Piano songs - Canon in D

A skill a pianist should possess in playing piano songs is the ability to layer the notes in chords, develop this skill by first playing the upper note strong and rest soft.

Several years ago, I heard a speech that roughly went “Music makes the individual better, who will then make his family better, a better family makes the community better, a better community makes the state better…”

The part about music making the individual, family and community better made an impression on me that lasts to this day. The man who made the speech was a judge at a piano competition I went to see, he also conducted a fledgling orchestra made entirely of youngsters in their twenties who performed at the event’s closing ceremony during which he delivered those inspiring words.

Piano songs make the community better

It was in earlier times of my piano learning journey when I took the time to participate in the event. I was one of the contestants in the piano competition and performed badly because I was too nervous. I knew I would be, but I wanted the experience regardless of how embarrassing and painful it would be so took the plunge anyway. The experience was valuable, nonetheless.

To a musician even an aspiring one like me, who had barely scratched the surface of music, all knowledge is an experience. Watching other contestants performed on the piano, listening to the live orchestra at the closing ceremony and hearing the insightful speech were experience that entered my orbit of musical sphere. Now years later, had I not experienced the event, my piano playing would be a soulless and uninteresting one.

When I am struggling to fix a problem in playing the piano, for example executing a chord such as the one shown in Image 1 taken from Canon in D, it is not only my music making I am trying to improve but my community too because a better me the pianist results in a better community.

A realization that provided extra impetus in attempting to penetrate as deeply as possible into the phrase with the chords and the desire to reach the outer limits of my musical expressions.


Layering the chords in piano songs

The chords shown in Image 1 should be executed to perfection. First, they had to be broken into their fundamental elements. Meaning to say practicing the notes in the chords individually; in the case of a three-note chord EGB, first play the top note, B. But keep the fingers in position though not playing the other two chord notes, E and G. Let the fingers hover above the two keys. Then, resting at the bottom of the keys, EG, lift each finger one at a time and play them individually, while B remain pressed. Repeat three times.

Next practise in pairs. Several pairing combinations are possible such as diagonal pair, E and B, while G remain pressed. Upper pair G and B, while E remain pressed. Lower pair E and G, while B remain pressed. Exhaust all possibilities, the exercise build independence in the fingers.

A skill a pianist should possess in executing chords is the ability to layer the notes. Simply put, making one of the notes louder than the rest. Usually the top note. Develop this skill by first playing the upper note strong. While doing so, the hand and fingers are hovering in position above the other notes waiting. After the top note had been played strong, land the fingers on the remaining notes on the keys softly. If you can land on them in silence all the better.

Bring these two events closer together. The two events refer to; first playing the upper note strong, second landing the fingers on the remaining notes on the keys softly. The desired result is to finally play them simultaneously with only the upper note singing and the rest of the notes silent. A soft sound can be added to the remaining notes to complete the sound in which the top note of the chord is more pronounced over the rest.

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