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opinion on practice schedule
#2521989 03/17/16 10:58 AM
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Hello guys.

After a year of self-study I will finally start taking lessons with a teacher in a couple of days.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed in the hope that the teacher will agree to let me continue with the program that I previously set for myself, and I would like to ask you guys an opinion on something.

Among part of my training schedule, I've decided some time ago to loosely follow the book "Classics for the Developing Pianist" from Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield, which to my understanding should be a graded list of pieces.

I said "follow loosely" because I only selected some of the pieces in the books, the one that I like the most. The list of pieces in progressive order of difficulty is below (the pieces with the * sign are the ones that I've already memorized in the past, when I wasn't yet aware of the existence of this book):


*Arabesque, Op. 100, No. 2 (Burgmuller)
The Bear (Rebikov)
Chinese Figurine (Rebikov)
First Gymnopedie (Satie)
Solfeggietto (C.P.E. Bach)
Sonata in C Major, K. 545 (III) (W. A. Mozart)
Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 1 (Clementi)
About Foreign Lands and People, Op. 15, No. 1 (Schumann)
*Fur Elise, WoO 59 (Beethoven)
Invention No. 13 in A Minor, BWV 784 (J. S. Bach)
Invention No. 8 in F Major, BWV 779 (J. S. Bach)
Le petit negre (Debussy)
Prelude in C Major, BWV 846 (J. S. Bach)
Sonata in C Major, K. 545 (I) (W. A. Mozart)
Arabesque No. 1 (Debussy)
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (Debussy)
Golliwog's Cakewalk (Debussy)
Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2 (Chopin)
*Sonata in A Major, K. 331 (III: "Rondo alla Turca") (W. A. Mozart)
Sonata in C-sharp Minor ("Moonlight"), Op. 27, No. 2 (I) (Beethoven)
Clair de lune (Debussy)
Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op. 66 (Chopin)
Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin)
Sonata in C Minor ("Pathetique"), Op. 13 (Beethoven)


Now, what I will ask my teacher and would also like to ask you is, do you think this list really reflects a progressive order of difficulty?

For instance, I've always thought that Bach's Prelude in C was fairly easy, but here it's listed after pieces such as Le Petit Negre and the two-part inventions. I might be dead wrong but even the Solfeggietto sounds harder than the Prelude to me.

Also, Maple Leaf Rag is put after Fantaisie-Impromptu. Isn't that a bit strange?

Finally, do you think that it would be okay to substitute the Maple Leaf Rag with The Entertainer? Are they about the same level of difficulty?

I'd love to hear your opinions on this.

Thank you very much in advance!

Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2521994 03/17/16 11:26 AM
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This is just my opinion but throw that book away. That list consists of pieces the EVERYONE plays. Forge yourself a more unique path and explore other repertoire - where is the Haydn? Brahms? Mendelssohn - Scarlatti, Handel. If you can play every two part invention well then you may become ready for the sinfonias, and then the suites. Maybe then you may be ready for Mozart and Haydn and when you've mastered that you may be finally ready for Chopin. Once you have some etudes under your belt you might be ready for the Fantasie Impromptu ... you were asking for opinion so there it is.

Whatever you choose to do good luck and have fun!


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Re: opinion on practice schedule
Vid #2522012 03/17/16 12:44 PM
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Hi Vid,

the book actually contains many more pieces. Those in the last are only the ones that I selected -still respecting the original order of difficulty- because I like them. I have very trivial tastes, I know smile

Also, as I said, this is only part of my training and I'm also working on something else, and I definitely intend to tackle Bach's sinfonias when I'll be ready.

My question was not on the quality of the pieces themselves, but on the published order of difficulty. Also, following your reply, I actually thought that Chopin etudes were generally considered more difficult than the fantaisie-impromptu. I am indeed confused :))

Thank you in any case for your advice.

Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522017 03/17/16 12:56 PM
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KP:

Any book that contains a progressive survey of piano music is undoubtedly going to include well-known pieces that "everyone" plays, and the fact that you have chosen Clarfield's book undoubtedly reflects your choice of pieces. Another similar book might have had you going in different directions.

However, since you are beginning studies with a teacher, it might be wise to rely on your teacher's expertise and his/her analysis of your playing and your needs before you impose - however tactfully - your repertoire requirements upon the teacher. Perhaps, in time, you can come to a mutual agreement with the teacher upon choice of repertoire, but I would think that it might not be in your best interests to expect that the teacher will accept your repertoire list.

