com, functional harmony, harmonic rhythm, Journal of a Piano, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Uncategorized

Shaping a melodic line through chord blocking (Schumann Little Etude no. 14)

To block out sonorities that spring from spun out, undulating broken chords, can provide a peak learning experience. In a baby-step advance, especially, where finding a melodic thread, may consist of a one-hand alone approach at first, the pleasure to follow, comes with cushions of harmony.

One of my adult students, just launched her journey through Robert Schumann’s “Little Etude.” (Album for the Young) Having a generous supply of patience, she traced the soprano voice, that resided in the first of second grouping notes (R.H.) rolled out in threes (6/8 time) As she sang and phrased the melody, she gained an understanding of the physical, affective and cognitive aspects of music-making. (We worked on fingering, the supple wrist, breathing, and whole arm energy, not to mention harmonic analysis)

In the videos below, I first play through Schumann’s work, then revisit the preparation that I passed on to my adult pupil at her lesson.

Chord Blocking is demonstrated below. It’s best, however, to discover the melody alone before taking this step. (SINGING is recommended while playing) Adding voices should follow, dividing right hand from left in this pursuit.

(The influence of harmonic rhythm or harmonic outflow on shaping a melody cannot be understated. Therefore, an awareness of functional chord relationships is an asset)

LESSONS IN PROGRESS

Schumann Little Etude, no. 14, p. one

classissima, classissima.com, Franz Josef Haydn, harmonic rhythm, Haydn, Haydn Sonata in Eb Hob.XVI:52 (Rondo), Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano technique, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube.com, youtube, youtube.com

Piano Practicing: Taking the robot out of fast passages

It’s easy to stare at a Presto Rondo from the Classical era, and wonder how to navigate scads of notes that can end up on the assembly line, pumped out with no sense of individuality. And while herds of them might be corralled with a sensible fingering, their shape and direction often remain out of reach. That’s when the robot relentlessly controls the flock.

Repeatedly, I’d tried to stave off the mechanical monster in Haydn’s final movement,(Sonata in Eb Hob.XVI:52) but without success, until I carefully examined the harmonic outline of the Bass part as the organizer of Treble fast melody.

The “dips” that are part of harmonic resolutions–like Dominant to Tonic, and the longer approaches to cadences (resting points) from phrase to phrase, gave me a grouped sense of the notes above, without stealing their individual identity. It amounted to the happy paradox of playing well-shaped lines that sprang from notes cushioned in harmony as they robustly sang out their solos.

The video below tracks the journey.

Haydn sonata in E Flat Hoboken 52

blog, blogger, blogging, blogging about piano, classissima, classissima.com, ear training, El Cerrito, El Cerrito California, Facebook, Facebook friend, Fur Elise, Fur Elise by Beethoven, harmonic rhythm, How to practice Fur Elise, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, keyboard technique, learning piano, legato playing at the piano, Lillian Freundlich, Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich, mental imagery, mind body connection, mindful piano practicing, mindful practicing, molto cantabile, molto cantabilie, MTAC, MTAC.org, music, music and heart, music education, music teachers association, music teachers association of california, musical phrasing, musical phrasing and breathing, New York City, New York City High School of Performing Arts, Oberlin, Oberlin Conservatory, pianist, pianists, piano, piano addict, piano blog, piano blogging, piano blogs, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, piano playing, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano playing and the singing tone, piano recital, piano restoration, Piano Street, piano student, piano study, piano teacher, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano virtuosos, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing piano with expression, playing the piano, playing the piano with a singing tone, practicing difficult piano passages, practicing piano with relaxation, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, shirley s kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, shirley smith kirsten blog, slow mindful practicing, slow piano practicing, Steinway M grand, Steinway M grand piano, teaching a piano student about melody, teaching an adult student, the ideal piano lesson, the vocal model for pianists, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Irina Morozova’s inspiring words flow through a lesson with an adult student (Beethoven’s Fur Elise-in-progress) Video

“From watching great pianists it is obvious that they incorporate quite different movements to achieve the same goals, because people do not play piano with fingers but rather with the mind and the ear. Again, it is the clear image of what kind of sound one wants to achieve, combined with the knowledge of how to get it….”

To frame a lesson with these ideas, helps to infuse it with the spiritual, analytical, and nonverbal elements of exchange.

