Mastering Piano Artistry-Each Note is a Jewel/Star

The Art of Piano Performance
The Art of Piano Performance

‘Each note in a composition should be polished until it is as perfect as a jewel…those wonderful scintillating, ever-changing orbs of light.  In a really great masterpiece each note has its place just as the stars, the jewels of heaven, have their places in their constellations.  When a star moves it moves in an orbit that was created by nature.

Great musical masterpieces owe their existence to mental forces quite as miraculous as those which put the heavens into being. The notes in compositions of this kind are not there by any rule of man.  They come through the ever mystifying source which we call inspiration.  Each note must bear a distinct relation to the whole…’

Vladimir De Pachmann

 Frédéric François Chopin the Artist

Chopin comes before us, then, as a man of extremely complex make-up, and there is no easy solution to the problems which his personality and the music through which it was expressed present to his modern interpreter.  One can only approach him by sweeping aside the clutter of trivial romantic legend which has accumulated around his name and his works.  When all the sentimentality, pathos, patriotic fairy-takes and garbled ‘memories’ have been cleared away he appears in simple dignity as Thomas Carlyle saw him in 1848-a great artist and ‘a noble and much suffering human being’.  He was more than any other musician of his period the ‘artist’ in that word’s most absolute sense.  His mind was never diverted from its single, absorbing preoccupation by any chasing after will-o’-the wisps in the field of literature, the visual arts, politics, social questions or abstract theorizing.   To some it will seem a weakness that he should have lived in a world of upheaval and rapid change without ever allowing himself to be ‘committed ‘or ‘engaged’, as our modern jargon puts it. Yet it was therein that his strength lay.  He was dedicated to the one task of exploring the world he new best -that of his own heart and imagination; and in giving shape to what he discovered within himself it turns out that he was embodying in his music those unchanging essentials of feeling which ordinary inarticulate humanity recognizes  but cannot express for itself.  In limiting himself to the piano he in no way crippled or tied down his genius, for by his natural affinity with his instrument he was provided with a sufficient outlet for the wealth of sensibility with which his double inheritance had endowed him…
Arthur Hesley

Piano Technique: Learning to Play Bach

Arioso7's Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

block head

Blocking techniques can help to solidify tricky passages in Bach’s A minor Invention (13), especially if intelligent decisions are made about landscaping broken chords with thumb shifts weaving through them. Examining measures 9 through 13 for example, I devised a blocking routine that helped me gain note security while contouring phrases with a supple wrist. In the practicing phrase I unraveled chord blocks as I followed my thumb’s journey through threads of arpeggiated figures.

Bach Invention 13 block m 9 on

Exploring harmonic rhythm/ modulations, etc. integrated with a “feel” for keyboard topography advances learning on tactile, cognitive and affective levels. Blocking groups of notes, unraveling them, and using rhythms such as the dotted-8th/16th figure advance accuracy and phrase-shaping.

All the aforementioned block/learning strategies have significantly assisted students who are studying this Invention.

Instruction:

Play through in tempo

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The Art of Fugue

The Art of Piano Performance

In order to analyze, appreciate and comprehend the musical form called fugue, one must first know the various elements that comprise a fugue.

Every fugue has its own individual characteristic, which display a full range of human emotions. From peacefulness and tranquility to anguish and despair. JS Bach used rhythms, motives as well as melodies and harmonic movement to capture all of these human emotions. Bach used the temperaments of the different keys to establish the mood of each prelude and fugue. These same tonalities are also clearly defined in his choral works as well. Bach was acutely aware of symbolism in art and religion and used it extensively in his works and was well aware of the subtle subliminal effect it has on the listener in addition to the harmonic progressions, melodic intervals, rhythmic motives and patterns.

Bach very adept in the understanding of numerical symbolism, used numerical codes…

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Your Piano Room Acoustics

Britannia Piano Auctions

The dimensions and layout of your piano room will undoubtedly have an effect on the overall sound. Have you ever listened to a piano that is too powerful for the room it is in?

Not only can it be deafeningly loud but it will often result in a poor quality of sound. As a rule of thumb larger pianos are built for larger rooms, this is because they possess qualities and characteristics that best present themselves in larger spaces. The mighty sound of a double octave run in the lower end of a concert grand would be lost in a typical houseroom as there is insufficient space for the sound to develop and resonate.

 

 

Remember large pianos are designed to move large quantities of air & produce comparably large sound waves. To do this they need to be housed in an appropriate sized room.

 

What Is The…

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In Praise of Slow Practice

Melanie Spanswick

There are so many different ways of practising the piano and whilst it’s relatively easy to identify those that are ineffective or plain incorrect, it’s much harder to establish fail-safe methods which will work every time on every piece. Many believe slow practice is of little use and can be distracting or even damaging, but if worked at regularly and accurately, it promotes a much more thorough approach. In fact, practising at very slow speeds employing total concentration can transform a pianist’s playing.

The first obstacle to successful slow practice is encouraging students and young pianists to view it as a valuable process. Many think it is a good idea in theory, but when it comes to practice time, it’s far easier (and more pleasant too) to play as usual; up to speed with the usual hesitations or errors. It takes vast amounts of discipline to play at a fraction of the speed, which is  no easy feat, but…

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Are Pianists the Super-Athletes of the World?

Learning Strategies for Musical Success

musical2
Physiologist Homer Smith cites skilled piano playing as one of the pinnacles of human achievement because of the “demanding muscle coordination of the fingers, which require a precise execution of fast and complex physical movements”. This remarkable human ability provides an insight into the power of the brain. Consider Frédéric Chopin’s popular but challenging Fantaisie-Impromptu. This work requires playing approximately nineteen notes per second. The performer must learn these notes to such an extent that conscious attention to them is virtually no longer necessary. This is the aim of any playing of music—to render the technical demand to an almost unconscious level. Daniel Levitin says, “Plain old memorization is what musicians do when they learn the muscle movements in order to play a particular piece”. Much of this repetitive practice routine is more or less an algorithmic task. There’s nothing particularly creative about learning the motor mechanics of a phrase…

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Study Piano Artistry in Boca Raton

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