PIANOThe Piano Department at Hamilton High School Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA) offers a unique program consisting of seven levels of instruction, ranging from level 1 for beginning students to level 7 for highly advanced performers. Note reading, healthy technique, appropriate repertoire, and music theory are included in daily lessons that provide a classical foundation at the piano.
INSTRUCTOR BIOMariana Lajmanovich’s teaching philosophy is based on her intense love of music and the belief that all people can learn. Her unique style combines a rigorous approach to piano technique, which allows students to improve their playing while fostering healthy habits and preventing injuries, with a profound knowledge of the piano repertoire and how it should be introduced to students at various levels of their journey.
Ms. L’s own journey began at the tender age of 4, and she has not stopped learning since. Ms. L completed her undergraduate studies in her parents’ native country of Argentina, graduating at the top of her class and earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and Music Education, along with a K-12 teaching certification. Then, she continued her musical studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she obtained a Masters degree in Piano Performance and Music Education, studying under the tutelage of Estela Kersenbaum Olevsky.
In Los Angeles, Ms Lajmanovich trained in the Yamaha Music Education system and taught at various music schools before committing to the Los Angeles Unified School District where she has served as a piano instructor, new teacher mentor, music department chair, content coach, and now Director of Keyboard Studies at Hamilton High School’s prestigious AMPA.
PIANO LEVELSThere are seven levels of classical piano taught at Hamilton High School Academy of Music and Performing Arts (AMPA). All AMPA students must pass at least one year of piano.
Level one is for beginners with no prior experience, or for people who are mainly self-taught and need remedial technique and/or an introduction to music notation. Students who complete this level will learn note reading in the treble and in the bass clef, understanding of basic music theory and its application at the keyboard, development of good practice habits, playing with a steady beat and accurate rhythm, healthy posture and hand position at the piano, six major and three minor scales of one octave, basic sight-reading, and playing I-IV-I-V7-I cadence in nine keys. Music theory in Piano level one covers intervals, scales, and triad construction.
Level two if also a beginning piano course, but it is designed for students who have had prior musical experience on another instrument. This course goes much faster and farther than level one. All major and minor scales are learned in one octave with correct fingering, while technique is solidified with healthy posture and hand position. Finger strength and speed are addressed. The development of good practice habits, a study of rhythm, playing cadences and one-octave arpeggios, and sight-reading are also included. Music theory in Piano level two introduces key signatures and circle of 5ths.
Level three focuses attention on more advanced Music Theory: key signatures, circle of fifths, triads and seventh chords and inversions, and ear training. Focus is placed on careful, clean pedaling, developing fluency, articulation, sight-reading, balance between melody and harmony, and accurate interpretation of expression marks. Scales are played at two octaves at a moderate tempo, along with the primary chord progression of I-IV-I-V7-I, and one octave arpeggios around the circle of fifths. Sight-reading of level two material and one hour daily of outside practice is expected.
Level four introduces more difficult literature by composers such as Kabalevsky, Bartok, Kuhlau, Clementi, and others. Artistic interpretation is stressed. Students play all major and minor scales in three octaves, followed by the tonic triad and its inversions, the primary chord progression of I-IV-I-V7-I, and arpeggios in two octaves. They also must sight-read level three material. Daily outside practice of at least one hour is required.
Level five students work on easier sonatas; Chopin preludes, waltzes, nocturnes or mazurkas; works by Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Scarlatti, and other masters. Repertoire for this level is expected to include at least one representative piece from each of the four major periods of music history (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary). A piece by one of the French Impressionists such as Ravel or Debussy may also be included with the instructor’s permission. Students in level five are expected to perform in the AMPA piano recital series at least once each semester. All performances are memorized. Scales are now in four octaves, with arpeggios in two and in three octaves. Sight-reading of level three material is required, as is outside daily practice of at least 90 minutes daily.
Level six is difficult, requiring advanced technical and interpretive skills. Students must play pieces in key signatures containing numerous flats and sharps, complex rhythms, unusual meters, and subtle dynamics. Repertoire represents different styles, cultures, and musical periods. Students must also be able to play all major and minor scales at 110-140 mm in quarter notes, eighth notes, eighth note triplets, and sixteenth notes. They must also play all major, minor, diminished 7th, dominant 7th, and augmented arpeggios. They are expected to perform a minimum of two times per semester, and prepare a major term paper on one or more composers. Students at level six and seven may also accompany other instrumentalists or singers, play in chamber music ensembles, play in the pit orchestra for the yearly musicals, or play in one of the jazz bands. They are expected to learn at least one concerto movement and have the opportunity to audition for the yearly concerto recital with the Hamilton AMPA symphony orchestra. Level six students practice two hours daily.
Level seven is very difficult, requiring very advanced technical and interpretive skills. Students learn a complete recital repertoire involving pieces of great length and difficulty such as Liszt etudes, Barber and Chopin sonatas, and full concertos. Most students at this level enter local, state and national competitions. They perform often at Hamilton as well as at outside venues. This level requires two hours of daily practice.
For more information about the piano program, please click here.
To watch video of recitals click here.
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