Piano songs that are musically satisfying are rendered through the use of the sustaining pedal combined with legato play achieved by the hands
Performing for an audience is something a pianist thinks about. Even a closet pianist like myself thinks about it. Playing for my own pleasure or self-satisfaction is just not fulfilling enough once I have reached a certain level of proficiency on the piano.
The wish to perform for an audience has been on my mind for years. Thus, I began to ponder how do I play my most amazing piano to make the listener like it, her attention more intense and interest more passionate?
We have heard of the overly used phrase that sometimes life imitates art. I found the opposite to be true when searching for the answer to my question in the paragraph above. Often the answer to the most pressing questions in life lies in plain sight. Apparently so too do the answers to questions about piano music - achieving beauty in performance lie in simplicity and naturalness in expression. Art imitates life.
A readily available apparatus useful to the pianist to help him express naturally the music he is playing, is the sustaining pedal. Its mechanism lifts the damping mechanism off the strings, allowing them to vibrate freely.
‘Un-played’ strings are prevented from doing so when you are not pressing on the pedal. Pressed, their vibration results in a subtle richness and sonority to the sound you are making. Using it too much blurs notes unnecessarily, too little cause discontinuity in the musical phrase.
When you step on the pedal and flip it up and down in quick succession, previously held notes are released and new ones are held. To accomplish the desired naturalness in expression, hold the pedal down to sustain a note, remain on that note until just after you have played the next note on which the pedal is released. The action blurs the two notes together for a pleasing acoustic effect.
I attempted it on the phrase taken from Rondo Alla Turca shown in Image 1 below to a delightful outcome.
Remember that by making use of the pedal, you are allowing the ‘un-played’ strings to vibrate, but a smooth connection from one note to another, the legato still depends on the hands.
So even when you have the luxury of blurring two notes together through the use of the sustaining pedal, use the hands to join notes together. This is achieved by staying put on a key until the last moment before lifting the finger off it to play the next one.
Since we time the lift off the key according to the rhythm, the brain needs to be programmed regarding which finger to lift. Therefore, once you have decided on the fingering stick to it so that the automation process can take place.
An aspiring piano student should aspire to perform. Even for a small audience of close family members and friends. Not to seek approval or admiration, but to raise your piano playing to a higher level. Technique can be improved practising alone, but to burn the hearts of men with the music from your piano playing requires having an audience.
The combination of the use of the sustaining pedal with the smooth connection of notes in legato by the hands results in a rendition that is satisfying musically and engaging emotionally.
Do a quick flip of the pedal with your feet to blur two notes together to get an instant yet pleasing sound - complemented by the rhythmically joint notes achieved by the hands, produce a legato phrase from which the music conjured up by the pianist’s imagination and emotion becomes a performance.