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#1981280 - 11/01/12 08:44 AM Trouble with Triana  
Joined: Oct 2009
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jackbirdy412 Offline
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Hello everyone
I'm learning the Triana from Albeniz's Iberia Book 2. It's a wonderful piece if quite tricky. I'm having a little trouble with it - it seems that no matter how many hours I put into this piece I don't seem to get anything out of it, coupled with the fact that I am rapidly losing confidence and motivation because no matter what I try - practicing separate hands, half speed, bar by bar, etc. - nothing seems to work. Specifically it's about five pages in when there are big chords and sextuplet semiquaver runs in the left hand. Sometimes I can play the section well, but then the following section which involves the left hand jumping about the place is a complete mess. Other times it's hopeless. Other times both sections are great and I'm left confused as to why on earth I can't seem to do that every time. I'm supposed to be playing this at an audition very soon and it's really too late to learn something else. I've played similar pieces to this level before, so it's not a question of technique. Can someone please point me in the right direction as to how to be able to play consistently well? I've not tried to perform it yet but I'm sure when I do it'll end up falling apart if I don't sort it out.

Many thanks
jackbirdy412


Recent repertoire:
Albeniz - Triana
Schubert - Sonata D664
Bach - Prelude and Fugue no.12, Book II

Working on:
Debussy - L'isle joyeuse
Chopin - Scherzo No.3
Haydn - Sonata Hob.XVI:52
Scarlatti - K426 and K427
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#1981285 - 11/01/12 08:51 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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Mark_C Offline
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Just one question: Are you aware that the piece is considered extremely hard -- among the very most difficult of all piano pieces?

The reason I ask is that it sounds like you probably don't! It is a piece that is generally played only by very advanced pianists, and it's a great challenge even to them. For people who aren't among the very most advanced, there would inevitably be problems all over the place, and usually not entirely solvable.

#1981296 - 11/01/12 09:25 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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jackbirdy412 Offline
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I appreciate the piece is extremely hard, it's classed as the level above the ABRSM Diploma. I have had lengthy discussions with my teacher of some six years, and he believes that I am capable of the piece. I feel confident that with enough practice I will be able to learn this piece, and to a high standard, but it's these little bits that are annoying me. I've just run through it a few times, and sometimes it goes great, but others I'm left wondering what on earth is wrong with my fingers!



Recent repertoire:
Albeniz - Triana
Schubert - Sonata D664
Bach - Prelude and Fugue no.12, Book II

Working on:
Debussy - L'isle joyeuse
Chopin - Scherzo No.3
Haydn - Sonata Hob.XVI:52
Scarlatti - K426 and K427
#1981359 - 11/01/12 01:04 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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Mark_C Offline
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(BTW I haven't worked on the piece. I'm fairly familiar with it and have played through it, but hopefully people who know it better will reply too.)

The things you mentioned are some of what's very hard about the piece. In both of those parts, each hand in itself is quite hard, plus you can't really look at both hands at once and so you have to make decisions about 'where' you're looking 'when,' and to really really know what that is (which I think many people neglect to do) and do the 'looking' exactly the same way when you practice slowly as when you'll be playing at tempo (which I think relatively few people pay enough attention to). Many people would find either hand by itself quite challenging, even if the other hand weren't playing at all, and doing them together becomes much harder because you can't always be looking. It also involves knowing the music well enough that the need to 'look' anywhere is minimized.

Aside from wondering if maybe the piece is too much of a stretch right now for you to be definitely planning to perform (as opposed to waiting and seeing how it goes), I'd wonder if maybe you haven't paid enough attention to the "looking" decisions and getting them down pat, and maybe if you just do that, it will soon start going more smoothly.

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#1981365 - 11/01/12 01:11 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
Joined: May 2010
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Kuanpiano Offline
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Canada
Triana looks many levels higher than the rest of your current repertoire...judging by what the scores look like, I'd say that the passagework is on the level of (or greater than) Rach 3...

What I'm learning from Iberia (I'm working on El Albaicin)is that not only are the technical demands ferocious, but the passagework is extremely awkward and it's all much harder than what it sounds like..

However, Kreisler has it in his repertoire, so maybe he has some good hints...

Last edited by Kuanpiano; 11/01/12 01:17 PM.

Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#1981366 - 11/01/12 01:11 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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Frankly, it's one of the most difficult pieces I've played. That section you're referring to is absolutely brutal, although a judicious fingering will help somewhat.


"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

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#1981435 - 11/01/12 03:45 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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Albeniz writes like a combination of Alkan and Rachmaninoff. Very challenging and unforgiving. The best thing you can do is take it slow and concentrate on making every note meaningful and beautiful. You'd be surprised how few note mistakes you make when you care about every one.

#1981458 - 11/01/12 04:57 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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pianoloverus Offline
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I heard Jose Ramos Santana play quite a few selections from Iberia over the years. For a while he performed one selection/year at the Mannes IKIF recital for teachers who don't give a full length recital. The first time he played one of the Iberia it was Triana but unfortunately the YouTube selections below don't include that one. It was after hearing some of those selections played by Santana that I decided that Iberia was, for me, the greatest Spanish music.

Santana has a stage personality equaled only by Mei Ting Sun in my concert going experience. He always seems to come on stage with a huge grin and to big applause from the audience who seemed to be instantly charmed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywj6...0A5D933DFFCFEB&feature=results_video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeU5QCICyDo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPQo9TjchnE

Last edited by pianoloverus; 11/01/12 05:01 PM.
#1981502 - 11/01/12 06:45 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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I agree with Thrac - it's an absolutely brutal piece.

