Phrasing and Cannibals
Why is piano playing so often confused with racing?
A student was dashing through a piece. At that breathless pace, the phrasing was a casualty, the melodies ran together, and all subtlety (and the possibility of grace) was lost in the blur.
I asked my student, “What are the names of your friends?”
“Heather and Natalie.”
“Okay, pretend you are having dinner with them and you are in a hurry to go out and see a movie. You say, ‘Let’s eat! Heather! Quickly!’ Now, can you say those four words really fast without pausing between the words?”
My student immediately burst into laughter when she heard herself say, “Let’s eat Heather quickly!”
I pretended to be shocked and asked her, “Are you an over-scheduled cannibal?”
“NO!” she shouted.
“Well then, you have to pause between the words or I will think otherwise! It’s the same with music. When you don’t pause between phrases and sections, the meaning of the music is changed. Try again? Slower this time?”