Continuing my practice of videotaping my Thursday evening lesson, I reviewed the footage and discovered some catch words that helped me clarify ideas about technique and fluency.
While it may sound a bit outlandish to think of the piano as a “bowl of molasses,” the image alone helped my adult student approach the keys with more of a delayed entry, avoiding a skimming the surface type of playing that never quite gets the player “grooved” or “connected into” the notes. I like the volume or density of molasses.
Listening to the end of a note, before playing the next through an E minor Arpeggio in tenths, imbues a consciousness about playing deep into the keys, sculpting, feeling the “jello” that Irina Gorin references. It’s fundamental to producing a beautiful singing tone.
Other images or catchwords that I used to aid fluidity of technique: “roll” into the scale; Don’t Anticipate–Be in the here and now; think Slowly through fast passages; feel the rolling turnaround at either end of the scale, “BREATHE.”
So molasses slows things down, and allows for some key depth exploration without a premature release to other notes. This applies to passages in slow, fast or moderate tempo.
For the rippling strings of 32nds in Allegro that can be practiced in a scale framework, the principle of attentive listening from note to note should be framed as “fast melody.” Melodic contouring blends well with a bowl of molasses even though the latter would seem to drastically slow things down.
But for most piano students who tend to race over the keys losing their breath and composure, some key catchwords might neutralize the frenzy.
In this teaching segment, the student and I are playing the Dominant 7th Arpeggio B, D#, F#, A in contrary motion, Thumbs at B (an octave above middle B)
The next video extracted from the same lesson, draws on more catchwords to aid fluidity of technique: “roll” into the scale; Don’t Anticipate–Be in the here and now; think Slowly through fast passages; feel the rolling turnaround at either end of the scale, “BREATHE.”
Molasses also applies here, because it suggests density, and precludes the tracing paper, skimming on top of the keys touch and tone.