Dear Students, Parents and Family,
Thank you all for coming to our student gathering last Saturday, I really appreciated your effort and participation, especially to those who did not perform but still came to support us.
Students, some of you did particularly well, while others were a bit nervous. I congratulate to those who had their very first performances that night! That was a very brave act. For the students who are preparing for exams this fall, I urge you all to practice harder now so you will have no regret. All in all, I am very proud of your performances in the gathering.
We shall have our proper student concert tentatively in January 2014. I strongly encourage all students, especially for those who did not take part in the gathering, to join and perform (although I wonder there is enough time for everyone to play! I will try my best to accommodate every one of you though).
Parents, When I was standing at the back of the room watching the students performing on stage and audience listening attentively, I saw you being so proud of your children and had this beautiful smile on your faces satisfied of the kids’ performance. I just felt great to be able to do that and bring you all to share this experience together.
I appreciate if any of you would give me any feedback on our gathering, on what aspects I can improve on.
Again, thank you our wonderful Klaire for organizing with me. I cannot do this without you.
Here are some photos from the gathering.
Dear Students and Parents,
This is a reminder for you all that we are having our informal student concert aka “student gathering” on 21st September, 2013 at 8pm at Hong Kong Cultural Centre backstage CR2.
I will send you the list of student participants and performing pieces in the following days.
Students and their parents (and friends!) who are not playing are encouraged to come and enjoy other students’ performance.
Any readers who would like to join us please let us know.
Teresa Wong and Team
IN CANTONESE 中文:
Let’s talk about arpeggios today.
I want to make it brief and clear this time.
When we talk about the problems in playing the arpeggios, it’s always about the so-called “turn of thumb”, and it occurs when the right hand is going up and the left hand going down. So, let’s focus on these two shifts, and here are a few main points and further elaboration underneath:
1. SWING the finger BEFORE the shift of thumb
People pay too much attention to the thumb. It’s not about the thumb, it’s about the FINGER BEFORE THE THUMB.
You have to put the weight on the finger before the thumb rather than on the thumb, so that the thumb is light when it’s being shifted to the next position.
And, listen up. You should TURN THE FINGER BEFORE THE THUMB ON THE KEY in order to bring over the thumb to its next position efficiently.
What does that mean?
Let me show you in this video here:
So it’s not a dead attack for the middle finger. Rather, the middle finger attacks and then SWINGS CONTINUOUSLY TO THE SIDE when holding on to the key so that it makes space for the thumb to land on the next note smoothly.
2. It’s not a “turn” of Thumb. It’s a SHIFT of position
And it’s CONTINUOUS, SMOOTH movement. Not a abrupt, sharp, sudden turn.
3.It’s not picking up the palm to facilitate “the turn of thumb”
It would be even more time-consuming and make the transition even more difficult.
The thumb is originally positioned at a lower plane than the other fingers so it is unnecessary to bring the palm up in order to create space for the thumb to “turn”. KEEP THE THUMB LIGHT, PUT THE WEIGHT ON THE FINGER BEFORE THE SHIFT OF THUMB rather than on the thumb so that the shift of thumb can be done effortlessly and lightly.
Keep the palm calm and steady. Try to move it along the keyboard as parallel to it as possible. Move to the SIDE not up and down. When the right hand is coming down playing the descending line, the palm would be slightly angled facing a bit towards the left side (lower register).
Again, the shift of thumb is continuous. It’s about the PREPARATION before the attack of thumb. It is already moving along gradually underneath the index and middle finger when they are executing the respective notes. So when it’s the thumb’s turn to play it’s ready right on the key BEFORE THE ATTACK. And the attack of thumb is LIGHT. Don’t try to facilitate the thumb and drag it down into the key. That only makes it even harder to play the whole arpeggio smoothly and give a harsh attack on the notwhen the thumb lands.
4. DON’T ELBOW your way in and out
Don’t lift your elbow up. Instead, move it to the SIDE, smoothly and continuously.
Watch the illustration here:
5. Use your SHOULDER and UPPER ARM to LEAD the way
Instead of focusing on moving the elbow out, try to focus on bringing the upper arm out and opening up the the armpit in a continuous motion. Such movement brings the elbow gradually (instead of abruptly) to the side and leads the fingers and palm going up and down the keyboard.
6. Keep the WRIST CALM
One main problem that makes the arpeggio playing difficult is that there is too much movement at the wrist, all this wiggling to the left and right does not help at all.
Try to move the WHOLE ARM, and do the shifting twisting and turning at the wrist as little as possible. Smooth arpeggio playing (or any smooth phrasing for that matter) is all about the ARM MOVEMENT. Fingers are to execute the notes only. Connection is done by the palm and the arm.
7. SQUEEZE the PALM MUSCLE that is connected to the thumb IN
When you shift the thumb under the other fingers, SQUEEZE THE MUSCLE UNDER THE THUMB INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE PALM. This would help make the shift much easier. Just try this little trick.
Have fun trying! (And let me know how it goes)
Finally, I am back to Hong Kong.
I had a full day of non-stop teaching the first day after my return.
And It was marvelous to listen to piano music and see my students again.
Although I must say, I miss Italy…
During the first half of my trip, I was completely absorbed with being on the holiday that was long due. The diverse flavors of Italy – in terms of cuisine, culture, language and environment – revived in me the memories of my last visits over ten years ago. My school years, in high school and graduate school: the singing, the playing, the learning, the performing, the laughing and chatting … Those were the memorable days, so young and innocent.
Then, in the middle of my trip, in this beautiful countryside of Italy, when I was surrounded by all the massively overflow of vineyards and gorgeously full-grown olive trees under the magnificent Tuscan sun, when I was sipping away all the beautiful wines and tasting delicious food in Chianti, I suddenly missed my piano. I wanted to try out the new tunes I composed in my head under my fingers and listened to it outside my head. I needed to touch the keys and make that piano sound of my very own. And so I asked the locals, “where can I find a piano?”
The answers were:
“Che piano??” (It should be “pianoforte” because “piano” means something else in Italian.)
“There is no piano here. The closest place you can find one would be Siena. And it’s an hour away from here.”
(I didn’t have a car and there were very few buses running between this town and Siena)
I could slowly feel the bitter taste of disappointment growing in my mouth, and not even the sweetest gelato could chase that away…
Sometimes we do not appreciate enough how lucky we are when we have things around that seem to us most usual and common. We take it for granted that almost everyone has a piano in the household and plays piano/ an instrument in Hong Kong. So we think we are not special or talented in any way, and that we do not know just how precious it is to have the opportunity to get to learn and play this wonderful instrument and listen to this beautiful tone that the instrument can make, with our own two hands.
I did not think I would miss my piano. But I certainly did, tremendously.
I did not think I would miss coming back to Hong Kong, yet I did too. (Although I must say again, I love Italy and miss it too and want to be back and even move there etc etc…)
I missed my piano and my teaching.
Therefore I am very glad to see and teach my students again. It has been a while.
I am certainly most grateful to have all these wonderful students and parents.
And you my readers.
Thank you for reading and bearing with my writing all this time.
P.S. In the next post, I shall write about how to play arpeggios and scales most efficiently. I know I have written on these topics but they are never old. Besides, I think I have found some significant key points in brief explanation that you can get to understand and play them much better easily. We shall see :)
And yes, the sequel to the sight reading post. Oh, so much to catch up on…