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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.

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