One thing that helped me was realizing that you cannot muscle it. I had to take a much lighter approach. I found that tearing into it was futile, despite the effect of flash it has in performance, the work behind it has to be more delicate and nuanced.

Treat it more like Mozart or Schubert than Rachmaninoff or Brahms, and you might discover something useful.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1981540 - 11/01/12 08:44 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: Kreisler]  
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Nobody else thinks the "looking" thing is key?

#1981599 - 11/02/12 02:29 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Nobody else thinks the "looking" thing is key?


I don't rely on my eyes when playing unless I'm reading. I prefer to look out over the pins because that puts my ears in the right place to get the proper feedback - something my college teacher taught me.

#1981610 - 11/02/12 03:15 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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wr Offline
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For me, two things seem to help the most to get stuff like that secure - extremely slow practice (half-speed is too fast), and practice in rhythms. And when doing that kind of practice, I try to limit it to very short sections of music. Sometimes, practicing just a single beat's worth of music at a time is what works the best.

The funny thing is that if you can get 100% secure in just a tiny section, larger chunks have a way of becoming secure much faster.

And remember, deep sleep is what solidifies your practice and makes it last.


#1981681 - 11/02/12 08:23 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jeffreyjones]  
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Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Nobody else thinks the "looking" thing is key?

I don't rely on my eyes when playing unless I'm reading. I prefer to look out over the pins because that puts my ears in the right place to get the proper feedback - something my college teacher taught me.

I mostly don't either. I'm usually just looking out into space when I'm playing and in fact often practice basically in the dark. smile

But remember, we're addressing the OP's question, and I'd BET that he/she does. I think most people rely on "looking" more than we do, and even for most people like us (or for me anyway), there are things where we do rely on looking. For the passages being discussed here, I certainly would.

#1981698 - 11/02/12 09:17 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jeffreyjones]  
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Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
I don't rely on my eyes when playing unless I'm reading. I prefer to look out over the pins because that puts my ears in the right place to get the proper feedback - something my college teacher taught me.
Could you explain a little more how this position improves the feedback to your ears?

I've also noticed some very good pianists play with their eyes seemingly almost looking straight ahead(maybe what you mean)or even focused slightly above horizontal(again maybe related to what you're talking about?).

#1981704 - 11/02/12 09:58 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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Sometimes I look at the keys and sometimes I look away or close my eyes. When I do it's usually because I'm trying to maximise my proprioception and muscle memory.

#1981708 - 11/02/12 10:13 AM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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I only look at the keys if the piece I'm playing has a lot of leaps, otherwise I find I can concentrate more on the quality of sound I'm producing if my eyes are vacant (i.e. looking - usually unfocused at something in the distance - without seeing). Closing my eyes require an effort which could more usefully be transmitted into my fingers grin.

Artur Rubinstein used to castigate pianists who (in his opinion) play with an affected air: 'Are they admiring a fly on the ceiling, perhaps?'. Yet I remember watching a video of him playing while admiring a wasp (or other invertebrate) on the far side of the stage....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#1981921 - 11/02/12 05:26 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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jackbirdy412 Offline
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Thank you for all your replies. I think the "looking" thing is a really good point, because it tends to be a habit of mine to only watch the left hand, especially in this case when it's jumping all over the place, so that's something I'll look to address. I think it helps in my case to go as slow as possible for the audition, obviously not so slow that it's laboured or it loses its charm but I certainly won't play it at the indicated tempo of Crotchet = 94, because I think that's a bit quick anyway. Wr - your point about the practicing small parts constantly and at an extremely slow tempo has helped, already I'm starting to clean up some of the semiquaver sections, and Kreisler's comment about playing it like Mozart or Schubert is a good point also.
I'm quite busy perfecting this and my other audition pieces, but when I'm completely done I'll do my best to record them and post them in the Members Recordings, so as to give you a better idea of my interpretation and where I'm having trouble.

Many thanks for all your help
jackbirdy412


Recent repertoire:
Albeniz - Triana
Schubert - Sonata D664
Bach - Prelude and Fugue no.12, Book II

Working on:
Debussy - L'isle joyeuse
Chopin - Scherzo No.3
Haydn - Sonata Hob.XVI:52
Scarlatti - K426 and K427
#1982228 - 11/03/12 01:07 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: jackbirdy412]  
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I think that comment of Rubenstein's is a little unfair. Just because something LOOKS affected doesn't mean that it is. I'm convinced that most of that 'looking up' you see some pianists doing serves a very specific purpose, even if they perhaps couldn't articulate what that purpose was.

I do think it's important to be able to play a whole piece looking at your hands though. My reasoning for this is simply that, during performance, one's mind naturally can wander, and you may end up looking at your hands by accident, or at a moment where you wouldn't normally do so, and if you don't recognise what you see this might throw you off. This has happened to me a number of times in performance. I realised whilst playing that I couldn't remember what it looked like to see my hands play a particular passage, and as a result of that confusion, my muscle memory went and I fluffed the passage. If I had practiced that passage a lot whilst looking at my hands I probably wouldn't have had that problem.

#1982238 - 11/03/12 01:31 PM Re: Trouble with Triana [Re: debrucey]  
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Thanks for this post, debrucey. It is so helpful to me.
Kathy


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