Improve piano technique in 2 weeks : Day 9, 10 and 11 – Listen to a recording
Depending on the length of the song and the difficulties of the piano technique involved, it takes between a week to a month for me to be able to play a song completely from start to finish - with lots of mistakes along the way. Polishing it takes another week or two.
To get a sense of the rhythm of a song I am learning, I usually take a peek of a performance of the song available on YouTube. But I only do this once or twice before I even begin to actually play myself. I have always felt trying to play as well as the performers I see on TV or the internet to be too overwhelming.
But by concsiously reminding myself that I am watching the video or listening to the recording to absorb the rhythm of the piece I am striving to get better at, the whole process becomes less intimidating. Focus on the music you are trying to learn not the enviable performer behind it.
Improve piano technique in 2 weeks : Day 12, 13 and 14 - Secure the musical line
Listening to a recording will also expose you to the musical line of the song, how the phrases are connected and the way they move forward deeper into the song as it builds up towards a climax and winds down to its ending.
Really good analytical students may be able to picture the musical line just by looking at the score, I have to yet to achieve that mastery so I am grateful for YouTube.
It has helped me notice how my articulation of a song is different from how it should sound. As a matter of fact, to my dismay my the musical line of my rendition of Mozart’s Sonata K545 was unconnected at all, the phrases did not flow smoothly in an unbroken line of inspiring music. It was a messy attempt of what should have been an enjoyable tune.
Listening to the recording made that very clear and paved the way for me to secure the musical line.
Here is how it is done. First of all, I had to know the whole song. It means to be able to play it from start to finish. The tempo and rhythm are firmly played. Thanks to muscle memory the fingers and the arms are ready to move anywhere on the piano to execute the phrases in time.
Next, we put the pieces together to connect them in the intended musical line. What was preventing me from discovering it was my cold calculated playing. The piano is a wonderful musical instrument that can express joy, sorrow, sing, sparkle and dance.
I needed to channel my emotions and convey it through the song I was playing. I needed to play with my heart, bring out the composers meaning of the song. In essence, I had to enjoy the music I was struggling to create – stop worrying about making mistakes, quit being nervous about that string of semiquaver scales and calm myself. After six months of practise, my piano technique was already strong enough to conquer this song. Only the artistry of the music was left missing.
The musical line of a song is better connected by including dynamics at the proper locations, maintaining legato playing and coloring the phrases of the song with shades of varying tone.
They solve the problem of expressionless robotic playing. I realized that by attempting to produce a soft whispering tone when the score indicates piannissimo my body comes to life and moves closer to piano.
When I put in the effort to make the scale phrases louder as they ascend te keyboard, my shoulders swayed in tandem with my arms to the right as if dancing to the music they were helping to generate.