Levels

Technique, methods and advice for learners

Postby 66-1080699566 » Fri Apr 02, 2004 11:59 am

Just a short question. How do you find out what is too hard for you to play. If you really like a song but don't know the level, do you just simply read through it or what? What makes one piece of music harder than the other? ???
User avatar
66-1080699566
 

Postby Mins Music » Sun Apr 04, 2004 12:21 am

If you're trying to figure out whether a piece is good to buy, music stores usually have a piano for you to try it out.

How to know if it's too hard? First, do you feel panicked looking at it? Or are there many things in it that seem familiar to you? If it's the latter, you recognise a lot of 'elements' then it's probably a good indication it's at your level.

Next step would be trying to play it. If you need to stop and think A LOT about the notes and the way they're structured, but then are able to work it out without gettng annoyed or angry, you could probably call this a 'challenge piece': something for you to work on, little by little, over a period of time.

If you have to stop, think a lot, and it takes you a LOT of time to work out what's going on and you're still not sure if you've got it right, it's probably too hard for you to tackle successfully without getting too frustrated. Leave it until you've tackled a few other pieces, and return to it later.
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
User avatar
Mins Music
 
Posts: 524
Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2004 5:12 am
Location: Goonellabah

Postby Chris X » Tue Apr 13, 2004 9:24 pm

I agree that it is definitely a great idea to stop by a music store, and check out the music. I think everybody can have there own way of determining what is too hard. Often, it is easy to get started with a piece thinking it is easy, and the furthur you get, the harder it seems. I personally ask myself questions such as:

How long will it take to get this piece at a comfortable/ competent level?

What type of challenges will I be faced with, i.e even notes, dynamics, endurance, memorization, timing?

There was a piece I wanted to learn "Toccata by Prokofiev," and I looked at the sheet music and thought well I will learn it eventually, but right now would not be the time.
Lots and lots of dotted rhythm practice
Chris X
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: fullerton, Ca

Postby 81-1074658942 » Tue Apr 13, 2004 9:31 pm

I have this weird taste for hard music. I'm not really sure what the deal is. When looking through Chopin nocturnes the first one that jumps out at me is just a bear to learn. Although it's really starting to come together and I'm so happy!! :D :D As far as things that are too hard, I just kind of tell intuitively. With the Chopin piece, I brought it to her because I liked it, but I told her that I thought it would be too hard. She looked at it and said "it'll be hard, but you can learn it." and thus it began. It was hard. REALLY hard. But I learned it. Teachers can offer very valuable opinions on things like level. They can also tell you when something is too hard.
User avatar
81-1074658942
 

Postby Chris X » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:44 pm

^ Craziness, I feel like at times I am drawn to really hard pieces. I find pieces that I am not ready for, but I want to play in the future no matter what.

My goal is one day to do a recital and perform the Chopin Ballade in G minor, Sonata by Samuel Barber, and the Toccata by Prokofiev to name a few.
Lots and lots of dotted rhythm practice
Chris X
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: fullerton, Ca

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Thu Apr 15, 2004 9:56 am

Now, THAT'S what I call real ambition!!!
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby Chris X » Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:43 pm

I forgot to add La Campanella by Liszt :) .

One thing I was going to mention is that it is good to always keep in mind that if there is a piece that someome wants to learn, and it is not at the appropriate time, there are so many other great pieces to learn which c
For example, I would like to learn Chopin's Ballade no.1 in Gm, but first there are etudes, nocturnes, etc. that will help to better prepare me for the experience.
Lots and lots of dotted rhythm practice
Chris X
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: fullerton, Ca

Postby Chris X » Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:48 pm

Oh No, I did it again, error in grammar. I was outside on my phone, and then I came inside, and posted without proof reading first.

What I meant to say was that there are so many great pieces that can prepare for the experience of eventually learning the piece that may be too difficult at the present time.

My instructor suggested working on the Virtuoso etudes, Op.72 by Moritz Moszkowski before trying the Chopin etudes.
Lots and lots of dotted rhythm practice
Chris X
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: fullerton, Ca

Postby 81-1074658942 » Fri Apr 16, 2004 7:04 pm

Good call, Chris. When I start something new, I seem to find difficult ways to do it. The first real Chopin Nocturne that I learned was/is [still working] opus 48 no. 1. For me this is really hard. But good news! IT"S ALL COMING TOGETHER!!! YAY!!! even the doppio movimento section... but those descending octave patterns... So in the end timing really does make a difference. I'm not working for any competitions and I'm not busy right now. I've got time to work on something difficult.

Dr. Bill, if you're reading this, it's measures 46-48 that are giving me problems. Do you have any practice suggestions? I've just been doing lots of slow repetition and isolating the harder parts [like the end intervals on the 46 run]
User avatar
81-1074658942
 

Postby Chris X » Fri Apr 16, 2004 8:26 pm

^ Glad to hear it is coming together!!