For someone just starting to work with a teacher, choosing pieces on the basis of liking them is not necessarily the best, most efficient path to progress. The pieces you have listed as your "likes" might not necessarily be what you need at the moment. If you are engaging a teacher to teach you, you should let the teacher be the teacher, at least for the initial period of adjustment to studying with a teacher.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522031 03/17/16 01:44 PM
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Kalos Piano,

You've completed some great repertoire and I admire your ambition, but your list does not demonstrate how well you play these pieces. We would need to hear you to really evaluate your progress. Self taught pianists often don't realize how much of the basics they have missed and you might find your new teacher asks you to move backward before you can move forward.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522087 03/17/16 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Kalos Piano
Hi Vid,

the book actually contains many more pieces. Those in the last are only the ones that I selected -still respecting the original order of difficulty- because I like them. I have very trivial tastes, I know smile

Also, as I said, this is only part of my training and I'm also working on something else, and I definitely intend to tackle Bach's sinfonias when I'll be ready.

My question was not on the quality of the pieces themselves, but on the published order of difficulty. Also, following your reply, I actually thought that Chopin etudes were generally considered more difficult than the fantaisie-impromptu. I am indeed confused :))

Thank you in any case for your advice.


I'm not trying to confuse you. I may just be challenging the approach ... as to the order of difficulty I would say the list is more or less accurate. The Maple Leaf Rag may be questionable but really depends on the player and size of their hands. Its all relative of course and I would add that some of the pieces like the Bach and Mozart are too easy for children yet too difficult for artists.


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Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522089 03/17/16 05:16 PM
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Hi Gooddog, there must be some missunderstanding. Only in my wildest dream I would have played all the pieces in that list in my first year of playing smile I have only played the three pieces with the asterisk. The rest of my repertory (still a long way to master it in any case) include the first seven pieces from Burgmuller 109 (which I intend to conclude in its entirety), plus a couple of pieces from Bach, some stuff from ABRSM Grade 1 and 2, Yann Tiersen's Comptine d'Une Autre Eté, and some other simple stuff.
I will indeed meet the teacher in a couple of days to have an evaluation of my level, and I hope that he will be able to help me especially with touch, fingerings, dynamics and the use of the pedal.

BruceD, I understand your point, but I'm kind of afraid that starting dealing with pieces that I don't like might make me feel less motivated :-( performing stuff that I like at the piano makes me feel so good and it's the whole reason why I started playing this instrument. I'm scared that "unwanted" repertory might put me off. But hopefully I'll manage to discuss the whole thing with the teacher and find a right balance. I'll find out soon.

Vid, thank you for your clarification. Do you think that The Entertainer and the Maple Leaf Rag would be more or less at the same level of difficulty?

Re: opinion on practice schedule
BruceD #2522107 03/17/16 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
KP: ............However, since you are beginning studies with a teacher, it might be wise to rely on your teacher's expertise and his/her analysis of your playing and your needs before you impose - however tactfully - your repertoire requirements upon the teacher. Perhaps, in time, you can come to a mutual agreement with the teacher upon choice of repertoire, but I would think that it might not be in your best interests to expect that the teacher will accept your repertoire list.

For someone just starting to work with a teacher, choosing pieces on the basis of liking them is not necessarily the best, most efficient path to progress. The pieces you have listed as your "likes" might not necessarily be what you need at the moment. If you are engaging a teacher to teach you, you should let the teacher be the teacher, at least for the initial period of adjustment to studying with a teacher.

Regards,
Kalos, you should listen very carefully to what Bruce says in his post if what you want from your piano studies is to learn how to play. If you are after only learning certain pieces, then your teacher might be able to teach you how to play those pieces, but you'd be lost when the next new piece came along. In addition, if you, as a new student, ask your teacher to only teach you to play certain pieces, the likelihood is high that your teacher will not take you all that seriously as a student.

No one likes to spend a lot of time on pieces they don't like, but you might be surprised at how much better you like a piece after learning how to play it versus just listening to it. In the same way, you might come to dislike a piece you liked listening to after practicing it for months on end. These things come with the territory and your success at learning to play will be enhanced if you can adjust according to what needs to be done.

As for the order of difficulty of the pieces you listed, good luck finding two people who agree on an order. It's not written in stone.


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Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522116 03/17/16 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Kalos Piano
Hi Vid,

the book actually contains many more pieces. Those in the last are only the ones that I selected -still respecting the original order of difficulty- because I like them. I have very trivial tastes, I know smile

Also, as I said, this is only part of my training and I'm also working on something else, and I definitely intend to tackle Bach's sinfonias when I'll be ready.

My question was not on the quality of the pieces themselves, but on the published order of difficulty. Also, following your reply, I actually thought that Chopin etudes were generally considered more difficult than the fantaisie-impromptu. I am indeed confused :))

Thank you in any case for your advice.


Don't be afraid to play what you like, I've been playing like you for a little over a year, and I've gotten eight pieces under my belt, including the ones you play.
(Also some technical pieces which I don't include in those eight, like Bach.)
I'm starting Pathetique as well now.

