Masterclass: Scriabin: Prelude for the Left Hand, Op. 9 No. 1 - Entrada

April 26, 2022

Masterclass: Scriabin: Prelude for the Left Hand, Op. 9 No. 1

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For the past two years, I’ve been playing ping pong with my best friend, five times per week. It provides many benefits: physical exercise, an adrenaline rush, communion with my friend, and a form of meditation whereby all other outside stressors disappear for 45 minutes. Truly, it’s a source of joy on many levels.

In early 2021, I had a freak accident while playing: I caught the side of the table with my paddle and sprained my right hand. For several days, I couldn’t play the piano with my right hand, but this provided me with a great chance to explore solo repertoire for the left hand. I quickly became enamored with the Scriabin Prelude for the Left Hand, Op. 9 No. 1 and decided to film a tutorial on it the day after my injury, in part to show my process for learning a new piece from scratch. 

I was fortunate that the piece ‘fit’ my hand really well, but it’s still a very different kind of piano writing that is called for when the left hand is responsible for all of the notes that are normally distributed between two hands. (Of course, the sustain pedal plays a vital role as well.) 

By the way, although I was able to return to playing most piano repertoire with my right hand within two weeks, it was over three months until I felt comfortable playing ping pong with my right hand. The good news is that my ambidexterity transferred enough to my left hand that my friend and I didn’t have to ‘go on the disabled list;’ our season was able to continue. 

Most surprisingly, I was able to remain competitive with my left hand. Curiously, when I finally returned to playing with my right hand, I’d found that my game had actually improved. I can’t prove anything, but I liken it to the benefits I get from doing mirroring (piano) practice, something else I’ve incorporated much more in the past two years. That’s a topic for a future blog post–

In addition to posing unique technical challenges, the Scriabin Prelude for the Left Hand is a haunting, soulful, and passionate piece of music. I find that it demands great involvement and commitment, and a different kind of coordination, as the left hand must handle melody, accompaniment, and counterpoint simultaneously, throughout. But the rewards are well worth it!

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