Updated: Oct 31, 2020
I decided to continue with this series about interesting and common questions I receive from parents and students. It would be interesting to hear comments from my piano teachers’ friends.
One very common question from my students is regarding fingering:
“Why do I need to follow certain fingering when I can play the same passage with a different one or the one that comes in the very moment?”
The answer is yes, you have to follow a certain fingering and especially at the beginning it is very important to get into the routine of spending time writing on the score the fingers number. It seems time consuming but, I can guarantee that even if you are writing numbers on top of the notes, you are actually learning the piece in the time being. My motto is: “try to make sure that you are using an appropriate fingering that doesn`t brake the melodic line”. It is exactly what happens with the breathing when we talk; we usually pause or take a breath after a phrase, a comma, a full stop. Playing a note with a certain finger will help with the colours too; if we need an accented note, we might use the thumb, if we want to start a beautiful singing melody we will apply the 3rd finger. At the beginning, it might not sound different but with time you will refine the sense of listening and feeling.
Another common question is about voicing:
"Why do I need to hold that semibreve while I am busy playing difficult semiquavers with my other fingers? It sounds exactly the same plus it is making it even harder. Can I not use the pedal?"
Voicing is a very difficult matter for everyone. Piano is a polyphonic instrument and it is possible to play many melodies at the same time. First, it is very important to have clear all the voices and that`s why we should learn them separately. Second, play all the voices at the same time and with the same intensity at the slow pace. Third, start thinking which one has to emerge from the rest. Forth, keep playing clearly each voice as each instrument would play its part in an orchestra or a singer in a choir. Everyone (should) learns its part at his best. Pedal shouldn`t replace what you can do with your fingers.
The last common situation is that sometimes students cannot play from the bar stated by the teachers and they need to start from the beginning:
“I cannot play from this bar. Can I play from beginning?”
My answer is: “If I ask you to read the last paragraph of a book would you read me the whole book?”. Of course, we are able to read from any section and the same has to be with music. When a piece is almost ready for performance, it is crucial to train starting from any bar especially in a Concert situation. It is very useful to start from anywhere and as quick as possible to make it less noticeable for the audience. I had students saying that it was a life saving trick.
I hope you will find these useful for your daily practise routine. Do not forget to read our 3rd part of this series.