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Learn How to Play Early Jazz Piano

January 12, 2010

What is “Early Jazz” anyway? There are various strains depending who you ask. Some people think of Dixieland Jazz, Bix Bieder Bix. Who and what do I think of when I think of early jazz? Stride Piano. Fats Waller, Count Basie, Willie the Lion Smith, James Johnson.

A number of years ago a friend of mine turned me on to Stride Piano. Didn’t know much about it then. I got into it and taught myself  how to play. How did I learn how to play Stride Piano?

I listened, listened and when I was finishing listening, I listened one more time. A thousand more times. Of course I practiced too. I’ll tell you my secrets next time.

Music Center Presents Concert and Live Auditions in Philadelphia

November 17, 2009

Rocky Ridge Music Center is a wonderful school located in Colorado just out side of Boulder, Colorado.

Here is some information on their latest activity. Will be putting together a video interview of So Young where she will answer questions about her work as director of RRMC, on Piano TV in the near term. Stay tuned!

Rocky Ridge Music Center Presents Concert and Live Auditions in Philadelphia


Rocky Ridge Music Center is pleased to invite the public to a free concert and live auditions in Philadelphia, PA on November 14th @ 11:00 a.m. in the Recital Hall of the Settlement Music School’s West Philadelphia branch located 4910 Wynnefield Ave.

SoYoung Lee photoDaniel Ihasz photoThe concert is part of Rocky Ridge ‘Road Show’ 2009-2010 which features pianist SoYoung Lee, Rocky Ridge Music Director, and baritone Daniel Ihasz, Director of Vocal Studies, in a program that includes Liederkreis, op. 39 by Robert Schumann and an information session about Rocky Ridge residential programs for youth and adults.  Directly following the concert and presentation, live auditions for acceptance and scholarship consideration for Rocky Ridge 2010 summer programs for middle school, high school and college students will take place at 12 p.m.  Students interested in attending the Young Artist Seminar (age 15-24) or the Junior Student Seminar (age 10-15) should contact Jean Denney to schedule an audition  or 970-443-3333.

Rocky Ridge Music Center, founded in 1942 by pianist Beth Miller Harrod, is one of the oldest residential summer music programs in the country.  It is located at the foot of Longs Peak (14,256 ft.) in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park.  The historic Hewes-Kirkwood Inn and cabins on 17 acres with a stream provide a stunning backdrop for performances, practice, lessons, chamber music, reflection, dining, residence and friendships.  Rocky Ridge summer programs for youth (ages 10 to 24) and adults are designed to improve and broaden musical skills in areas of strings, woodwinds, brass, piano and voice through solo, chamber, orchestral, and theory/composition studies, all under the guidance of a world-class faculty and guest artists.  More information about RRMC and all its summer offerings can also be found at

Rocky Ridge Music Center PhotoRRMC would like to thank the Settlement Music School for their generous hospitality for hosting the November 14 event.  Since 1908, more than 300,000 people have benefited from Settlement Music School. The largest community school of the arts in the United States, Settlement provides students at six locations in PA and NJ with high quality instruction and activity in music, dance and the related arts, regardless of age, ability, race or financial circumstances.  The School awards close to $2 million in financial aid each year. They are the largest employer of musicians in the Philadelphia region and there is at least one alumni in every major symphony in the United States.

Settlement brings together an enormous diversity of students and helps them not only to develop musical and artistic talents, but also to build self-confidence and readiness for academic and other achievements. Among its many programs are a nationally recognized, award winning pre-school that prepares Head Start-qualified young children for kindergarten through an arts-integrated curriculum. For more information, visit or call 215-320-2600.

