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Perhaps you were stiff a while ago, but you a seem nice and relaxed now. One suggestion, if I may. Even in this slower, "just getting it into the fingers" phase, I would pay more attention to the dynamics and the overall Alla Marcia feel of the piece. If you don't work on that now it'll be a real bear to put the interpretation into the piece later on.
Piano*Dad, my teacher was just saying what you were suggesting in the previously lesson. I didn't apply much dynamics in that particular practice session, not even using the soft paddle in many of the places in the piece that require it. The terrible camcorder mic and the sound bouncing in the room made the audio quality very poor. So I had to use the video editing software to normalise the audio. By doing that, loud and soft became the same volume.
Instead of practicing piano today, I spent the whole day figuring out how I can make better quality videos. I am now testing the built-in camera in my iMac and connecting Zoon H4N1 audio recording device to the computer. The recorded sound quality is superb (doesn't improve my playing though), and the video quality has also improved significantly. The only problem is, the built-in camera records video the other way around (left-right switched). One more hurdle and I will get to easily record practice sessions soon!
p/s: I will have to come up with an excuse tomorrow during lesson why I didn't practice enough.
Hi Sinophilia, fortunately I am not talented enough to make music as a living. Music is only a hobby for me (a very serious one). This way I can enjoy playing and learning the piano and violin. It is something I escape to instead of escape from. :-)
If I may suggest two things: 1. Practice the music not the notes. Practice in phrases and practice the movements. Your arms are lock down, lift out and forward. Listen to Rachmaninoff playing it as an example of the kind of musical freedom there is in this piece and thats what you need to practice - the shape, the music. Never practice anything in a way you don't want to perform!
2. Drop your arm weight, release the tension through your wrists by dropping on every note except the chordal accompaniment. Especially at around 1:36. You have to release, drop down, on every note. You are kind of stabbing at the keys as you skate across. (The opposite of what you need to do!) With the chordal accompaniment, take the 3 notes in one movement - shake the repeats out, drop on the first lift out of the 3rd.
I hold my students' arms above the keyboard then drop them straight down onto the keys (and they must not hold them up themselves). That (uncontrolled) movement creates a lot of sound and yet the arms are completely relaxed. Obviously, the movement needs to be controlled according to the context. It's an almost silly exercise but the lesson is clear.
Prokofiev Seventh Franck Prelude, Choral and Fugue
After almost 2 months, this is where I got to. I'll probably need another 2 to 3 months of practice to play this smoother but still below tempo.
I am happy that I am finally ready to attempt this piece. 3 years ago, I couldn't even do the chords and octaves without painful arms and wrists!
Good on you Tubbie0075. You really sound good.
During the past 2 months, was it the only piano piece that you learnt and practiced? How much time did you practice weekly/daily on this piece ?
Since I started piano 2 years ago, I learn a new piece or part of of a long piece every week. All my pieces are work in progress and I wonder whether I should be changing my approach so that I can play the long pieces at performance level.
HI JosephAC, in the past 2 months I have been learning this prelude, Chopin's Etude No 3 (second video posted here) and Chopin's Nocturne in C minor. I am also trying to keep practising and improving in small increments on the Fantaisie Impromptu which I started learning February 2012.
I usually learn 2 pieces at a time, sometimes 3. In each lesson, I generally present a piece to the teacher and then briefly go through a problematic part(s) of the other piece. In the next lesson I would swap the pieces around. It usually takes me 3-6 months before I move on to another new piece, depending on the length, difficulty and at what level I want to improve to.
In the first month or two, I am usually busy learning the notes, fingerings and techniques. Then when I am a bit more comfortable with those, my teacher would start helping me with interpretation, musicality, phrasing, voicing etc.
The pieces I spent the longest were Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata and Ravel's Jeux Deau assigned by teacher. I was no where close to performance level but they were very good challenges for me to push myself.
Then there were shorter and easier pieces which I learned by myself and presented to teacher only once to get some pointers, like Debussy's girl with flaxen hair. There were also pieces that took me only a month from start to finish, like Mozart's turkish march, which I only wanted to use it to learn octaves.
Sorry, I didn't realise I've blabbing too much! Not sure If I answered your question. I suppose what I am trying to say is there is not fix rules for my lessons. It all depends on what is suitable for me to learn at a particular stage, what I want to get out of the piece and how far I want to go with it. Hope that helps.
I'm working on this prelude as well! I was working on it pretty steadily for about a month but this past month I've been out of town and not had much time to play. I hope to get back into it when I return in a week.
One thing I will say is that I don't recommend waiting to add interpretation or musicality. Even if you play under tempo, try to be as musical as you can so that will become a part of how you play it. It is much harder to free it up after you've learned it in a strictly technical way, than to do it that way from the get-go. I know at first it may seem overwhelming because there are some great technical challenges in this piece, but having that idea of how you want it to sound will actually help you play it. Thanks for sharing this!
I can't say I have ever played the piece seriously. And in my dotage, I'm happier working on pieces that pose less of a technical challenge. Hats off to those of you who can handle this!
My son learned it, so I too "learned" it in a vicarious sort of way. When you listen to a piece being put together over many months, every note and phrase becomes ingrained. I can still replay the piece in my memory, start to finish, phrase by phrase. And I can do it in Gilels, or Lisitsa, or Kissin, or …
Hi Steve Armstrong, I will take your advice on looking at the arm dropping technique. At the moment my playing is not as economical as I want it to be, which mean I will struggle when I start to play faster. But what do you mean by dropping on the first lift out of the 3 choral accompaniments? With these chords, I want to play the first 2 chords softly and the third accented. So I am playing them on the keys then using the third chord to bounce to the next chord.
I was listening to Vladimir Ashkenazy last night and his technique blew me away (although my teacher isn't very keen on his playing so much).
Yes economy is what it's all about! Constant battle for me. It's hard to explain without visual...ever tried bouncing a basketball really close to the ground as fast as you can?? It's a similar feeling and movement to that. But a brief tense moment. I'll make a video one day...not of the basketball. On the keys, yes, definitely for this.
If you listen to Rachmaninoff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-zKWgjrOmI you can imagine. The semiquavers are so brisk. If you are accenting the third like he does and keeping the first two softer then you should naturally take them in one movement, one strike and shake them out. Grrr! It's hard to explain!
Ashkenazy is good but he's a bit boring. Phenomenal technique though. He's very clinical in his playing. Compare Rachmaninoff's recording to Ashkenazy's, and Gilels too...what happened!?!? Why is everyone playing so boringly!? Anyway...sidetracked...
Prokofiev Seventh Franck Prelude, Choral and Fugue