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.

 

 

About mylinhshattan

MyLinh B. Shattan is a writer who has worked in the private sector, taught at college, and served in the U.S. Army. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from West Point, an M.B.A. from Florida Southern College, and an M.F.A. in Writing from Queens University.