Piano songs - Rondo Alla Turca

Conjure the image of piano songs to perform instead of just playing the. It can be done by deconstructing the composition into small elements. Focus on practising them as opposed to practising note by note from start to finish.

“The image conjured by imagination, emotion, inner hearing and aesthetic and intellectual understanding becomes a performance“ 

Told as such gets me all fired up to practise the piano. Not all teachers are as eloquent though, they mean to say the same thing when they tell you to ‘Play with your heart’ or ‘Feel the music’.  

More often than not, students are more concerned about improving technique than what their hearts need to feel - because of other distracting commitments such as the upcoming ABRSM examinations, regular school work and in my case the job.  

Teachers too, teach on a tight timetable having to move on to the next piano songs after a certain period. From my experience as a student, there was little attention given on conjuring the image that makes a performance. 

It is up to the students’ individual initiative should she happens to be a passionate enough student to look for answers to the question of how to deliver a performance that is fulfilling musically and engaging emotionally to her listeners. A performance that holds their attention and feeds them with an interpretation resembling food for heart and intellect. 

In my case, I began to put real effort into improving the performance aspect of my piano learning with the phrase shown in Image 1 below, from Rondo Alla Turca.


Piano songs as a whole and in detail

A composition should be studied as a whole and in detail. Its component, structure, main elements as in the melodic line and secondary elements as in the accompaniment dissected. In short, we have to deconstruct the composition.  

I did so practicing the phrase in Image 1 by holding the chord down while playing the accompaniment in the left hand. The benefit of practising this way is; the right hand is already in position throughout the time that the left hand is doing its work getting the accompaniment correct. Having completed its mission, the left hand is later joined by the right when it is opened up.

It can be done with any phrase that have chords in either hands or even both. Blocking one hand while the other practises its part. The lesson here is, to deconstruct a composition into smaller sections with recognizable patterns and practising those sections. Instead of practising note by note from start to finish.  

As a consequence, you will get a better feel of the harmonic progression plus a good exercise in memorization. Resulting in a thorough assimilation of the composition’s theme which leads to the conjuring of the image that becomes a performance.

Staying with one composer of piano songs for extended periods of time

Through the repetition of studying compositions as a whole as well as in detail, a piano student refines his vision of the artistic image of his performance. This vision becomes even sharper as he performs more songs from a broad repertoire of musical literature.  

Like me, a piano student tends to have a favourite composer whose songs he performs most often making him exceptionally good at conjuring the artistic image of these particular songs. Therefore, it is recommended to stay with one composer for an extended length of time studying their works to get a clear sight their artistic image. 

Decide to set upon achieving the goal of delivering an engaging performance to your listeners. Accomplishing it requires deconstructing a composition by breaking it down into small elements, then focus practising them instead of practising note by note from start to finish. A fine example on which this can be done is when learning to play phrases with chords in them. Hold the chords down while the other hand plays its part. Play the chords together with the other hand when ready. Through regular repetition and the longer you keep studying the works of a composer the clearer the artistic image becomes.

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