๐Ÿ“† Taylor Swift — August Piano Sheets

Piano Player Ability Rating: Beginner

๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿซ As I learned, many of you are self-taught piano players and never had a piano class. I try to cover several piano-playing techniques.

๐Ÿ’ฟ About August by Taylor Swift

The song, August, was released on . Listen August on Spotify, see wikipedia entry for more details.

certainly liked a challenge of recording! Beautiful doesn’t mean difficult. This simple song conforms to the convenient symmetrical pattern for the Pop-song: August is composed in a binary verse-chorus form that consist of two four-bar phrases. The bridge is longer than verses and repeated as outro. It's perfect for those who have passed the elementary stage of playing. Thัƒ transcribed piece fits well under the fingers, makes coherent musical sense, is technically simple, and isn’t too hard to memorize.

Note that the vocal line has a treble clef with "8", it means you should play one octave lower!

๐Ÿ“š How to Play Piano

๐ŸŽฏ Clear your mind, relax the body. Piano is called so because you should be soft. Stiff muscles are slow.

✋ Before touching the piano keys, warm up your fingers and wrists with slow and soft circular motions and moderate stretching, rotate your shoulders and arms.

๐Ÿ“ Concentrate. Instead of sight-reading the piece as it is, get to know snippets of the music bit by bit. Break the piece down into tiny units (enough to hold in our working memory) at the speed of no mistakes (this might be extremely slowly to start with) and with the mind fully engaged. ๐Ÿค Make sure to arch the fingers for the health of your wrists. Slacking your fingers will overwork them and cause strain. Keep the relaxed, flexible wrists, hands and arms when playing August — it allows producing a warm sound. Both hands should play smoothly (tenuto) if not indicated the opposite (staccato) although not with the fingers glued to the keys. Playing pianissimo at the very beginning stage saves you energy.

๐Ÿ’ฌ Count out loud to ensure precise rhythm. By counting I mean the tA-ta, tA-ta, not the old inefficient one-and, two-and. Use a metronome app.

3️⃣ To begin with, practice hands separately but no more than three repetitions in a row as you risk to decrease your ability to concentrate (a phenomenon known as habituation), and this is when mistakes will creep in.

⏳ Work on the hardest bits first without caring about technical difficulties — repetition and practice will do the job and you will learn the sheet music faster than you think. The time required will surprise you by its shortness. You might focus on just one or two sections in a single practice session if you are learning the piano notes for the first time.

⏯️ Don’t always begin at the beginning; if we you able to start from any section you will be much more secure in performance.

๐Ÿฅ Focus from the very beginning primarily on phrasing. With the right technique, a pianist’s phrasing can be as persuasive as a singer’s. Guard against a bar-by-bar approach — phrases don’t obey the barlines.
Create the illusion of a singing piano by
  1. accenting strong beats,
  2. playing the first bar of any phrase louder than the last bar,
  3. peaking near the highest-pitched note of a phrase.

๐Ÿง  How to Memorize Sheet Music

๐Ÿ™ˆ Start memorizing August from the very beginning. Read one-two bars and play them from memory. Some days later, avoid looking at a paper sheet (or a monitor) as long as you can when rehearsing the music piece.
๐Ÿ›️ Read the score in bed in the evening, analyse the whole piece to see where the different themes parts and how the first verse differs from the second.
๐ŸŽ™️ Sing original lyrics, la-la-la or ta-ta-ta, or simply hum the melody out loud when playing, so you can easily memorize the notes.
๐Ÿ”  Learn harmony chords, there are only 24 of them. It is easier to memorize that in the left hand is “a chord Am” instead of three-four notes from the sheet music. Usually, in the left hand there are only four chords that are repeated for the whole song. Carefully note the chord progressions, as apart from the melody line. It takes nothing to remember only four chords instead of 100 bars of an accompaniment.
✍ And the last, be artistic, be creative. Print the pdf, take correction fluid and a black pen and add or delete whatever you want in this arrangement.

๐Ÿ“… Tips for Playing Taylor Swift — August Sheet Music


๐ŸŽญ Accuracy in articulation is essential for playing August piano sheet music. Make the piece sound as expressive as you possibly can. Imagine the sound you want to hear in your head and only then try to play it this way. Judge every tone that you produce. Play with the eyes closed.

๐Ÿคท The song creates a certain atmospheric mood. Find out what Taylor Swift’s message was and express it. Your touch should be bouncing and meditative. Imagine that you are performing in front of people.

๐Ÿ’• It is a romantic song, full of sweetness and charm. It should be played very slowly for a lyric, melodramatic effect.

๐Ÿ’ค To sound quietly, keep your fingers close to the keys and do some firm practice from the knuckles.

๐Ÿ– The articulation in this piece is tricky because it alternates between legato and staccato. To learn the legatos hold them as a chord, it stretches your fingers and helps to learn the fingering naturally.

Accent every note, varying the accents each time you play. Play as if you are being listened to.

