What are you working on? - What music are you currently learning?

Discuss the piano literature and how to teach and learn it

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:52 am

I'm preparing a memorial recital for January. Solos include Mozart's Sonata in A Minor; Chopin Preludes in G Major and G Minor, Etudes Opus 10 No. 9 in F Minor and Opus 25 No. 6 in G# Minor, and Scherzo No. 4 in E Major; Debussy "Maid With the Flaxen Hair", Danse, and "Homage to Rameau"; Brahms Opus 118 Romance in F Major, Intermezzo in A Major and Ballade in G Minor.

At least half of all this is either brand new or relearned from years ago, so I'm keeping the ancient brain working, which I think is vital.

Bill L.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:57 pm

Ambitious program.

My ancient brain could not even relearn pieces from music school many years ago.
:(
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Postby Mins Music » Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:40 pm

I'm preparing a memorial recital for January.



Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could video it, put it up for download somewhere so we could watch and listen and be in awe at home! Wouldn't it? Ahhh....

All the best for your recital Dr Bill! It sounds like a trully inspiring programme. I've travelled more than two hours to see performances , but from here to ... well,over there, might be pushing it a bit. Post just before you give it so I can 'think' of you and wish you the best!




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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:13 am

Great idea - I was thinking how exciting it would be to see and hear a video of the concert, too. What say, Dr. Bill?
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Postby Stretto » Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:26 pm

Glissando88keys wrote:For the past week I've been working on the score for Man of La Mancha. I'm the new accompanist for a small community theatre group whose production will begin next week, Oct. 20, and run through Nov. 24.

With only 2 weeks to learn, re-arrange, embellish and perfect the score, as well as work with a group of non-musically trained actors, and a flautist, its been hectic but exciting! I'm having such a grand time of it that I may decide to participate in future productions.

Gliss,
That sounds great!

Dr. Leland,
Yes, it would be nice to hear your pieces.

I'd like to hear everyone else who has posted what you're doing as well.

Well,
I've written on some other posts about how I finally after not having a piano teacher at all for a little over 10 years started taking lessons this spring and have been taking for about 5 months now. The purpose is primarily to get help on technique but also to have someone else help provide me with a sense of direction. As you can tell from my earlier posts on this thread, I was waivering around trying to figure out "where to go next" in what music to learn. :D Also, it's nice to have someone else in the 'music realm' to bounce ideas and thoughts off of regarding music or my students. I also am hoping to learn more about and work on improv. from my teacher eventually primarly improv. on church music like praise and worship, famous tunes, and pop tunes. She gave me a 5 min. mini lesson on how she improvises from a melody and it didn't seem too bad as far as understanding how. It appears to me as with lots of other things, the more you work on it, the easier it gets.

In order to focus on technique, I've back-tracked in skill or difficulty of pieces. But that's what I wanted to do - back-track and then try to bump myself up very gradually in difficulty without being in a hurry.

Here's what I'm working on right now:

Mozart's, Ah! Vous Dirai - Je, Mamman (It's the theme and variations on the tune we know of as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I heard a recording of it once and fell in love with it. When looking through a book for a piece for a student I found it in Denes Agay's Vol. 27 More Easy Classics to Moderns which says on the back of the book " . . . each piece is in its original form, neither simplified nor rearranged". The only thing is in the book it's entitled Theme and 3 Variations and I found the recording I have and come to realize it's actually Theme and 12 Variations :O ! So now I'm debating, do I try to learn the Theme and 12 Variations? :p Has anyone played this? The version in the book, Theme and 3 Variations looked pretty easy, but it's been trickier than it appears.

Then the others I just started on are Clementi, Sonatina 4, Allegro vivace and Bartok, Evening in the Country, No. 5 from Ten Easy Pieces.

Getting a knowledgable teacher and taking lessons again is one of the best decisions I've ever made musically. I should have gotten a teacher a long time ago and not tried to play on my own all these years. It has been extremely beneficial from many different angles.




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Postby LK123 » Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:41 pm

Well, I am STILL working on everything from my last post with the exception of the Tchiakovsky piece. It wasn't going anywhere and it was frustrating me. I haven't fully decided which pieces I want to play for my exam, so I may go back and refresh others when the time comes. I have also picked up two studies - requirements for the exam I am HOPING to do this spring/summer. There is so much to work on and so little time!!!!

Would love to see your concert Dr. Leland....
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Postby Glissando88keys » Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:03 pm

The selections for your Tribute concert, Dr. Bill, are incredibly beautiful. What did you consider in choosing those selections? Will the concert be recorded or videotaped?

The drama scene can be very unpredictable. At the last minute, the lead and supporting actors decided they could not work together, sadly ending a 15 year friendship between them. The latter dropped out of the production the night before we were set to perform for our premiere performance. The actor who stepped in as replacement is a classicaly trained vocalist and actor who is magnificent, however, the part he is playing, Sancho, is anything but magnificent.

