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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2530547 04/14/16 09:57 AM
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Newer Player,
Indeed, the problem is that Rachel has been promising a complete set of videos for years now. It started with the videos for the first edition...and for the longest time new videos were just around the corner. Then, arbitrarily, she decided that they weren't professional enough or something and abandoned the project to make the remaining videos. (They weren't so unprofessional that she felt she should stop selling the ones she already made though). Like you, most people felt the original videos were excellent. A lot of her customers were frustrated that the videos for the latter, more challenging parts of the book were never forthcoming after having been promised for so long.

And that's fine, she has every right to make videos or not as she sees fit, but then she started on the new edition of the work and promised completely new professional videos. And she did a kick-starter type deal to fund the project. People paid good money to support her work, and after the initial volume and set of videos, there has been essentially no communication from her. There's no indication that the project is ongoing. Has she abandoned it again? The lack of communication actually is unprofessional imo.

Now, Rachel is obviously a gifted teacher and a gifted pianist. In my interactions with her online i've found her to be a very nice and cool person. But she has an unfortunate history of over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to her method book and its supporting materials.

Just a note explaining the delay (yet again) would have been nice, but there's been no communication from her for 8 or 9 months. I hope that she is continuing to work on it and that something new will come out this summer. I won't be holding my breath in anticipation, however.

For what it was worth, I was one of the people who backed her project. I kinda expected it to take forever based on her past history. I didn't help fund it because I needed the videos but because I really loved the first edition of her method and wanted to support a method that would possibly help people develop a love of playing classical music. But if I were one of the financial backers who had an eye on using her method, which was promised to be delivered in a reasonable time frame, I might be a bit miffed too. I understand the frustration.

But with all that said, the first edition remains an excellent edition to piano pedagogy. I think that with a teacher it can be an absolute gem of a method. Even for self-learners it can have a lot of value. I frequently commend it to people here when people ask about good options for learning.

One hopes that the remaining editions will eventually be forthcoming and that they will further help develop young and old pianists into excellent musicians.


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
fizikisto #2530552 04/14/16 10:21 AM
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If one were to pick up the first book, which version? The most recent version? I understand that there are two different versions? I'm always interested in looking at new stuff, but then again I don't want to overwhelm myself with a bunch of books ;0


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2530568 04/14/16 11:22 AM
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fizikisto - Thanks for taking the time to provide additional color. Only time will tell when, or, if more is published. As I implied above, I make no assumptions and just move forward with the original version, which is fine for me.

Kick-starter type projects are a lot like venture capital projects in that they help realize some inspirational ideas and projects. Unfortunately, a large percentage of lofty projects are frequently delayed or unrealized. As a general matter, I don't think those risks are well communicated or well understood by the general public. Regardless of the shortfalls of the general kick-starter model, I think fans would be excited to receive periodic updates from Rachel.

b-sharp - There are only two books available: the "Original FK" 145 page volume and the "New Book #1" which is 59 pages. Rachel's plan was to expand and the "Original FK" book to 3 new volumes, but as of today, only one of those new volumes has been published.

Last fall, I purchased "New Book #1" and the related videos; this provides a more detailed and introduction to the piano than the original book did. I hoped new book #2 would be ready this winter, but since it was not, I purchased the "Original FK" book and per Rachel's suggestion started at p 39. The transition was seamless.

One option is to pick up "New Book #1" now. Finish that. When you are done, if "New Book #2" is available consider that. Otherwise pick up the "Original FK" to continue from p 39. Frankly, I would just pick up both books now so you have no risk that the "Original FK" becomes unavailable.

Re: Fundamental Keys Group
newer player #2530695 04/14/16 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by newer player
One option is to pick up "New Book #1" now. Finish that. When you are done, if "New Book #2" is available consider that. Otherwise pick up the "Original FK" to continue from p 39. Frankly, I would just pick up both books now so you have no risk that the "Original FK" becomes unavailable.

I second the suggestion to pick up both books now. I also suggest purchasing at least some of the videos now. If you don't want to invest in all of them upfront, order a couple of the "beginning" ones to see how you like them. Videos covering Book 1 (new edition) are $35 for a four-video set, or $10 each if bought separately. Five additional videos covering the rest of original Book 1 are available for $5 each. IMO, the prices are a bargain for what you get.

Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2563139 08/14/16 01:15 PM
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Quick update. I decided to take a two month break from piano then run through the Fundamental Keys "new" book #1 (yet!) again to really nail down the key concepts.

