(If you do not see a RENEW button, please select a plan
and enter any code you may have received in a renewal notice online or in print.)
If you have ANY questions at all, please contact support@claviercompanion.com
2 minutes reading time (402 words)

Impressionism for intermediates

Helen Boykin's 1947 impressionistic gem, Seafoam (Schirmer/Hal Leonard), has remained a student favorite for almost seventy years. I've taught this intermediate piece many times, but it is also a solo that profoundly motivated me when I was a young student.

The majority of the piece relies on a bold left-hand melody, with the right hand repeating a descending four-note pattern of a G-major triad with an added second. Students will need to start each pattern by dropping the fifth finger into the key and then rotating the wrist, making a circular motion. The motion should feel effortless, and, with the proper pedaling, the sound is just like rippling water. This technique will be useful when students advance to Debussy and Ravel.

Written in G major, Seafoam begins peacefully. The right hand repeats its four-note pattern for almost an entire page, with the left-hand melody beginning daringly on the seventh scale degree. Students quickly learn to focus on the left hand as it leaps into the depths of the lower registers, as seen in measures 3-6.

In the middle section, Boykin sets the stage for stormy seas. The section begins in G-sharp minor, but is clearly unstable as the storm escalates. Everything leads to the exhilarating con fuoco e accelerando in measures 19–22. Here, Boykin writes a whole-tone scale in the left, and broken seventh chords in the right.

The right-hand chords move lower and lower and, at measure 23, are immediately followed by a quasi cadenza, an accelerating whole tone hand-over-hand scale that splashes up the piano.

If students are already comfortable playing whole-tone scales, measure 23 will be not difficult to master. In preparation, I suggest teaching the whole-tone scale as a warm-up exercise. Blocking the section's right-hand broken chords is also an effective practice tool. Eventually things calm down with an abbreviated return to the opening section, this time with the right-hand pattern in retrograde.

Seafoam is a classic of intermediate piano repertoire, and, I'm happy to say, my local music store keeps it in stock. Learning this piece started my love affair with impressionistic music. My students today find it just as appealing and exciting as I did many years ago.

Click here to view a 1959 newspaper article with more information about Helen Boykin.

You have to be a member to access this content.

Please login and subscribe to a plan if you have not done so.

Piano Talk
How do you avoid assigning repertoire that is too ...
 

Comments

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

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.ClavierCompanion.com/

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