Proper Piano Practice Means Precision. I began my piano studies at age 11. The date was August 24, 1958. This was exactly two months before my October 24th birthday. I would turn twelve. At my first year piano recital, I played the entire Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven from memory. The teacher I studied it with was a Mrs. Foster. I forgot her 1st name. My apologies. In retrospect, I played it terribly. The reason for this shortcoming will became apparent. in the blog. My apologies. The way to Proper Piano Practice was later shown to me by my nest teacher, Mischa Kottler, but:
I didn’t listen to his most basic advice. I thought I was quite advanced at age 15. He told me to (1) practice slowly and (2) hands separately. My adolescent mind told me, “that’s for babies.” Of course, I never told him that. But as it turned out, I was wrong. When slow practice and intense concentration unite, the results are outstanding. First, here is a taste of this great virtuoso-pianist, teacher. Kottler would play it for an encore. Even when he was in his nineties he could finesse his special arrangement of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz.”
Minute Waltz (Mischa Kottler Version)
Kottler had the ability to see the future when it came to his piano students. I studied with him for years. When I was 25, he looked straight at me and said: “You’ll get good when you’re in your sixties.” He was serious. Naturally, that comment did not sit well with a 25 year old. I’m well into my sixties, Finally, I have seen the “proper piano practice” light. Here’s the core of the method I now started to use. It’s never too late.
Play any two fingers on either hand. With one finger play a white key. With another pick a black. Play the two notes at the same time.
Unless you intensely concentrate on what you just did, the notes are likely to be perhaps 1/10th of a second apart!
Now think of how difficult it is to play even more tones at the same time. Add to the formula, using the fingers on both hands.
Multiply this spread out sound by an entire piece of music. You have a mess.
How has Proper Piano Practice Helped Me?
In one word, employment. This December 20th, I’ll begin my 9th winter-spring season at the Gasparilla Inn. On Boca Grande it is favored place for VIP’s. Off-Florida season, there are also no shortage of jobs. Currently I play at the Crab and Fin Restaurant . It is on St, Armand’s Circle in Sarasota. Of course, a lot more goes into successful piano playing. If you wish to know more elements, I’m also available for piano lessons in Sarasota.
Keyboard Touches Vary Greatly Depending on Instrument. My piano instructor was Mischa Kottler. I was offered a position playing the organ. Kottler told me not to accept it. He said, playing organ would ruin my piano technique. Of course, I wondered how and why? I think the answer comes from Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach. In the quote below, C.P. E. had the harpsichord in mind. The piano wasn’t yet invented. But what he said about the contrast applies to the piano. In the interest of keeping posts short, there will be more blogs. A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. The player presses a row of levers. This triggers a mechanism. One or more strings are then plucked with a quill.
The above harpsichord is the work of two celebrated makers: originally constructed by Andreas Ruckers in Antwerp (1646). It was remodeled by Pascal Taskin in Paris (1780). The prototype of the pianoforte was invented in 1710. Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (Italian pronunciation: [bartoloˈmɛːo kriˈstɔːfori di franˈtʃesko]; May 4, 1655 – January 27, 1731). He was an Italian maker of musical instruments.
The 1720 Cristofori piano in the Metropolitan Museum in New York is the picture on the right. The total number of pianos built by Cristofori is unknown. Only three survive today, all dating from the 1720s.
Keyboard Touches and Keyboard Styles
Here is a primary difference between the organ and the harpsichord/piano. According to C.P. E. Bach: “The organ is indispensable in church. It bestows splendor and maintains order. However, for sacred recitatives, and arias… one must resort to the harpsichord. It gives the singing voice freedom of variation. Too often, one discovers how bare a performance can be without harpsichord accompaniment. Moreover, this instrument is indispensable in the theater and at concerts.”
