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Learning a new piano piece quickly and thoroughly (Videos)

I challenged myself to quickly learn the shortest Scarlatti sonata on record (K. 431 in G) and share the principles of developing this piece to a level of fluidity with interested students. Perhaps it would help them navigate a new musical landscape.


Looking over the two-page Scarlatti score, we notice a preponderance of broken-chord figures in the right hand and these offer the perfect opportunity for blocking before unraveling them. Naturally, having a bit of theory under our belt, helps give context to these progressions. It provides another way of “knowing” them, and this “cognitive” mapping deepens our learning process as long as it doesn’t become an exclusive END in itself.

Same for fingering-driven learning. (Remember the paint by finger number kits?)

The musical side of knowing has to underlie the creative process, regardless of rational “assists” we devise along the way. That’s why the cognitive and AFFECTIVE ways of understanding a new piece should fuse together from the start.

In the video instruction below, I offer guidance about fingering, harmonic outline, phrasing, shape, form, nuance and mood.

When these ingredients are in harmony and balance, then the playing outcome will be satisfying sooner than later.


Play through in tempo:


2 thoughts on “Learning a new piano piece quickly and thoroughly (Videos)”

  1. I’m moving through the backlog of emails from you that I acquired through the last few crazy weeks and I must say this was very helpful to see your learning process in motion. I’ve heard of blocking but am not very familiar with it, however for establishing similarities in the phrases and linking the notes on the page to greater musical theory, it looks like it can be quite a powerful tool.

    Not to mention, that was just a plain lovely little piece 😉

    Thank you for taking the time to do such detailed videos and upload the sheet music, too! It really helps me follow your thoughts.


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