I'm in the process of learning to play the Piano and have some trouble figuring out how the part highlighted below in gray is supposed to be played (that is a Flowplay screenshot of this song:

enter image description here

As far as I've understood, the dotted half note (left hand, 5th bar) should equal 3/4, or in other words should be played until the end of the bar. But in the video, the person playing releases the key at about 3/4 into and then moves their left hand in preparation for the first note of the 6th bar.

It simply sounds wrong if I try to do the same thing, so I'm wondering what I'm missing in how this is supposed to be played.

4 Answers 4


Your evaluation of the duration of the note is correct. It often happens that we need to rob a little time from somewhere to shift. We do it in guitar all the time and I'd imagine that pianists need to do it as well. I could not play it to watch so I'm trusting your description. Some players can shift fast and smooth, others need more time. That is a matter of experience.

  • No. The note sounds full length. Pianos have sustain pedals. There have been several answers from people who missed the link to the performance video and have merely made guesses.
    – Laurence
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 1:34
  • But that justifies the assumptions. With the sustain pedal you do not need to hold the key down.
    – user50691
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 2:22

There are two possibilities here. One is a finger substitution (where one finger takes over the role of the finger that has to move), another is the sustain pedal (which can be used in the third beat to take the job of sustaining both bass and treble note).

  • 1
    Yes, this is a perfect spot for a finger substitution. As one plays the B♭, they can then put finger 4 on that key (while the previous finger keeps playing the B♭) so that they can move smoothly to A with finger 5 on the downbeat of the next measure.
    – Richard
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 19:35
  • @Richard Actually, I think the 2-4 substitution is more uncomfortable than the 2-5 transition...
    – coconochao
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:19
  • @coconochao Yes, in hindsight I shouldn't have clarified a particular finger; we all have our own preferences!
    – Richard
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 18:20

The pianist in the video is making liberal use of the sustain pedal. We can hear this from the sound, and from the fact that although notes are being lified early, the sound DOES continue.

In my opinion the pianist is using too much pedal. The scalic passages are getting smeared.


You're reading the sheet music correctly. However, pianists will move their hands either to get prepared for the next note or to add musicality (stage presence, or feeling and emotion). Right now, it's okay to sustain every note for its full duration because you're still learning piano. However, when you get better as a pianist, that practice will make you sound stiff and incredibly robotic. Now, the only time you always hold the note for its exact duration is when the now has a tenuto (a straight line under the note). This is what a tenuto looks like.

Now, I don't know what the video looks like because it's just an image, but another possibility could be because of a change in fingering.


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