Piano Technique: Playing beyond the fingers to sculpt beautiful phrases (Debussy Arabesque no. 1)

Many piano students who practice Debussy’s Arabesque no. 1 tend to grab and articulate notes, rather than let them flow from energy streaming down relaxed arms into supple wrists.

Reliance on fingers-down playing becomes the panacea for accuracy, while it sacrifices poetic musical expression.

In the video below, I demonstrate how phrases can be sculpted with a relaxed, supple wrist, that moves up, down, and rotates from side-to-side when needed. It can even draw little circles of motion to curve musical lines.

Above and beyond the wrist is the central fuel provider: arms free of tension.

In harmony with undulating wrists, they realize an Impressionistic palette of rolling arpeggios and melted cadences that characterize Debussy’s music.

***

One of my favorite quotes from Just Being at the Piano by Mildred Portney Chase pertains to beautiful phrasing:

“You can learn much from nature. Take a moment to look at a tree. Find the branch that is moving the most quietly. Feel how it might feel, as though a gentle breeze is moving your hands. Your hands may sway gently, back and forth, similar to the way a branch moves. Let this feeling move into your arms, enabling them to increase their span of movement and change direction. Imagine that the breeze is carrying your hands on gently curving paths of air currents. You are releasing your expression through your own individualized choreography of movement.”

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
This entry was posted in "Just Being At the Piano", 19th Century music, 20th Century music, arioso 7, arpeggios, arpeggios for the piano, Claude Debussy, Debussy, Debussy Arabesque no. 1, Impressionistic music, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Just Being at the Piano by Mildred Portney Chase, Mildred Portney Chase, pianist, piano, piano lessons, piano teaching, piano world-wide, playing piano, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video, yout tube and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Piano Technique: Playing beyond the fingers to sculpt beautiful phrases (Debussy Arabesque no. 1)

  1. angel says:

    thank you so much. your input is valuable to me. Much appericated

  2. lamymn says:

    Hello Shirley,
    On your recommendation I bought ‘Just Being at the Piano’, and have just devoured it in one take! It’s a real thought-provoker for the adult learner. I am going through it again, making little flashcards for myself of her wise tricks, so I can flip through them later, maybe a different one each day, and NOT forget to practise them. I don’t want to claim a complete epiphany in such a short time, but it’s been something a bit like it. My practice today has been so much more enjoyable. In fact I’m going back to the piano right now.
    Thank you for drawing her to my attention!

  3. Greetings, Marie, I’m delighted the book is being devoured and appreciated.
    Shirley

  4. Wendy says:

    Thanks for your tutorial it’s very insightful and help me a lot in my practice of this piece !

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