Piano songs - Rondo Alla Turca

Chords in piano songs can be played up to speed incrementally just like single note phrases, with dynamics added the artistic image begins to take form.

Perhaps it is because I seldom drive my car faster than 70km/h, avoid the rollercoasters at carnivals and have never been able to hit a fastball at the batting centre. Not really a speed monster, am I?

Hardly surprising to see that I have been finding it challenging to get up to speed playing Rondo Alla Turca on the piano. More specifically when playing the chords.

Faced with a problem, the best thing I could do at the moment is to go back to basics. Deciding to resist the urge to force my way through them, I practiced each note in a particular chord in the song for example the one shown in Image 1 independently.


Gaining speed in playing
piano songs incrementally

How it is done is; first, press down the keys in the chord. Rest the fingers pressing them at the bottom of the keybed. Then, lift every finger one at a time to play each note in the chord. E with the thumb, followed by G with the middle finger and B with the pinkie in the example shown in Image 1 for instance. Repeating the process several times until I sensed that they were able to land on the keys firmly. 

With the same notes and keys from the same chord, I then did the exercise in pairs. As in, pressing down on B while lifting E and G. Continuing with pressing down on E while lifting G and B. It could also be done with a diagonal pair, meaning to say pressing down on G while lifting E and B. 

The more notes there are in the chord, more combination become available to try this with. Exhaust all possibilities to build independence in the fingers needed to execute chords well. Once independence is gained not much can slow me down in my quest towards getting up to speed.

Which brings us to the actual task of putting the pedal to the metal (it is a figure of speech meaning to push things forward as fast as possible, not to be confused with the sustaining pedal on the piano, a little explanation is in order to avoid confusion, just in case...)


Similar to any musical phrase, getting up to speed playing chords is done incrementally. Let us use the phrase in Image 2 as a reference. Play the chords quick-quick-slow in groups of 4 initially, expanding to groups of 8 later. After having those executed well enough, raise the level a notch further by playing a bar quick and the next bar slow as shown in Image 3 for example. Eventually one bar played quick can be expanded to two then three and so on and so forth.


Absorbing the artistic image of piano songs

Always remembering to absorb the artistic image of a phrase in piano songs, sprinkle some dynamics into the exercise by playing a bar slow and soft (piano) followed by quick and loud (forte) in the next. Even simple phrases should be played with expression, it is the compounded sum of the simple phrases that add up to complete a whole song. In such manner when the time comes, the idea, poetry and content of the whole song too can be projected with expression.

Chords can be made to sound more attractive, almost seductive by layering the sounds. Place the fingers on EGB, but only press down on B to play it strong. Then silently (without making a sound) press the keys of EG.

Bring these 2 events (Event.1- Press down on B to play it strong, Event.2 - Press the keys of EG silently) closer together until you can play them simultaneously. The outcome being only the upper note (the B) will sing while the rest (notes EG) stay silent. I will add a soft sound to EG later to produce a layered sound in the chord of EGB, in which the B sounds distinctly more pronounced.

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