position will remain open until filled.

Assistant Professor of Piano (Tenure-Track) – Louisiana State University

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

Days of Wonder

Abraham Joshua Heschel:

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement, [to] get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.

Once again I’m honored to be the pianist for Temple Sinai’s Year 5777 Yom Kippur services, where I’ll be working with Cantor Katie Oringel and Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg, and joined by numerous fine musicians including Theresa Tova, Joseph Peleg, Igor Gefter, and Sue Pitch. This year features several new Charles Osborne piano trio arrangements for the newly reworked Sh’ma Koleinu Kol Nidrei service.

(Quote via Cultural Offering)

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

Less is More

Frances Wilson on Marginal Gain Learning:

Learning music is hard: from the junior student faced with just three or four lines of music to the advanced pianist embarking on a full-length piano sonata or multi-movement work, the learning and upkeep of all those notes is a daunting prospect and requires many hours of consistent, thoughtful practise. For me, MGL is a way of “being kind” to yourself as a musician while also enabling one to practise and process music in a meticulous and mindful way. The trouble is, we tend to define achievement through one significant moment – learning a whole page or movement of a piece of music, for example – and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis which accumulate to create a significant whole.  

MGL is a training strategy that emphasizes making tiny incremental gains over a long period of time in order to maximize performance. I particularly like how Frances explains her process in utilizing these strategies for both music learning and teaching.


Musicians have much to learn from the world of training and productivity processes. Over the next while I’ll be looking at how I use several of these to drive pedagogical and organizational aspects of the work I do at present.

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

Piano Technique: Creating an illusion of legato

It’s a challenge to play scales, arpeggios, and passages lifted out of the mainstream Classical piano repertoire with a well-shaped and nicely spaced legato. (smooth and connected playing) But it can be more daunting to navigate particular sections of masterworks that have legato markings over chords, for instance, that carry a melodic thread that is impossible to realize seamlessly without compromise, and a shift in consciousness.

By example, I refer to Beethoven’s Fur Elise, measures 62-68, that’s easily characterized as a “stormy” section with its relentless tremolo in the (Bass) Left Hand, while the Right hand above, has the task of “voicing” chords that carry a haunting melody in the soprano. In order to obey the notation of slurs over a procession of chords, thirds, and sixths, with a melody to flesh out at the very top, the player has to devise a means of preserving a smooth melodic flow, by letting go of certain fingers in deference others.

The sustain pedal is pivotal to the whole undertaking, because it can hold down elements of chords that would otherwise be missing or lost in the prioritizing of melodic movement in the uppermost voice. However, the pedal cannot replace a well thought out finger-connecting strategy that shores up the legato, albeit with some missing ingredients in lower voices, that will be filled in by well-conceived pedaling.

In the attached video, I model an approach to the “stormy” section that creates an illusion of legato by demonstrating fingering choices in concert with maneuvers of the arm, wrist, and hand.

from Arioso7’s Blog (Shirley Kirsten)