How to End a Piece of Music

 

This is a very overlooked topic for many pianists. Ending a piece correctly is extremely important and is crucial to a great performance. While there is no one solution to the challenge, I will provide some tips on how to make your endings memorable.

 

For the example in the video above I use the Chopin Prelude in E Minor. The ending of this piece has three chords. It’s a simple ending but it can be a very powerful one with the right technique. You’ll want the music to linger in the air even after the sound has stopped.

 

The trick is to release the hands and pedals very slowly at the same time. This way if you have any issues with damper regulation on the piano the effects are minimized. You don’t want certain notes sticking out and being louder than others and you certainly don’t want an abrupt ending.

 

Many students will end a piece very abruptly and then take their hands and slap them down on their lap and act like it’s a relief to be done playing! Nothing sucks the mood out a room more than someone displaying negative emotions onstage.

 

When you hear great performances in concert halls there might be a few seconds of absolute silence after a piece. It’s a powerful tool to let the music and the emotion seep into your music. Sometimes music will actually end with fermata on the double bar even when there is no music. What is the composer telling you in a situation like this? They are visually representing what we have discussed here – letting you know that even though the music has stopped, the mood should linger in the air for a few moments. In this case it’s an actual part of the piece.

 

Another mistake that some people make is to rely completely on the pedal at the end of a piece. On a well regulated piano it might sound OK but taking your hands off the keyboard early will make the audience think the piece has ended – even if it technically hasn’t. This is true for changing movements as well. If you keep your hands on the keyboard it will let the audience know that there is more to come.

 

Thanks again for joining me, If you have any questions about this topic or any others please contact me directly: Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  This is a very overlooked topic for many pianists. Ending a piece correctly is extremely important and is crucial to a great performance. While there is no one solution to the challenge, I will provide some tips on how to make your endings memorable.   For the example in the video above I use the Chopin Prelude in E […]

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How To Establish the Key

  First, why is it important to be able to establish the key? If you have a room full of people and you want to sing a song together, you must all start on the same note or you will have chaos! If you have ever sung Happy Birthday with a crowd of people, you know how cochofonus an experience […]

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How to Play the Left Hand Softly in the 3rd Movement of the Moonlight Sonata

 

This question comes from a viewer and while this is a very specific example, the solution is something that will help you with a wide range of music. The problem with negotiating this example is that from measure 21 to measure 40, there are a lot of fast notes in the left hand that need to be played quietly. This can be a huge challenge because it’s extremely difficult playing fast and light on the piano. So how do you overcome this challenge?

 

Utilizing the weight of the arms and the position of your fingers right above the keys is the way to play this section with fluidity. For this specific piece there are a lot of broken chords in the left hand and I have a suggestion for you on how to practice this effectively. Start with the first two notes of the section and play them together. They are written separately but for now play them together. You want to achieve the same level of volume with your pinky and your thumb. This is a great challenge because the thumb is so much stronger than your pinky, but you must achieve a balance in the sound between the two notes. Once you have them equal in volume go ahead and break those notes ever so slightly like playing the bottom note as a grace note. Once you feel comfortable with this, add another note and continue adding notes in this manner.

 

Every time you start a new group of notes you should approach it as a separate passage. Prepare yourself mentally for each section and practice each section individually. Don’t consider this one long passage of notes. Instead, break it down into digestible chunks you can play in a relaxed manner. Then work on connecting these groups of notes.

 

This lesson really boils down to keeping your body and arms at the proper position to achieve power with the correct hand positions and finger patterns. These are all lessons I’ve taught in the past that are relevant to so many pieces of music.

 

If you have any more questions please contact me directly: Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  This question comes from a viewer and while this is a very specific example, the solution is something that will help you with a wide range of music. The problem with negotiating this example is that from measure 21 to measure 40, there are a lot of fast notes in the left hand that need to be played quietly. […]

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How to Read Ahead in Music

  This question comes from another viewer who asks how to read ahead in music to improve their reading. So how do you achieve this and is it a good technique?   Well the truth is, reading ahead is actually not exactly how it works. Instead, it is a matter of looking at chunks of music instead of reading note […]

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How to Play One Hand Louder Than the Other on the Piano

 

This is a very important topic and a fundamental part of playing piano. I have another video about how to play louder with notes in the same hand but this video is going to cover how to achieve this with different hands.

 

This can be a real challenge when you have slow notes that have to be louder than fast notes. Why is this so difficult? On a piano, the longer a note holds the quieter it becomes. So when you have a slow melody against faster notes it presents a challenge to make the slower notes stand out.

 

In the video example above I play the beginning of the Chopin Prelude in E minor and play the two hands with equal force. You will notice that the right hand melody is completely covered up by the chords in the left hand. So what can you do?

 

It’s actually a very basic principle that’s based upon the human voice. To get a singing quality on the piano you have to translate the power of the breath to the weight of your arms. But how do you practice such a thing? My father Morton Estrin would demonstrate this to me by playing on my arm. What I noticed was that it wasn’t just the beginning of the notes where I could feel the pressure, it was the entire time he was playing a slow melody. I could feel the downward force throughout the entire melody! By doing this, the weight of the arm translates from note to note and creates a constant musical line – much like singing.

 

You should also keep in mind that if you are replicating the human voice when playing the melody you should build up to the middle of the phrase and decrescendo to the end of the phrase for a natural sounding musical line. This is achieved by using your arm weight to build up the sound and volume of the notes until you reach the climax of the phrase and slowly bring the phrase down in volume by decreasing the arm weight. This is how to make the melody “sing” like a voice.

 

But how do you control the volume of your other hand? You should touch the keys gently and use minimum motion. That way the melody notes in the other hand will project well.

 

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  This is a very important topic and a fundamental part of playing piano. I have another video about how to play louder with notes in the same hand but this video is going to cover how to achieve this with different hands.   This can be a real challenge when you have slow notes that have to be louder […]

Read More