Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Attention Pianists!

Okay, here's one for the piano player in me...actually it could be for any musician who knows what they're doing.  Do you ever get amazed when you read the things people write in their arrangements?  So many of them are completely useless, repetitive, or are just a given.  Here are a few examples of notes I've seen in actual published music (I have to say, sacred piano arrangements are the biggest offender, with SATB sacred choral arrangements as a close second.) 

****Editor's Note...please forgive my sarcasm, I'm a music teacher and some times you just have to let it boil over when the students aren't looking!

"big and sweeping" do you sing a song 'sweeping'?  I mean, other than Cinderella...

"moving forward" if you'd suddenly stop playing and start playing in reverse

"with determination"..."I will play this song!  I will play this song!  I WILL!!!"

"with emotion" opposed to regular songs which are to be sung/played without emotion; or you could just cry as you play...

"with expression" opposed to regular songs which are to be sung/played as lifelessly as possible

"with enthusiasm" in not rolling your eyes the whole time

"with purpose"...stop thinking how pointless this all is

"bring out melody"...aren't you always supposed to bring out the melody?  Why add that in?

"with anticipation"...I would prefer 'without anticipation'...try not to anticipate the errors that are about to occur!

"with feeling"...also, aren't you always supposed to play with feeling? I've never seen 'with stark, robot-like motions' written into a piece

"thoughtfully"...Caution:  This song not intended for airheads!

"decrease tempo"...there is another term for's called a ritardando...

"relaxed" opposed to playing tensed up, trying to provoke carpal tunnel

"with confidence"...just to remind you not to let your hands shake or let your eyes shift from side to side in embarrasment

"not pounding"...yes, this is really written in a piano book...I guess I can stop telling my kids not to pound on the piano...they'll write it in when they really mean it.

Phew!  And I thought I was overly wordy!  Whatever happened to teaching students to interpret the finer points of the composition?  Music teachers of the world, stand up and teach your students to actually look for and display the tone, theme, and drama of the music themselves, so we can eliminate this needless redundancy.  Redundancy we don't need...except, of course, my continual blog posts about chocolate.  That just goes without saying...


  1. Have you seen some of Jon Schmidt's music? My son and I were laughing over some of his constructive instructions. As a fellow pianist and sometime choir director...I hear you!

  2. "Andante sostenuto ma con ritmico" If I have to look up the term in Oxford's musical dictionary you shouldn't use it.
    "Rubato, with feeling" Sometimes I like to switch back and forth from Italian and English when I speak too.
    "Contemplative" I usually approach these pieces like I do those Sudoku puzzles in air plane magazines
    "Slowly, with great care" as opposed to "please don't give a flying flip if you get these notes right"
    and my favorite: "With Passion" I would hold a rose in my teeth and wear a slinky red dress but I'm a dude and flower stems are kind of germy.

    Love the post!!!!

  3. I've also seen a choir description "with freedom." Does that mean I don't have to follow the director?