I focused a few months on the last five pieces together to get a high level of confidence in basic reading, singing, counting, timing, and musicality. This is quite an enjoyable book that is paced at a comfortable rate.

In a conscious effort to improve my sight reading, I have not memorized these pieces. Although that might be chalked up to laziness also.

I can probably play these pieces "well" 7 out of 10 times. The other 3 times I miss (or play late) a note somewhere. This usually happens when I am saying the note names aloud whilst playing.

Interestingly, counting aloud I make the fewest mistakes and timing is the best. And singing aloud or counting silently sounds the most musical...

Today I opened up the "original" FK book (p.39), which Rachel said was the merging point of the two books. I was pleasantly surprised how easy and fun "Curtains Up" was. That is an encouraging start to this book!

Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2639175 05/03/17 04:53 AM
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Hello guys. Being a recent and avid consumer of Rachel's original book, as at the moment it appears there is no way she will give birth to the newer books 2 and 3 (by the way, I would humbly suggest to refrain from any comments on her lateness or her lack of communication, since we all know what a valid teacher she is and no one knows the reasons, undoubtedly very valid, why she abandoned such a promising project), I would like to revive this thread which appears to have some solid ground and imho it has already offered some useful tips to those who have started the FK approach. I see the last post goes back to last summer and I wonder if the people who used to be active have kept on with their musical journey. There is another recent similar thread where I see people interested and I will try and steer them here, which I consider more "in tune" since the the name of the Topic. I would be glad to share my own experience and to read the others' who have embarked on following Rachel's teachings. Thank you in advance to all who will be posting here again.
As for me, only yesterday I started the piece on page 77 which, although introduces the chords concept, doesn't appear to be very challenging for me (as I already have quite some years of keyboard experience although played by ear) and I predict I will be moving pretty soon to page 78, which instead at a first glance gives me the impression it will take me some longer to be played decently.


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
wouldloveto #2639181 05/03/17 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wouldloveto
There is another recent similar thread where I see people interested and I will try and steer them here, which I consider more "in tune" since the the name of the Topic.


Good idea! My topic about the video's turned into a full fledged FK topic unintentionally so good to see there is a FK topic already and to bring new life to it. wink I will switch to this topic for my blog-like posts. wink

I absolutely love the book (I only own the old Lulu version) but I have to add I learned most from the video's that you have to buy seperately. Not that I learned that much (mainly because I have been making music for over 40 years) but I learned a few things nevertheless (mainly concerning legate and slurs, and how to learn a new piece).

Because of my 40+ experience I went through the first 75 pages in a week but at this moment I am beginning to notice it is time to slow down because the current pieces simply take more time to learn them well. I also notice I keep on making little mistakes in previous pieces, probably because I didn't slow down enough to learn them properly.

I also love this book because it focuses on classical music entirely: I just can't stand those books with folk tunes and children songs (including lyrics). There is one little problem I am having though: because at this moment the new pieces take more time to learn them, I sometimes think: why don't I invest this time in pieces I actually would like to play and keep playing?' The piece on page 77 was indeed very simple but I also have no desire to put anymore time in it because it doesn't appeal to me. It seems that the rest of the book mainly gives me graded pieces which will slowly introduce me to more difficult pieces but I wonder what this will all actually LEARN me. Maybe I might as well read the rest of the text and choose pieces of the book but also from other sources to actually play...? As I said, it somehow seems a waste of time to spend hours on a piece which I don't like at all.

BTW I also already watched the very last video's and it's kind of sad they end here... I have the feeling I should have a lot more benefit of the video's that should go with the later, more difficult pieces. I liked how the video's led me through the book so far, even though I played most of them at 3x speed LOL and it's a pity I have to do the rest on my own, specially since the rest of the book mainly shows pieces with hardly any description and info.

Last edited by J van E; 05/03/17 06:32 AM.
Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2639212 05/03/17 08:02 AM
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Glad you moved over here from your own thread, J van E. smile
I understand your concern about the pieces. In the past I went through similar experiences and when I decided to deviate from the original path, that's where I got lost. I mean I got bored by the pieces I was supposed to learn properly and looked for something else ending up losing my drive in the end. I've committed myself to stick to the method till the end this time, and on the way I might still try and learn more appealing pieces, but at the same time I will not discard and will keep on playing religiously the ones in the book. I learned the lesson by my past behaviour and this time I really want to get somewhere concrete, and I'm sure I will, also because I've got to a point of skill that I never reached before. Of course that's my experience, and it might even be counterproductive for you, so you have to look for the best solution. I hope that someone else here might give you some good suggestion.
As for the videos, I share the same thought as you. The pieces ahead, being more difficult, are the ones which would benefit more from a video support, but that's the way it is and we can't change it. Let's just pray that some day Rachel would overcome the problems that forced her to get to a halt and appear again, and maybe post in this very thread... wink


