Tips on playing piano songs, in this article suggestions on how to play Fur Elise is discussed and why the importance of acquiring agility and flexibility in the fingers is emphasized
The value lies in the process, the end result is a by-product. Countless times have I uttered those words when fatigue and frustration in learning new piano songs begin to overwhelm. In moments such as these it is a good idea to retreat a few steps backwards and re-evaluate what you are doing before pushing forward again.
The realization struck me like a bolt of lightning. Before I can ever play a song well, I need to practice – not exactly an earth shattering discovery. The true insights are the goals of practicing; playing in the right tempo, gaining smoothness, clarity and expressiveness.
One of the goals of practicing is to be able to play in the right tempo. When should one attack the keys on the piano?
I said ‘attack’ because tempo originated from the Latin word tempus; a fencing (sword fighting) term describing the timing of an attack.
The definition of tempo in modern English is; the speed at which a passage of music is or should be played [reference: Oxford Dictionary of English, Copyrights of Oxford University Press 2010, 2017]]
As a case study, let’s take a look at Fur Elise. It has a 3/8 time signature, which is a relatively fast paced song tempo-wise. Three half beats in a bar is almost a sprint, more so when semiquavers are all that fill the bars, as evident in the first phrase of the song as shown in Image 1. In it, obviously, bars in the first phrase are dominated by semiquavers.
Personally, I consider songs that are played in 60 crotchet beats a minute as moderately paced. Fur Elise’s first has to be played three times faster. Agile and flexible fingers are a prerequisite to executing such musical phrases.
As with any song, it is best to start practicing hands separately, very slowly, usually with the RH first. Lift the fingers high and independently. Meaning to say, ensure that the fingers are not gummed up.
Now is a good time to emphasize practicing this way because it will result in your fingers acquiring the agility and flexibility needed. When you do start playing up to speed the tendency of gummed up fingers can be consciously and deliberately prevented.
Possessing agile and flexible fingers make available assets integral in expressing and articulating music as intended by the composer.
For example, let’s go back to Image 1.
Notice the Italian term ‘poco moto’. It is a tempo direction literally translated as ‘with motion’. Music historians and scholars are of the divided opinion that since the song was not published during Beethoven’s lifetime it was not him who wrote the instruction, therefore it can be neglected.
However the instruction is meant for pianists to play the bar ‘not too fast but a bit slower’. When put together with the rest of the phrase, the subtle contrast in tempo infuse an extra layer of tone making it all the more attractive to listen to. Such seduction through piano music is made possible by she who plays with agile and flexible fingers.
Pianissimo…is it a coincidence it too is indicated near the vicinity? One (poco moto) was a tempo direction, now we see an instruction on the sound production. Somehow it makes sense – to be played not too fast but a bit slow, very softly.
Producing such a sound is a lot more challenging because of the tremendous amount of control needed and judgment required on how little force should be exerted. To put it in perspective if I was to play ‘forte’, more or less I could just pounce away at the keys and not be mistaken.
Again, the fingers hold the key. Regular fingering exercises, lifting each high and independently develop them into agile and flexible apparatus that you can control to generate soft soothing sounds when appropriate and loud thunderous roars upon necessity.
...“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” - Abraham Lincoln.
The former president who won the civil war and united a nation was talking about the importance of preparation before setting out to do something. Playing a song well on the piano requires preparation too.
The time that I have to practise the piano is limited. Every practise session is precious to me, so I jealously guard the time that I have for practising. I switch off my phone to deny distractions, fight the temptation to make visits to the refrigerator every 15 minutes and eat enough food to give me strength to practise continuously for two hours - small things that have had a huge impact on the effectiveness of my practise sessions...learn to play more piano songs well, read the full article>>>
Beethoven’s sonata and other piano songs sprinkled with playing markings and chords progressions are a challenge to play, get tips on how to do just that in this article.
...Confronted with a leviathan of a piece such as Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.30 in E Major, the task of playing the notes accurately alone in the specified time signature is already a daunting one. Therefore, I have always taken the liberty to temporarily ignore the playing markings at first, returning to them after I could play through the piece well enough.
