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Studio Experiences.



Do not play the piano gingerly: i.e., do not touch the keys timidly and hesitatingly, as if you would test each one first, before deciding to strike it. That is really what is in your mind if you are in the least degree uncertain; but you must not let your hearers know that you are uncertain. You will not be able to overcome this timidity except by one device, viz.: by destroying it. The difference between playing when the player’s fingers are as sure where they are and as sure that they can accomplish what they wish and that which is but vaguely aware of itself, or positively in apprehension, is extreme. That which as much as anything differentiates the performance of a virtuoso from that of an amateur is this perfect certainty.

A short time ago a teacher was listening to a les­son recited in this weak, indeterminate manner, and he suddenly exclaimed: “Laura, do not play like a cat walking on a wet pavement!” A hearty laugh was the first reply, but it was soon evident that the girl comprehended both the distressful and feeble effect which she was making, and the way in which to remedy it. The cat is a native of Egypt, which has the most singularly dry climate in the world; thus has an hereditary fear of moisture. Now, do not cultivate this nervous fear of the keys, but go right at them firmly, surely, and without a fear of distressing consequences.



I was teaching Archie the notes on the staff. At the second lesson I wanted him to tell me what the notes were written on,—namely: the “staff,”—but it had escaped his memory. “What do old men lean on?” I suggested.

“Lean up against a fence,” was his practical reply. It nearly took my breath, and I had to tell him the word after all.

But later I found his imagination had been awak­ened. We had been learning Joseph Low’s little duet, “Evening.” I had tried to awaken a sense of the quiet calm of the eventide; the setting sun; the faint call of birds, and the low, fleecy sunset clouds.

It was five o’clock when he came for his lesson. “See!” he exclaimed; “let us play ‘Evening’ first. The sun is just setting. I think I can do it better now!”

He had not forgotten the setting of the piece.



Many times has it been repeated how stimulating is the interest that parents take in the work of their children who are studying music! So far as my ex­perience goes, all parents, as a rule, are interested in their children’s studies, but the trouble is with the interest itself. It is not much if parents are merely interested in the progress made by their children be­cause of the expense, but that they should love music for its own sake and love it better still as music made by the little hands of their offspring: that is a thing entirely different and very seldom met.

The case I am about to relate would be most grati­fying to any teacher.

The father of a very talented and still more dili­gent little girl of eight years told me in accents of deep regret: “You see, I am occupied the whole week, and the only time I can hear her (meaning his little girl) is Sunday.” From the tone of his voice one could feel at once that he loved music with all his soul, especially that of his little daughter; that he really missed it very much during the week. On Sundays the child plays for him almost all day, and during the week-days works hard to pre­pare for Sunday. With so sympathetic a listener she is striving to be worthy of his attention.

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You are reading Studio Experiences. from the December, 1901 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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