Monthly Archives: November 2016

Making it Sound Good: A Review of Robert Kelly’s Piano Tone Production

Hi Everyone,

Today, we are doing a review on an article by Robert Kelly “Piano Tone Production

When we’re beginning to learn piano, it can sometimes be a struggle to make what we play sound like what we want and expect to hear.  In an era of instant gratification through technology and apps, the longer process of learning an instrument can seem daunting,  especially to the younger generations.

Piano Tone Production

Making something simple, or something complex, sound great on the instrument you have is as much about science as it is about technique.  Robert Kelly has some great advice about how to make a piano sound good.  It all boils down to some simple concepts:
1.  Understanding where the energy in your body comes from when you’re striking the piano keys.
2.  Understanding the mechanics of the piano and how that energy is transferred from your body to the instrument.
3.  Knowing how your body’s position relative to the piano impacts the transfer of energy between you and it.
4.  Knowing the piece you’re playing and being practiced enough not to overplay or underplay the instrument you have.
Overall. Kelly drives home the fact that the piano is infact an intrument, and not a device to type on. Far often, I notice piano students approaching the piano keys as if they are buttons to be pressed. When the keys are approached music that way, we can only expect a flat range of sounds. When we approach the piano in the way Kelly describes it, then we are able to access an almost limitless range of sounds. Not only does the piano have 88 keys, the way we approach the keys can deliver different levels of volume, sensitivity, and combination of notes.
There’s very little that’s more rewarding than being able to match the sounds that come out of the piano to the creativity inspired by your mind.  Have fun, practice lots, and share your music!
EN Music Studio
Piano Tone Production: A Guide for the Student Pianist

Halloween Month at EN Music Studio

sketches-page-48Happy Halloween!

At the end of our Halloween-themed month, I asked the students to look at 3 different Halloween scenarios and create a musical soundtrack to it. The goal is to invoke different moods and feelings using what we learned in piano. Of course, a major component of this exercise is using minor keys. What about other aspects of music to create a feeling? Let’s go over them now!

The Ghost

For me, the ghost in the graveyard should suggests moods such like eeriness, and loneliness. Sounds that can be used to invoke this type of mood include softer sounds, playing higher notes, and having more space between each note. Because this picture does not have a lot of action, the melody should remain calm and collected to reflect the nature of the setting.


sketches-page-49The Vampire

I was specific in letting the kids know that I was not looking for the vampire that’s asleep in his casket during the day. I was looking to create music to the vampire about to attack! For this action-packed picture, I suggest louder sounds, stronger articulations, and a faster tempo. By playing faster, and playing more aggressively, we can create a tense suspenseful sound. For this picture, I was looking to invoke emotions such as fear and terror.


The Witch

In this picture of the witch creating a potion in her cauldron, I wanted to the students to invoke feelings of mystery, drama, and wonder. We achieve this by using a fast tempo, a quiet dynamic, and rapid connected notes. By playing the minor scale in this fashion, we can create a wall of sound that rings in the air, like how the potion’s smokes fills the air.

Next up, Holiday music!

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