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Piano performance: The moment of creation can be deceiving and how we can learn from video playbacks

I was telling a musical friend about the discrepancy between what we think we’re hearing during our own performances and what bears out in a review of our self-made recordings. This is why teaching and learning opportunities abound in comparing one reading to another by way of video/audio replays.

It’s not only our own playing than can grow in this process, but our students can directly benefit by hearing/watching themselves after rendering a well-studied piece.

One of my pupils, Claudia, who participated in the yearly Baroque Festival held in the Central Valley (my former area of residence) spent the better part of her lessons a few weeks before the event, recording her Bach Invention 13 (A minor) and C minor Prelude BWV 847 in my studio. And not only did she become aware of phrases that needed refinement, but I learned enormously from our collective critique.

Here are some examples of how this process played out:

Claudia recorded the C Minor Prelude, and separately the A minor Invention:

We reviewed both videos, and this follow-up lesson attempted to improve phrasing in both works.

I recommend this process as a teaching tool, but also as an individual enrichment of our side-by-side, ever-growing musical journey.