Video Editing

When computers don’t work it makes me crazy.

Today was the mid-week video upload day. In earlier posts I mentioned that we were planning to upload new videos twice a week to get you all started on the demonstration videos to go with our new $2.00 downloadable sheet music. Well, all was well, I edited the videos in Windows Live Movie Maker as I had done all the others. But, when I tried to link up to YouTube from within the program, Google informed me that it was an “older, unsecure platform” and refused to acknowledge my login. Four hours, and 3 video editor download trials later, I finally got one that works wonderfully well. Wondershare video editor.

So, piano fans, you now have two new videos to check out on YouTube.

Karen playing Bluesy Bounce

and Howard planing Lonesome Road Blues

Stay tuned and there will be more video demos coming this weekend. In the meantime, check out the $2.00 downloads of our sheet music.

Til next time,

Karen

 

$2.00 Downloadable Sheet Music

Hey Music Lovers – we have a special series of blog posts and YouTube videos coming just for you. Here’s a 30 second video on YouTube to quickly explain. Details below.

New Series Video

It’s true! We are launching a new series of demonstration videos and matching downloadable sheet music.

How would you like to watch one of us (Howard or Karen) play one of our pieces up close and personal with the camera on our hands so you can see every move. And then be able to immediately download the sheet music for that piece for only $2.00? Well that’s what we have been working on. You can watch the videos as many times as you want as you learn the pieces.

We spent most of January and February recording the videos and uploading the sheet music for you to be able get 1 piece at a time instead of having to buy a whole book and wait for snail mail to deliver it to you. If you are an international fan – well that would take even longer and cost a lot more. So….our plan is to release two new videos each week and link to our Downloadable Print Music page so you can watch, instantly download the music and play it for yourself. Sound like a plan? We thought so.

Here’s a direct LINK to the Downloadable music page. If you don’t see one of our pieces that is your favorite for instant download, email us and let us know and we’ll put it on the recordings list. Of course, if you want to download an entire book, we can negotiate a price for that too, just let us know.

Happy playing.

Howard and Karen

Concert Time

We had such a wonderful time today! We performed a two-piano concert at the Eaton Senior Communities complex. My mother lives there. They followed the concert with a tea with little sandwiches and sweets. There were about 65 people in the audience who all seemed to have a great time. Afterwards, many people came up to thank us and tell us what a great concert it was. The one that touched my heart the most was a woman who said, “My father was a concert pianist. He died when I was 9 years old. When I closed my eyes and listened to you play, I heard my father. Thank you.” Here’s the list of what we played. What fun it was!

  • In the Mood – duo
  • Malaguena
  • Pachelbel Canon in D – duo
  • Bach Prelude in C
  • Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy – duo
  • Chopin Fantasy Impromptu
  • Pink Panther – duo
  • A Decorated Hawk (Karen’s composition)
  • Diabelli Sonatina No. 1 – duo
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Linus and Lucy
  • Sounds of Silence
  • Ronado Andalusia for Two Pianos by Karen Pancoast

Wish you could have been there. We had a great time.

Til next time,

Karen

 

Arm and Hand Movements

One of our students asked us to watch a video and “explain it to him”. Here is our response to his request.

We watched the video you referred us to where he talks about hand and arm motion and his “Whole-Body Approach” to piano playing. Not to be rude, but this whole approach is nonsense. Howard would say, “No, that’s bullshit”. He is completely wrong about this. His hands move WAAAAY too much. You should have a relaxed arm, shoulder, wrist etc, but then your hand should be as quiet as possible. The less movement you make, the more control you have and the less effort you will have on your body. Of course, if your hands and arms are relaxed, they won’t be completely still, they will move easily and naturally as necessary to play the music. But, the good players don’t purposely make specific arm and hand motions except for show business purposes (visual flourishes).

When you are playing really easy stuff, like he demonstrates in the beginning, it’s possible to do any sorts of motions. As the pieces become more challenging and have more notes, you don’t have time for all that motion.

I went to a week long workshop one time and the main teacher was teaching everyone to lift their wrist up high and then drop it and use arm weight and gravity. We spent the week practicing that way. But then he did a concert for us and he didn’t do ANY of that stuff. He played with a very quiet hand, very little movement at all. Even he didn’t follow his own rules.

When I began watching the intro to this video and watched what Doctor Keys was doing with his hand it just looked ridiculous to me.

Here are a few videos to check out of famous pianists playing. Watch their hands.

Emanuel Ax https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtYS2q4VI9o

Vladimir Horowitz (probably the best pianist ever) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad22A-mm8xM start at 7:00 minutes on the video.

Elton John https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObV-6BiMtT8
There is an extended solo starting at about 4:15 that he improvises.

