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Niklas Pokki

– on piano, pianists and piano pedagogy

Tag / learning environment

The Youth Piano Academy: Boosting The Learning Environment

The Mänttä Music Festival 2014 ended last week with a wonderful Beethoven recital by Paul Lewis. Other highlights this year were the piano recitals by Anna Vinnitskaya and Laura Mikkola and the concert by Slawomir Zubrzycki with his Viola organista, a unique Renaissance instrument that he built over four years based on Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old sketches.

One of the novelties at Mänttä was the collaboration concert of the Youth Piano Academy (YPA) and the Sibelius Academy’s junior department. Five youngsters gave stunning performances of an extremely demanding repertoire, including pieces such as Liszt´s Spanish Rhapsody, Vallee D’Obermann and many more. In addition, the summer session of the YPA took place during the festival, and the ten students took lessons with Juhani Lagerspetz, Jussi Siirala, and Risto-Matti Marin. Also the German hyper-virtuoso Severin von Eckardstein joined our faculty to give some lessons. Continue Reading

Ear training with the iPad

Will new technology revolutionize ear training and music theory studies?

Good aural skills are at the core of musicianship. A pianist needs a good ear not only for intervals but also for polyphony and harmony.

Pianists with secure and fast aural perception are known to learn faster and perform more solidly, fluently, with more natural flow, with fewer memory lapses, and with greater spontaneity than other pianists. In piano playing, security brings freedom.

A sharp ear results from many years’ practice, and the younger that one starts training, the better. That’s why I would advise my younger readers to steal 15 minutes daily even from the etude-practice-session in favor of ear training. It surely will pay off, and the etude-playing will most likely benefit, too.

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Tuning the learning environment

Bad news, teachers! What happens between lessons can be more important than what happens during lessons.

Too often music pedagogy concentrates solely on the most obvious part of the learning environment; namely, the lesson. I am the last person to deny the significance of an inspiring lesson – it might give the pupil or student a motivational boost that easily lasts until the next lesson. Still, in many cases, even a brilliant lesson is not enough.

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