IMPROVE YOUR PIANO SOUND in Kabalevsky’s Magical “Lullaby”

by Lars Nelissen  - August 14, 2023

Working at SOUND QUALITY at the piano MUST BE an important part of your PIANO TECHNIQUE

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Piano technique for a magical piano sound!

One of the main elements in piano playing is to develop complete control over the quality of your piano sound. So how to improve your piano sound? 

In this VIDEO TUTORIAL, we're going to delve into the enchanting world of Dimitri Kabalevsky's "Lullaby." This piece is a true musical dream, evoking a whimsical atmosphere and a captivating narrative, much like a story unfolding within a dream. To perform it as it's meant to be, we need to harness its esoteric sound quality and master the art of a 'Cantabile' melody.

For those unfamiliar with Dimitri Kabalevsky, he's more than just a composer of children's pieces. His portfolio includes beautiful piano sonatas that are nothing short of genius, a fact underscored by legends like Vladimir Horowitz, who recorded some of them. DOWNLOAD the free score.

Dmitri Kabalevsky - Improve your piano sound

Dmitri Kabalevsky

The video is part of a series of tutorials learning Kabalevsky 30 Children Pieces opus 27. They are written in the style of the Russian piano school and are designed to develop piano finger technique, piano chord technique, and learn a singing tone at the piano in melodic playing, and create special piano sounds. I RECOMMEND THESE TO ALL BEGINNERS!

Don't forget to DOWNLOAD the score with my fingerings and remarks written in it.

Watch here the Video Tutorial on Kabalevsky's "Lullaby" from Opus 27
► Read Video Script In this video, we're going to do from Dimitri Kabalevsky's "Lullaby." This lullaby is like a dream. It's a very dreamy atmosphere. It's like a little story in a dream. That's how it should be played and performed. And it's a nice piece to work on, to have this esoteric sound quality and a 'Cantabile' melody. Also, we learn the independence of left and right, the switching of the melody between, first, the right hand, and then it comes back in the left hand. The notes are not very complex. In previous videos, I did a few other pieces of Kabalevsky: Etude in A minor from the children's album and 'A Little Story.' Dimitri Kabalevsky wrote not only children's pieces. He wrote beautiful piano sonatas. Vladimir Horowitz recorded a few of them. Brilliant pieces, and they certainly are no less genius than the Prokofiev Sonatas. I would certainly check them out, and I would certainly not dismiss this album. Each of those pieces has some elements in them to learn for not only beginners but also intermediate. Those are really very rewarding pieces. In the link in the description, I have a PDF of the pieces. Make sure to download them. In those PDFs, I write my fingerings, I write pedaling, and I write the arm movements. So make sure to download them, and then you can follow along with my remarks for educational purposes. So let's listen a little bit. The character and the way the piece is written could be a little prelude to Shostakovich. It's a little bit in that style. Dreamy... dreamy atmosphere in this left... So I would really work to make these little movements here, little arm movements to make it nice, supple, and smooth. And take the weight out of the keys. Concentrated fingers. See, and I have this beautiful circle. and then Mezzo Piano, which is for the melody. Moderato cantabile is a moderate tempo with a singing tone, particularly in the melody, this cantabile. It's a nice melody! Search for the sound, deep, this one. it's a Portato Mark here. And see... and the arm movement is: go up and down, and up, and then up, one movement. See, I will write the movement in the score, so when you download it, you can nicely see the arm movements the fingerings, and the pedaling, of course. The pedal is one pedal at the beginning and 1/2 pedal here, half. So per bar, and some bars, where the harmony doesn't change, and the melody doesn't require it, we use a half pedal, and for other bars, we use a whole pedal. When the harmony changes, it needs a whole pedal for sure, so... and here 'Più Forte' Deeper, 'Più Forte' a little bit deeper. With a weight. Crescendo. And here, the melody takes over in the left hand. Forte! Crescendo! And here is the pedal per quarter note, where we have this... So the pedal follows here the left hand. Più Forte! 'Poco ritenuto' and 'Piano' again. Piano and then Mezzo Forte ending with a Diminuendo. It's a beautiful piece to work on. The smooth smoothness of broken 7th chords. To have this beautiful smooth sound, and at the same time have a 'Cantabile' melody, which changes in the different hands. So let's play that whole piece from the beginning: Make sure to watch the other videos with Kabalevsky pieces that I recorded. Maybe I will record a few more in the future. It's a really beautiful album for beginners; all study pieces are real music, and all have elements to learn some new stuff. So check the description. There, I also put the links to the other videos that I have of Kabalevsky. Or watch it on my channel. If you like this video, give me a thumbs up to let other people know that this is a good video and they will watch it and benefit from it as well. If you didn't subscribe, hit the subscribe button so that you will not miss out. Weekly, I post new videos like this and about other subjects on piano playing to help people like you learn the instrument better. So make sure to hit the subscribe button! And then I see you the next time!

What You'll Learn in the Video


Developing Finger Independence

To improve your piano sound, start with mastering finger independence. This skill is pivotal when switching the melody between the right and left hands. Kabalevsky's "Lullaby" is a fantastic piece to hone this technique, and its notes are accessible for pianists of various skill levels.


Understand and Learn to Control Piano Arm Technique

Mastering piano arm technique is something that only some piano teachers give attention to with their students. Yet, to improve our piano sound, we must use good arm technique. The arm helps the fingers bring weight into the keys or take weight out of the keys. The arm in piano technique also helps to smoothen passages or emphasize specific notes or groups of notes.


The Importance of Dynamics

One of the key aspects of improving your piano sound is understanding dynamics. This piece allows you to experiment with various dynamics, from the softest whispers to powerful crescendos, adding depth and character to your performance.


Mastering Pedal Techniques

Proper pedal control can significantly impact your piano sound. The great piano icon Anton Rubinstein called the piano sustain pedal (right pedal) "Soul of the Piano". In this "Lullaby," you'll find moments that call for precise pedal usage, creating a more resonant and expressive experience.


Cantabile Melody

"Cantabile" translates to "singing" in Italian. This means that in Kabalevsky's "Lullaby," the melody should be played with a singing tone, creating a sweet and melodious sound.


Articulation Techniques

Experiment with different articulation techniques like staccato and legato to infuse your performance with flavor and nuance. Kabalevsky's pieces offer opportunities to explore various articulations.


Rhythmic Mastery

Kabalevsky's compositions often challenge pianists with complex rhythms. There is an unmistakable correlation between timing and sound in piano playing and in all music. Learning to master these rhythms will undoubtedly improve your piano sound, not only in "Lullaby" but in other pieces as well. 


Recording and Self-Evaluation

Recording and listening to your performances is an excellent way to identify areas for improvement in your piano sound. It allows you to critique your performance and make necessary adjustments.


Pay Attention to Harmony

In "Lullaby," the harmony plays a crucial role in shaping the sound. Utilize pedal markings to match the harmony changes, ensuring that your piano sound aligns with Kabalevsky's vision.


The Gift of Time

Remember, improving your piano sound is a journey that requires patience and persistence. Dedicate yourself to practice and exploration; over time, you'll notice a significant enhancement in your performance.

A Last Word on How to Improve Your Piano Sound

Dimitri Kabalevsky's "Lullaby" is more than just a musical piece; it's a gateway to enhancing your piano sound. By delving into the nuances of this composition and incorporating the techniques discussed, you can transform your piano playing into a mesmerizing, dream-like experience.

Remember to check out the other Kabalevsky pieces and related resources in the video description to continue your journey toward improved piano sound. So, start practicing, and let your piano sound take flight!


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