Alexander Panku Classical Pianist

June 13, 2009

Alexander Panku has been widely recognized as a compelling musical personality.  He has been active as a concert pianist, teacher, composer and organist for many years. Born in Bucharest, Romania, he studied at the George Enescu Music School and the Bucharest Conservatory of Music with distinguished artists teachers.  He was the winner of the “Beethoven” competition at the Music School.  He made his recital debut at the age of fourteen and the concerto debut at seventeen with the Beethoven Concerto No. 1, at the prestigious Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest. One year later he played the Mozart Concerto K. 450 at the Radio-TV Hall, which was televised.  During the summers of 1972 through 1976 he studied at the “Mozarteum” in Salzburg with renowned pianist-conductor Carlo Zecchi. He studied briefly with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and obtained a scholarship to study at the Neufchatel Conservatory in Switzerland.  He continued his studies in the United States at Temple University and graduated with “Magna Cum Laude”, winning the Concerto Competition with the Beethoven “Emperor” Concerto in 1981.  Also he obtained a scholarship from the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, and was elected Who’s Who Among Students (1980-81).

Mr. Panku has been playing solo, orchestral, and chamber music concerts for more than thirty years both in Romania and in the United States.  His repertoire, rooted in the Classical and Romantic genres, ranges from Bach and Scarlatti to Schonberg, Prokofiev and other modern composers and includes his own compositions.  He has been on the piano faculty at several institutions, such as Temple University, Settlement Music School, Academy of Community Music and Bryn Mawr Conservatory.

He has been teaching piano since 1979 and has been on the Piano Faculty at several institutions, such as Temple University, Settlement Music School, Academy of Community Music and Bryn Mawr Conservatory.  Also he has taught many private students of all ages and all levels.  He holds a Doctorate Degree in Piano Performance from Temple University where he studied with Mr. Harvey Wedeen, distinguished artist-teacher.  Following recital appearances in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer writes:  “This was a thoughtful and introspective “Waldstein”, yet one which, despite freely changing tempos, was very carefully controlled.  His performances have received critical acclaim and he has been described as “a definitive performer, reflecting much of the soul-searching, training, and refining concepts of artistic identity within a deep and mature talent that he has.”

Improving Touch and Feel of a Hotel Piano

March 20, 2009

Here is a technical video presented at a PTG Technical Conference by Bill Spurlock. On Piano TV you can see a five minute video, a brief excerpt from a full day demonstration where Bill overhauled an overused and under maintained Asian hotel piano.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Piano Action Regulation Tuning and Vo…“, posted with vodpod

Piano Restoration

February 23, 2009

On this blog, I’ll write occasionally about piano restoration. There are many other piano topics I would love to focus on. Will keep you posted.

What Does It Take To Perform The “Waldstein” Piano Sonata?

February 23, 2009

Alexander Panku performs Ludwig van Beethoven’, Sonata op. 53 in C major “Waldstein.” The “Waldstein” is one of the masterpieces among Beethoven’s Sonatas and in the piano repertoire in general.

In his words, “I have been playing this piece many times in concert and it is always a great challenge to recreate it; it is also a source of musical satisfaction and fulfillment. I would like to say a few things about the challenges of performing this piece.”

“This is a work that is intended for the accomplished pianist and musician. It requires, overall a complete mastery of the piano, and a high level of musicianship, and a comprehensive knowledge of Beethoven’s music and style. In order to analyze and attempt to explain this music in detail requires a very long essay if not a whole book.”

“1st. Movement: What I can say in a short essay is that the pianist needs a very high technical ability to handle all kinds of technical problems such as fast passages, repeated patterns, broken chords, mastery of the pedal and of various dynamics, just to name a few. Scale and arpeggio passages can be found throughout the movement.”

“Other technical problems are: the staccato broken octaves, the left hand prolonged repetitive accompaniment patterns, the broken chords in contrary motion from the development section, and the fast runs cadenza-like from the coda among others.”

“The technique required here involves a total finger control, speed, accuracy and equality, a very flexible wrist and a relaxed arm. In addition, as any experienced performer knows, the pianist has to listen very closely and be very sensitive to the many different sonorities and touches needed to perform this movement in a valid, convincing way.”