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
wouldloveto #2639214 05/03/17 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by wouldloveto
Hello guys. Being a recent and avid consumer of Rachel's original book, as at the moment it appears there is no way she will give birth to the newer books 2 and 3 (by the way, I would humbly suggest to refrain from any comments on her lateness or her lack of communication, since we all know what a valid teacher she is and no one knows the reasons, undoubtedly very valid, why she abandoned such a promising project), I would like to revive this thread which appears to have some solid ground and imho it has already offered some useful tips to those who have started the FK approach. I see the last post goes back to last summer and I wonder if the people who used to be active have kept on with their musical journey. There is another recent similar thread where I see people interested and I will try and steer them here, which I consider more "in tune" since the the name of the Topic. I would be glad to share my own experience and to read the others' who have embarked on following Rachel's teachings. Thank you in advance to all who will be posting here again.
As for me, only yesterday I started the piece on page 77 which, although introduces the chords concept, doesn't appear to be very challenging for me (as I already have quite some years of keyboard experience although played by ear) and I predict I will be moving pretty soon to page 78, which instead at a first glance gives me the impression it will take me some longer to be played decently.


Well, since you ASKED - - but tried to add a prohibition on commenting on the state of the project - - I find it hard to NOT comment on the apparent abandonment of books 2 and 3.

At the time I was very enthusiastic about the new book 1.
Although I considered myself somewhat past its level I still found some material in it that was useful for review - back to basics can be very good in many pursuits.
So I was ANXIOUSLY awaiting books 2 and 3, so much so that I was a very early sponsor at the $150 level. I was also an early reviewer, possibly THE earliest reviewer, of the material for the new book 1.
As I recall the last status was that the MATERIAL for book 2 was done and there were adequate funds for video recording, the production kinks having been worked out in producing book 1.
I could help with production, with collating material, with reviewing material and/or presentation sequence. and whatever else. I am still willing to do that, even contribute some more funds if that is the gating factor.

In answer to your core question; Yes, I have continued my musical journey, but I feel that I would have progressed very much farther if I hadn't started down this particular path.
Restarting on other paths has not been easy and has cost both time and money.

Re: Fundamental Keys Group
R_B #2639218 05/03/17 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by wouldloveto
I've committed myself to stick to the method till the end this time, and on the way I might still try and learn more appealing pieces, but at the same time I will not discard and will keep on playing religiously the ones in the book.


That is also my intention but I notice some doubts creeping in every now and then... wink I sort of KNOW it is best to keep on working with this book but sometimes it is hard. One thing I will not do however is keep on working on a piece I really don't like. As soon as I think I have mastered the skill that the piece is trying to learn me, I will move on. I think...

Originally Posted by R_B
Restarting on other paths has not been easy and has cost both time and money.

I can imagine this... maybe you should have bought the old version after finishing book 1? I myself can't imagine using any other method: I've looked at a lot of them and even bought three books (which I luckily could return): FK is the ONLY book that works for me. So far.

Anyway, to get back to my intention and commitment: I will try to work on the upcoming new pieces like I should (and failed to do lately): HS, slowly, HT, slowly, measure by measure, line by line, preventing mistakes at all cost (!!!), etc. (I may even skip the last piece I learned because I learned it the wrong way and repairing the damage may take longer than I like... wink ) Let's see how long I can stick to this plan LOL

Last edited by J van E; 05/03/17 08:13 AM.
Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2639225 05/03/17 08:25 AM
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Hi R_B. I'm super glad that you're still watching this thread as that gives hope that the others are as well. Your story about supporting Rachel's project is a sad one. Of course I didn't mean to add any prohibition on the subject comments. Mine was just a suggestion, because I can imagine there might be some people who have suffered from it in many fields, not least being forced to start other paths from scratch, and it was mainly due to the aim to focus more on what we have available than what is still in the clouds. I bought the new book as well, but when I had a better vision of what was happening I stopped relying on the new series and promptly got myself the old edition, which is still totally valid. My feeling is it wasn't a simple matter of money or the rest that you mention, but some more serious reason must have forced her hand. I commend you for willing to help. I hope Rachel could get a chance to still read the forum. Thanks for popping anyway. May I ask which other paths did you decide to follow?


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2639226 05/03/17 08:25 AM
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Given that the "old book 1" leads toward an "old book 2" that never materialized, I don't see the point of starting out on another journey to another cliff edge.

