The Appreciation of Silence


July 17, 2011

We always focus on the sound, but much less on the silence.

The silence before you play

Always take TIME to prepare yourself before you start a piece. Whenever you are going to play through a piece, treat it as a performance in any situation. It should be applied this in any of the situation below: concert, competition, exam, lesson or simply playing for friends/family, or even just for yourself.

Sit down at the piano. WAIT. Keep your hands on your lap first. Count to 3. Then slowly put your hands on the starting position of the piece you are going to play on the keyboard. WAIT. Think about how the opening should be (the pulse, the nuance, the mood etc). (Count to 3.) BREATHE. Then go.

The silence in your playing – between notes, phrases, sections and movements

Few students observe the rests accurately. They either ignore them or do not give enough time for them. Students think the rests are useless and meaningless as music is about sound. No, it’s not. If there is no silence, sound has no meaning at all. Listen to the rests. There is resonance from the notes you just release. Rests are preparation for the coming notes. You do not just sit there and do nothing. Instead, you are still very alert in your mind, your hands ready to go for what is appearing next. Rests bring about the audience’s attention too.

Take your time between notes, phrases, sections, and movements. Take your time, and you will hear the sound that you are making.

The silence after your play

When you finish playing a piece, leave your hands on the keys (holding them or not). WAIT. Listen to the sound of the last chords/notes fading. Then you pick up your hands. There is SILENCE. You savor the silence for a while, say a few seconds. And with this silence, your playing is finished.

Teresa Wong

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