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Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Ganddalf #2488651 12/07/15 11:26 PM
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Great thread! This came at the perfect time for me, as I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of our piano and being able to start playing again after a 20-year hiatus. I was a fairly good sight reader in my younger days, so I often bulled my way through new, difficult pieces without taking the time to learn proper fingering. Further practice only served to reinforce bad habits. Seeing your post reinforced the need to take things slower this time around and really focus on my technique and expression.

It's always stood out to me how really good pianists are able to take seemingly simple pieces and make them sound amazingly beautiful. Nothing simple about it, and I'd wager that when you've taken the time to properly master the techniques and skills required to play the more intermediate stuff really well, you'll find those ambitious pieces within your grasp before long (and more fun to learn as well).


Schimmel I-208
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
tludwig #2489311 12/10/15 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by tludwig


It's always stood out to me how really good pianists are able to take seemingly simple pieces and make them sound amazingly beautiful. Nothing simple about it, and I'd wager that when you've taken the time to properly master the techniques and skills required to play the more intermediate stuff really well, you'll find those ambitious pieces within your grasp before long (and more fun to learn as well).


This is exactly what I had in mind when starting this thread. Over the last few years I have made several steps backwards reducing both difficulty and the number of pieces I work on. As for now I'm able to play music that is way beyond my earlier capabilities.

It is amazing how much it helps just to slightly reduce the tempo, both during practice and performance. Earlier I always tried to push the speed as far as I could all the time, and the result was that I actually never had the full control. Just thinking that "now I play the piece slower" while actually playing at the same speed seems to help me a lot. It reduces tension and makes everything sound much better.

Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Ganddalf #2489392 12/10/15 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Ganddalf
[...]
It is amazing how much it helps just to slightly reduce the tempo, both during practice and performance. Earlier I always tried to push the speed as far as I could all the time, and the result was that I actually never had the full control. Just thinking that "now I play the piece slower" while actually playing at the same speed seems to help me a lot. It reduces tension and makes everything sound much better.


I recently heard someone say that Orson Welles would tell his radio players, "If you think you're reading too slowly, slow down!"

Whether that is true or not, I started applying that advice when I play, and it makes a huge difference! Just like you said, Ganddalf--I sometimes pick a tempo that "seems right," but find out when I'm into the piece that I don't have control. Slowing down to a comfortable pace doesn't seem to change the character of the piece and gives me more room to shape.

So, I'm camping with you if you don't mind. Where do I put my tent? Since I gave up virtuosic ambitions (about five years ago, now!), I've discovered a life's-worth of music to play that's right in my wheelhouse, and, wouldn't you know it?, pieces that were too difficult for me several years ago are now accessible. My sight reading has improved a lot, too! grin And, I played my first glissando this year! laugh (It's in the intro of the vintage pop sheet version of "Winter Wonderland!"... crazy )

A great big smiley plus one to you, Ganddalf!

--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Cinnamonbear #2489397 12/10/15 10:33 AM
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Oh, and!... Our online friend who has currently screen-named herself "Pogerelich." (and who will always be "Angelina" to me no matter what her real name is), says,

"You shouldn't play faster than you can think."

That's who I heard it from first, anyway... And it makes sense! There's so much integration going on when we play!

--Andy


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Cinnamonbear #2489402 12/10/15 10:46 AM
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Bought Alfred's adult course Level 2 book and found I can sight read it at slow speed so far.
Having a lot of fun with it. My piano education as a child stopped early. Had advanced myself in my own mind too much. wink

Starting a piece too fast? That is called alleregretto.


Kawai GX-2
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
CHAS #2489411 12/10/15 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CHAS

Starting a piece too fast? That is called alleregretto.


laugh ha


1989 Baldwin R
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Cheeto717 #2489417 12/10/15 11:10 AM
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Oh! I love this. This is on my list.


"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine." -Beethoven
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Ganddalf #2489432 12/10/15 11:48 AM
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My turn to testify! The last time that I returned to playing piano (there have been multiple divorces and remarriages) came after I discovered the music of Mompou. I can't say i really understood Musica Callada right off, but I had bought a CD of it based only on an Amazon description, and then found it compelling enough to get the sheet music. Something in me wanted that music to become part of my life if only due to my sheer loneliness at the time. It took me close to a year to really understand wtf it was I was playing, but it turned out not only to be the perfect musical companion but technically was perfect for my attention span at the time, which was like one page. For the longest while all I played was Mompou and also Satie, as they felt, and still feel like spiritual brothers.

