Decipher the mechanics of piano songs, then execute them without compromise to break away from the mediocre into the outstanding
Between the melody and accompaniment, the former has more gravity. I can pretty much get the song from the melody alone. It is not so with the accompaniment. Within the melody itself, chords are the spine of the music while the single notes are paddings or fillings. Knowing this changed my whole perspective in viewing a composition, I have always thought of chords as if they are ornaments. Silly me.
Seeing the score from this new perspective, the phrase shown in Image 1 presents a valuable opportunity to develop skills in articulation further. The phrase reaches the E at the middle of the staves in a descending sequence. Articulate it in a diminuendo, when finally arriving on the E, linger there a little longer. Why?
Because the next notes will be chords which are, as I recently learned the spine of the music. So I wanted to create an effect of; as if one is holding her breath before making an appearance on stage to give the performance of her life. The chords are the main attractions, the stars of the show.
Practicing with actual compositions rich in artistic contents such as the ones described in the above paragraphs allowed me to work on getting the subtlest nuance correct. An invaluable experience once accomplished became a part of me and is never lost. It could then be applied to other piano songs I learn in future.
On the contrary, exercises devoid of artistic contents offer no such opportunity. As a result, the rendition is uncertain. I would only be playing for the sake of just playing without any clear goals. Set clear aims and tasks, never deviating from them until they are fully achieved to eventually deliver a performance that hypnotizes the listeners, satisfies the hearts and nourishes the minds.
In the example shown in Image 2, it goes without saying that the crescendo should be played in a binding legato. The notes joined together by the hands and not solely depending on the sustaining pedal, even if you were to use them. A binding legato can be attained by lifting the fingers off the keys at the last moment just after hitting the next one. And do it rhythmically, by lifting on the “and”. The illustration in Image 2 provides an idea of how I usually do it.
Apply the lateral movement of the wrists, combined with the circular motion of the arms to bring to fruition a smoothly connected legato phrase. Besides making use of the lateral freedom provided by the movement of the wrists and the arms’ circular motion, strong fingers are also needed.
If like mine, your fifth finger happens to be weak, the phrase in Image 3 coincidentally is suitable for practicing to build its strength. With the thumb on D put the fingers in place. Press down fingers 1,2,5 and only play fingers 3 and 4, as shown in Image 3 below.
Another variation is with the thumb on C, press down fingers 1,2,3 and only play fingers 4 and 5.
It is through the deciphering of the mechanics of the piano songs such as; the lingering on a note a little bit longer before executing a chord or delivering a phrase in a binding legato at the appropriate occasion that I have been able to learn something useful.
Looking at a musical score, regardless of its origin, each tiny nuance within a phrase has to be rendered in a certain way. I make it my aim to understand and play them accurately without compromise because indeed, this is what separates the average performance from an outstanding one.