My students teach me so much about aesthetics, phrasing, pedaling and more. It’s because we’re actively engaged in a process of evaluating, experimenting and refining.
There’s no authority figure in the lesson environment to lay down absolutes, yet the teacher, who has benefited from his/her own explorations over time, should share epiphanies with a pupil.
A few of my adult students are learning Mozart Sonata, K. 545, and the middle movement, with its prominent singable lines of beauty, needs a “warming” pedal effect. At first, however, I recommend learning the Andante WITHOUT pedal with a time-honored separate hands approach. Even minus the sustain, fingers must sing in legato style from note to note. The pedal will NOT create the legato, or play the piece for the student. (In this regard, there’s a tendency to over-saturate the composer’s music with the right foot in the wrong way. Excuse my delight with our language and its serendipitous word plays.)
Since I’ve abbreviated the video footage of the piano lesson with Yukiko, who’s a conscientious, hard-working adult student, I can fill in what’s missing by saying that I endorse practicing measure to measure CHORDS in the Left Hand with a supple wrist (or another sub-division of this practicing mode, is isolating just the fundamental bass line particularly at the build to climax–measures 40-48); then studying the melody and its contour, with curves, loops, peaks and valleys; applying weight transfer to vary the dynamics and flesh out crescendi. Then I affirm playing CHORDS (not broken yet) with the undulating, interweaving treble line; paying attention to harmonic rhythm, key relationships, chord progressions, modulations, etc. as they influence the melodic line to make dips and heart-fluttering turns, etc.
One can’t always put precise words to what is ethereal and often illusive, so I’ll refer to the video as a more definite demonstration of my ideas. (The full length segment has more to offer, but because of time constraints, I edited it down)
The area of pedaling of course is subtle one. I certainly would not do as my very earliest mentors did: have me sit in her kitchen, awaiting my lesson, copying lines and lines of fingerings and PEDALING. I do believe that both require real time probing, testing and refining. Particularly in the arena of applying pedaling, the student should learn to develop a fine-tuned ear for what works, and what detracts. The mentor is there to nudge a bit in this or that direction, and to teach ways of learning that in the long run, encourage the student’s confidence in making individual artistic decisions.
P.S. I thank all my LIVE and ONLINE students for participating in these videotaped co-learning journeys along the way.
Videos of Yukiko, an adult piano student, refining her arpeggio technique
F# minor in Contrary Motion:
And F# minor scale: