The Institute of Music, UCSI University was honored to have Dr. Cole Burger for a piano masterclass recently. Dr. Cole Burger is a lecturer in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. He teaches piano and piano pedagogy there. He holds degrees in Piano Performance and Economics from Northwestern University and the University of Texas respectively. 3 students were selected to participate in this piano masterclass and learn from Dr. Cole Burger during the masterclass. They are Lim Zhi Ru, Anita Carolina and Joy Yuriko Sakai.
Zhi Ru played Bach’s Partita No. 3 in A Minor (Fantasia, Courante, Sarabande, and Burlesca). Dr. Burger mentioned that trying out different ways to play a piece could change the way the audience perceive a classical piece when it is being performed with different articulation and dynamic levels. He gave some suggestions to Zhi Ru that while playing Bach’s Partita that she could think of words that describe the piece that she is playing, so that she could achieve that particular ‘feeling’. Zhi Ru described her piece as ‘bright’ and ‘running’, Dr. Burger said she could achieve that adjectives that her audience could feel and hear what the pianist is trying to portray. I agree to this point, music is actually how the musician could express the music and how well the feeling of the piece is transferred from the mind of the musician to the audience. This is really a good tip for musicians out there!
For Anita’s performance of Ravel’s Sonatine (1st Movement), Dr. Burger said that the inner voice of her piece is important, as this is a romantic piece. The inner voice brings out the quality and expression of that piece and hence, it is important. It is also important in how a pianist ends his or her piece. He showed Anita that it is also important how a pianist could leave a lasting impression to her audience even after ending the piece. The ‘lifting-hand-gesture’ after playing the final note of the piece would suffice.
Joy played Schubert’s Impromptu Op. 142, No. 3 in Bb Major. Dr. Burger said that Schubert is famous for writing the most lied, which is a total of 600 lieder. That is one of the reason why Schubert’s pieces are very sing-able, in a cantabile style. He gave another example of one of Schubert’s lied/piece which is ‘The Trout’ or Die Forrelle. Dr. Burger also pointed out that the tempo is consistent throughout all variations in this piece and not a different tempo for each of them.
This masterclass for sure brought some insight on what to look out for while learning and playing classical pieces of different periods and how to pick up the small but important details so that the piece would be performed to its potential! Having to think of adjectives to describe a piece could bring ways to improve in the musicality part of learning a piece!
This article was written by Mabel Soong, 1st year student of the B. Music Classical program.