Here's something else I've been doing quite a bit of in the couple of years or so since this fell apart.
As I read comments on this forum I often get an "impression" that the writer has musical interests and tastes similar to mine and is at about the same level.
SOMETIMES the writer includes their repertoire list in their signature line - maybe not "repertoire" so much as works in progress.
I look those up and download the sheet music to give them a try.
Not always a success, but it is improving my reading skills and exposing me to pieces at about my level.

b'sides, it is FUN

Re: Fundamental Keys Group
J van E #2639227 05/03/17 08:29 AM
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wouldloveto and J van E,

It’s great to see some activity in this thread! Rachel’s approach resonates with me as well.

Originally Posted by J van E
I also love this book because it focuses on classical music entirely: I just can't stand those books with folk tunes and children songs (including lyrics). There is one little problem I am having though: because at this moment the new pieces take more time to learn them, I sometimes think: why don't I invest this time in pieces I actually would like to play and keep playing?' The piece on page 77 was indeed very simple but I also have no desire to put anymore time in it because it doesn't appeal to me. It seems that the rest of the book mainly gives me graded pieces which will slowly introduce me to more difficult pieces but I wonder what this will all actually LEARN me. Maybe I might as well read the rest of the text and choose pieces of the book but also from other sources to actually play...? As I said, it somehow seems a waste of time to spend hours on a piece which I don't like at all.


I feel that way also. Maybe spend some time on all pieces, but only really master pieces you want as part of your repertoire.

Originally Posted by J van E

BTW I also already watched the very last video's and it's kind of sad they end here... I have the feeling I should have a lot more benefit of the video's that should go with the later, more difficult pieces. I liked how the video's led me through the book so far, even though I played most of them at 3x speed LOL and it's a pity I have to do the rest on my own, specially since the rest of the book mainly shows pieces with hardly any description and info.


Yes, I would love to have videos for all the pieces in the first edition. As an alternative we might try to find YouTube versions or perhaps post our own efforts on SoundCloud.


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
NightTrain77 #2639231 05/03/17 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by DawgBone

I feel that way also. Maybe spend some time on all pieces, but only really master pieces you want as part of your repertoire.

Yes, I would love to have videos for all the pieces in the first edition. As an alternative we might try to find YouTube versions or perhaps post our own efforts on SoundCloud.

Yes, that was the plan (some time on all, master the ones I really like). But of course (knowing myself wink ) there is a danger in this: I might stop with a certain piece too soon and miss the skill it is trying to teach me.

This risk is even greater with the lack of the video's: you mention YouTube and SoundCloud but when it comes to Rachel's video's my main interest lies with what she says! A few times she explained why she added a specific piece and that helped me working on it because I knew what the main focus had to be. Without the video's I am left with a lot of pieces and not always a clue why they are in the book. YT and SC won't help me there.

Like the pieces on (I think) page 77 and 78: I played them before watching the video. When I saw the video I found out those pieces were in the book to learn me how to use legato left and staccato right: after hearing this I approached the pieces in a different way! Because at first I didn't pay too much attention to my left hand playing legato but now I know I really have to do that. (And it took some time to get it right.) And that's thanks to the video's. I will miss this valuable input.

Re: Fundamental Keys Group
NightTrain77 #2639234 05/03/17 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by DawgBone

Yes, I would love to have videos for all the pieces in the first edition. As an alternative we might try to find YouTube versions or perhaps post our own efforts on SoundCloud.

Hi DawgBone. Just for those who might have missed it, there's quite a few links in an old post by 8 octaves in this same thread http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthreads.php/topics/2504337.html#Post2504337
Also another good place is https://www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed/featured


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
J van E #2639239 05/03/17 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by J van E
you mention YouTube and SoundCloud but when it comes to Rachel's video's my main interest lies with what she says! A few times she explained why she added a specific piece and that helped me working on it because I knew what the main focus had to be. Without the video's I am left with a lot of pieces and not always a clue why they are in the book. YT and SC won't help me there.

Like the pieces on (I think) page 77 and 78: I played them before watching the video. When I saw the video I found out those pieces were in the book to learn me how to use legato left and staccato right: after hearing this I approached the pieces in a different way! Because at first I didn't pay too much attention to my left hand playing legato but now I know I really have to do that. (And it took some time to get it right.) And that's thanks to the video's. I will miss this valuable input.


Yes, the comments of a skilled teacher would be enormously valuable. There is a real difference between playing a piece more or less "correctly" and actually making music. A good teacher can keep you focused on making music.



