Piano Exercises - Profit more from practising

[1]- Piano Exercises - Profit more from practising: #1 - Add color to it

Mr.Sims is a colleague of mine at work. He has been the procurement manager at the company for over thirty years. He is quiet a comical old man, unreserved with his humour and indifferent to what others think of him. Knowing that he is nearing retirement age, his antics have become more outrageous in recent years. For the past several weeks we have had to endure his obsession with the end of world which he believes will occur in the first quarter of this year.

Yet, according to over a billion Chinese on this earth who are celebrating the Lunar New Year as we speak, this year promises to be a more profitable year for our lives as it is the year of the dragon.

Our piano playing progress should not miss out in taking advantage of the good fortune associated with the year of the dragon either.

So ask yourself, “How can I profit more from my piano exercises?”

Answer : Enrich the the tone that you are coaxing out of the piano by adding color to it.

Say what? “I am playing the piano not painting!” you might ask.

After practising several piano exercises for a few months, you would have discovered by now that the piano can produce tones of different quality, some loud (forte) some soft (pianissimo).

On certain occasions they are agitated – happy and uplifting – tones that make you feel grateful to be alive listening to such sparkling music. At other times, slow progression of notes in the lower octaves depicts moods of sadness and solitude.

This is what it means to add color.

You can do it too. Have faith and believe in yourself, coz I’m gonna tell you how.

That elusive singing tone that captivates an audience which we all desire to create is determined by the speed at which the hammer travels to strike the strings after a key is struck. This mechanism is of course unseen to us because it happens inside the piano.

Aiding it is the advancement of technology in piano making. Applying cold-press process to manufacture the hammers of the piano has improved the dynamic response in the instrument - thus enabling sharper contrasts and tonal variations in its sound.

Understanding how the mechanism works can help us adjust the touch of our fingers on the keyboard for them to create the spellbinding tones full of variety and color.

What the fingers need to do is; start with having contact with the keys - as in do not strike the keys from the air.

With the fingers curved and hands arched, use the weight of your arm to press the key and gently draw out the tone from the piano.

The weight of the arm transfers the energy to the fingers to create the tone. Controlling and varying the amount of energy transmitted is how it is brushed in a variety of color.

[2]- Piano Exercises - Profit more from practising: #2 – Know your theory

Playing or performing is a practical endeavour, while theory requires less physical exertion and more brain power. However it is not wise to think of them as separate. Having adequate theoretical knowledge of the music and piano exercises you are playing reinforces your playing prowess.

To a greater extent, instead of hammering away on the keyboard aimlessly, I have found that practising a song on the piano with the theoretical concepts of the music in mind to be much more gratifying.

For example, understanding a key signature and being able to predict the appearance of accidentals in a musical phrase has helped me to be ready for the melody to rise in pitch or suddenly drop in tone. The knowledge makes it possible for me to add the appropriate emotions in the interpretation of the song I am playing.

The theory behind the music has a great impact on the way it is stylized and expressed. The results from your piano practise promise to show a striking positive difference when knowledge of the music theory is supplementing it.

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