Instructions for practising

Items 1-4 are first performed separately with the right and left hand, in turns, and then both hands together.

1. Play on the piano lid, reading out the names of the notes (sing them, if you can). Then play on the keys, slowly and listening carefully, continuing to read out the notes. At this stage, there is no need to pay attention to rhythm and tempo. Really hearing the notes is essential.

2. Read the rhythm without playing.  Tap it on the piano lid, counting the time. Play slowly on the piano lid, strictly in rhythm, counting one-and-two-and etc., or one-e-e-e two-o-o-o. Pronounce triplets for example as ba-ke-ry. Then play on the keys in rhythm.

3. Carefully read slurs, staccatos and other articulation markings, first without playing. Then play on the lid. If there are no markings, try different options and choose the one you like best. Establish where you feel like breathing, and there lift your hand.

Play on the keyboard with your preferred articulation.

4. In line with the preceding item, work out the fingering. Make sure you choose fingerings that make it possible to execute the legato passages. Write the fingering on the score and first practise on the piano lid, reading out the colour of the notes: black, white etc.

Then practice the fingering you chose on the keys.

5. Play the section you have just gone through from memory.

6. Check the composer’s dynamic marks, without playing.

Singing is useful!

Play slowly, emphasising the dynamics and with a maximum of expression.

Sing the dynamics in your mind as you play.

7. Analyse the harmonies of the piece. Also check for scale, broken-chord or chromatic passages. Work out the tonality of the chords, scales and broken chords.

Establish, by listening, whether some chords are more demanding than others or stand out in some other way. Compare consecutive chords and contemplate whether the music is opening up or contracting.

8. Check if you can find any identical or similar themes. Are they in the same or in different keys?

9. Study the phrases to find out where you breathe, where their main emphasis or climax is, in what direction tension grows and at what point it is relieved.

10. Listen for the inner layers of the composition. Play through the whole score, first listening to the bass line. At the same time, relax your hand on the bass notes. Then continue, playing the next higher layer (the tenor) etc.

11. Having analysed the piece, now start practising it. Feel your way to finding the appropriate tempo. When practising, stick to the right tempo.

12. Draw up a map of the piece on squared paper, entering the bars, chords, nuances, the composer’s performance marks, possible tempo changes, and your own impressions of moods and variations in intensity


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