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#1244204 - 08/05/09 05:58 PM Balancing melody with accompaniment.  
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 155
Mrs.A Offline
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Mrs.A  Offline
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Some (most) students have a difficult time balancing melody with the accompaniment. How do you teach this? What excursuses do you recommend?


.I tell student to feel more “weight” in the melody hand. I have them practice scales by playing legato in one hand and staccato in the other. I need more ideas.

Thank you.


Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.

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#1244216 - 08/05/09 06:22 PM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: Mrs.A]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
My first teacher did exactly the same thing. I had no clue what she was talking about nor could I feel any weight in my hands. My hands were light as a feather! It wasn't until I was in college that I began to grasp what she had meant.

So step one is making sure they actually understand what you're telling them.

One method which has worked well for me over the years is to illustrate by gross exaggeration. I play several measures, first with the accompaniment FFF, while the melody is ppp. Then I reverse it.

Then I ask the student which they preferred.

Then I ask them how they might go about doing the same thing. I find students are quite clever when they grasp what your saying.

Once they hear and grasp the concept, their hands seem to follow.



"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1244224 - 08/05/09 07:05 PM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Mrs.A Offline
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Mrs.A  Offline
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Very good ideas John. Another Question. At what level do you expect to se this in student performances.


Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.

#1244236 - 08/05/09 07:20 PM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: Mrs.A]  
Joined: Jun 2009
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Minniemay Offline
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Minniemay  Offline
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I work on it as soon as we start 5 finger patterns. It's so easy to teach then! You can make various coordination exercises out of the patterns, too, so that when they hit it in the literature, they already know how to do it.


B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano
#1244259 - 08/05/09 07:55 PM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: Mrs.A]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted by Mrs.A
Very good ideas John. Another Question. At what level do you expect to se this in student performances.


What I expect, and what students do often show little correlation!

However, I expect it every time they play, and if we need to work on it, improve it a bit, etc., then we do. Students do choke a bit during performances, but generally they do a credible job.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1244508 - 08/06/09 06:55 AM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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keyboardklutz  Offline
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London, UK (though if it's Aug...
It's quite achievable in early grades and as John says, by gross exaggeration. It helps to know the physics (or as another poster puts it 'Physics of the Universe) - To make the melody louder the key has to travel faster. It will reach the bed sooner than the others therefore the melody notes will happen just before the accompanying notes. The brain isn't powerful enough to operate the fingers more accurately. Ultimately it's the ear that does most of the work.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#1244518 - 08/06/09 07:21 AM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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lilylady Offline
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lilylady  Offline
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boston north
LEAN and f l o a t!


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
#1244579 - 08/06/09 09:59 AM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: Mrs.A]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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John v.d.Brook  Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted by Mrs.A
Very good ideas John. Another Question. At what level do you expect to se this in student performances.


I see that I failed to answer your question, although several others did. I start teaching voicing, which is what we're really discussing, while they are still in the primer stage. After all, they're here to make music, not just pushing buttons (keys).


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1247342 - 08/11/09 02:33 PM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
Joined: Mar 2009
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Klavierspielen Offline
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Klavierspielen  Offline
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I do something that I call "The Ghost"... picked it up from observing a masterclass session once. It works well for all types of LH patterns, but REALLY well for Alberti bass. It's hard, but students laugh and have fun with it.

Have them use LH alone first. Just touch the keys of the LH pattern, fingers moving and "playing," but don't press the keys down. Then add the RH with it, RH playing strong as usual, but keep LH just touching the notes, and not making any sound. They always giggle when they realize they can't do it.

To help, you can have them play LH up on the fallboard where it doesn't make any sound (while RH plays as usual). That is easier. Then they can take LH back to the keys (still only touching each note but not making any sound) while RH plays.

After this, go back to playing both hands together normally, and they will laugh at how it "magically" helped them play soft LH!

I just reread what I wrote and I hope it is not a confusing description! I love this little trick, and so do the kids.

#1247456 - 08/11/09 06:50 PM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: Klavierspielen]  
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ToriAnais Offline
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ToriAnais  Offline
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Love the idea of "The Ghost", I'm totally stealing that idea laugh


Piano teacher since August 2008.
#1247681 - 08/12/09 12:48 AM Re: Balancing melody with accompaniment. [Re: ToriAnais]  
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Klavierspielen Offline
Junior Member
Klavierspielen  Offline
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Steal away, Mitts_off! I totally stole the idea myself! smile


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