Soft Piano Playing, Part 3

Lessons with a Lady

So I went to the lady with the dancing pianissimo, and told her I wanted my soft playing to be like hers; and she gave me that old-lady smile and an ordinary pencil to hold vertically in a snug fist, with the eraser sticking down an inch. I was to play a note three times, pianissimo. Shoulder and elbow free, wrist with no “give.” To my surprise, I did fine.

Next, I did the same with the side of the hand, fingers together, no pencil; a sort of slow-motion karate chop. Then with the hand in a more or less normal position, using index finger with thumb bracing it; like an “OK” sign but with the thumb one joint from the end.

She said, “You generate pianissimo playing-force at will. So we conclude that your pianissimo problem is due to what?”

I said, “Due to something that’s prevented by these weird ways of playing.”

She was amused. “And what do the weird ways, as you call them, have in common?”

I said, “Well, they…. They all…. Hmm. They all what?” My brain was beginning to kick in. “Oh! They all pass the playing-force…all the playing-force…to the key! They don’t lose anything.”

“Exactly,” she said; and continued, “But we can’t play pieces with pencil-erasers,” while playing the first Two-Part Invention with pencil erasers.

to be continued….

Now Practicing: Sonata in B minor by the #1 Underrated Famous Composer, Joseph Haydn. (Hob. XVI:32.)

Copyright © James Boyk 2013. All rights reserved.
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