Brian Ganz Masterclass--An Inspiring Afternoon

Review by Carol Barth

On March 10, 2002, Brian Ganz led a masterclass in which seven AMSF pianists played. With audience, approximately 26 AMSF members and guests were in attendence. Participants and their pieces were:

  • Joyce Morton - Chopin Ballade op. 23 in g minor
  • Florence Rollwagen - Beethoven op. 10 #1, 3rd movement
  • Ed Aymar - Schubert Klavierstucke D. 946, #2 in E flat major
  • Linda Fornes - Rachmaninoff Etude Tableau op.33 #6 in e flat minor
  • Carol Barth - Rachmaninoff Prelude op. 23 #6 in E flat major
  • Anne Williams - Brahms Intermezzo op. 118 #2 in A major
  • Victor Dyni - Chopin Nocturne op. 9 #3 in B major

After listening to each participant play, Mr. Ganz offered suggestions specific to each performer and his or her selection, as well as general guidelines aimed at improving practice and performance.

Some of Ganz's general guidelines were:

  • Spend up to 20 minutes practicing the same passage, but no longer.
  • Take a 5 minute break every hour.
  • Add 5 minutes to the break for every hour of practice.
  • Play for someone else at least once a week.
  • Mark in your score your own observations about your music.
  • "Re-write" your music. Try different aspects together; change articulation, rhythm, touch, etc.
  • Ghost play when you practice. Isolate and play the melody audibly, fingering non-melody notes without sounding them. This is hard to do but very effective!
  • Tape your own playing. The investment of an hour at a professional recording studio might well be a well worth the cost, probably no more than the cost of a lesson.
  • Practice Hanon or Czerny exercises, op. 139, 261, and 821. Shorter exercises are better. They can offer a relaxing respite from intense repertoire work.

We extend a thank you to Brian Ganz for another very Special Event. Mr. Ganz's in-depth knowledge of piano pedagogy and performance and practice technique, his keen observations, and his understanding manner all made this event instructive and engaging to performers and audience alike.

Afterwards, most people stayed on to socialize over the buffet dinner that followed. We learned a lot and enjoyed one another's company--so all in all, this was a truly Special Event.