A couple of years ago, my piano teacher asked me to perform this piano song at our music school’s Christmas concert. To prepare for the performance I must have played the piece more than a hundred times.
Revisiting the piece, playing it for pleasure recently, I still find musical depths hidden between the quavers, ornamnents and even when I pause to observe the minim rests I am still discovering the rhythmic wonder of the piano song.
That is the reason why learning to play the piano was one of the best decision I have ever made in my life. The rush of ecstacy from rendering a song never fades, despite having played the song repeatedly many times before.
You can never practise a piano song enough. There are always more things you can work on to improve yourself. Skills such as articulation, conjuring the perfect tone and knowing how to blend in the proper dynamic changes to produce a flawless crescendo in a musical phrase are always a work in progress.
In bar 5, the first group of notes is like a sister to the opening bar of the song, more mature and settled but with obvious similarities. Their likeness is apparent in the grace notes that appear and the A,G repetition. Only that in bar 5, the second G is not repeated, instead an A takes it place and tied to the A preceding it. So, hold your finger on that key for while longer and let the A have its moment.
Even twin sisters have traits that make them different, so be aware that when playing A,G,A the G is a semiquaver not a quaver like in the first bar. Play the note quickly and move on to the A without slowing down to keep the momentum going forward.
You will need the momentum to help carry you through the next part of the bar. Here, there is something that we have to do that has not been done before so far in the song. Up until now, we have been playing mostly notes octave higher from middle C. For the first time in this piano song, we are now required to stretch the right hand to cross over from the higher notes to reach the A in the middle octave.
Then another novelty presents itself, a three note roll of E, A and C in the treble clef. The notes are to be played fast in quick succession continuously in a smooth flowing fluid legato.
Here is how to play the perfect roll:
When the first note of the roll is played, hold the finger playing it while the next note is pressed with another finger. Hold these notes too, while the final note in the three-note roll is played. Your fingers are lifted only after all the notes in the roll have been played. The result is a ringing sound that makes the phrase come to life after a leisurely run.
There are rolls placed at the end of a phrase or in many instances in the ending of a song – last beat of the last bar. In that case we play them softly and let the ringing sound tail off and fade away.
In this piano song the roll is the first beat of the bar and it is followed by still many notes, including a pair of chords. So there is no luxury to take a breather after executing the roll, you will have to consciously proceed to the D after it without missing a beat. Open the right hand to play the two note chord of A,E using fingers 1 and 5 and end this segment on the dotted crothet B with your index finger.
However the bar is not complete yet, although in my mind and in my interpretation of the song it has. I think the remaining two semiquavers in the bar as a new phrase. Land your fingers on them evenly using 3,2 and quickly drop your thumb on A. In contrast to the semiquavers A and G before it the A is a crotchet, so hold the key a bit longer.
Be cautious not to hold it too long though, you may be tempted to do so because many eager piano students have a tendency to neglect the rests. Such as the one we see here in the 7th bar.
Observe the semiquaver rest and then play the beautiful ascending phrase that breaks that momentary pause. The next bar brings the melody descending down again and stops with a minim B to finish the unveiling segment of ‘River Flows In You’. Continue reading part 3 of 'Piano Song - River Flows In You'.