adult piano instruction, Chopin, Frederic Chopin, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano, piano blog, piano blogging, Shirley Kirsten

Good phrasing: listen for the decay, and psyche out your piano

The theme of today’s Online lesson beamed from North Carolina was following the decay of a note from the end of a phrase into the next measure with a thread of continuity. To have good conjunction between phrases one has to listen in two directions: from the before to the after, without forgetting the BEFORE. (Most students will pay more attention to the start of a new phrase,–clunking the downbeat–ignoring the influence of crossover harmonic rhythm and resolution, or dynamic relationships between measures.) So listening attentively draws awareness of how harmony affects melodic inflection and shaping, and what “colors” various rhythms offer as clues to phrasing beautifully in an ongoing BEFORE and AFTER strand of measures.

Part TWO:

Psyching out one’s piano has to do with whether a particular instrument is brashly bright, or sounding like cotton balls (It might also be an undesirable combination of the two). Nonetheless, the aforementioned requires that the player figure out a way to outsmart the instrument with its foibles, and create beautiful phrasing by adjusting entry into keys with various physically transferred weights, always realizing the pre-imagined sound. (In short, the pianist must hear notes before they’re played and adjust touch and tone to match the internal sound ideal)

The following lesson excerpt brought home both referenced dimensions of phrasing and auditory awareness:


In this sample the student is working on smoothing out E minor scale transitions that require attentive listening from the conclusion of one form into another. (i.e. focused conjunction of scales without sharp accents on the downbeat initiation of each new one)

2 thoughts on “Good phrasing: listen for the decay, and psyche out your piano”

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