๐Ÿ”Š There’s a lot of repetition throughout, so be creative with phrasing and dynamics when repeating the same phrase. This will create some drama in your performance. Taylor Swift presents us with a wide range of dynamics (the sound volume levels). Be generous in varying the dynamics, it’s the easiest way to sound expressive:
  • The Verses demand two different tone-colors. The first verse requires an intimate tone, the second is more energetic. Give the music a beautifully graded, warm tone. Make sure to grade the repeated patterns s they don’t sound monotonous. Think in long lines, not short phrases.
  • Save a full weight and depth of tone for the Choruses. Feel free to play a strong Forte. Keep the phrases as long as possible. Pedal carefully in this section. Make a well-judged decrescendo at the end.
  • At the long Bridge, the mood changes, the articulation becoming more legato, the sound is losing its weight, so it’s important to change your touch. Make it sound significant. Try plucking each note with the tip of the fingers. There is potential to make a small crescendo.
  • The Coda repeats the Bridge and requires a full tone.
    Use slight diminuendo over the final four bars that are repeated endlessly (four times) — make a lowering of dynamics to piano here. Place the fingers with a soft, emotional sound and a sensitive touch. Make a gradual and smooth decrescendo to pianissimo.

✍️ Write down all these crescendo/diminuendo (< & >) and piano/forte (๐“Ÿ & ๐“•) markings in order to make your piano sound more noticeable or prominent, to emphasize the Taylor Swift's lyrics.

Even more, play each time in the way you want it! Re-arrange, improvise. Go slow, go fast. Play octaves lower or higher.

✋ The Right Hand

There is no need to learn hands separately: the score is very easy. Although, playing one hand alone is always revealing.
Practice slowly with an obvious emphasis on the topline while playing the accompaniment as gently and calm as possible.

Listen to the track August as you begin to learn the arrangement. Think like a singer — breathe where a singer would, and aim to contour every phrase and line imaginatively. Notice how short phrasing is. Put the emphasis on the first note of each phrase. Don’t attack the keys.

๐Ÿคš The Left Hand

The LH is generally soft throughout. Ensure that the LH line is always softer than the RH. The LH is the rhythmic foundation over which the dramatic RH melody shines. Don't let the LH overshadow the RH melody.

๐Ÿ”  The hardest technical challenge in this piece is the execution of the chords.
  • When playing, the chord background ought to be subdued. To voice each chord effectively, give the lower note greater emphasis, tone and shape by rotating your hand towards the weaker 4th and 5th fingers.
  • A chord is too big for the left hand? Leave out repeated notes or/and transfer the top to your right.
  • Or arpeggiate the chord.
  • Get your hand in position for each chord before playing it.
  • A relaxed wrist will help you to balance chords so that all notes sound at the same time.
  • In the left-hand’s chords use the forward and backward movement along the axis of the hand. Instead of twisting the left hand to the left to reach the next lower chord in the progression, move your arm closer to the black keys, thus allowing for the hand to remain in a linear, more natural position.
  • In the left-hand’s accompaniment we can avoid the build-up of tension in these left-hand octave-long wearing movements: instead of using solely your fingers (1st and 5th), rotate the wrist and forearm while keeping the fingers fixed.

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ While it might seem counterintuitive to use the left thumb to reach down for single bass notes, it ensures a smooth, decisive downward progression. Some pianists insist on changing fingers on repeated notes.

๐Ÿฆฅ Start slowly before gradually increasing your tempo.
⏲️ In the last phase of learning a piece the use of a metronome is vital as you will be working on rhythmic partnerships between both hands. Nearly all modern pop music contains a firm beat. Become aware of the underlying pulse and accent where the stronger beat falls but remember that more is less. Avoid over-using your left hand. Aim at simple and clear playing.
⏩ When speed is added, lighten the touch and the playing should feel easier, with fingers running smoothly over the keys. Focus on soloing with the right hand without relying on the accompaniment in the left hand. Make every single note that you play to mean something.
๐Ÿง‘‍๐Ÿค‍๐Ÿง‘ = ๐Ÿคฒ In playing any piano transcription of a song, the aim is to give the impression of a singer (the RH) that is being accompanied by a sensitive pianist (the LH). Imagine a duet between a band and a singer, so color the two hands differently. Taylor Swift’s voice is more of staccato than legato, isn’t it?

๐Ÿฆถ Pedaling

At the very late stage of learning the August add a pedal, sustaining or sostenuto — your choice. Practice without the pedal until fluent and smooth.

Pedal twice per measure.

It is common practice today that the pedal is depressed when the hand is lifted, and released as a finger is on a key. You should remove the pedal wherever you see the rest in the LH. With excessive and inappropriate use of the pedal, it greatly compromises clarity in the overall tone quality. Think of it this way: the sustain pedal should be used as an aid to playing fine legato, not as a substitute for our fingers. Short dabs of pedal are generally better than long ones.

๐ŸŽผ More Piano Sheet Music from ๐Ÿ”Ž Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift August piano sheets

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