The First Principles Of Pianoforte Playing

A complete playing tutorial for self learners or school use.

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The question is often asked, should one teacli Legato first, or Staccato?
There can only be one answer to this question, once we have really under­stood the first laws of Touch. For we find, that the energy required to produce tone, if properly directed during key-descent, must NEVER be applied longer than in the shortest Staccatissinzo, except in the absolute pp-tenuto or legato—when the tone-producing energy cousists of the unaided " Resting " itself. Staccato, properly executed, consequently offers us an unfailing guarantee, that we have not prolonged the action required for tone-production beyond the required moment, for we cannot obtain a true Staccato (by rebound of the key) unless we do cease the energy applied during key-descent early-enough. Once we have learnt to apply the tone-producing energy thus accurately enough to admit of the rebound-ing-key Staccato, it is easy subsequently to change this into a Tenuto or Legato, by simply accompanying this accurately timed tone-production by the heavier Legato) form of the u Resting " in place of the lighter (Staccato) form of it.
In teaching such Staccato, we must of course be careful to avoid all pulling-up of the fingers and hands—as so often fallaciously taught; and wa must be careful to fulfil the law of Staccato-resting—with the hand lying so lightly and loosely, that the rebounding key can bring both finger and hand back to the surface-level of the keyboard after each short-lived act of tone-production.
If it is found difficult at once to provide this Staccato form of the M Resting ", we may start by teaching the " Resting " without any " Added impetus ", and in its slightly heavier form, as required for Legato; and having acquired this form, and its transference from note to note (in pp-legato), we may then proceed to the Staccato form of it, showing how this can be transferred from key-surface to key-surface without any actual sounding of the notes. Having acquired the Staccato-resting, thus without any sounding of the notes, we can then success­fully add to this, the short-lived act of key-depression which produces the sound in Staccato—and in all Legati beyond the pp tone-amount.
It stands to reason, however, that before a child can be taught the somewhat comple x muscular differentiations between Legato and Staccato, or for the matter of that any correct form of " Touch", he must have mastered (at least to some extent) the more elementary muscular-discriminations between one finger and another. This can however often be done more profitably at a table than at the Piano itself. For no child should ever be allowed to attempt to sound a Piano-key without understanding at least those first " rules of the key " summed up on pages 3 and 4; he must at least start with a clear understanding of the simple fact that it is only by creating key-speed that he can create sound.
Moreover, before he is allowed to attack even the simplest tune, it must be with the knowledge that Rhythm is the supreme thing, and that he must try to make musical sentences (by means of rhythm, in the sense of accentuation) and Must not merely sound successions of notes without such life being given them.
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