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Piano tuning
Slow Piano Practice
Family Support
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Adult Piano Students
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December, 2012: Holiday Music
NYSSMA and Newcomers
Piano Care
Slow Piano Practice
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Piano tuning

Question: How often should a piano be tuned?

Answer: Most manufacturers recommend four tunings the first year, and at least two tunings per year in subsequent years. Pianos are made of wood, which reacts to heat and humidity. Most pianos need tuning after seasonal weather changes. If a piano is heavily used and/or subjected to extremes of heat and humidity it may need extra tunings. If a piano is not tuned for years, it may not hold the pitch after being tuned, requiring several consecutive tunings to maintain the proper pitch.

Shelley Kurtz Piano Lessons, East Hampton, NY

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Shelley Kurtz' piano is being diagnosed and tuned today by Gerard Gravina!  Piano teacher, Amagansett, NY.  Piano teacher Montauk, NY. Piano lessons, East Hampton, NY.  Piano teacher, East Hampton, NY.Tuning a piano.  Piano lessons, East Hampton, NY.  Piano teacher, East Hampton, NY.  Piano teacher, Springs, NY.  Piano teacher, Amagansett, NY

Slow Piano Practice

In the New Yorker, Jeremy Denk quotes, "Better not play faster then you can think," written in his notebook by his piano teacher, William Leeland. Denk goes on to say "Anyone who has taken music lessons knows the indignity of emulating the machine [metronome] until every last human vagary vanishes.... The clinking monster was also part of Leeland's cunning scheme to prevent me from playing everything as fast as I possibly could. In response to my performance of William Gillock's Forest Murmurs Leland writes, 'Forest Murmurs, not Forest Fire!'"

Slow practice is essential. When we learn new music at top speed, we are learning mistakes, both wrong notes and wrong rhythms. Then, the mistakes must be unlearned, which can be frustrating. The best way to tackle a new piece is to start at a slow speed, with perfect rhythm and correct notes. If there are mistakes, play more slowly. Add the dynamics and nuances as soon as possible. Then, very gradually increase the speed. Sometimes, it is necessary to use the metronome to maintain a slow speed. When perfection is achieved, increase the metronome speed a little, relearn the piece at the higher speed, then increase again, etc. Perfecting a piece at a slow speed can be the most difficult step.

In The Art of Practicing, Maddelein Bruser says, "I read an interesting account by the pianist and composer Abram Chasins of how Rachmaninoff practiced. Chasins was approaching the house where Rachmaninoff was practicing and heard the legendary pianist playing so slowly that he couldn't tell what the piece was. He stood outside the front door for quite a while and realized that it was the Chopin étude in double thirds, which is supposed to go like the wind. He timed the music on his watch and found that Rachmaninoff was playing one bar every twenty seconds--a little more than one note per second. We don't know why Rachmaninoff was practicing so slowly. But it's interesting that such a great virtuoso took so much time with each note."

In our high-paced society, we may have discomfort doing anything slowly, but the rewards are great. As Abraham Low stated, "Bear the discomfort and comfort will come."  Piano lessons, East Hampton, NY.  Piano teacher, East Hampton, NY.

Family Support

Family support is important for piano students. If parents love music and become involved in the learning process, students are happier and they learn more.

Support is more than bringing children to lessons and picking them up afterward. Students need regular practice. They need to know that their families enjoy listening to them play. They need encouragement during the rough times.

Few children practice daily without encouragement. Having a regular practice time, like having a bedtime, works for many. Parental comments show that parents care. For example, a parent can say, " I recognize that song! We used to sing that in chorus when I was in school," or, "What's that song called?". Complimenting a child on his/ her work can help. "That piece sounds much better, now. You worked hard to learn it!"

Studying music is similar to having a relationship. Sometimes things go smoothly, sometimes they go awry. If your child is discouraged, suggest that s/he continue lessons for a few months, as things often improve.