Billy Joel and Elton John duet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcYSSYnf_l8 close up of Billy’s hands at 3:30 or so

Here is a video of Howard jamming blues with one of his old students. Watch Howard’s hands especially https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NawU8tkfp8Y

Here is Howard and me playing a two-piano piece I wrote called Rondo Andalusia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPoxbdbnZ6M

Til next time,

Karen

Jammin’ the Blues

Sorry for the two week absence, but we lost internet service for 10 days and are just now back up and running.

We had a welcome visitor, James Sibley IV, from Howard’s past. James was a student from age 11 through high school, then went on to college and started his own band. He is now back in Denver and dropped by for a visit. Of course, he and Howard had to do a little jammin’ on two pianos. So, here’s a quick look:

Jammin’ the Blues

Til next time,

Karen

Howard’s Theory Books

Howard has written a series of 3 Theory Books. They are not like traditional theory books in that they don’t ask you to do pen and paper exercises. They are designed to be played! So here are some instructions on how to get started using his Theory 1 Book: Chords and Accompaniments.

 

Learning the Chords – pages 2-14

Read all the paragraphs, not just the music. There is good information in the writing part.

Begin here, take your time, learn to play and “spell” each chord. Start with the White Key Chords on page 2. Play them with both hands and name the notes and the chord.

For example. C is C-E-G, Dm is D-F A and so on.

After you have learned all the White Key Chords. Go to page 3-4 and learn all the Major chords in the same way.

Then play Brother John in C and Brother John in D on pages 5-6.

Continue learning the chords until you have gotten through page 14.

This should give you enough of a foundation to take a “Fake Book” or “Lead Sheet” or book of hymns that has chord symbols and play along with them.

 

Learning the Left Hand Patterns – pages 15-34

Music becomes more interesting if you break up the left hand chords into rhythmic patterns. These pages show you how some of those patterns are formed and gives you examples to play along. Read pages 15-16 to see how it is done.

Then Take one LH pattern at a time, say the 4-beat broken chord on page 17. Play the sample Twinkle Twinkle little star with that left hand. Then you should take an easy Fake Book (for example, Introduction to Fake Music by Karen Pancoast and use that left hand for all the songs in the book. Then learn another left hand.

If you want to purchase a copy of Theory 1 here is a link

Til next time,

Karen

Living with a Pianist

It is such a privilege for me, and a joy, to live with such an amazing pianist as Howard. You may remember reading a few weeks ago about the good jazz books we recommended. I heard him playing through half a dozen of the new jazz books for a couple of months and it was like being in my own private club.

Now, Howard is working on the Beethoven Sonatas. He has set out to record all 32 of them. He has recorded 20 of them so far. They are such great music and it’s so inspiring to listen to him play them. The last two days he has worked on and recorded the Waldstein Sonata No. 21 Opus 53 (one of my favorites). They will be up on the website as we get them converted into mp3 files.

I remember hearing the interview of Maurizio Pollini’s wife who was a good pianist in her own right. The interviewer asked her if she still played and she said, “No, what’s the point with Maurizio around.” I find just the opposite, I get inspired to play with Howard around.

Til next time,

Karen

Beethoven Update

Hello classical music fans, just a quick update for the blog this time. It’s a holiday weekend in the USA.

Howard is still working on the project to record all the Beethoven Sonatas. However, there are now 18 of them done. And thanks to web-guru Doug, they are up on the website for your listening pleasure. So go check them out HERE. Leave a comment and let us know which are your favorites.

Happy Summer Celebration,

Karen

Success

I found this quote by Will Rogers just now as I was thinking about writing the week’s blog post.

If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple.
Know what you are doing.
Love what you are doing.
And believe in what you are doing.

When I met Howard, he met all those criteria. He had been a professional musician all his life, playing as many as 400 gigs a year for 30 years. For the last 20 years of that time, he was also a teacher. While he had been playing gigs, people would often ask him if he taught and he always said no. But they would hand him their business card anyway. He stuck them all in a drawer.

When he reached the time that he wanted more evenings off to do things with his kids at school, he thought he would begin teaching. So, he dug out all those business cards – must have been 75 of them or so. Some of them were no longer valid, people had changed jobs, etc. But he sat down one afternoon and called all of them he could. In that first day, he signed up 35 students. Why? Because people could see that he knew what he was doing, obviously loved what he was doing, and believed in what he was doing.

I had been teaching piano for 2 years when we met. At that point, I “sort of” knew what I was doing, but knew I could learn A LOT from him and his success. I went to his monthly piano performance groups for two months in a row and saw a couple of dozen students who all played well, and enjoyed what they were playing for each other. At that moment, I just decided, on the spot, I would do whatever he told me to do musically because the fruit was on the tree. He was definitely successful.

I left a successful management consulting and training business that I had owned for 23 years behind, for the love of a life in music. Now, it’s 16 years later, and I do know what I’m doing, and I know that it works for my students. I love what I’m doing, and I believe in what I’m doing. I think Will Rogers was right.

Til next time,

Karen