22 April 2022
This beginner/intermediate piece is our Score Pick of the Month for April. Download the scores from our sheet music store below and you are good to go
This lesson is taken from Pianist 102. You can download the issue here.
This lesson will improve your:
✔ Left hand cantabile
✔ Right hand chordal control
✔ Finger independence
Ludvig Schytte was a Danish composer, pianist and teacher. He penned numerous piano pieces (including a concerto) and his educational literature remains popular. This pair of studies belongs to a set of 25 designed for elementary pianists.
Study No 12
No 12's charming melody requires an astute sense of phrasing. Crotchet equals 100 beats per minute will give the melody some air, but a quicker tempo will suit pianists who wish to inject some sparkle.
Tip 1: The triads in the right hand need to sound at the same moment
Triads (three-note arpeggiated chords) anchor every bar. Each note of the triad should sound at the same moment, demanding careful balance, coordination and tonal control. Taking the tonic triad in bar 1 as an example (G-B-D), play each note separately at first; 1-2-4 will balance the hand better than 1-2-5. Play the G with the thumb and experiment with the sound. How softly can you play before the note fails to sound? Repeat the process with the B and D.
Tip 2: Remember that each finger requires a different weight
You may prefer to balance two notes together at first. Work on G and B first: depress both keys with the thumb and 2nd finger slowly. The slower you play, the softer the sound. You may need to weight your hand towards the 2nd finger, as the thumb is generally stronger. Also practise this technique with the upper notes (B and D); the 4th finger will need extra weight too.
This process will attune both hands and ears to a soft sonority. You are training your hand to become aware of the weight required from the wrist and arm to balance each chord. Playing the top note of each triad with more weight will achieve better balance and a fuller sonority. Hold each triad until the last moment; this will help you to create an unbroken legato in the RH line.
Tip 3: Spend some time shaping the left hand
Note the two-bar phrases at the beginning of each line. Mark the most important note in each phrase; give a little colour to the G at the start of bar 2 and taper off the D on the second beat. Shape the longer phrase (bars 5-8) and place the high point of the phrase in bar 7 on the D. The concluding phrase (bars 13-16) builds to the D (bar 14) via a chromatic scale before dying away.
Tip 4: Stay close to the keys
This study trains a basso cantabile or singing style. To cultivate the required rich timbre, make sure that your fingers are well connected to each key. Stay close to the keys, with the wrist and arm providing sufficient weight for a warm sound, so that the melody may sing freely above the RH chords.
Study No 16
No 16 is a zippy number. It is perfect for those who are trying to develop finger independence. The short phrases use repeated note patterns, ideal for strengthening the fingers, so long as hands and wrists are flexible and are able to release tension, should it arise. The tempo suggestion is a conservative one; you may prefer a quicker pulse.
Tip 1: The left hand requires precise staccato
Notes and chords (in bars 2, 4, 7, 8) must be articulated in a detached, staccato style. It’s vital to leave the keys quickly and efficiently, but this should be done tastefully, so that the accompaniment figures support the RH melody. The technique required is finger staccato, using the top joint of each finger in a flicking motion.
The two-note chords can be practised with the same method suggested for the triads in Study No 12. Practise landing on each two-note chord with a swift movement, in good time for the next beat.
Tip 2: The quaver movement at bar 5 and 6 benefits from thoughtful shaping
The 4th fingers could receive slight tenuto markings (leaning into the notes), and each note played by the thumb (in bar 5, beats 2 and 4,
and bar 6, beats 2 and 3) could be considered the climactic point of the phrase, demanding more colour.
Tip 3: The right hand semi quavers must be articulated with clarity and evenness
The patterns train strength in the weaker 4th finger. Although the thumb frequently plays the first beat of the bar, it’s the 4th finger which requires attention. Begin by adding accents on every note you play with the 4th finger (in bars 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6). Don’t strain or hammer at the note: start slowly, and as you leave your thumb to play the next key with the 4th finger, turn the wrist and hand to the right, away from your body.
Tip 4: Playing with a deeper touch to begin with will reap rewards when you increase the tempo and play with a lighter tone
By this point, your fingers should feel stronger and be more able to achieve tonal and rhythmic control. Count every semiquaver beat as you practise to ensure that the rhythm is even and the pulse is strict. Watch out for the changing note-patterns in bars 4, 7 and 8, where the 4th fingers still need a firm approach but they appear in a different place in each group.