Piano Tutorial: Chopin Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2

Claude Debussy said, “Music is the space between the notes.” And that’s what this tutorial is mainly about.

The other week, a friend sent me a beautiful recording he’d made playing Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2. He told me, listening back, he thought his left hand was a little out in places and he also wanted to improve his feel for rubato. So, this video is for my friend and anyone else that feels the same way about these two particular things.

If you make home recordings like my friends, you can listen back objectively and take note of the things you feel could be played differently or improved in some way. We all have smartphones, so making recordings is fairly straightforward and I strongly recommend you do this if you are self-educating.

“Music is the space between the notes.” Does that mean music is the long lingering resonance of played notes or is it about rhythm mixing long and short notes together? While music is partly about these things, I feel it’s more about intervals and how they rise and fall expressively. Intervals make the melodies we love and can’t forget intervals take our breath away. Fillers with joy. Make us cry. It’s also about rubato. Rubato is the rhythmical freedom we add to music expressively changing the space between the notes by slowing or quickening in the mood of the moment. To help better understand how music is the space between the notes, I recommend the following exercise in harmonic intervals for the right hand. Take the simple C major scale, scale we all know well. But do we?

Home-studio performance


Listen to this song on Spotify.

Sheet Music


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