It takes sacrifices, vast amount of time and energy and unconditional devotion to make a pianist. I do not mean to make a pianist such as a Lang Lang or a Martha Argerich, I am talking about you and me. Regular students who learn the piano because we love the music it creates.
Megastardom was never part of the plan. At least it was not for me. Inspite of such modest ambition, the effort it took to reach even Grade 5 on the piano has been enormous.
Sometimes I recall fondly the early days when I was just beginning to take piano lessons - making my way through traffic jams after work to practise at the music school everyday because I did not own a piano at home.
Fascinatingly though, it never felt like a struggle or a burden to me. I loved it. I even miss it sometimes when I think about it. The piano was a mystery to me at the time. Every new note I heard for the first time and every new key I hit for the first time was a novel experience. I go through the same experience now when I learn to play a new piano song.
It is true even at this very moment as I learn to play this piano song – ‘La Petite e’Toile’. The novelty of playing the stress notes that fill bar 9 of the piano song painted a smile on my face. Except for the C that begins the bar, the rest of the notes in it are all stress notes.
Play them short and detached but lesser than you would a staccato. That may sound a bit obscure to understand. So let me put it this way; when playing a staccato we would pluck the key hard and lift the finger away quickly.
When playing the stress notes in ‘La Petite e’Toile’, instead of plucking hard, just press them as you normally do on any regular notes but keep it detached and lift away gently. That is how you produce the individual chime of each stress note.
Marvel at the way your right hand dance on the piano keys as it makes the hop downwards from the C two octaves higher from the middle in bar 9, each stress note detached from one another. I thoroughly enjoyed the action my right hand was performing while playing this bar of the piano song, more so the romantic melody it was generating.
I guess every pianist have different milestones that calls for a celebration. While I am still struggling to make my hands run the scales of the piano like a tarantula on steroids when playing classical pieces, I am quite capable of depicting the proper mood of a romantic piano song.
The soothing chimes of stress notes that began in bar 9 would go on until the twelfth bar. In bar 9 and 10 they start their descent from C, but in bar 11 the descent starts from D and reverse direction to climb upwards instead in bar 12, enjoy the sudden change in the flow of this endearing melodic line.
To render the line perfectly, legato the first D in bar 11 which is not a stress note. Connect it with the D one octave higher which is a stress note as are the notes that follow while the phrase makes it descent.
Make each note stand out individually by playing them detached. If you look carefully, notice that some of them are tied. So how do you play stressed notes that are tied? – Hold them them down a bit longer before moving away gently, the most important thing is to remember to play them detached regardless.