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Author Victoria B. Stearns discusses the purpose of writing her book, Handbook for Piano Practice:
As a lifelong piano teacher, I feel that more people could learn to play the piano, which leads the way to music appreciation and enjoyment, if they only knew how to practice efficiently. There would be progress instead of discouragement, and people would continue with music lessons instead of quitting them. For decades, I have searched for a book that stresses the important principles along with basic information, and never found anything.
The book I have written, Handbook for Piano Practice, is the book I wish I had had as a student all those years ago. It is not a piano "method" but a friendly guide and companion, encouraging and providing all the pertinent material and necessary hints for good practice habits (with reasons given) and learning genuine piano literature. It is for students of all ages (including adult "restarters") from before the first lesson through the intermediate level, sufficient for secondary piano students as well. The keys to learning are efficient practice and learning how to listen. Most teachers do not have the time to delve into these matters, and these points need much repetition.
I myself wasted many an hour with improper practice habits. If every piano student used this as a reference, there would be a great deal more enjoyment, appreciation, progress, learning, even attendance at musical events. The world would be a far better place if more people played music. Today we hear a great deal about stress reduction, Alzheimer's prevention, the need to keep learning, the need to relax. Music will accomplish all of the above and more in a most enjoyable way.
Cover Photo: Street pianos is a movement that began in 2008. It was begun by British artist Luke Jerram, with the artwork (the piano) entitled "Play Me, I'm Yours." Varying statistics are found online, with several hundred pianos "installed" in 43 cities around the globe. Mark Weber is the artist for the pianos in the Buffalo area where the above cover photo was taken.
Handbook for Piano Practice:A guide to life-long learning in music through continuing education in piano for students and teachers.
Authored by Victoria B. Stearns
7" x 10" (17.78 x 25.4 cm)
Black & White on White paper
This book is a companion and guide to piano practice, for both students, whether amateur or aspiring music major, and a reference for their teachers as well: the principles of good playing are the same for everyone. It is not a "method" but a resource to accompany piano studies, clarifying, explaining, and reinforcing what has been presented at lessons. Hints for success and many practice tips are included, so the student will get the most out of the time spent. Concisely written, the book emphasizes the essentials of good playing, and eliminates any extraneous or overly pedantic approaches. All the salient points for learning the piano are here: the keys to learning are efficient practice and listening. There are no false promises of quick results, but a musical journey is offered, using the piano as a springboard to music appreciation, thereby enriching one's life.
Playing music gives a person the opportunity to "connect" with the greatest composers, and it would be a better world indeed if more people were playing the piano. Making music a part of your life is a goal to keep in mind, which will yield many side benefits of stress reduction and brain activity.
Reassurance is given to those who are restarters, who had given up in the past, and for those who are "afraid" to try. Too many available materials give the wrong message that piano can be learned practically overnight, and this discourages people. Music can seem esoteric, too difficult, overwhelming, unattainable, if the student isn't taught properly. A little effort in the right direction can go a very long way, and this book will show you how. There are detailed lists of "real" piano literature and a section on elementary music theory to help you on your way.
The author, Victoria Stearns, has two degrees in music from SUNY at Buffalo, one in music history and the other in piano performance [both summa cum laude] and also a master's degree in library science. She had additional study in music history at Yale.
She has taught piano for almost five decades and has worked in music libraries in Buffalo and the Library of Congress, and also wrote music criticism for the Buffalo Evening News.
Review: "I think Handbook for Piano Practice by Victoria B. Stearns is a wonderfully clear and practical guide for beginner and intermediate pianists." – Eric Huebner, Pianist, NY Philharmonic, Assistant professor of Music, University at Buffalo (SUNY) & Adjunct Collaborative Piano Faculty, The Julliard School