Just Some Notes: Observing Some Pianists

September 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

For my piano lessons in college, one of the only assignments I had to do each semester was write up 3 concert reports. Any concerts that had a pianist in their ensemble was acceptable, and it wasn’t limited to just Classical concerts. In fact, it was a simple 2 page observation on the music, the atmosphere and of course the way a pianist plays. When I first started writing these concert reports, I hated it because I felt that taking notes during a concert was NOT the way to enjoy live music. Usually I loved just sitting back with my eyes closed, surround myself with the music and let the notes do their thing.

Of course, it wasn’t before long that I started to enjoy observing the different play styles and techniques of different pianists (cause I’m nerdy like that). For classical pianists, I developed a spectrum. On one end, you have Lang Lang, who is known for grandiose gestures and flourishes. On the other end, you have Horowitz, who is stoic and a minimalist in terms of movements. Most pianists fall somewhere in between on that spectrum.

Movie Poster for "The Pianist", the ultimate piano movie for Chopin lovers

The point of this written assignment for this class was for the student to be exposed to a wide range of pianists and examine the different techniques they applied. Some students that may have less movement (like myself) might find it beneficial to add more gestures to express the notes more, like raising your hand higher and let gravity help create a fortissimo sound (it helps a lot). 21 concert reports later, you kind of realize all the great pianists have more or less tailored a unique style of playing. There’s no “correct” or “incorrect” way of playing, there are just different ways that suit different people.

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