Piano songs - Canon in D

Posses the piano songs before being able to play them by absorbing them in practise, apply this ability to developing the technical skills to play chords


Never one who has been able to sit at the piano and play piano songs I have never played before, just by looking at the written score. I used to think it was because my sight-reading was weak. That is true to some degree, but more importantly the reason was I was not in possession of a song spiritually. I was not carrying it in my mind, keeping it in my heart or hearing it with my inner ear.

Absorbing the piano songs


I have always thought improvement in piano practise was all physical. By practising the fingers become stronger, a better sense of where the keys to the notes are located is gained so improvement could be seen.

KEY POINTS:

  • What? – Possession of piano songs
  • Why? – Reproduce through inner hearing
  • How? – Absorb through practise

However, with repetition in practise, each musical note, bar, phrase, and passage infiltrate into one’s existence. They permeate the spirit, mind, and heart. You begin to hear them with your inner ear. Thus, able to reproduce them. Sometimes on a bad day, when my playing was just awful, I tell myself that it is not me that is performing poorly but the music needs time to enter my soul. Keep playing. Tomorrow will be better.

As a result, I have been making steady progress learning to play Canon in D. It has been an obsession of mine to be able to play this song for years. Being a slow learner on the piano I was reluctant to ask my piano teacher for guidance because it would disrupt our regular lessons too much. I embarked on learning the song on my own. Ever since I realized that I needed to give the song time to get absorbed, I have been able to overcome some difficult passages. Such as the one shown in Image 1 below for example.

The spine of piano songs


Chords have long been the weak point in my piano playing. As a beginner with zero background in music I wondered why they were needed at all. As my music knowledge grew after learning to play more compositions, I began to see that chords are the spine of the music, while single notes act as paddings. As best as I can recall, in most compositions I have learned to play, the peak of the climax in the ebb and flow of the music are expressed through chords.

KEY POINTS:

  • What? – Chords
  • Why? – Spine of a song
  • How? – Strong fingers. Layering the notes

Therefore, it is a crucial technical skill required to express a song properly. A 3-note chord is a good place to start practising, ACE for example. With the fourth finger pressed on D and the second finger pressed on B, play ACE one at a time. Meaning to say, press A with the thumb then lift it off the key, then press C with the third finger then lift it  off the key and finally E with the fifth finger then lift it off the key.

After several rounds, press ACE together simultaneously while lifting the second and fourth fingers off B and D.

This exercise prepares you to play any combination of notes as chords. So, practise it regularly to build a strong foundation. More independent fingering combination could then be developed. For example, the upper pair by playing DE with the fourth and fifth fingers while the rest of the fingers are pressed down on ABC.

Or the lower pair by playing AB with the thumb and second finger while the rest of the fingers are pressed down on CDE. And a diagonal pair by playing AC with the thumb and third finger while the rest of the fingers are pressed down on BDE. Try other possible combination.

The sound of the notes within a chord can be layered. This result in a chord with a textured delicate sound as opposed to a loud set of notes struck together. To do so, first play the upper note such as E strong, with the hand in position, lightly touching but not pressing the remainder of the keys to the notes in the chord.

Once the upper note had been pressed, play the remainder of the notes silently or softly. Bring the two events closer together. Event 1; upper note played strong and Event 2; remaining notes played soft. Finally playing them simultaneously. Consequently, a chord which its upper note sounds more pronounced over the rest is produced.

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