We love to perform for our students and their families! We do it mostly because we love playing piano and sharing music with others. But we also want to show students that even their teachers still practice, and still have to work to maintain and improve their skills at the piano. We hope it shows students that years of good practicing and working hard will give you the ability to have the most FUN with music! There’s hardly anything more fun than being able to play music that you love, and play it well. And as you develop your skills at the piano, you are able to play more and more satisfying music that sounds like “the real thing.”
We hope you enjoy these videos! Click the links below to skip to any performance.
The video below is from December 2013. We picked this piece, the Miniature Overture from the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, to play for our Holiday Mini-recitals this year. Bonnie is playing the Primo part (higher on the piano) and Amy the Secondo part. This was a very challenging piece to work on, so we really had to carve out some extra practice time from our busy schedules! This piece had some unusual physical challenges. You might notice during the video how at times Bonnie’s left arm is literally right on top of Amy’s right arm, the 2 parts are so close together! It takes lots of careful work to figure out where each player should put her hand and arm in order to avoid colliding with the other!
We’ve always loved The Nutcracker, and we watch at least a few versions of the ballet each year. This 4-hand duet version is especially satisfying to play, because it includes nearly all the notes of the original orchestral score – as much as could be squeezed onto one piano! So it sounds about as close to the orchestral original as it possibly could on a single instrument. We had a lot of fun working on this, and performing it at our Mini-recitals. Enjoy!
Here is another selection from the Nutcracker: The Arabian Dance. We performed this one at all our December 2014 Mini-recitals. While this is probably the easiest piece in the Nutcracker Suite to play in a technical sense, there are many hidden intricacies in the pedaling and ensemble work that are necessary to get just the right expressive quality. This has always been one of our favorite dances and favorite pieces of music from the Nutcracker. Enjoy!
And now our December 2015 Mini-recitals duet from the Nutcracker: Dance of the Reed Flutes. This one was very fun to learn and practice, with a little of the finger-tangling closeness between the Secondo’s right hand and Primo’s left hand that needed to be worked out, but not quite as much as we encountered in the Overture! We love the sweet quality of this dance. Enjoy!
We decided to do this one to honor the memory of Anton Yelchin, the Russian-American actor who portrayed Pavel Chekov in the recent Star Trek movies that we love so much! He died in June of this year, so although we’d previously decided on a different dance, we thought this would be a nice little way to pay tribute to him. We love the jubilance of this dance, and we can’t help but think of the awesome, hilarious dancing flowers in the “Fantasia” (Disney) version of this dance every time we play it!
We thought this was a great piece to do this year in honor of a student who is spending this year in China with her family! This is the shortest piece in the Nutcracker Suite, but it contains some interesting challenges. As you’ll see, the arpeggios played for the last half of the piece in Amy’s right hand and Bonnie’s left hand simultaneously, are SO close together that we really had to have our positioning right, to avoid getting our fingers literally tangled up with each other. It happened on numerous occasions during our practice sessions, which was pretty hilarious! This piece was so fun to play. This year, we are including two performances of this piece: the first one is at our home studio. But we had also practiced it at our Aunt’s house, and found that her Essex piano had more resonance in the higher range than our Steinway. We really liked that sound, so we have included a performance on that piano too. (And, you can see how close and in-danger-of-tangling our fingers are during those arpeggios better on the Essex video!) There were things we liked more on our piano, like feeling better control over the softer dynamics, and things we liked better on the Essex, like the nice ringing tone of the upper range. Enjoy!
This is the beautiful final dance in the Nutcracker Suite. It is also the longest one! So one of the biggest challenges of this piece was just staying fully focused and “in the moment” for the whole piece. In a longer piece like this, it’s so easy to let distracting thoughts creep in, like “Wow, that part went great…now I hope I don’t make that mistake in the next part that’s happened a couple times….” It’s that kind of thought that tends to actually cause mistakes, so we found we had to work surprisingly hard to keep our focus only on what we are doing each moment, and to keep from “analyzing” and thinking about what went well and what didn’t. That kind of analyzing is great for practicing-mode, so we can fix things, but it’s not the right mindset for performing. The length of this piece really made us understand that more deeply than we ever had before. Performing is for living in the moment – and ENJOYING it!
This is much shorter dance than the one from last year! We love this one for its simple beauty and fun staccato bounciness. Even as kids, we were very much drawn to this dance because of the silvery sound of the Celeste, which plays the melody of this dance in the orchestral version. We are including 2 recordings of this one, because we loved the sound of our own piano, but we also got a very lovely – but different – sound on our Aunt’s piano. The resonance of the high-register keys almost resembles the sound of the Celeste that we’ve always loved so much in this dance. The first video is from our home-studio piano, and the second video is from our Aunt’s Essex piano. Enjoy!
This year, after months of extra work and exhaustion from remote lessons, we decided we needed something different from our usual Tchaikovsky Nutcracker duets. We wanted something simple, yet still fun. We looked for a duet of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, because we’ve loved that music since we were tiny kids. We did find a published duet version of it, and we tried practicing it. It was very simple to play, but it really didn’t sound like the actual music from the TV special, so we found it difficult to feel motivated to practice it. After a few weeks of this, we decided the only thing to do was to make our own version of it!
So Bonnie listened to the recordings from both the audio CD and the DVD shows over and over, and transcribed the music. Eventually she got the “Transcribe!” app to help finish the task. This app is SO useful – allowing the user to slow down the playback tempo of the music to be transcribed, without altering the pitch. This allows the user to hear the faster notes more clearly, making it easier to figure out each note and write them all down.
We found that once we had a version that sounded the way we wanted it to, it was much easier to enjoy practicing it. We had so much fun with it! Enjoy!