Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Using Left-Hand Music to Improve Necessary Abilities for Piano Playing

Class

Article

College

Caine College of the Arts

Faculty Mentor

Kevin Olson

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Many pianists find it difficult to connect sustained lines, traverse the keyboard, complete left-hand passagework, and use the weaker fingers. These problems are respectively caused by the natural qualities of the instrument, right-hand dominant literature, and the physiology of the human hand. A piano creates sound through percussive means, and this sound immediately begins decaying after the initial strike. Therefore, it is difficult to make musical lines sound smoothly connected. As the keyboard covers a large space, a normal problem is in crossing fingers under and over the hand in different figurations to navigate the area effectively. Since the piano is organized from low to high pitches, and because it is easier to clearly project higher tones amidst multiple notes, piano literature largely focuses on using the right hand more prominently. This often means that the left-hand abilities are underdeveloped and pianists play passagework poorly with this hand. The fourth and fifth fingers are typically weaker than the other fingers, so it is common for pianists to avoid using combinations of these. When this becomes necessary, however, pianists often lack the ability to use these outer fingers well. At times, pianists rely on the use of two hands to compensate for these inherent challenges, without actually refining their abilities. Being forced to use only one hand can help to focus on gaining the skills necessary to overcome these specific problems. This research will demonstrate how pianists can improve in these areas by practicing music that was specifically written for the left-hand alone. This research will use Camille Saint-Saens’ 6 Etudes for the Left-Hand Op. 135 to exemplify how left-hand music will help to cultivate better habits in the listed areas. It will include musical score excerpts, demonstrations, and references to previous pedagogical research about these difficulties.

Location

Room 101

Start Date

4-12-2018 10:30 AM

End Date

4-12-2018 11:45 AM

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Apr 12th, 10:30 AM Apr 12th, 11:45 AM

Using Left-Hand Music to Improve Necessary Abilities for Piano Playing

Room 101

Many pianists find it difficult to connect sustained lines, traverse the keyboard, complete left-hand passagework, and use the weaker fingers. These problems are respectively caused by the natural qualities of the instrument, right-hand dominant literature, and the physiology of the human hand. A piano creates sound through percussive means, and this sound immediately begins decaying after the initial strike. Therefore, it is difficult to make musical lines sound smoothly connected. As the keyboard covers a large space, a normal problem is in crossing fingers under and over the hand in different figurations to navigate the area effectively. Since the piano is organized from low to high pitches, and because it is easier to clearly project higher tones amidst multiple notes, piano literature largely focuses on using the right hand more prominently. This often means that the left-hand abilities are underdeveloped and pianists play passagework poorly with this hand. The fourth and fifth fingers are typically weaker than the other fingers, so it is common for pianists to avoid using combinations of these. When this becomes necessary, however, pianists often lack the ability to use these outer fingers well. At times, pianists rely on the use of two hands to compensate for these inherent challenges, without actually refining their abilities. Being forced to use only one hand can help to focus on gaining the skills necessary to overcome these specific problems. This research will demonstrate how pianists can improve in these areas by practicing music that was specifically written for the left-hand alone. This research will use Camille Saint-Saens’ 6 Etudes for the Left-Hand Op. 135 to exemplify how left-hand music will help to cultivate better habits in the listed areas. It will include musical score excerpts, demonstrations, and references to previous pedagogical research about these difficulties.