First Piano Lesson
Introduction to weight management - 20 mins
Sight reading Basics - 20 mins
Exercising - 20 mins
Introduction to weight management
On this section we will try and focus on how to take advantage of the weight of our arms in order to prevent our fingers from over-tensing.
We will try and execute the following exercise making sure that the student doesn’t stress any muscle but the ones that are directly involved in the finger movement.
1. Edge of the hand on the edge of the table
2. Spread the fingers
3. Pull your hand a little outside the table
4. Lift finger 1 and 5
5. Drag your arm using only your fingers
For FINGER TRAINING
6. Lift fingers 2 and 4 leaving only finger 3 supporting the weight
7. Transfer the weight from 2 to 3 and then sequentially to all the other fingers one by one
We need to make sure that the students transfer the weight from finger to finger without involving any other muscles but the finger ones. For this reason the first stage consists in showing them how the transfer works in very slow motion.
After this is achieved we will request the student to do it once while guiding us through the process, so we can check how well they understood the mechanism.
Once the first stage is perfectly mastered then we will go through it again but this time fostering them to swap fingers as fast as possible. This sounding interchange of fingers is what we called the triggering mechanism and it is fundamentally linked with the quality of tone that we produce.
The parameter that the instrument collects to produce any sound is the speed at which we attack the keys and that value is directly related with the distance that exists at a certain point between the tip of our fingers and the surface of the keys. For that reason at the beginning we will always ask them to lift the fingers that are not playing so they can produce a consistent, precise and loud tone with each one of them.
Key teacher tasks
It is fundamental to monitor if the student is effectively focusing all the muscle-action on the lower tip of its fingers and nowhere else.
No tension should be spotted on the joint between the forearm and the upper arm
The elbow should hang loose
The wrist should be in line with the forearm –never raised nor lowered-. The right wrist position is the one that helps the fingers to develop grip and also the one that allows the alignment of them with the elbow.
Sight Reading Basics
The basic goal is to leave the student with enough basic tools to start reading from lesson one (at least a basic piece). With this purpose we are going to mainly focus on explaining:
Meaning and function of both clefs.
G clef = treble clef: Its function is to define where G is
F clef = bass clef: Its function is to define where F is
How to derive middle C from G and F clefs
Highlighting the analogous middle position of middle C, both in the keyboard and in the score
We need to make a strong point on the main difference that exists between monophonic and polyphonic instruments and how this conditions the way in which sight-reading is approached. Subsequently we will explain briefly the meaning of “Movements” and “Motions”
* Stepwise: line to blank, blank to line
** line to line, blank to blank: Skip 1
** line to blank, blank to line: Skip 2
** line to line, blank to blank but farer from each other:
- Contrary motion = opposite directions
- Oblique motion = one stays the other moves
- Similar motion = same direction
If we are dealing with a complete beginner we will land on exercise No. 1 of Bartok Mikrokosmos vol. 1. We will encourage the student to keep each sense attached to a specific task:
Sight: checking the score; and only borrowed at this stage to find the starting hand positioning at the keyboard
Touch: committed to perform the tuning which is the act of attacking the note that is on the right direction coming from the tone we are playing at the moment.
Hearing: committed to monitor the production of sound
We will explain that Bartok uses only parallel motion and stepwise movements and for that reason we shouldn’t worry at all about of the names of the notes and instead we should focus on what the notes are doing and how long they last for.