25 Easy and Progressive Etudes (Op. 100)

1. La Candeur (Openness) in C major

The quaver patterns require the cultivation of a legato cantabile touch and tonal gradation. Begin with the voice and sing the lines, shaping expressively and giving some space where the music breathes. Fingers need to be close to the keys, and the wrist flexible and mobile. As you glide through the five-finger positions sense the alignment of the arm behind each finger. You’ll feel this either as a tiny lateral movement in the wrist in the direction of travel, or as a small wrist circle (either is fine).

Don’t overlook the chordal accompaniment in the LH; a solidly prepared background can only help the foreground sound and feel better. Begin by labelling each chord – the progression in the first half is I-IV-I-V7-I, then a secondary dominant (V7/V) takes us to the dominant key (G major). An understanding of form and structure not only deepens learning but is vital for greater appreciation of music and as an aid to learning more quickly. Players with general musicianship and theory skills tend to learn pieces much more quickly and much more thoroughly, and are better sight-readers. A chord legato is an essential skill for any pianist, no matter the level. As you move from one chord to the next within a legato context, find points of connection in the hand to link. For example, to get from the first LH chord to the next, lift the fingers you cannot connect (thumb and 5th) while holding the 3rd finger and joining from that finger to the next chord. This facilities smooth connections and tonal control – it is a knack that, once acquired, will become second nature to you.

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