Piano Instruction: Don't always accentuate the downbeat!

Burgmuller's lively Intermediate level character piece, "Inquietude" is used as an example in my tutorial.


"Inquietude" from Burgmuller's Op. 100 collection of Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, invites a player to examine harmonic progressions as a clue to phrasing a composition that's often pounded to death with unnecessary DOWNBEAT accents.

Seymour Bernstein, distinguished pianist, teacher and author, noted in a recent conversation we shared in New York City, that our musical universe is made up of DOWNBEATERS and UPBEATERS. The former, he exclaimed, are convinced that every measure must have an emphasized first beat.

Beethoven's "Fur Elise," for example, is often played with obtrusive accents that distort its phrasing. It can be compared to ending a spoken sentence with a roar. 

Burgmuller, a Romantic era composer, who created many miniatures with a strong teaching dimension, challenges the Intermediate level student to play one of his high intensity, rapid fire pieces without falling into the down-beater booby trap.

To avoid such a predicament the pianist must examine harmonic rhythm or the flow of the Left Hand chords to discern how to shape the melodic line--one that is replete with slurred groupings of three 16ths. (These spring out of a punctuated bass)

Leaning on certain chords, such as the Sub-Dominant (IV) that don't land on the first beat validates a clear alternative to being an automatic pilot, crash-landing musician.

My instructional video should assist not only one of my students who is studying this composition but those in the cyber piano cosmos who might be open to new ideas about "Inquietude" and how to approach/practice it.


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