MISSOULA – Four students majoring in piano at the University of Montana School of Music recently were selected to present their research at the Music Teachers National Association Conference in Orlando, Florida, in March.
The students’ presentation, “Building a Better Bass: Laying a Secure Left Hand Foundation,” was one of five selected out of 32 applicants from universities across the country. The students – seniors Scott Hamilton and Claire Wang and juniors Jodie-Lee Hostetler and Ellen Sears – also were featured presenters at the Montana State Music Teachers Conference in November.
“This is a significant opportunity for our students to present their research and represent the University of Montana at one of the premier events for music teachers in the country,” said Christopher Hahn, UM piano professor and the students’ faculty mentor. “I could not be more proud of these students.”
Their presentation focuses on the pianist’s left hand, which is essential for rhythm, pulse, tempo, harmony, character, style and even melody, yet it is often overlooked during practice and performance in favor of the faster, flashier and more facile right hand.
Their session presents an introduction to the left hand including anatomical rationales for some of its perceived and real limitations, followed by innovative exercises and patterns that will develop the hands in tandem to establish a more confident, comfortable and independent left hand, as well as helpful techniques for memorization and practice to become a more fully developed pianist.