As a follow-up to the last post: I can’t stress enough how important it is to sing while you practice.
Playing the piano is a study of diminuendo. Every note dies away right after it begins. It takes a special ability to make a true musical phrase that isn’t full of false accents. It takes an even greater ability to make a phrase that is truly beautiful at the piano, one with direction, one that pulls on the heart-strings.
By singing, I’m not just getting a shape of the melody. I think singing a line actually helps me shape the accompaniment. Take a simple melody and Alberti bass, something like Mozart’s K. 545. The left hand accompaniment helps lead the phrase along. With subtle rhythmic acceleration and dynamic shape, it can build the perception that the melodic notes are actually growing and transforming. We can trick audiences into hearing shape on single notes.
Many students are resistant to singing out loud! Usually at first I don’t require them to in front of me, but I suppose I need to build the resilience that my undergraduate teacher used with me (spoken of in yesterday’s post!).
"Modern performers seem to regard their performances as texts rather than acts, and to prepare for them with the same goal as present-day textual editors: to clear away accretions. Not that this is not a laudable and necessary step; but what is an ultimate step for an editor should be only a first step for a performer, as the very temporal relationship between the functions of editing and performing already suggests." -Richard Taruskin, Text and Act