If you are unfamiliar with Don Quixote, written by Miguel Cervantes, a destitue poet and actor, most of the characters play dual roles, except for the lead actor who plays three, Cervantes/Alonso Quijana/Don Quixote, at the ripe old age of "nearly 50," ("old" in those times, 16th century Spain.) All he reads oppresses him, fills him with indignation at man's murderous ways toward man. After brooding and pondering the problem how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all, he lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and becomes knight-errant and sallies forth into the world to right all wrongs, to mount a crusade and raise up those in need, no longer Quijana, but as a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha!!! He persuades his neighbor, to become his squire. The Manservant/ Sancho Panza portrays a poor but honest and completely illiterate sidekick, devoted and loyal companion to the retired country squire. He follows Quixote, of questionable sanity, on his noble mission in the quest for justice and to rid the world of evil.

The director of the production decided to set our dress rehearsal as a premiere with free tickets to those lucky enough to respond quickly to our ad in the newspapers. The audience travels sometimes hundreds of miles for this free premiere, and so our first true performance must be very special. Amazingly, the adaptability and professionalism of the cast facilitated the new cast member, who had only read his part for the first time that very morning, and learned his musical numbers with me only an hour before the show began.

Last night's performance was wonderful, a tribute to this highly talented and professional acting company. What a joy to work with them, even under difficult if not adverse and chaotic circumstances.

What is drama without a little drama?:laugh:




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Postby Mins Music » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:53 am

Mozart's, Ah! Vous Dirai - Je, Mamman (It's the theme and variations on the tune we know of as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. So now I'm debating, do I try to learn the Theme and 12 Variations? Has anyone played this? The version in the book, Theme and 3 Variations looked pretty easy, but it's been trickier than it appears.


What a coincidence - I played through these variations the other night because one of my students was excited about seeing a video on Mozart at school - I was deciding which variations to teach. As a study on different accompaniment techniques it would be beneficial to do all, but just between you and me Stretto I got terribly bored with the tune after 12 takes!!! I decided on three, but at the moment, can't remember which ones they were ... one of them was in the minor, liked it a lot. Mu student is only 14, I think if I got her to study the entire 12 she'd riot. :D Probably ... if I were in your situation I would learn the theme and the 12 variations, but then just choose which ones you really like to play just for fun...maybe it's just me, but unfortunately when I play that melody I also hear the song in my head ... drives me a bit barmy!

Oh and BTW Dr Bill!!!!! didn't mean to put you under pressure about your recital -kidding about it being taped - but it's nice to know you have so many doting fans! :cool:
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby Stretto » Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:30 am

Mins,
I know what you mean about the tune driving one batty! When I was first learning the version I have, I couldn't get the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Tune out of my head. I would go to bed at night with my mind playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and thought a person shouldn't be learning music like this that sticks in one's head and drives one batty! Perhaps a person should stick with selecting music that you wouldn't mind listening to it play over and over in your mind.

But I really do like theme and variations in general. On this one, I love listening to the recording and for some reason I don't get tired of listening to all of it. My teacher said she could get me a version of the entire thing if interested and said it's about 10 pages - that's the part I'm not too sold on! I could see a teacher getting tired of listening to a student make their way through all 12 variations! Mins, hope you can manage to listen to your student play that piece without getting tired of hearing the tune, hee, hee!

I'm still working on the Theme and 3 Variations version I have. I've gotten it down but need to get it at a faster tempo and work out some of the fine tune details. For some reason, the tune doesn't play itself in my mind anymore even though I'm still working on it. That's probably because the tune in the Bartok piece I just started learning, Evening in the Country, is playing in my mind driving me crazy and I think I liked the Twinkle Twinkle tune playing in my mind better! The part of the Bartok piece that keeps playing in my mind sounds to me like some chant you'd hear at a basketball or football game!

Incidentally, on the Bartok piece my teacher asked me after the first week of working on it if I found the sound of it unsual. I told her no because I was used to it from being drowned left and right in "unusual" (or modern music) in college courses. Actually I don't find Bartok sounds to me too unusual anyway. I had an instructor in a couple classes (a composition and piano lit.) who was a huge Bartok fanatic and talked quite a bit about Bartok's music. So, I had to chuckle to myself when my teacher asked me if I found the Bartok piece unusual. I don't believe I've played any of his music prior, but had to do plenty of listening to it in college!


Glissando,
Your experience was interesting to read about. I'm sure the whole thing created quite a bit of extra stress for everyone involved but glad to hear it worked out and that you've not given up on the idea of doing it again just because of that one experience.

LK123,
Interesting to read about what your working on. What exam is it that's coming up? Best of luck on it! I don't envy you. I'm glad to be out from under pressures of having to learn music by a deadline. It's nice to be able to work on music little by little with no deadlines in sight. But I guess in the realm of performance that's all part of it.




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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:28 am

Dear Mins, et al,

I think I've opened a mini-Pandora's Box of sorts--people keep asking about a CD or DVD of my upcoming recital. It's very flattering, and I sincerely appreciate it.

