Listening Guidelines for Piano Students

General information

General features of the music


Listening exercises:

  1. Focus on the melody line throughout the piece.
  2. Tap the beat. Discern the meter. (How many beats per regular group of beats?)
  3. Look for distinct sections and changes in structure. Can the structure be defined easily as ABA form? Sonata form?
  4. Listen for patterns: rhythmic shapes that repeat, melodic shapes that repeat.
  5. 5. How do you feel after hearing the piece? What do you think the composer is trying to express? Did you enjoy the experience of listening to this piece?

Additional issues:

  1. Composer familiarity and recognition: compare various works of one composer. Also compare interpretations of the composer by various pianists.
  2. Pianist familiarity: compare various performances by the same pianist. Get to know the personality, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses of this performer. Great pianists to explore: Vladimir Horowitz, Alfred Cortot, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Walter Gieseking, Sviatoslav Richter, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Glenn Gould, Martha Argerich
  3. Particularities of the instrument: The tonal personality of each instrument is different. Consider this when forming judgments about the performance.
  4. Recording quality: Another influence on your perception—consider this, as well as whether or not the recording is of a live performance. Try to listen through these factors to hear the performance more purely.