Listen to the vibration of the strings to hear the decay of the sound in piano songs and build strength in the fingers to project artistic image
During practice last night, I remembered to heed my own advice to listen to the vibration of the strings as they diminished in intensity. Hearing the sound dissipate into a whisper was a profound experience. It made me realize the extensiveness in the possibilities of tone production. I struck a 5-note chord, ‘roll’ing them as instructed in the composition. Since it was the end of phrase, I struck them softly to evoke a diminuendo effect, when I was holding the keys in fermata I noticed that it was the gradual softening of the tone as the vibration of the strings gradually weakened with the passing of time that made the sound as attractive as it was.
The ability to listen to the subtlest changes in tone paves the way to hear all the inner voices in a composition, not missing the smallest details of its writing. Resulting in an accurate projection of its artistic image. Thus, delivering a truthful rendition.
For example, as a beginner on numerous occasions I was caught increasing the tempo when increasing the volume of tone, although it should have been played as "crescendo ma non accelerando".
A common habit amongst beginners due to reflex. It took effort to separate crescendo from accelerando in my mind and not to automatically associate the two in my actions on the piano.
On such occasions, the ability to distinguish changes in the volume of tone helps to bring tempo of the piano songs to its proper speed.
It is an ability that can be developed through diligent practice. I did so by positioning all my 5 fingers of both hands on any 5 note chord, then lift high each finger one by one playing each key one at a time. Feeling the stretch and making certain the fingers reach the key bed while the hands remain loose and effortless. You can start in any key, personally I preferred to start with the scale of A minor because it has a black key in it, the F#. The reason is, a real composition almost always has notes in the black keys in them, so I might as well get used to it in practice.
Practise the scale for 2 octaves. Firstly, slow and soft. Then slow and slightly louder. Next slightly faster and soft. Then slightly faster and slightly louder. This was how I learnt to control tone and tempo deliberately.
Should you discover that your fingers struggled to execute the desired tempo and tone, train them to get stronger and become independent. One of the methods beneficial for such purpose is; staying with the scale of A minor, press all 5 fingers on D, E, F#, G, A. Press and hold the 3rd finger on F# and play the other notes around it. Next, press and hole G with 4th finger and play the other notes around it.
Combination of notes could also be pressed and held down, such as A and G using the thumb and the 4th finger while playing the other notes around them. Or using the index finger and the 4th finger to press and hold E and G, while playing the other notes around them. Exhaust all possibilities in the combination of notes that could be pressed and held down and play the other notes around them.
Take the time to listen to the vibration of the strings of the piano to hear the gradual decay of the sound. Make the distinction as the sound dissipates from moderato to pianissimo to complete silence. It is a sight ( or should I say “a sound” ) to behold. Apply your senses especially hearing to bring tempo to its accurate speed. Build strength and independence in the fingers to complement your sense of hearing in projecting a composition’s true artistic image.