In point of fact, I have been putting together numerous CDs of my concerts, both recent and from the past twenty years or so, including solo, duo recitals with Melba, and chamber ensemble (trios, quartets, duo-sonatas with other instruments, mostly strings), and I send them with some regularity to family and friends. I do not accept any renumeration for these, and, frankly, PEP is not the place to hawk my recordings. If anyone is seriously interested I will be most happy to arrange it through private correspondence. My email is well-known: wleland@zianet.com, and [email]wleland@nmsu.edu.[/email]

A CD of the Jan. 21st recital will be made; I don't know if anyone is planning a video or not. I haven't given it any thought--I tend to think I'm easier to listen to than to look at.

Bill.
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Postby LK123 » Sun Oct 22, 2006 12:35 pm

Stretto,

It is my Grade IX exam (Royal Conservatory). I am aiming to do it in June or August if I am ready. I find that I have a harder time memorizing pieces as I get older and I also find it hard to practice as much as I want to/need to with all the kids running around - someone is always yelling for mom! I just had a long talk with my teacher about whether or not I'll be ready, she was very encouraging and reminded me to be realistic and not too hard on myself. If I am ready I will do the exam, if i am not ready we will keep working until I am and that is just the way it is. So I will keep plugging away, practicing when I can and most of all enjoying what I am doing!
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Postby Glissando88keys » Mon Oct 30, 2006 1:30 pm

Stretto wrote:I also am hoping to learn more about and work on improv. from my teacher eventually primarly improv. on church music like praise and worship, famous tunes, and pop tunes. She gave me a 5 min. mini lesson on how she improvises from a melody and it didn't seem too bad as far as understanding how. It appears to me as with lots of other things, the more you work on it, the easier it gets.

Stretto, I highly recommend a wonderful book on the subject of keyboard improvisation for church music. It is called Keyboard Improvisation for the Liturgical Musician by Jeanne Cotter, GIA Publications, Inc., Chicago, IL, copyright 1993.

If you searched for anything on this subject only to come up empty - handed, this book may answer your prayers. The author is undoubtedly one of the foremost experts on the subject in the United States. She writes to beginning as well as advanced musicians, with examples drawn from the liturgical repertoire as well as practical exercises for technical skill development. While reading her book, I felt I was learning from one of the best teachers in the country about improvisational technique.

Jeanne Cotter answers many of the questions brought up in the numerous threads of this forum regarding technique and theory. She arranged music for David Haas, the St. Louis Jesuits, and performed on recordings for David Haas, Marty Haugen, Michael Joncas, Donna Pena, Fran O'Brien, Scott Soper and others.

The text is sprinkled with an assortment of profound quotes gathered from among the world's famous musicians. I enjoyed learning from it, and have learned quite alot. There are actually two volumes, so I plan on ordering the second one shortly.
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Postby Stretto » Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:30 pm

Thanks for the tip. I will check on it. Since I never know what to tell relatives to get me for Christmas when they ask, maybe it would be a good Christmas gift.

I would like to practice improvising more and also would like to be able to teach it although I do show students some basics about chords and their inversions and putting them with a melody line. I know a huge number of tunes and words both from growing up in church and just from all the little famous folk and children's songs I listened to or learned as a kid. There's so many "tunes" I like or my students would like to learn that one can't always find exactly the right skill level in sheet music or exactly the greatest arrangement and I would like my students to know how to improvise proficiently. It's something I always wanted to do more of. Once I asked a teacher when I was a kid to show me how to put chords to a tune and the farthest she took me was Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and that was about the end of it and we got busy on written music thereafter. I can see now as a teacher it is hard to fit "everything" into lessons. I also think the ability to improvise would help me with composing as I like to write tunes with words and then wish I could write the arrangements to go with them.

Thanks again for the tip.




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Postby 108-1121887355 » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:13 pm

Today my 8 year old grand daughter played "late October" and then said "I made some adjustments to this song". She indeed had made some changes. I told her she had played a variation and then discussed the meaning of the word. She ended her "adjustments" not on the home key, so we talked about that and played more 'question and answer' pieces for her to listen to the need for a home tone. She then experimented with some familiar melodies and I suggested she continue at home. This is easy to do when rote teaching. It was something I was never taught or encouraged to do as a child. It is harder to learn as an adult.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:35 am

Dr. Bill Leland wrote:In point of fact, I have been putting together numerous CDs of my concerts, both recent and from the past twenty years or so, including solo, duo recitals with Melba, and chamber ensemble (trios, quartets, duo-sonatas with other instruments, mostly strings), and I send them with some regularity to family and friends. I do not accept any renumeration for these, and, frankly, PEP is not the place to hawk my recordings. If anyone is seriously interested I will be most happy to arrange it through private correspondence. My email is well-known: wleland@zianet.com, and [email=wleland@nmsu.edu.]wleland@nmsu.edu.[/email]

A CD of the Jan. 21st recital will be made; I don't know if anyone is planning a video or not. I haven't given it any thought--I tend to think I'm easier to listen to than to look at.

Bill.

We are happy to let anyone advertise a free or non-profit service or item on PEP, so long as it pertains to piano or music. I view these sorts of items as public services, rather than the kind of crass commercialism that I fight so much here, and am happy to host it, not only for Dr. Leland, but for anyone else who might like to make a service or product available as a community service. I reserve the right to change that policy if it is abused (as people so often try these days). :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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