When I am in the zone, I can practise a piano song for two hours straight, three weekday days in a row – which is quiet an achievement because I can only practise at night after work. That rarely happens though because sometimes a piece is so difficult I am forced to stop after an hour and continue practising the next day.
Val Del Recuerdo is an exception.
A romantic piano song seems to agree with me. Unlike a classical piece that can have me stymied for months, the bars and phrases of a romantic piece always falls into place when I practise them.
Having said that though does not mean I do not enjoy playing classical piano songs, by all means I love them. They just take a lot more effort to master.
After being pinned down by a large sonatina for almost four months, I was given Val Del Recuerdo to to learn as a relaxation exercise. My teacher also told me that it is a warm-up piece in preparation for long romantic piano song she plans to assign to me next. Can’t wait.
To her astonishment, I played the song almost to perfection (there are always some minor mistakes) the next time we met at lessons. The hard work I put into practising the song far from her view did not escape her, “You worked really hard….Didn’t you?”
I did and here was how.
The opening of the song is initiated in the bass clef using the left hand, while the right hand remains idle - quieted by rests for the first three bars. Inject lots of emotion into the opening phrase as it demands a show of your expressions at play as indicated in the music score.
Accomplishing such a task may not be so difficult given that fact that the opening phrase requires us to make a long jump from the “A” two octaves lower from middle “C” to the one an octave lower from it and continuing on with the final four notes that make up the phrase.
Long jumps calls for big arm movements to reach the keys, you can take advantage of that to add some dramatic expressions with your arms and body while doing so. The results are not merely optics, the touch of the keys are also influenced from your body’s motions generating more contrasting effects in the sounds produced.
Watching all the action taking place from the sideline is no fun. The right hand wants to join the party too. As soon as it does, a bar of repeated Es call for alternating fingers to hit them. There is a difference when you hit repeated notes with the same finger and alternating the fingers. One is the added pleasure in playing and another is the resulting contrast in dynamics.
By assigning a different finger to the first, second and third time you hit the same note enables each finger to remember how strong it has to hit the key, how fast it should lift off of it and smoothen the journey to the next musical phrase.
This is why when you see a repeated noted with different fingering guidance numbers beneath it try to adhere to them - resist the temptation to take the easy path by playing with the same finger. Continue reading part 2 of 'Piano Song - Val Del Recuerdo'.