Overcoming F.E.I.S.

You have no doubt heard of F.E.I.S., a nervous condition afflicting piano teachers. I’m referring, of course, to Fur Elise Irritation Syndrome. This is caused by piano students repeating E and D-sharp over and over (and over) without a hint of melodic inflection. Well, I have discovered a way to diminish the cause and therefore the onset of this common affliction.


Ask your students to play an E7 chord with their left hand while playing the opening notes of the piece so they hear the D-sharps as non-harmonic tones and lower neighbors to E. Ask them to hear and feel the D-sharps slide back home to E each time they play them. The formerly monotonous delivery of those notes will now be graced with some melodic inflection.Then, ask students to remove the E7 chord, but imagine it there as they play.

While, sadly, F.E.I.S. will never be entirely preventable, the symptoms can be diminished by this technique with no ill side effects. So try it the next time you teach this “rite of passage” piece so often filled with “wrong passage-work.” It makes the piece better fur Elise and everyone else too.

blogForrest Kinney