Learning to be expressive without touch-sensitive keys

Edward is taking his first AMEB exam in July. He plays his pieces well, I’m getting him to put in more expression, make the most of that crescendo, accent, and pp. He’s doing it.

But his keyboard at home doesn’t have touch-sensitivity. Whether he plays gently, or with pressure, the sound doesn’t vary. 

“At home, you have to hear it in your mind, because it really does make a difference when you play it to me here.”

I watched his hands. When he wants to play louder, he presses the keys harder, as you would expect.

I told him, when you want to play louder, it’s not going to come from your fingers, but from your upper arms and even your body. 

Imagine the loudness is like letting out a big breath with control, all that coming out from your body. Feel it coming down your arms, sounding beautiful and powerful, and it will be.

Next week I will talk to him about playing softly, how you are both pushing forward with your fingers and pulling back your arm at the same time. 

The madness of music. But I’m a huge fan of this kid, and will try and get him access to a school piano to practise. 

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