Flash forward 9 years later. I'm up to playing 9 pages with Melancolie, by Poulenc a composer who was referred to me by our mutual friend Satie. Maybe my approach is narrow-minded. It's certainly not an approach they might teach at Julliard, but it works for me. I think in the mad rush of showing respect for "the masters" it's easy to lose sight of that old thing about how the "great" can ruin the "good". I've taken no small comfort in knowing how Mompou once fled from a concert after he learned that Beethoven was on the program.


"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
- Gertrude Stein
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
toyboy #2489460 12/10/15 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by toyboy
I've taken no small comfort in knowing how Mompou once fled from a concert after he learned that Beethoven was on the program.


I don't want to sidetrack this thread, which I think is excellent, but I think that part of the French composer's (not just Mompou's) dislike of Beethoven was linked with how they felt about Prussia and later Germany after the Franco-Prussian war (which affected Debussy's childhood) and WWI, when Mompou fled Paris. So it's complicated, and probably not just the music...

Sam

Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Cinnamonbear #2489479 12/10/15 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Cinnamonbear


I recently heard someone say that Orson Welles would tell his radio players, "If you think you're reading too slowly, slow down!"

Whether that is true or not, I started applying that advice when I play, and it makes a huge difference! Just like you said, Ganddalf--I sometimes pick a tempo that "seems right," but find out when I'm into the piece that I don't have control. Slowing down to a comfortable pace doesn't seem to change the character of the piece and gives me more room to shape.

So, I'm camping with you if you don't mind. Where do I put my tent? Since I gave up virtuosic ambitions (about five years ago, now!), I've discovered a life's-worth of music to play that's right in my wheelhouse, and, wouldn't you know it?, pieces that were too difficult for me several years ago are now accessible. My sight reading has improved a lot, too! grin And, I played my first glissando this year! laugh (It's in the intro of the vintage pop sheet version of "Winter Wonderland!"... crazy )

A great big smiley plus one to you, Ganddalf!

--Andy


Thanks for your kind words, Andy!
Just a week ago I attended a funeral, and the organ of the church was obviously out of service, because the organist had to play the piano instead (not very common in Norway). He played one Grieg piece ("Melody" - Op.47/3 I think) and the b-minor prelude of Chopin. Both are simple pieces, but he played with such expression and sensitivity that I was really moved by his music. And that was not because of the funeral setting.

Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Ganddalf #2489584 12/10/15 08:30 PM
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Good post! I learned to play piano in my youth and got back into lessons in later life with a fine teacher who pushed me well. I quit lessons a few years ago but I recently decided to forego all the real tough stuff that we tackled in favor of pieces that are not so stressful or manually uncomfortable. So I have a binder of pieces that have made the cut for my core repertoire. These include for example:

Bach JS. Invention #13, Tocatta in Dmi
Bach CPE Solfleggio
Chopin Preludes in A, Cmi, Emi, Waltz in C#mi Revolutionary Etude
Debussy 1st arabesque, Reverie
Mendlessohn. Emi scherzo op 16
MacDowell To a wild rose, Scotch Poem
Mozart. Sonatas in Ami, B flat
Rachmaninoff. Preludes in C#mi and Gmi
Shostakovich. Fantastic dance #1
Scarlatti Sonata in Dmi k141
Etc....

Also some novelties like Dizzy Fingers, Alley Cat, a couple of rags and boogies as well.

Ashoken Farewell is an easy crowd pleaser too.

However, I will still keep up with maybe 3 or 4 Beethoven sonata movements on a rotation...couldn't part with those!




Estonia L190 #7004
Casio CDP S350
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Stanza #2489735 12/11/15 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Stanza
Good post! I learned to play piano in my youth and got back into lessons in later life with a fine teacher who pushed me well. I quit lessons a few years ago but I recently decided to forego all the real tough stuff that we tackled in favor of pieces that are not so stressful or manually uncomfortable. So I have a binder of pieces that have made the cut for my core repertoire. These include for example:

Bach JS. Invention #13, Tocatta in Dmi
Bach CPE Solfleggio
Chopin Preludes in A, Cmi, Emi, Waltz in C#mi Revolutionary Etude
Debussy 1st arabesque, Reverie
Mendlessohn. Emi scherzo op 16
MacDowell To a wild rose, Scotch Poem
Mozart. Sonatas in Ami, B flat
Rachmaninoff. Preludes in C#mi and Gmi
Shostakovich. Fantastic dance #1
Scarlatti Sonata in Dmi k141
Etc....
While some of these are relatively easy - others aren't. In fact, a few are rather advanced. grin


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Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Ganddalf #2489870 12/11/15 09:41 PM
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Not ready to reduce my ambitions. If I ever do, I'm sure I'd have to change my name from Arghhh to something else.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Reducing my ambitions...
Arghhh #2489956 12/12/15 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Not ready to reduce my ambitions. If I ever do, I'm sure I'd have to change my name from Arghhh to something else.


Ahhh?

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