It's natural for many passionate and advanced level pianists to look for ways to improve themselves in piano techniques, and in acquiring a deeper understanding of the pieces they're playing. Attending masterclasses, recitals, and workshops is one such popular way, where it's really a good opportunity to hear and learn from someone skilled and experienced, and willing to share. So, when I heard of a Piano Workshop on 3 August 2015 on the topics of phrasing and using singing to help the pianist express better, I jumped at it!
The workshop was conducted by Emma Leiuman, a Russian pianist. "The new way of teaching is based on imagination and singing approach. It helps every advanced and professional student to reach effortless and fluent playing with no technical limits and express themselves freely through playing", says Emma, who holds a Master degree from Moscow conservatory, and now lives in Singapore. The PianoWell system teaching is created by her, and it's free of charge and available for everyone who has a great passion to play piano well. The program includes free books, videos, student journal, student videos, and teacher's feedback on student homework.
I resonate especially with the idea of using singing to express better. Musical notes played in succession convey no feelings and sound mechanical, if you are just playing them as they are. However, if you sing the melody, silently, in your mind as you play, your notes will imitate and take shape. They are no longer individual notes, but notes that are connected, forming a musical sentence that follows how your voice sings up and down to reflect a certain mood.
To build on the singing concept, Emma invited one of the participants at the workshop - Maurice, to play a prepared section of Chopin's Ballade No. 4 in F minor Op. 52, and Emma sang and explained to Maurice and the rest, how it really helps. The audience were listening attentively, and some tried to sing along as well. Her passion and ethusiasm to help the pianist excel can really be felt throughout, and I think that is an extremely important quality to have.
This activity was actually announced in the Meetup.com group - AdvancedPianists which was formed on 7 June 2015 by Emma, and now joined by about 60 members. So, if you are a pianist who seeks to improve yourself, or to mix around with like-minded people, you can either look out for the next activity published in the Events page, or join the group via the Meetup App.