Will Rogers Plays Had a Place in My Life Through Rubinoff. For years I worked with “Rubinoff and His Violin.” He always would praise Will Rogers. Rubinoff stated in his autbiography: “Will used to give me advice. He was a happy fellow and a pleasure to be near. Will advised me on timing, how to time my gestures, how to get the audience to do my bidding, and how to talk to provoke the appropriate responses.” This quote is from Rubinoff’s book, Dance of the Russian Peasant. His wife, Dame Darlene Rubinoff, co-authored the book with her husband. Maestro Rubinoff always paid homage to Will Rogers at his concerts.
Will Rogers Plays:
William Penn Adair Rogers was born on November 4, 1879, in present-day Oologah, Oklahoma—then part of Indian territory. … Himself part Cherokee, Rogers socialized with both indigenous people. Interest in Will Rogers plays found its way into a hit Broadway show: The Will Rogers Follies is a musical with a book by Peter Stone, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Cy Coleman.
It focuses on the life and career of famed humorist and performer Will Rogers, using as a backdrop the Ziegfeld Follies, which he often headlined, and describes every episode in his life in the form of a big production number.
He gave Rubinoff a gigantic pocket watch. Will had the poem below engraved on its back. Will also included his picture with Dave with the following inscription: “To the greatest fiddler in the world. Your Pal, Will Rogers 1932.” Rubinoff recited it at every single concert. Audiences loved it. Here are some paraphrases::
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time we own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow,”
For the Clock may then be still.
Conclusion: So many were jealous of Rubinoff. Musicians frequently were contemptuous about how he pandered to the public. However, they were really jealous of his income. In the 1930’s he made as much as $500,000/year. Now I offer a present to all my readers. Here is a free youtube link to Rubinoff and I, performing at our last concert in 1984. And yes, he’ll show off his Will Rogers pocket watch. You can hear the thunderstorm at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House during the concert. Oh yes, please share. This is happy and entertaining!
Travel Golden Roads With Our New Musical. The featured picture is a reference to Sharon and myself. We are called “The Ohs.” This is short for Ohrenstein. Famed artist, Harold Weiner, drew this for us as a thank you for a charity event that we did for the Sarasota Music Archives.
Meir’s GOLDEN ROADS: A One Woman Musical About Golda Meir. This original musical was written by the performers: Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein, singer, actor, librettist; and David Ohrenstein, pianist- composer. Broadway director, Carlo Thomas, gave the one woman show a wonderful, big time, New York, aura. From Golda’s dream to its realization, Sharon plays multiple characters. Her characters include:
Blume (Golda’s mother).
Morris (her husband)
Her sister, Sheyna
Zion (a spirit character)
Numerous other male and female characters
OUR MUSICAL OFFERS THE FOLLOWING
The musical will work in any sized theater.
It can also be booked for a limited run or as a special event. For example, for a fund raiser, luncheon or after dinner show.
The musical has several length options
The set is simple and basic. L & O have both portable Yamaha piano and sound.
For more information or price quote: email – email@example.com
We are all on a pilgramage as we travel the Golden Roads. We all seek the precious jewels of happiness, peace and plenty found on this road. Learn about this one woman born into poverty and persecution. Through her own will power and hard work she overcame these hardships.
Travel Golden Roads With Golda Meir
Our Golden Roads symbolizes the journey some must take to find a better future. Golda’s was quite dramatic:
As a child, Golda was nearly trampled to death by stampeding Cossacks riding horses. Her passion became having a safe home.
Be entertained by the beautiful voice of Sharon Lesley and piano artistry of David. Enjoy the beautiful melodies that punctuate the show. Be enthralled about with the story how one woman’s courage and determination helped to rebuild a nation for millions.
Our New York veteran director is Carlo Thomas. He has received positive reviews from Hal Prince, Irving Lowens of the Washington Star, and Werner Vollmann of the Associated Press in Vienna. As a bass, he has appeared in many operas, including Rigoletto, La Traviata, and The Queen of Spades. He has sung on opera stages in Italy. He personally worked with Broadway composers Timothy Gray and Hugh Martin. Carlo has helped to shape our show and provided exciting projections.
