Piano and Poetry: a Primer on How to Critique Music

Here are my late night texts to my husband on how to critique piano music.

  • Can you hear Caroline playing?
  • Listen for clean articulation of each note, even tho it’s fast
  • A musician must be heard and given feedback. It’s stunted when she doesn’t get anything. But wait till she breaks for precise input
  • Without the listener, the music is lost … the pianist needs the feedback loop for improvement
  • First the notes.  The correct ones, so listen
  • Second the rhythm, you can tell if that is consistent as a trumpeter
  • Last the dynamics
  • Her hard part is the middle
  • Break it into small sections
  • Listen, replay, repeat until she hears it
  • N u hear it
  • Again and again until muscle memory
  • And beauty and truth and
  • Goodness pour forth
  • From her soul
  • Into the air
  • Floating to u
  • The receiver
  • Perfectly
  • Never the same twice
  • But always Caroline
  • Her soul
  • In music
  • You’ll know when it’s right
  • And it’s her
  • Just like a perfect swing and the sound the bat makes
  • And the kill  [on the volleyball court]
  • But nothing is like music
  • Because it’s a gift

I texted these notes tonight sitting on the stool of my Steinway Model B piano, taking a break to see the photo of my daughter practicing on a Yamaha P105 Keyboard rental in a hotel room.

Here’s a clip of a song I played and sent to Caroline and my husband, Gershwin’s Blue Lullaby.

 

 

I like this performance of my daughter’s song by Norwegian pianist Erik Jensen. The composer of Rustle of Spring is Christian Sinding.

My husband bought a set of headphones for Caroline to use with the keyboard.  I asked her not to use them; she could adjust the volume, BUT he should listen.

Music is better when it’s heard.

 

 

Feb 28, 2015

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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