Quidam, I have been working on that Nocturne for the past few years. I've played through it, but I have never performed it. I definitely have a long way to go on the Doppio Movimento, "recapitulation section." I figure that now I am giving myself a head start working on it.

It is definitely one of the more difficult Chopin Nocturnes. There is more than just technical difficulty, there is a lot of touch, and emotion that should be conveyed to the listener.

Quidam, have you by any chance received comments from your teacher regarding how to play Mezza Voce in the beginning?
Lots and lots of dotted rhythm practice
Chris X
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:18 pm
Location: fullerton, Ca

Postby 81-1074658942 » Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:39 pm

She hasn't really commented on it much... she does remind me to let the melody sing out. I play it with the bass as a backdrop. [It just sounds lovely on a nice piano. kind of thrilling really] As far as the melody voicing, I sometimes think of hearing someone sing from far away. You know how really good classical singers can sing so quietly, but richly at the same time? That's what I go for.

I just love this piece. looks like we both have some pretty good taste! :)
User avatar
81-1074658942
 

Postby 81-1074658942 » Tue Apr 20, 2004 9:31 pm

Hey how do you know if a song is too easy for you? You know how it goes, you're looking at it thinking, "if I'm going for something from this category, should I do this easy little piece, or should I just attack it headlong?"
User avatar
81-1074658942
 

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:03 am

Quidam, about the Chopin C minor Nocturne (why do you always pick the hardest stuff you can find? You'll be asking about the Liszt Transcendental Etudes next!)

Measures 46-48 are probably the toughest measures of a tough section, and they need good chord and octave playing. How is your training in octaves? You know, a hundred years ago when I was 15 I decided to learn the Tchaikovsky Concerto (!), and here was my reasoning: "I should be able to learn ANYTHING if I just work all day on just one page--so I'll have it down in 76 days, right?" Ha!! It didn't work that way, because I wasn't even ready for the Grieg.

Now, I'm not implying that you're not ready for Op. 48, but the point is that this is not just a matter of practicing one passage, but of having the necessary technique for it up to a certain level of development. Have you put in time practicing octaves in, say, scales or chromatic passages? There are lots of good octave exercises in Dohnanyi, Czerny and Hanon; if you really want to work, look at Tausig. Also, take segments of those Nocturne passages and make exercises out of them: m.47, for instance, could be practiced in all keys; or, in m.49, the third triplet (where it jumps down an octave and ends on a C major chord) ought to be practiced repeatedly, just those four notes. But don't force your hands! Let things develop at their own pace. Keep everything comfortable, not tense and strained.

One hint that may help: I've found that most people waste motion playing octaves. They come up too high off the keyboard, and they move too much in-and-out going from black to white keys and back. In a chromatic scale in octaves, play the thumb on the first half-inch of black key and the nearest half-inch (to the black) of the white key. It may feel restricting at first, but you could be wasting as much as a foot or more of unnecessary motion in just one octave of a chromatic scale.

I wish I could show you a wonderful video I have of Horowitz playing his "Carmen" Variations; those fantastic octaves look like the hand doesn't come up at all, just sort of vibrates.

Dr. B.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby 81-1074658942 » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:16 pm

Well I don't always pick the hardest stuff I can find. I haven't started on the Hammerklavier sonata yet :;): But don't worry about Lizst etudes.. I really dislike Lizst anyway.

I've definitely spent a lot of time breaking those passages down and experimenting with the most efficient way to play them. My teacher was talking about playing close to the keys, which really helps. It's coming along. It has certainly improved anyway. I have been practicing octave scales, and they're extremely easy as long as I'm playing with my right hand. The left is rebellious. I don't think I've done a lot of octave work up until now... I have done some, but my last teacher didn't really work with me on technique.

Hey I'm fifteen. It must be the magic age for picking hard pieces. At least the rest of the piece is sounding good!
User avatar
81-1074658942
 

Postby 109-1082165152 » Thu Apr 22, 2004 4:41 am

Hello, this is my first time posting. Dr. Bill I certainly would like to hear from you personally on this one.

I graduated with a BM in Theory in 1997 and been teaching music of all kinds/levels in High School since 2000. I am 32 now and have urge to go back to school for my Masters in Composition. Sadly, I have not practiced for so long and have forgotten some of the pieces I did my recital on. Would it be possible to get to the level where I was with patiently practicing my scales, arpeggios, and octaves? I've tried but my technique is so poor that I'm not liking it very much. I would certainly like some practice suggestions from anyone.

Due to my location, American Samoa, there are no piano teachers that were trained classically so that I can take lessons from. The only hope I have is an Organ player whose degree is in Music Education (PhD). Should I take lessons from him?

Any Comments or Suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

FYI: American Samoa is a Territory of the US in the South Pacific. (close to NZ) :)
User avatar
109-1082165152
 

Next

Return to Learning Piano

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest