Building Piano Technique: Extracting passages from pieces to practice

Instead of playing through laborious Hanon and Czerny exercises to improve aspects of piano technique, a student can cut to the chase, by snatching selected passages from their pieces that magnify a particular technical/musical challenge.

As an example, one of my adult students, devoted part of her lesson time to practicing a series of descending melodic sequences in the Latour Sonatina no. 1 in C Major. (I’ve bracketed pertinent measures)

At first I demonstrated how to enlist a forward rolling wrist motion for these passages, before the student emulated the approach.


The instruction below explores this wrist motion in creating a “round” melodic contour. It avoids the more angular, vertical type of playing that lacks “shape.”

Too often, students will play these notes with vertical finger pokes, creating a very “notey” sounding phrase. The forward roll wrist motion helps to counter this tendency. The instruction also fleshes out ways to apply rhythmic and harmonic variation to practicing the referenced set of measures.


In the second video, produced months ago, I extracted a section from Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata (first movement) to chord “block” in a graduated practicing frame that led to fluency and tempo building.

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: OR or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
This entry was posted in Bay area piano instruction, Beethoven, building piano technique, classissima,, El Cerrito piano instruction, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Ludwig Van Beethoven, pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano lesson, piano lessons, Piano Street, piano teaching, piano technique, Piano World, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Sonata Pathetique first movement by Beethoven, Sonatina no. 1 by Latour, word press, word, wordpress,, you tube, you tube video and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Building Piano Technique: Extracting passages from pieces to practice

  1. Hi,
    The technique and approach you show in the first video are very useful for (relative!) beginners to teach themselves, many thanks!


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