Deliver piano songs in flowing time by identifying their musical ideas, connecting notes seamlessly through the use of the wrists up down and lateral movement
Eyes glued to the written score, mind busy trying to place the notes where they belonged on the keys of the piano, I found myself diverted from the task at hand. Instead I caught myself playing one note at time. As a result, the passage sounded disjointed. Absent was the flow of notes that is flexible and alive.
The goal is to is to deliver a set of musical idea after another in a smooth flowing time. Not one note after another in discreet time. To do so identifying each set of the musical ideas that exist in a composition comes first. Example shown in Image 1 below.
One set of musical idea is then practiced as a unit until tone, tempo an articulation had been perfected enough that it is conveyed clearly. This would not be possible if I had continued to practice note by note, missing the complete picture of the phrase. Not even being aware of the musical idea the phrase was meant to convey.
For a musical idea to be conveyed clearly, notes that make up groups of notes in a phrase are to be connected seamlessly. To do so, connect the notes using the hands instead of relying on the sustaining pedal by lifting the fingers off a key until the last moment once the next key has been pressed.
On repeated notes, consider substituting the fingers used to play them to make a graceful connection with the next notes that come after, which may need to be very soft. I had been putting such fingering options into practice when playing some of Czerny’s exercises, one of which is shown in the example below.
The result is, because I selected a fingering combination that is natural I was able to articulate the phrase clearly without lifting the finger off the repeated note after its last press therefore connected the sound to the sound of the next notes smoothly. Tone of the sound of the next notes came off as soft as intended because of the better control over touch afforded by the fingering combination.
In addition to the selection of natural fingering combinations, better control over touch could be achieved through the use of the wrists. The wrist is capable of 2 movements, up down and side to side. Apply the up down movement of the wrists to regulate momentum as the fingers near the keys before touching them – just before impact. As a result, the force at which the fingers hit the keys is regulated therefore the tone produced is fine tuned. With this method tone ranging from pianissimo to tenuto to fortissimo are conjured under strict tonal quality control.
When reaching for keys further away, arms have to be extended to reach them. But when reaching for keys located very nearby to each other merely opening the palms wide and extending the fingers is enough. However, to press the keys making use of the side to side movement of the wrists is needed to drive the hands down on the keys and sink them to produce the desired sound.
It is the side to side movement of the wrists and its rotary movement enabled by rotating the forearms that generate enough momentum for the fingers to drop on the keys with adequate force to move the hammers that strike the strings inside the piano.
Piano songs are played in flowing time in which musical ideas flow in a cascade of uninterrupted stream that is alive and breathes with the music. Not one note after another in discreet time. Therefore, to play in flowing time each musical idea has to be identified. Their notes connected seamlessly. Rely on the fingers not the sustaining pedal to connect the notes, select natural fingering combination to make it smooth. The wrists’ up down and side to side movement provide maneuverability for the hands to produce diverse tone through better control of touch.