Kinderszenen, piano, Robert Schumann, Scenes from Childhood

Unlocking Schumann

My first thought last night as I was revisiting “Gluckes Genucht” after resting it for months, was that this tableau like others in Kinderszenen, Op. 15, beg for hand, arm, wrist flexiblity as antidotes to tension-driven lockdowns. The after beats, for instance in Genucht. (I’ll leave out the “Happiness” aspect for a moment) can easily constrict a soaringly beautiful melodic line, especially if they GRAB undeserved attention. In the best sense, the composer’s childhood fantasy of well-being introduces a bouquet of harmonic enrichment that propels “Gluckes” in horizontal musical directions and does not welcome vertical gasps and interruptions. The composition, however, embodies a contrapuntal overlap of an opening thematic fragment that has aesthetically appealing wave-like motions that must be fleshed out.

Gluckes Genug


Students who tackle this particular miniature often become distracted by treble fingering gymnastics attached to off beat 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, and 6ths. They freeze up just when the music is asking for a warm Romantic era outpouring.

To deal with what some call an UN-PIANISTIC looking score, where comfortable five-finger positions are method book fabrications, it makes sense to parcel out lines and shape them with natural, complementary choreographies that include an awareness of phrase-influencing Harmonic rhythm and imitative lines.

Finally, exploring ways to lighten the load of voices bundled with harmonic parcels and threads of counterpoint, can be efficacious if funneled energy through floating arms and supple wrists is always on tap.

(I, for one, lean on the leader soprano voice to “sing” and soar without diminishing the polyphonic dimension.)


In the teaching environment where student and mentor share back and forth to mutual benefit, voice parceling coupled with relaxation techniques can unlock Schumann in his childhood revisit and well beyond.

Piano Lesson sample: “Curious Story” (“Kuriose Geschichte”) Kinderszenen, No. 2, Op. 15.

3 thoughts on “Unlocking Schumann”

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