Travel Golden Roads and Make Money
This one woman show, featuring Sharon, is a money maker. Call or contact DSOworks@gmail.com today to arrange for your special afternoon or evening with Golden Roads. It was SRO as Golda opened the 2017 Sarasolo Festival held at Sarasota’s Crocker Memorial Church. Don’t be shy! Please share with friends.
Angelic Media to paraphrase a Great Comedian. For years I was the piano player at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. I had the privilege to accompany many comedians. Al Smith was one of my favorites. It was one of my busiest times: Seven days a week I performed the following afternoon and evening schedule:
3:30 I played on a showboat sing-a-long that went around Oquaga Lake. Fun,fun,fun!
4:30 I sometimes played the afternoon feature show.
6-7 Elegant music for the dinner hour.
7:30 -9:00 played with The Lake-Shore Four dance band
9-10:30 Played for feature shows. Al Smith was frequently called upon. Audiences loved him.
10:30 until closing: For dancing until everyone dropped.
So What is the Angelic Media All About?
When I worked with Al Smith, I was in awe of his timing of his excellent comic rhythm. During his show, Ray Scott, the owner, would be on the drums. Gary Holdridge, son in law, would play the organ. Al had funny stories and many one liners. He also would play banjo classics during his act. Included, of course, was Oh Susanna. One of his most memorable lines, in my opinion, is: “My wife is an angel….She’s always in the air harping about something.” Why was this so funny? Because of the double meaning of “harpy”. Its intended meaning had to do with the Greek concept of harpies. In Greek mythology and Roman mythology, a harpy (plural harpies, Greek: ἅρπυια,harpyia, pronounced [hárpyi̯a]; Latin: harpȳia) was a half-human and half-bird personification of storm winds, in Homeric poems.
Now, How does This Tie into the Angelic Media?
The news, in general, seems to continually harp on a few subjects. They have an obsession with statistics. Here is what the Oquaga Spirit has to say on this fixation. The poem which I quote is from the Oquaga Spirit Speaks. It is entitled: News. The entire book is available as a product on DSOworks.com
Mercury-Hermes ran past
Wearing wing-tipped shoes.
I asked him why he hurried?
He said he carried news.
And so it is with man
Who must be in the know;
News must travel quickly’
Or in the trash it goes.
He dashes to the station
Where it will be broadcast
At the speed of light
To regions remote and vast.
But I just take my time
Walking down the path.
Hermes carries statistics.
I enjoy nature’s math.
Disappearing Mailboxes Out- Dates a Work of Art. Famed cartoonist, Harold Winer, created a number of illustrations for us. They were a thank you present. At one time he was associated with the Sarasota Music Archives. My wife Sharon, and myself, do musical charity work. The Sarasota Music Archives was one of the beneficiaries. It has one of the finest collections of sheet music in the country. As a thank you, Harold Winer gave us a number of art works. The Ohs is short for our last name, Ohrenstein.
Mail boxes have pretty much disappeared; yet, Sharon and I are still performing. We have started to write our own. I have always been a composer. Sharon writes the lyrics and book. Most recently, we wrote Golden Roads. It was the opening show for the Sarasolo festival. Carlo Thomas is our director. We thank him for his help. He guided our rehearsals. Also, he provided about 2 dozen artistically made posters. During the course of the presentation, Sharon co-ordinates the dialogue with the pictures. Our show sold out, SRO. On the positive side, the mail is still there. Only, it is called e-mail. Speaking of which, please feel free to share this e-mail with friends. Let’s have many new shows of all typesthat can offer us rides on Golden Roads.
Forgiving Audience for Rubinoff and His Violin at the Tallahassee Governor’s Club. It was the early 1980’s. Rubinoff and I were invited to play at the Governor’s Club. The Governors Club was founded on certain principles. Chief among them were providing a comfortable and elegant environment for social gatherings, serving excellent food and offering outstanding service. Our private social club cultivates the finest membership….