Playing the piano can bring a lifetime of pleasure.
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Late at night When it's dark and cold I reach out For someone to hold When I'm blue When I'm lonely She comes through She's the only one who can My baby grand Is all I need                                     ~~~~~From "Baby Grand," by Billy Joel
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Call today!

Summer is ending soon. How quickly time passes!  Ms. Kurtz expanded her teaching schedule to include children and adults who were vacationing in the East Hampton area. She looks forward to seeing them all again next year! 

The beginning of the school year is a perfect time to begin piano lessons. Ms. Kurtz has several openings. Call today to schedule lessons, while Ms. Kurtz has the best assortment of lesson times available. Learning to play the piano is a fulfilling discipline, in a world where people have little opportunity to use their imaginations.  Learning music is fun and it builds self-confidence!

“The faculty of teaching is as rare and as individual as the faculty of acting or of singing. It is the highest art, and demands the same qualities of character as those demanded by all art—sincerity, endurance, moral and physical courage, devotion, and self-abnegation of a high order.”—Mabel Thomson


Shelley Kurtz Piano Lessons is open throughout the summer. The studio is located in East Hampton, NY, a summer resort community. Each summer, Ms. Kurtz teaches children and adults who are vacationing in the Hamptons. Some are beginners and some have wintertime teachers at home.

Year-round piano lessons are important for many reasons.  Students who are away from the piano for months lose momentum. They take a step backward; some never return for lessons and those who do return are often discouraged by having to relearn scales and note-reading. Regular lessons help children earn better scores at the music festivals.  Studying year-round gives children the message that their parents value music, that piano lessons are important. Children need family support in order to make their best progress.

And playing the piano is a great way to spend a rainy day in the Hamptons!

Ms. Kurtz looks forward to returning summer students and welcomes new students. Studying music builds self-esteem! Call today. 631-324-2817.

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Shelley Kurtz welcomes adult students. Playing the piano keeps the mind young. Using the fingers keeps them limber. And practicing is a rewarding pastime. Several adults currently study at the studio.

Pianists use both hands, and one or both feet! Each hand and foot works independently, stimulating both sides of the brain. Practicing is an enjoyable mental exercise. An adult student once commented, “When I play scales I feel my brain contracting.” Ms. Kurtz assured her that she felt her brain expanding!

Students have been referred to the studio for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Playing the piano strengthens every muscle in the hand. It increases dexterity. Adults--with or without arthritis-- notice that their fingers become more agile and less swollen with everyday practice.

Learning music provides a fulfilling pastime. An hour spent practicing feels better than an hour spent watching TV or surfing the internet! Learning a new skill, making progress, fosters self-confidence. Learn the songs you love.

Call today to schedule your first lesson! Phone 631-324-2817.

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NYSSMA Preparation And Other News

We hope everyone had a joyous holiday season!

Our attention turns to NYSSMA solos. The festival takes place in the spring; many months of preparation are required. Each participant will perform scales and a solo. Plus, students must sightread a few lines of unfamiliar music. Good NYSSMA ratings can help with college admissions. Two children from Amagansett and two from Springs will perform this year.

R., from Montauk, who graduated from college, has returned for lessons. He is learning parts of two Mozart sonatas, and relearning a Mozart fantasy, and a Rachmaninoff prelude. Welcome back!

Several new students have begun lessons over the past month. I., from Hampton Bays, is a six-year-old beginner.   J., from Montauk, is an eleven-year-old beginner.   J., from Springs, is a beginner. We wish them a fulfilling musical experience. Practice makes perfect!

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Holiday music.

Shelley Kurtz's piano students are enjoying holiday songs.  Ms. Kurtz has an abundant supply of holiday music on all levels.  Everyone is learning holiday solos, and some children are working on duets to play for their families on Christmas Day.  A boy and his grandfather, both of whom study with Ms. Kurtz, have learned several duets!  Happy holidays from Shelley Kurtz Piano Lessons!

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