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Piano Lesson: Teaching and playing “Galop” by Kabalevsky from the Op. 39 Children’s Pieces (Videos)

Don’t do a double take on the spelling of “Galop” because every edition I’ve seen up close and personal, does not have the expected double l.

If it were as simple to play this piece as spelling its name correctly or incorrectly, I wouldn’t have a problem. But in truth, a miniature like this is a mountain of a challenge. (Kabalevsky, a 20th Century composer, was Director of a music school in Russia and conceived his compositions with a particular technical goal in mind. His Children’s Pieces Op. 39, comprise a colorful collection with an assortment of moods)

From Kabalevsky an Introduction to his Piano Works, Willard Palmer, Editor:

“While teaching his young students, Kabalevsky came to realize that there was a great need for simple and interesting piano pieces that would maintain the student’s interest and at the same time introduce the various problems of technique and musicianship in such a way as to make them easily grasped and understood.”


Last night, my second year piano student, Sakura, who is left-handed, attentively practiced “Galop,” focusing on phrasing and articulation in each hand. That’s the rub–trying to play slurred groups of two 8ths in the left hand against a spin of 5 notes in the right. And what about the balance issue. The left hand must not scream and overshadow the right though the temptation is to pound away at those staccato chords where they come at the CLIMAX, from measures 9 through 16. There’s a melody to consider and just the same, you don’t want to sound like Rosie the Riveter. Keep your shock absorb wrists supple and spongy.

Basically, “Galop” is a high intensity piece regardless of its peak coming dead center. You’ll always need your energy reserves in high gear, but be sure not to spill your guts where you find yourself losing control.

Practice as slowly as possible with consciousness about the interaction of both hands at any given time, and then raise up your tempo in increments.

Above all, enjoy the ride and keep your cool.

Sakura’s lesson:

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