Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Are there musical geniuses like Mozart alive today? In the world today with billions of people, there have got to be some people with tremendous talent. There are great players and child prodigies
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. How much freedom is there in musical performance? If you listen to the same piece by different performers on the piano or any other instrument, you’ll find dramatically different interpretations. How much do you have to be faithful to the score, and how much can you just take off and do what you want to do? The answer may surprise you!
You want to play faithfully to the score.
If somebody was listening to a piece of music written by a great composer and they were transcribing it note for note, they should end up with the same score that the composer wrote with every last detail. Does that mean that every performance should be the same? No, surprisingly, because you can execute every detail of the score in different ways to indicate what is written, and different people have various ideas about how to achieve that.
I’m going to give you a great example today, which is Debussy.
Debussy was a French impressionist composer from the early 20th century. His music is a wash of colors and sounds. And yet, it’s important to have the clarity of what is intended in the score come out in your performance. But there is more than one way to achieve that. For example, sometimes there are double-stemmed notes, a note with a stem going down and a stem going up. Why are there two stems? Well, that note is part of two different lines of music, like different instruments playing. It may be 16th notes and 8th notes at the same time. One voice is on the top and one voice is on the bottom. Sometimes voices overlap, and they both hit the same note at the same time. The composer wants you to understand that and project it into the performance. It creates different sounds. So in the first movement of Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite, there are double-stemmed notes. Interestingly, it starts off in the third measure with double-stemmed eighth notes (with staccatos), which intersect with 16th notes on the bottom. What makes it even more interesting is that starting in the fifth measure, you have a similar passage except with double-stemmed quarter notes with 16th notes on the bottom. This is a subtle difference which is the genius of Debussy creating nuances of sound. (You can reference the accompanying video to hear this on the piano with the score provided.)
Ideally, you want to do as much as you possibly can with your fingers and then use the pedal for expression.
That’s just one example where the composer wants to have different lines of music, and it’s up to you as a performer to find a way to execute it to create the effect. On the seventh measure, you have the same pattern twice, but the first time with a crescendo/decrescendo, then it repeats with no dynamic changes. There are all kinds of subtle phrasing, double stemmed-notes, inner lines, expression, and crescendos. What I have found over the years is that if you really learn the precision of where the crescendos start and end, exactly how many notes are slurred, attention to double-stemmed note values, and you delineate all the minutiae of the score, it brings the music to life!
Be sure you’re not working from a heavily edited edition of the score.
You want to follow the markings of the composer, not the editor, because the editor may or may not have great ideas. You should always know what the composer had in mind with an urtext edition, one that is not edited, or one that clearly indicates what’s coming from the editor rather than the composer. That way, you can get in the head of the composer and get an idea of the concept of what they really were after. Those small details all come together to mold a great performance. So you can indeed follow the inclinations of the composer and do so with the conviction of how you believe the music can best be expressed. I hope this is helpful for you! Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin, here at Living Pianos: Your Online Piano Resource. Join the discussion at LivingPianos.com where you can leave your comments on countless articles with accompanying videos.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. How much freedom is there in musical performance? If you listen to the same piece by different performers on the piano or any other instrument, you’ll find dramatically different interpretat
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. How can you tell if a student is talented? You sometimes see kids who have difficult pieces they can play fast, and they have it all memorized. And then sometimes you hear somebody who just touches you, and you have a deep emotional connection.
There are so many aspects of talent on the piano.
There’s the coordination of the hands, the visual element, the ears, and other aspects. Sometimes, to find out if somebody is talented, they’ll do a hearing test where they will play a C on the piano, then play another note and ask what the note is. Some people can tell if one note is higher or lower. Some people can’t. Some people can easily match pitch singing, but some people have to study for a long time in order to develop their ears for music. So there’s innate ability in music. But there is one common denominator among students that’s very interesting.
Talented students generally play too fast!
You have to slow them down because it’s a mess! They rush through everything. You try to get them to play with a metronome, and it’s a nightmare. Whereas, with students who are less talented, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s a struggle to get anything up to tempo. They naturally want to play slowly. That’s why talented students can be some of the most difficult students to deal with. They can be sloppy and not take enough time learning things accurately and playing music cleanly. So that is a telltale sign. Of course, there are many other aspects of talent.
As a kid, I always had weak, spaghetti-like fingers.
My fingers would collapse on the keyboard. My joints would bend the wrong way. You have no control that way. It took me years and years before I could keep my fingers rounded without the joints collapsing. But I was able to get the tone out of the piano that I desired. I always had great tonal control. That’s why I loved slow movements. It wasn’t dependent on technique. So there are essential aspects of talent other than just speed. But it is usually a telltale sign of aptitude and natural ability at the instrument to be able to conceptualize something.
So if you find yourself going too fast all the time, don’t fret. You have some natural ability!
Rein it in and practice slowly, and you’ll be rewarded by solidifying your technique. And if you’re somebody who struggles to get things up to speed, remember, there are many other aspects of talent on the instrument other than just physiological abilities. I didn’t have those abilities as a kid, but I developed them with hard work over many years. So there’s hope for everybody! Nobody has it all. Everybody has to develop their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Talent only goes so far. Hard work is the answer. Put in the work consistently, and you will develop at the piano, I promise you.
Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin, here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. How can you tell if a student is talented? You sometimes see kids who have difficult pieces they can play fast, and they have it all memorized. And then sometimes you hear somebody who just touche
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I will share some secrets to executing trills. When I was in music conservatory, I remember the really advanced students would spend an inordinate amount of time working on trills. And in fa
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Did you know that it’s not important how much you practice? It’s not important how much you memorize. It’s not important how much you work on scales and arpeggios. Likewise, it
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’m talking about a piano mystery, the Steinway Model C. You may already be familiar with the Steinway Models B and D, but if not, I’m going to give you a quick rundown. Virtuall
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about what makes great music. There is so much to this subject. We could talk about inventiveness, melody, rhythm, or orchestration. There are countless aspects of music that,
Drummers already have a really highly developed sense of rhythm.
Rhythm is one of the most intrinsically difficult aspects of playing the piano. Drummers are also used to playing with two hands as well as their feet, so they have a good sense of coordination. But what they don’t have is a pitched instrument. It’s all rhythm. Unless they happen to play mallet instruments, they don’t get melody. They play with other musicians, and they hear the melodies in their heads. They want to be able to enjoy that, so they go to the piano.
It’s interesting how drummers approach the keyboard.
Sometimes they’ll take solos in such an interesting fashion, playing like a drummer and coming up with patterns that you wouldn’t think of as a pianist because we’re used to using our fingers in a way that drummers are not. So they come up with interesting patterns and melodies that might not occur to other musicians. It also helps them understand the music they’re playing drums to by playing on the piano. Getting a sense of chord progressions and melodies helps them achieve a more sensitive rhythmic backdrop for the music they play. So there are many reasons why drummers love to play the piano.
The piano is a percussion instrument.
Instead of hitting drum heads with sticks, it’s hammers hitting strings. It’s activated with your fingers. But really, the piano is the ultimate percussion instrument. So, of course, drummers are going to love to play the piano because it’s a percussion instrument and arguably the quintessential percussion instrument. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments here at LivingPianos.com and on YouTube.Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin, here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about drummers who play the piano. Why do drummers love to play the piano? I want to hear from all of you drummers out there who tune in to this video. Tell us why you love to
Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about maintaining your piano in different environments. We have sold pianos to people all over the world, in all different environments. Just in California, you can be in the