My teacher tells me I have amazing motivation, I guess that's one of the reason why I'm learning so fast, but I'm not forgetting structure, I have my scales, arpeggios, music theory, etc.
I also use Hanon and Czerny's School of Velocity, which I recommend to you.
I currently am playing "catch-up" to have any chance of becoming a professional pianist smile



Kind Regards,


-Kenan
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I've been playing piano with a teacher
since January '15
Studying under Eunmi Ko of USF as of June '16

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Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522224 03/18/16 08:01 AM
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Thanks for your advice, Stubbie! As you say, there might be pieces that I don't like but that I do need for improving certain necessary areas of my playing. My hope was that I could find music I like tackling more or less all the areas I need to improve, and I thought that with Burgmuller, ABRSM and Clarfeld it wouldn't have been too difficult. Tomorrow I'll finally meet my teacher and I'll see what he thinks smile still, I am ready to reach some compromise, if needed.

Wow Kenan, already tackling Pathetique? And you're 13? Thanks for making me feel bad about myself :-)) I do practice scales and arpeggios, theory and a bit of Hanon. Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck with your Pathetique!

Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522241 03/18/16 09:06 AM
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EDIT: I wrote Burgmuller Op 109 when I meant Op 100

Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522244 03/18/16 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Kalos Piano
Thanks for your advice, Stubbie! As you say, there might be pieces that I don't like but that I do need for improving certain necessary areas of my playing. My hope was that I could find music I like tackling more or less all the areas I need to improve, and I thought that with Burgmuller, ABRSM and Clarfeld it wouldn't have been too difficult. Tomorrow I'll finally meet my teacher and I'll see what he thinks smile still, I am ready to reach some compromise, if needed.

Wow Kenan, already tackling Pathetique? And you're 13? Thanks for making me feel bad about myself :-)) I do practice scales and arpeggios, theory and a bit of Hanon. Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck with your Pathetique!


Once you establish a relationship with your teacher, there can be a discussion about the skills you need and you can have input into which repertoire you really like that addresses the skill needed... as there are many choices for the same skill or in a period of music. I have this discussion now every time I am looking at new repertoire.

What is 'good for you' can be matched with something you really like. You just need to start the discussion with what you need and then match it to the repertoire rather than only playing what is on your wish list.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522558 03/19/16 09:34 AM
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I'm just back from my first experience with the teacher. The previous student was working on a Burgmuller piece, so I thought "this bodes well". The guy is kind of... errr... not very young laugh and the time is very limited (30 minutes) so I didn't have the possibility to explain everything in detail. In any case, first thing he asked me to play a couple of my pieces for him. I played the Minuet in G and Fur Elise. I made a couple of errors in both pieces, as I expected smile He said he was quite impressed with my level and that also the position of my hand seemed alright. He only wasn't convinced by the fast part at the end of the second, ehm, variation (sorry, I don't know the technical term) of Fur Elise, as the notes were uneven.
So he made me work on some scales and arpeggios with particular emphasis on the thumbs and wrist movement in order to avoid unwanted accents and rigidity of the hand.
Then we worked on the first Hanon exercise and some variations of it to work the weak fingers more.
Finally he asked me what other repertory I wanted to tackle, I started listing the Clarfield pieces and after one second he kind of lit up and exclaimed "the Solfeggietto! We should work on this, it would be great for you!" so I was like "well, ok" and I took the sheet of the piece as I had it on my tablet.
While working on that he recommended that I work on my reading skills, on which I totally agree.
He didn't say anything in particular about the Burgmuller Op 100, so I think I will continue studying on it, but I will bring it up more in detail next time.


So, for the moment I'm moderately satisfied with the whole thing, but I will refrain from giving a definitive judgement. The teacher seems open enough on the repertory and also offered me some new insights on stuff that I had already done (namely scales, arpeggios and hanon). Let's see how it will go next time smile

Thanks a lot once again everybody for all your replies. Cheers!

Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522563 03/19/16 10:00 AM
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Sounds like a great first lesson. IMHO, you will soon find, as an adult, that 30 min is not enough to get your questions answered and to get help on technique so that your practice is effective. With a longer lesson, I now go home knowing exactly what to work on, and more importantly, HOW to work on it.

Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522872 03/20/16 09:18 AM
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I totally agree, doperson, 30 minutes don't feel like much, I wonder if the teacher's schedule would allow for doing 1 hour every two weeks instead of 30 minutes every week. I'll ask him next time.

Re: opinion on practice schedule
Kalos Piano #2522873 03/20/16 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Kalos Piano
I totally agree, doperson, 30 minutes don't feel like much, I wonder if the teacher's schedule would allow for doing 1 hour every two weeks instead of 30 minutes every week. I'll ask him next time.


You will need to see what works for you... I couldn't do every other week, as I would have too many questions/challenges in between lessons. smirk and I have been very careful to respect the lesson time as the only 'help me! ' time. See what your teacher thinks about lesson length and frequency for adults.


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