A beginning adult piano student has an awakening about musical expression

I have to thank Sam, a Berkeley, California transplant to the UK, for imparting pearly words of wisdom via Skype. He shared an epiphany about music-making that got me thinking.

As he observed a London chamber music Masterclass, Sam mentioned how the teacher planted a convincing thought that musicians are “actors,”—how they must capture mood and emotion in their playing, and produce, when needed, a riveting whisper, (pianissimo).

I recall having nudged my students to “speak” in a hush at the piano without losing a hint of intensity.

Gifted stage actors know this very landscape, delivering pin drop lines with profound emotion.

Tchaikovsky’s Op. 39 came to mind in this discussion. Pieces like “MAMA,” for example, and “The WITCH,” played side-by-side, have market mood contrasts.

When performing them, therefore, a pianist must BECOME a different character in each one. (The music and title being guides for the imagination)


On this note, I can’t resist posting an astoundingly moving performance by musical “actress,” Sarah Chang

Jules Massenet/Méditation from Thaïs


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