adult piano instruction,, piano, piano blog, piano lessons, piano technique, scales

Piano Technique: Attaining speed and clarity

Last night, one of my adult students observed me doing a quick glide warm-up over a two-octave scale before we officially started our lesson. Uncannily, his inquiry about how I managed to attain fluency at peak tempo, turned out to be the focus of our first fifteen minutes together, and it got me thinking about how I could help the pupil navigate his A# minor Natural scale to brisk speed in specific, well thought out steps. (We fragmented the last two ascending octaves)

What evolved in baby steps, was a back and forth exchange that built on a primary foundation of blocking clusters of black notes; isolating thumb points with a relaxed forward follow through supple wrist motion; then alternating thumb placements with cluster black note groups–We continued with rhythmic rolls into small note groupings and then to larger ones, building to peak. Breathing was a big part of our undertaking: Inhaling a relaxed chestful of air, and then slowly expelling through the scale. Once the scale had a sparkling journey through two octaves, we worked on varying dynamics: crescendo, diminuendo, then playing all Forte followed by piano (soft).

Our lesson segment unfolded out as follows:

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