Rubinoff was an honest man. He freely spoke his mind. If he liked something, you’d know. If he didn’t, he could be quite expressive. Fortunately, once he started to play his violin, my matter what he said was forgiven. People knew they were in a hands of a great master. So what happened?
First I must say that Dave liked delicatessen food: Corn beef, pastrami, potato salad…He lived in Detroit at the Leland House. I worked with him for many years as his arranger and accompanist. To me, he was like the grandfather I never got to know. When we went on a lunch break, we’d go to the closest deli. He also delighted in “cooking the greatest hamburger in the world.” He called it “Hamburger a la Rubinoff.” I got to eat plenty of the best hamburgers in the world. But that was David. He was excited about everything he did. He fell in love with every melody he worked on. He had passion for music and life. I felt honored to work with such a man, The bonus was he treated me like I was his grandson.
Forgiving Audience Springs Into Action
We walked in the capitol building for both the concert and dinner. Talk about eloquence. Each place was set with 4 or 5 glasses for wine. We had silverware galore and beautiful dishes. We entered slightly late. Everyone was already seated. Suddenly a scream issues forth: “This place is too damn fancy for me!”, yells Rubinoff.” The sentiment was projected with his heavy Russian accent. In all honesty, that is how to create a hostel audience. Luckily, they didn’t throw us out. After dinner he played his violin with me at the piano. By our second number, all were in his pocket. They loved him. The concert ended with bravos and a standing ovation. I thought our reception by the Florida legislators was magnanimous, appreciative and forgiving.
If you like this blog, feel free to share. I think it’s one of the greatest show biz stories ever. If you never heard Rubinoff and I give a concert, please enjoy our 45 minute 1984 New York Catskill Mountain performance at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House on this youtube link. It is free. He was in his mid-eighties. The man is an inspiration to all of us.
Liszt Tempos are too Fast According to von Sauer. Emil Georg Conrad von Sauer (8 October 1862 – 27 April 1942) was a notable Germancomposer, pianist, score editor, and music (piano) teacher. He was a pupil of Franz Liszt. Also, he one of the most distinguished pianists of his generation. Josef Hofmann called von Sauer “a truly great virtuoso.”Martin Krause, another Liszt pupil, called von Sauer “the legitimate heir of Liszt. He has more of his charm and geniality than any other Liszt pupil.”
Emil von Sauer (1902)
Proof of the Liszt Tempos
So how is it that I know what Sauer said about Liszt’s music? From my own teacher, Mischa Kottler. He publicly made the statement in an interview for the Detroit Free Press/Sunday April 10, 1983. The featured picture is from the interview. I’ve saved the Sunday magazine section all these years. The article was written by John Guinn/photos by Patricia Beck. John Guinn was the Free Press music critic. Patricia Beck was a staff photographer. To make my point, I will quote a couple of sections:
“Kottler studied with Cortot in Paris, and then went to Vienna where he ended up studying with Emil von Sauer. Sauer had studied with Franz Liszt in Weimar in 1884-85. Liszt was a pupil of Carl Czerny, who studied three years with Beethoven himself.” Incidentally many of the techniques I learned from Mischa came from Beethoven. Reputedly, Beethoven invented the “prepared thumb” technique. I in turn pass this knowledge on to my own Sarasota piano students.
This is a direct quote from the interview: “Sauer told me everybody plays Liszt’s music too fast,” Kottler said. “there’s no reason to do that,” Sauer insisted-“Liszt didn’t.”
So where can you hear me play Liszt tempos not too fast? At the Crab and Fin Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida.
“I’d say that overall, it’s a great place to have lunch or dinner if your around Saint Armands or Lido Beach.” in 35 reviews. After a 20 year absence from the piano scene in Sarasota, David Ohrenstein returns. Over that time he has been a regular in the Catskill Mountains of New York and at the world famous Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Now he entertains at the Crab and Fin Restaurant three days weekly: Monday evening from 6-10pm; Tuesday from 12:30 to 5 :30 p.m. Wednesday also from 12:30 to 5:30 PM. You can enjoy lunch, dinner or simply purchase a beverage and listen to my piano playing at this beautiful outdoor setting.
