Long note! Enigma of the piano sound. Talked about it with a young student. Listen! What does the sound do?
He is amazed: The sound goes away!
Me: That’s right. What if we push and squeeze – will that help?
He tries very hard: No! Does not help.
So, we decided not to do it.
Now, let’s listen to how it fades. Oh, it takes long time…… Yes, gone.
Can your ears ask you left hand to listen to that fading sound in the melody?
The ears have asked the left hand to listen politely to the melody’s long sound going away. The hand obliged. Guess what happened?
You guessed right! The balance improved! Now the melody can sing!
Oh, we will speak about the long note again many, many, many times.
An adult student, a young professional, studied cello seriously through her childhood, a beginner piano student. We spoke about the beauty of the long note. Being a cellist, it was fascinating for her to recognize that while on the cello she could sustain a long note and even make crescendo, on the piano the only thing she could do was to listen to how it fades. And once her ears have become drawn to the long note, everything in her playing changed: the balance, the phrase shaping, the flow – the long note taught her everything she needed to know.
A bright teenager working on a Haydn Sonata E flat major Hob. XVI-49. Much improved since last week. Nevertheless, she is too busy “doing” things. Lacking enthusiasm. I demonstrated the opening twice in the same tempo: first like a young person, second like a middle age one. She recognized her playing in my middle age demonstration. (By the way, she is fourteen). I asked: Do you want me to play in the same tempo but like an old person? She replied: No, no need, I got it. And she did!
Brahms, Sonata F minor. A talented professional pianist. Although we are online, the communication is very direct.
First movement. Please do not say everything at once. There is so much ahead of us, let us build it up. How often I refer to Rachmaninov’s point! That powerful culmination where all the elements meet! Don’ miss the point, do not give it away too soon. (Oh, it is so tempting, I know.)
What a joy this is to communicate with a sophisticated and mature musician.
Second movement. We agreed simplicity is a difficult and elusive challenge.
So much looking forward to the rest of the Sonata next time.
A transferred 9 yo. Started in May. All the lessons have been online thus far. Reviewing fundamentals. A new assignment for next lesson, relatively easy, all the tasks are familiar. After the preliminary analysis, the conversation goes this way:
I say “You know, I am a good teacher only if the student can do the familiar things without me. If I have to take care of the things we have already covered thoroughly, this means the student cannot do it without me, and therefore I am not a good teacher.”
Together, we take the inventory: the rhythm, the notes; ¾ makes us think about waltz, so the character is graceful; melody and accompaniment should be balanced, right? Right.
I say “Well, you will take care of all of these tasks because you know how, and after you play, you will give me a grade for my teaching, OK?”
I: “I am a good teacher only if you play well. So, you play and give me your grade for my teaching, OK?”
He: “ Hmmm… OK…”
Well, my friends, let’s wait for the next lesson and see what my grade is going to be. Please remember, I had been a straight A student my entire life, so I am kinda nervous…
Musical terminology party. We are reviewing musical terms, using them in the sentences such as “I was late for a school bus and running accelerando.” Then we decided to define each other in musical terms. I thought I would get maestoso serioso. But no! I got allegretto gracioso…
A transferred young student. Reviewing fundamentals. Shoulders need a lot of attention. Asking him about the mood of the peace. Through a chain of Socrates questions, we arrive to the description “dreamy”. We both like the word. I ask:” Think dreamy and play.” He did. I ask: “How were your shoulders?” He thinks intently and after a pause, replies” I honestly think they were good.” He is right! The shoulders were good. So, my next question: “How did this happen? We did not talk about the shoulders, (believe me, previously, we DID talk about the shoulders a lot, but they are stubborn – SG); instead, we talked about dreamy mood, and all of a sudden, your shoulders are good. How could this be?“
He thinks……. and then “May be the shoulders were dreamy, too?” I thought he was right. Dreamy shoulders. I like it.