Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New year, new teacher

The other two lesson situations I ended up with this past year were so discouraging that I didn't know if I wanted to venture into another one, but I have gathered myself together and found a new teacher. I am hopeful that this is going to be good; the first few lessons have been extremely promising.

We are working on the exact thing I have been wanting to do, which is how to approach and release the key and how to coordinate all the elements (fingers, wrist, feet [pedaling]). To start, he showed me a few simple finger exercises, which I will try to describe here for the benefit of anyone who may be interested:

First exercise: play a C major scale with one finger (starting with the thumb and working through all fingers, one hand at a time), using the weight of the hand with the wrist as the point of motion. Play each note twice, without lifting the finger, and move to the next note again without lifting the finger. Feel the resistance of the key as it comes up.

Second exercise: play a three-note first inversion chord, starting with C-E-A and going up the scale, again keeping the fingers on the keys and using passive weight as much as possible, as with the first exercise. Do this with each hand separately.

Third exercise: starting on C, with each hand, using 1, 2, and 3, play a pattern of CDE, DEF, etc., to the top of the scale and then back down, as quickly and softly as possible, thinking about getting off of the key for the most clarity. Then play a four-note pattern (CDEF, DEFG, etc.), and then a five-note pattern (CDEFG, DEFGA, etc.).

Then, he asked me to practice the easier Chopin preludes (2, 4, 6, 20), attempting to apply what I'm learning with these exercises.

That's pretty much what we've covered so far, though I am also practicing some other things (Bach WTCII, C major; Chopin Nocture Op. 9 No. 1, etc.). After I've spent a half hour or so on the exercises and the preludes, I can feel a big difference when I play more difficult pieces. Everything feels springier, less tense, and more secure.

So we shall see!

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