I was also an arranger/accompanist for Rubinoff an His Violin. So I also play popular music beautifully.Rubinoff was the conductor and violin soloist of the orchestra at the Paramount Theater in New York and of Paramount pictures in Hollywood. When he conducted the Chicago Philharmonic in 1937, he played for 225,000 people. In addition, they turned away 25,000 people at the door. Hope to see you on St Armands Circle in Sarasota, Fl – David. I play outdoors so check the weather. You could call me a “fair weather pianist.”
Significant Rests determine Wedding or Funeral. Does a composer write rests into his music or not? If he does, the rests have a very specific function. They add lightness or breathing space into the music. We would expect a lack of rests in a funeral march due to its somber nature. On the other hand, we would expect rests in a Bridal Chorus. On the basic level: A funeral is a sad and heavy occasion = few, if any rests. A wedding is lighter and definitely joyful. We would expect quite a number of rests. Significant rests, and other factors determine the difference. One of the most tradition funeral marches was written by Chopin. While, the most traditional wedding march for the processional was written by Wagner.
Frédéric Chopin‘s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B♭ minor, Op. 35, popularly known as the Funeral March, was completed in 1839 at Nohant, near Châteauroux in France. However, the third movement, whence comes the sonata’s common nickname, had been composed as early as 1837. It was played at the graveside during Chopin’s own burial at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Wagner wrote a bridal chorus in Lohengrin. It uses a similar opening rhythm to Chopin’s Funeral March. The basic pattern of Chopin‘s motif is (1) quarter note, (2) dotted eighth, followed by (3) a 16th note, and another (quarter note). However, the musical motif of Wagner‘s wedding march lightens the mood with two rests. They are the 8th and 16th note rests in the featured picture. I suggest the pianist observe these rules when playing for either occasion:
When performing the wedding march, release the damper pedal during the rests. This pedal adds heaviness to the music and the occasion. Rather, let the rests come through and punctuate the melody.
Conversely, when playing the funeral march plenty of damper pedal is just fine.
Yes, I am available as a pianist for all occasions.
Entertainer Lives on St Armand’s Circle at the Sarasota Crab and Fin restaurant. How? Listen to the outdoor piano playing of David Ohrenstein. He plays there Monday from 6-10 pm. And during the daytime on Tuesday 12:30 to 5:30 and Wednesday, same hours. Are you in the mood for fun? Then come and listen to David at the Crab and Fin. Enjoy the music written by the genius of Scott Joplin, Arthur Marshall or Scott Hayden. These three musical giants collaborated and/or lived together in Sedalia, Missouri at the Marshall home. This was because at the turn of the 1900’s, Sedalia allowed minority groups the chance for an excellent education. While some locations only allowed schooling for 3 months/year, Sedalia allowed a full 9 months. In no small measure, Sedalia, by accommodating Joplin and friends, allowed for the birth of the ragtime movement. That, in turn, shaped American popular culture.
Poster stamp for the Sedalia Missouri State Fair, c.1930.
Sedalia is also home to The Pettis County Museum and Historical Society, located at 228 Dundee Ave. The building was once a Jewish Synagogue and features many Historical artifacts from all periods of Pettis County history.
Entertainer is Heard on the Streets of Sarasota at the Outdoor Setting of the Crab and Fin
David offers a lesson on playing the music of Scott Joplin in the enclosed video. He explains how the notes tied over the measure are of the essence. Of course, playing ragtime requires a beautiful tone. All three of the ragtime giants described above were classically trained. Ideally, any serious player of ragtime should have had such training. Without the production of nice tone, any music can become vulgar. David studied with Mischa Kottler at Wayne State University. He holds a Master of Music degree. Kottler,then head of the piano department at Wayne, believed that it took about one full year to develop a correct approach to touch and beautiful tone. David now offers piano lessons in Sarasota to this end. In the meanwhile, be entertained by David’s version of The Entertainer.