Piano songs - Canon in D

Obtain unity of whole in piano songs by practising them in short sections for thirty minutes each day. Make incremental progress that leads to a solid rendition


Multitasking is a terrible way to do something if you want to be successful. There was a time when my piano teacher tried to make me learn 2 compositions at the same time. It made me confuse the notes of 1 composition with the other, mixing them up during play. Her intention was noble though; because I was very diligent in practise, she wanted to contribute more of her knowledge towards my development. But 2 compositions simultaneously was too much for my brain to process, I had to lower her expectations. The reason is my mind can only focus fully on one thing at any one time, otherwise, it gets distracted.

Lower expectation, optimum benefit
in practising piano songs


Not just hers, I also had to lower my own expectation in order to gain maximum benefits from my piano practice. If before I tried to finish learning 1 page of a composition within 1 week so that I can face my next lesson with confidence, now I limit myself to 1 bar a day.

KEYPOINTS:

  • What? - Unity of whole
  • Why? - Visualize a composition as a whole
  • How? - Apply to small sections then unify them

Because of the limited time I have for piano practise, only 30 minutes a day, completing a whole page is not possible. But the more significant reason is I wanted to absorb the artistry in the music not just repeating it.Attempting to become proficient playing 1 page within a week caused me to rush through the composition. Ignoring the tonal quality, dynamics, accelerations when appropriate and decceleration when demanded. It is more manageble to focus on these fundamental elements of music when the effort is concentrated on a narrow area such as on 1 bar.

 Consequently I could take my time to understand the connection and interactions between the notes in a bar, experiment with the markings should there be any, explore the range in tone production and challenge the limits of the tempo.

I have found that discovering the possibilities in music making 1 bar at a time to be more satisfying than forcing my way through a composition. It takes longer to finish a whole composition but each small progress made out of a 30-minute-session a day adds up into a beautiful rendition.

Unity of whole of piano songs


There is the matter of being able to see a composition as a whole. Meaning to say the pianist has a vision of all its musical elements such tone, tempo, artistic image and expression and able to articulate them seamlessly in a coherent manner to convey its message. Personally I have not been able to do so just by studying the composition on paper away from the piano although I have read that many can.

However I can unify a bar after several hours of practise accumulated over several days of 30-minute-session each day. Then, when I put the bars together to complete the composition, my execution is better guided by the foreknowledge of the tone, tempo, artistic image and expression gained from the hours of repeated practice. Thus achieving the unity of whole in the composition. 

 Unity of whole in the composition is achieveable once you begin to have an understanding of the composers’ style and spirit. To gain the understanding, spending time on the composer’s works is necessary. For example playing Rondo Alla Turca, Sonata K545, Minuet and etc if you want to understand Mozart. Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata, Adieu Au Piano and etc if you want to understand Beethoven.

Also, their music should be absorbed not merely repeated on the piano. I have felt that the absorption rate of success is higher when limiting myself to practising for 30 minutes a day learning just one bar. Unimpressive...absolutely, but after a month the resulting rendition surprised me for reasons already stated above.

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