Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to play the Prelude No. 6 in B minor by Chopin

Step-by-step instructions to master Chopin's Prelude No. 6

In this video, Robert approaches Chopin's Prelude No. 6, with in-depth instructions for you.

Released on January 29, 2014

  
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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to living pianos.com and virtualsheetmusic.com. I'm your host, Robert Estrin, with a continuing series of Chopin Preludes. Last time, we discussed the beautiful E-minor that has the slow, simple melody in the right hand and the lush, sophisticated harmonies in the chords of the left hand, the challenge being bringing the melody out and getting a true legato.

Well, now we have a similar set of challenges, except flipped. The melody is now in the left hand. Many similarities in terms of how you approach this piece, except now you have something that's quite unusual. If you're an intermediate level player, you may not have come across a piece where the melody is in the left hand throughout, almost the entire piece.

All right, so how do you approach this? Well I made reference to this a little bit in the last video, with you bringing out the melody in the right hand, the idea of using the weight of the arm. That's really the secret of playing beautiful melodies, whatever hand they're in. So I'm going to try to explain that to you a bit and see if this is of benefit to you.

All right, you know, it's an interesting thing. Wind players and singers understand the importance of not only taking deep breaths, but also to support the air with the diaphragm, so you get the air under pressure that gets a fluid line. String players, same thing except they use the bow to create a smooth line.

Well what is the analogue on the piano to the natural sound of a wind instrument or a singer or a bowed instrument? Well, what you have is the weight of the arm. It's the one thing that can be continuous, like the breath with the bow. So, instead of thinking when you're playing a melody, normally you have a phrase that goes up and comes down.

Well, you could try calculating all the notes getting louder and louder, and softer and softer. And, you know what? At the end of the day you're going to end up with a calculated performance. So instead, allow the arm weight to get heavier towards the middle of the phrase and lighter at the end of the phrase.

So you don't just hit the key and have no weight there, but as you play the key, pretend the pressure you exert on the key after you play it is still sustaining the note. If you're convinced to that extent, you'll be able to get a singing line. Listen to the beautiful legato. Again, practice first without the pedal, so you find the best possible fingering. Here, in the case of the right hand, you want to break it into chords.

So the first two measures is just a b-minor chord. And then it goes up into an inversion in the third measure. And that is a great way to practice. Learn the chords first. Then you can break them up. Very good way to learn. Always try to reduce your music into chords first, so you can find the appropriate fingering.

So, using a lot of arm weight in the left hand so that you get a beautiful sustained melody. Once again I'm going to to play it without using any arm weight in the left hand. I'm just going to calculate louder and softer, and you'll hear, it will sound calculated.

It's, kind of, hard to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with it. It's missing in soul or magic or beauty. Because, listen, when I have some arm weight that I put into that, it's like the breath of a great singer.

[music]

So this is a great way to approach this Prelude. If you're interested in more, there's going to be a whole bunch of videos, complete tutorials on this piece and others. And you're welcome to email me, robert@livingpianos.com, and I can alert you to when those come out for you. Thanks for joining me here at virtualsheetmusic.com and livingpianos.com. I'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Dave Faulk on January 29, 2014 @6:57 am PST
Mr Estrin:
How does one approach relearning piano skills that have been over twenty years still?
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on January 29, 2014 @6:32 pm PST
Your best bet is to begin slowly but spend time every day. Immerse yourself in music! Go to concerts, listen to recordings and play with other musicians if you get a chance.

As you become more comfortable, you will be able to expand your repertoire. Good luck!
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