Incorporating sensor-play into the teaching of piano technique
I have been teaching a lot of Baroque music in my studio lately, and one of the things I find really hard for students to grasp is playing mezzo-staccatos. Almost every one of my students who first start to play Baroque pieces will see staccatos and play them super short, as they would do with music in their previous learning.
Inspired by Graham Fitch's masterclass on articulation in which he says portato articulation is like a "sticky staccato", I decided to try and introduce this idea to students with a hands-on game approach.
I have found using a jar of Play-Doh has by far been the best way to show my students how to play mezzo-staccatos or portato, and teaches them the correct technique, sound and length of these notes. It can also be really fun!
As the goal of the game is for the student to carefully lift the ball of Play-Doh off the keys and let it stick to the finger, it teaches them a slower descent and ascent speed while playing and can be a memorable way of introducing this type of articulation on the piano.
I have tried this technique with students of various levels and abilities, and I have found all of the students have loved this game. I also get the students to try and "beat" me in this game, by having more Play-Doh balls stick to their finger tips than me!
This blog post is by Melody Deng