3 minutes reading time (573 words)

Kabalevsky: Clowns, Op. 39


Preparation and Presentation

Pieces that are helpful to have experienced or played before approaching this one:

  • Beethoven - Ecossaise in G Major, WoO 23
  • Niamath - Playful Puppy
  • Niamath - Penguins

Creative activities to explore before the first encounter with the score, to prepare a student for deeper engagement and more immediate success:

  • Learn the LH ostinato figure by rote. Play this pattern up the C major scale.
  • Improvise a 5-finger melody against the left hand ostinato.
  • Play/imitate 5-finger patterns in a variety of touches and articulations. Familiarize the ear and hand by using the exact articulations from the piece.

Features to pay attention to first; priority steps in reading and absorbing the music:

  • Maintain the bounciness of the LH rote exercises.
  • Encourage close attention to the movements of wrist while executing precise RH articulations.
  • Discuss the character of the sections from the very beginning; these characters are great motivation for practice!

Physical skills and drills for common technical challenges in the piece:

  • Drill LH passages independently.
  • RH articulations and wrist motions can be drilled by focusing only on the first three notes, alternating from major to minor.
  • Practice RH staccato leaps separately from the slurred passages for accuracy.

Ideas to connect and re­connect with the expressive and musical nature of the piece:

  • Write Emoji faces into the music to remind them of the characters chosen for each section.
  • Compare LH ostinato figure to a clown rhythmically juggling balls.

Approaches to set up for success with refinements that will need attention a few weeks down the road:

  • Encourage slow practice with attention to LH changes in mm. 13-17.
  • The end can be tricky. Work backward for accuracy, starting with m. 25 and practicing slowly until mm. 22-25 are confident and comfortable.
File Name: IL1KabalevskyClownsMcAlisterAH1
File Size: 35 kb
Download File

Process and Practice

Tips for maintaining focus and engagement over time:

  • Draw different faces in the score to indicate contrasting moods, which can vary from performance to performance.
  • Embody chosen characters with facial expressions, while playing.

Useful practice segments; how to connect them and plug them back into the whole:

  • Practice the A Major/minor sections (mm. 1-4, 5-8, 18-21) together to discover and show how they are similar and different.
  • Individual practice for:

mm. 9-12 in F Major/minor
mm. 13-17 transition
mm. 22-25 coda

Tips for focusing on how the parts make up the whole:

  • Identify where 5-note patterns occur and how they change throughout the piece. How are they different in the A M/m and the F M/m sections?
  • Identify the key areas.
  • Point out where the left hand pattern changes.

Ideas for finding and maintaining tempo, managing modifications artistically:

  • Think of the LH as a metronome to keep the beat steady.
  • Aim for a joking, clownish tempo; choose one that brings out the character and isn't too fast.

Tips for developing and refining a personal, internal sense of the piece:

  • Exaggerate the articulations and dynamics.
  • Allow some time (stretch) in m. 17 before returning to the first theme.

Tips for securing memory:

  • Memorize the piece in its key areas.
  • Note where the A section changes and leads to the Coda (m. 22).

Tips for ensuring performance readiness, maintaining freshness and spontaneity, and reinforcing an expressive personal connection:

  • Draw multiple characters for each section and choose a different combination for successive performances.
Burgmüller: Ballade, Op. 100 No. 15
Making Music Throughout Adulthood: Best Practices ...

Related Posts



Already Registered? Login Here
No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

About Piano Magazine

Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

Follow us on

Terms of use

Have Questions?

We are happy to help.

Editorial questions? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Advertising questions? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subscription questions? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Technical questions? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cron Job Starts