Circus Polka, Russian Dance No. 2 Composed by Michael Harvey

The acrobatics found in this piece are reminiscent of circus entertainment. This composition is the next level of advancement from the Eccentric Piano Student. It contains a greater number of larger leaps and repeated notes. I was also keen to introduce an interlocking action between the hands, as found in the Coda.

I would recommend the following practice strategies:

For the development of leaps, I would recommend what I call ‘rainbow movements’. These are like a semicircle when leaping from one area of the keyboard to another. This improves accuracy and speed and reduces unnecessary tension. 

When leaping, practise extremely quick movements, reaching the next note or chord before you need to play it, so the hand will be ready-in-waiting for the correct time to play, thus developing the reflexes. These two methods should be practised for a considerable amount of time each day until technical mastery has been achieved.

Interlocking should first be practiced by lifting the arms high above the keys (even a foot high). There must be a coordination between all joints. This is important to focus on as I have found that pianists are not sufficiently aware of their arms and how this impacts on performance. The faster you play, the more minimised the distance between hand and keys. Practise in short sharp bursts of 2 demisemiquavers at a time. Once this is easy, find a way of making it rhythmical playing in short sharp bursts of 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16. Always check to make sure you are keeping a supple wrist and there is no excessive tension in the elbows. This can be achieved by resting for a few seconds and using this time to become aware of and release the tension. Before starting each short burst of notes, try to feel the same level of physical comfort.

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