How to Approach Debussy’s Clair De Lune on The Piano

Piano Lessons / how to play piano / How to Approach Debussy’s Clair De Lune on The Piano

This is a gem of a piece that many students choose to learn. If you have the opportunity to view the attached video, there are many insights and tips that you may find helpful.

The biggest problem I see students encounter when it comes to this piece is playing the rhythm correctly. Specifically, when a piece is slow like this one, it’s hard to tell how long to hold longer notes – most of the time the long notes end up getting robbed of time which takes away from the peaceful aesthetic of the piece.

When it comes to slower pieces like this one, holding the notes long enough is essential in achieving the right mood, but how do you practice something like this? Well, if you look at my piano you will always see a metronome. More than that, practicing with a metronome without the use of the sustain pedal keeps you honest in your playing both rhythmically and melodically. This is an essential practice routine for any serious musician.

Keep in mind that the pedal is not meant to connect notes you can connect with the hands. Instead, the pedal can be an incredibly expressive device once you know what you can and cannot connect with the fingers.

Try this practice technique with Clair De Lune, and please let me know the results you achieve. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin (949) 244-3729

One thought on “How to Approach Debussy’s Clair De Lune on The Piano”


  1. Hi, Robert —

    The fingerings on this are really astonishing to me. Did you write them? Or was it Debussy, or someone else? It’s a piece that ordinarily I wouldn’t even have thought to attempt, and I wouldn’t in a million years have come up with these fingerings. They feel very “scrunchy” at first, but I can see that with practice they could become far more fluid than the way I’d have done it. This could change, or actually, expand my whole approach to fingering. And that’s only from trying the first four bars.

    Thanks for the eye opener —

    — J.S.

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