How to Make an Impression

Most students dream of playing an as yet unattainable piece that represents what it means to be an artist at the piano. They imagine how they will sound when they can play such a famous composition. (Clair de Lune, perhaps?) And how do they get there? By beginning early with the very techniques needed to perform the more difficult work. Creating impressionistic color is not a mystery, but a matter of controlling different degrees of arm weight. It means learning how to drop into a note or chord to begin a short passage, and then to release that weight with a gentle arm lift in order to allow for the next drop. The “backward practice” that Dr. Faber suggests for preparing the long right-hand passages in Yellow Moon on a Misty Lagoon (Technique & Artistry Level 3A) carves out smaller sections, each with its own drop/release weight control. Then, creating markers or little goals in the long chromatic scale not only keeps the player from getting lost, but also helps give shape to the “mist” as it rises and dissipates. Pulsing to the downbeat supports the gentle undulation that allows the fingers, wrist, and arm to play music that seems to float mysteriously. And that Yellow Moon? On the pathway to Clair de lune!

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