By doing so, I am able to study the playing markings in-depth, experiment with varying touch, speed and articulation. I have held on to the opinion that the playing markings are what make a composition ever more seductive, like icing on a cake makes it sweeter. Executing the playing markings to perfection is the all-important intellectual part of piano practice...learn to play more piano songs well, read the full article>>>
Renowned concert pianist Bobby Chen gave a classical piano songs recital in Penang recently, performing works by some of the greatest composers such as Haydn, Schubert and Lizst.
...As the music flooded the expansive space of the auditorium hall, it was clear we were about to witness something special. The heightened suspense from the anticipation caused a shiver to race down my spine, the effect was also apparent on the rest of the crowd as they listened intently, eyes closed - the seduction was complete. He had us.
The next work on the programme was from Schubert. Before he began performing, Bobby talked about how Schubert was such a prolific composer. All he did was wrote music.
Schubert wrote almost 1000 compositions. These include seven symphonies, 21 sonatas and short dances. He did not limit his work to just writing piano solos either, he left behind a rich treasure trove of compositions for piano duet as well. Additionally, 30 chamber works and five operas survived to this day and are performed frequently by pianists worldwide...learn to play more piano songs well, read the full article>>>
One can play with magic and artistry at any level by playing the piano songs in legato, controlling the tempo and understanding its musical structure
“You can play with magic and artistry no matter at what level” – Joan Mary Last, piano teacher.
...Controlling the tempo when playing the piano in itself is an art form. Because of tempo’s evolving nature, before you can control it you shall need to find it. What I would usually do is to start thinking melodically. I would look at the notes and ask myself how would I sing it. Singing it out loud enables me to hear the rhythm and get a sense of the tempo. Listening to a recording works as well. After that it is only a matter of practicing to get familiarized with the overall movement of the song.
Thoroughly acquainted with the song that you will know to sink your fingertips into the key bed to express ‘dolce’ or play deeply into the keys for a stronger sound at ‘fortissimo’ and my favourite part of playing the piano; during key changes that provide the opportunity to showcase dynamic awareness by initiating a phrase in a hushed tone to gradually increase it to forte playing at an incrementally faster pace as I move towards the end of the phrase...learn to play more piano songs well, read the full article>>>
When playing piano songs, how important is musical flair compared to pianistic skills and how do you go about acquiring it? The answers and more explained in this article.
...The tones were presented in a palette of colors, from hushed to forte reproducing the notes on the printed page and simultaneously pulling the rhythm around to make Brahms sing in a manner that his music’s meaning just come through no matter from which country you are from or what language you speak.
Invoking the questions; how important is musical flair compared to pianistic skills and how do you go about acquiring it?...learn to play more piano songs well, read the full article>>>
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably does not lead anywhere” – Frank A. Clark
...The obstacles towards finding the path towards the bird’s eye view of a piano song lay in the length of the song, level of technical difficulty and the piano students’ proficiency. Tackle each of them at a time, incrementally the obstacles will eventually be overcome.
Divide and conquer to gain dominance. A lengthy song can always be divided into smaller sections, even when learning a one page song it is best to divide it into shorter portions making them easier to master...learn to play more piano songs well, read the full article>>>
Master piano songs by overcoming the hurdles of maintaining a repertoire, sound production, fingering control and coordination... Learn to play piano songs well, read the full article.
Chords are what define the persona of piano songs most profoundly, in this article tips on how to play them well are given, as well as explanation on the importance of absorbing the musical context of a piece...Learn to play piano songs well, read the full article.
As they say, variety is the spice of life, add some in your piano exercises to make practicing the piano songs more exciting through advance planning, adding variety to the contents of practice and taking the occasional breaks...Read the full article.
Minims, crotchets, quavers, and semiquavers and each have their own duration of how long they are to be played. The duration of notes are known as beats...Learn to count them to play piano songs better, read the full article.
Our daily rituals determine the kind of person we become. A successful person or whatever else there is. It applies to aspiring pianists too. Adopt these rituals to make yourself a good one. Learn to play piano songs well, read the full article.