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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
wouldloveto #2639240 05/03/17 08:59 AM
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Hi wouldloveto, thanks for those links. I will check them out.


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Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2639401 05/03/17 03:51 PM
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This evening I practiced some more on page 78, Hungarian Playtune, which is a kind of an odd piece. Took me a while to get it going the last two days but this time I decided to play it slow enough that I could play it without mistakes. The spots where I had problems yesterday, the transitions from each phrase to the other, went alright now. It will take (or: I want to take wink ) a few days before I can play it at full speed though.

Talking about speed: I notice I automatically like a specific speed for each piece, one that not always comes close to what Rachel showed in the video's. Quite often she plays slower than I would. On YouTube etc. I often found video's that play certain pieces (a lot) faster! Seems to be a matter of taste. I do like slower, more melancholic pieces more though. I am not too fond of happy clappy tunes.

This evening I learned and played page 80, Carefree stroll. I like to play that one kinda slow. Someone on internet played it really fast which I found odd. Also without any dynamics. Boring. Anyway, this piece wasn't too difficult but I started off slow anyway. As promised. wink In the end I played at my preferred speed already but I ended my session with playing this piece very slow again, just to etch it into my brain. wink

Carefree stroll could well be my favorite piece from FK so far. There is no repetition (at least not in FK, officially there is): I am not too fond of those AABA pieces where each phrase is repeated a few times. In Carefree stroll every line is different. Sounds more like a real piece to me.

I had a look through the book and other pieces I like are page 60, Minuetto, and page 61, Gavotte (even though it is AABA wink ). Both I like to play 'dramatically', with a lot of feel and dynamics. They sound a bit simple though so I don't know if they are keepers. Carefree stroll seems like a keeper for now.

Another piece I quite like, but which is way to short, is Complaint, page 70. I like to play that as I would play Des pas sur la neige of Debussy. I like that kind of melancholic, impressionistic pieces! (BTW That is a piece I want to master at some time!)

Other pieces which are quite okay are pages 64, 66, 69, 75 and the already mentioned 78. So I kinda like quite a lot. wink The fast ones aren't my favorite. And not just because they can be harder to play LOL

So... this means I am past the video's now... What a shame.

I wonder what your favorite pieces are from FK! Would be nice if everyone posted a top 3! wink I think my top 3 would be:
1. Page 80, Carefree stroll
2. Page 70, Complaint
3. Page 60, Minuetto

PS Complaint and Minuetto really benefit from what FK learned me about phrasing and playing the proper note length! Without that knowledge I probably wouldn't like them as much as I do now. Both pieces shine thanks to the pauses and properly ending notes.

Last edited by J van E; 05/03/17 04:05 PM.
Re: Fundamental Keys Group
J van E #2639429 05/03/17 05:37 PM
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Hi J van E,

My top 5 from Fundamental Keys are:
5. p. 81, Mozart: Minuet in C
4. p. 125, Bach: March
3. p. 126, Schumann: First Lost
2. p. 118, Bach: (Petzold) Minuet in G

and my absolute favorite is:
1. pp. 122-123, Beethoven: Minuet in G

Notable mentions:
p. 96, Haydn: German Dance #2; the first piece that started to take a long time, 3-6 weeks, to learn since beginning FK, which became the norm at that point.

p. 104, Mozart (Leopold): Minuet; the only piece past p. 96 that took a single week to complete, yay! I still remember it for that reason, and was quite shocked when the teacher said, "well, you've got it; we're done!" at the very next lesson. Wow. That was the very last time it ever happened again. frown

Re: Fundamental Keys Group
soundsquire #2639548 05/04/17 02:33 AM
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Interesting list, 8 Octaves! This means the best is yet to come! wink That's great!

And my goodness, 3-6 weeks a piece... I already have problems when a piece takes more than two sessions LOL! grin I must really like a piece a LOT in order to spend 3-6 weeks on it. I suppose that is one of the 'problems' you have when you are teaching yourself. You simply HAD to learn that piece. I don't. I simply can't see myself spending weeks on a piece just to master it while I don't quite like it. After all, I only play the piano to enjoy myself: I am not planning on giving concerts or anything. wink

Another problem of teaching yourself obviously is that 'master' part: I may think I mastered a piece when I can play if without hesitations or mistakes but after reading some of your posts I have a strong feeling Rachel would disagree with what I'd call mastered. wink There is more to it than just hitting all the right notes, of course.

But anyway, I look forward to playing the pieces of your list! Nice to see my next project is your number 5!

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