Within this paradigm, one of my adult students continued her study of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” (C section, treble chord voicing with bass tremolo)

LINK:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

Baroque era music, Chopin, Chopin Nocturne in F Major Op. 15 No. 1, classissima, classissima.com, harmonic analysis, harmonic rhythm, how to boos piano technique, Martha Argerich, pianist, pianists, piano, piano instruction, piano instructor, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano lessons and parental support, piano masterclasses, piano pedagogy, piano playing and breathing, piano playing and phrasing, piano playing and relaxation, piano practicing, piano repertoire, piano repertoire for intermediate level students, piano student, piano students who drop out, piano studio, piano teacher, piano teachers, piano teaching, piano teaching repertoire, piano technique, piano technique and the singing tone, piano tutorial, piano world-wide, Pianostreet.com, pianoworld, pianoworld.com, playing piano, playing the piano, publishers marketplace, publishersmarketplace, publishersmarketplace.com, Romantic era music, Romantic era piano repertoire, Romantic music, Scarlatti Sonatas, Scarlatti Toccata in d minor k. 141, Seymour Bernstein, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, shirley s kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, shirley smith kirsten blog, Steinway M grand piano, Steinway piano, Teach Street, teaching piano, trills, Twenty five Progressive pieces by Burgmuller, videotaping a piano performance and self analysis, videotaping at piano lessons, whole body listening, whole body music listening, With your own Two Hands by Seymour Bernstein, word press, wordpress.com, You and the Piano Seymour Bernstein, You and the PIano Seymour Bernstein on You Tube, you tube, you tube video

Practicing knotty piano passages, and tips on how to avoid fatigue while boosting technique (Videos)

At my You Tube Channel site, I routinely pick up comments daily, and the majority center on piano technique. While I lay no claim to being an expert in this complex universe, my trial and error practicing over decades has come with insights that I enjoy sharing.

Earlier today, I’d noticed the following note posted at my site that referred to a devilish strings of repeated notes found in Scarlatti’s D minor Toccata, K. 141:

“My God!

“I can’t believe I’ve found this video—I’ve been killing myself trying to loosen up my 3-2-1 repeated notes for this EXACT piece!

“You’ve helped me to try out new ideas because I was about ready to give up as I no longer take lessons and kept tensing up. I just couldn’t figure out just how to fix myself.”

He referenced one of my comments in passing.

“You mentioned getting fatigued doing the repeated notes later on in the piece…do you think that no matter how loose you are you will eventually get somewhat fatigued by the end of this piece?”

***

Naturally, I answered his final question, emphasizing the dangers of over-practicing knotty passages, especially those with redundant motions that could cause an overuse injury.

It becomes quickly apparent that if you keep playing 3-2-1 repeated note combinations for hours on end, even if you execute them with a supple wrist and relaxed, flowing arm, the oxygen to the cells is going to give out at some point.

Veda Kaplinksy, a Juilliard School Professor of Piano, had driven this point home loud and clear in one of her media interviews.

From ingesting her words of wisdom, it followed that a player should know when it’s time to take a breather. A few hours or more of needed break time would allow the muscles a period of rest and repair.

In the meantime, I had revisited two of my posted videos that might help those agonizing about those time-worn, bummer sections that required renewed fuels of relaxed energy.

The first dealt with those dizzying repeated notes in the Domenico Scarlatti Toccata and how to approach them. I used Martha Argerich as my role model, watching her motions as she generated perfectly formed scads of them. It looked like she was sweeping or dusting the keys.

You can be sure after watching the You Tube video following mine, that her arms, wrists, and hands were very relaxed to pull off such an amazing performance!

In my second instruction, I used Burgmuller’s “La Chasse” as a springboard to explore ways of dividing the hands to advance articulation as well as an effective crescendo in an Allegro vivace frame.

After the introductory measures, I examined the repeated broken octaves in staccato and how to play them easily without tiring.

**
Amidst this whole terrain of practicing passages that require redundant motions with regular infusions of supple wrist-generated energy, I noted my last night’s revisit of Chopin’s Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15, No. 1.

Having already exhausted everyone’s patience obsessing over the “killer” MIDDLE SECTION, I still enlisted it as a potential overuse injury stimulant–that is, if rest and repair breaks were not taken, one’s hands could feel like they were about to fall off.

But before I was completely shut down at my sixth playing, I preserved the first, and uploaded it to You Tube, feeling some progress had been made.

There will be further attempts to unshackle the death-defying mid-section as time permits.

LINKS:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/a-dreaded-killer-middle-section-of-a-chopin-nocturne-and-how-to-deal-with-it-f-major-op-15-no-1-videos/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/accept-where-you-are-in-your-piano-studies-know-your-limitations-but-still-strive-to-improve-video/