arioso7, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California

Piano Study: Voice parceled learning takes patience but it’s worth the effort

I always tell my adult students to spot practice where they have troublesome measures, and to take the time to voice pieces in detail.

In Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata middle movement, Allegretto, the composer has created a chamber music effect—not an operatic framing–and the very character of his ensemble is one of balanced voices.

I hear a string trio at the beginning, but enriched in places by a 4th voice, so while I can bend toward the lead violin in the soprano range, there are various articulations in the second violin (alto) and down below into the tenor and bass (viola and cello) that need analysis, and separate practice.

It takes loads of patience to piece out each voice as most students prefer to read down, grabbing the uppermost note, hoping the others will manage to synch in by chance, but such haphazard surface sight-reading can only go so far. It’s a skimming the surface overview that deprives the player of a deeper, more gratifying process that feeds musical growth and development.

By example, I videotaped a portion of a piano lesson with an adult student who has improved her understanding of Beethoven’s Allegretto by studying the movement of voices with their various groupings and articulations.

Beethoven Allegretto

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