3 Ways to Bring out the Melody in Your Piano Playing

Piano Lessons / general / 3 Ways to Bring out the Melody in Your Piano Playing

Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about how to bring out the melody in your piano playing. One of the great things about the piano is that you have control over all the individual sounds and lines in your playing. But how can you do that? Today I’m going to give you 3 techniques for bringing out the melody in your piano playing!

Typically, you think of the melody as being the top line, but that certainly isn’t always the case. The techniques I’m going to show you will work no matter where the melody is. But the melody in the piece I’m going to use as an example is on the top where melodies are typically found. I’m going to use the second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata no. 5 in C minor, Opus 10, no. 1. The second movement is in A flat major. Beethoven could write a slow movement like no one else!

So, what are some techniques you can use to bring out the melody?

If you were to just play without regard for the top-line being louder than the rest, without trying to balance any particular way and just letting the hands flop on the keys naturally, you won’t fully hear and appreciate the melody. Some inner lines may come to your attention which isn’t all bad. And indeed, balance isn’t just melody being loud and everything else quiet. You want to be able to craft all of the lines and balance them both horizontally as the melody is going across, as well as vertically – the balance in each and every chord. It’s a great challenge! So how do you approach such a thing?

One technique is to use different articulations.

Whatever line you want to bring out, you play legato, and the notes you want to underplay you play with gentle finger staccato. So if you just want to practice bringing out the melody, you can use this technique. You might actually choose to bring out more than just the melody. You might want to bring out the bass and the melody, which you can do with this technique as well. You can bring out inner lines if you want to. There’s no end to the possibilities! Whatever you want to draw the listener’s attention to, play those notes legato and then gently release with a finger staccato the other notes. This trains your hand which notes are down, which notes are up, and which notes you can give more emphasis to. This technique can be quite challenging the first time you try it.

Are there easier techniques than that?

 

Yes, fortunately, there is something as simple as reaching for the melody notes you want to bring out! If you get the sense that your fingers are reaching for the notes you want to hear, they are going to come out more. So those are two techniques for bringing out melodies in your playing: different articulations, and reaching for the notes you want to bring out.

One more technique that can be extremely valuable in certain applications is leaning on one side of the hand more than the other to balance the weight of the hand. To bring out the top melody, you lean on the right side of your right hand so that you have more weight on that side of the hand than you have on the left side of your hand. And of course the left hand underplays completely. This can be a wonderful way to bring out a melody without having to resort to difficult practice techniques. Simply lean on different sides of the hand, depending upon what you want to bring out. If you want to bring out the top notes in your right hand, you lean towards your pinky. And if you want to bring out an inner line, you lean the other way towards your thumb and your other fingers.

Those are 3 techniques you can try out! If you’ve ever had difficulty coming up with a balance you want in any music you play, try these techniques and you may find that one or two of them will be particularly useful for a certain textures or types of writing. And you can always try them all and see what helps you to bring out what you want to hear in your music. What is so great about the piano is the control you have over all the lines. It’s such a pleasure to get the sound you’re after! Try this out, let me know how it works for you! Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

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Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you! Robert@LivingPianos.com

3 thoughts on “3 Ways to Bring out the Melody in Your Piano Playing”

  1. It absolutely amazes me how you can deliberately do something wrong to illustrate a point but not mess yourself up, not mess up your performance of a piece. I have seen you do this over and over and over again, making a lot of different mistakes deliberately just to show us.

    I never had any problems with bringing out the melody. It seemed natural to me. This is something I learned as a child. That said, I can’t imagine being able to master the technique of playing all the notes except the melody “soft staccato”.

  2. Dear Robert,
    I am evaluating piano students enrolled in Certificate of Merit in California.
    The #1 problem students have is not bringing out the melody. Loved hearing your suggestions.

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