The importance of strong beat identification – another perspective on Piano Lessons
The most appealing feature of a professional performance isthe fact that it looks and feels effortless. The balance between resting timesand carefully applied tension is managed efficiently enough to allow thepianist to use the minimum amount of physical energy possible. This coordination is achieved through clearlyidentifying the points were we do need to apply tension so we can confidently releaseit when it is not necessary any more.
The music in general behaves as a fractal of “thesis” (down beats) and “arsis” (upbeats) particularly in binary metrics. Every time-signature implies a specific distribution of strong and weak beats which at the same time are subdivided into strong and weak parts again and again. It is here where the rhythm reconciles with melody in a way in which we can foster expression through highlighting the right rhythmic accentuation.
Every time we make an accent we are actually modifying the note in two different ways: 1. we are augmenting the volume; 2. we are slightly prolonging the duration of the note. The last event is the one which really helps at the time of refreshing our pianistic impulse. We need to take advantage of these subtle pauses to anticipate the next passages while we release all the tension we projected on these enhanced attacks immediately after performing them. Normally these accents work as nails, stabilizing the entire piece time-wise, while they provide us with enough resting points to comfortably manage the physical and mental challenges the proposed to us.
In my piano lessons I put special emphasis in the relationship between accents, expression and technical feasibility. My students learn to manage these concepts in a correlated way that ultimately helps them to achieve a confident realisation of the piece that keeps together creativity and technicality in a beautiful and symbiotic fashion.