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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: outo] #2808952
01/31/19 11:27 AM
01/31/19 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Stubbie

For the first time since I started lessons, I'm not currently playing any Bach, but I have started playing some Scarlatti sonatas. Quite different in flavor and skill set, in my limited experience.


It's the opposite for me, for the first time I am not currently playing any Scarlatti but am instead playing Bach. There is a big difference, Scarlatti fits my hands well, while Bach does not. I spend a lot of time with fingering. And then refingering because what works in slow tempo does not work with fast tempos.

I still much prefer Dominic's music, but Bach has certainly taught my fingers some new tricks...
smile I'm only on my second Scarlatti sonata (so I have two points and can draw a straight line, right?), but my impression is that Scarlatti is more immediately rewarding, at least in the playing, whereas Bach grows on you as you progress in playing a piece.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2808953
01/31/19 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Stubbie

For the first time since I started lessons, I'm not currently playing any Bach, but I have started playing some Scarlatti sonatas. Quite different in flavor and skill set, in my limited experience.


It's the opposite for me, for the first time I am not currently playing any Scarlatti but am instead playing Bach. There is a big difference, Scarlatti fits my hands well, while Bach does not. I spend a lot of time with fingering. And then refingering because what works in slow tempo does not work with fast tempos.

I still much prefer Dominic's music, but Bach has certainly taught my fingers some new tricks...
smile I'm only on my second Scarlatti sonata (so I have two points and can draw a straight line, right?), but my impression is that Scarlatti is more immediately rewarding, at least in the playing, whereas Bach grows on you as you progress in playing a piece.


For me Bach's music is polarized: Some pieces I like a lot while others I don't care for at all. With Scarlatti I find most of them somewhat entertaining, although some of them I don't care to play.

Which one are you playing right now?

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: outo] #2808966
01/31/19 12:05 PM
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Outo, I have Vol. II of Scarlatti: Sonatas for the Keyboard, edited by Maurice Hinson and published by Alfred. My first piece was K. 446, Sonata in F Major and I've now started K. 116, Sonata in C Minor. I'm still not finished with K. 446. The dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythm has been a weakness of mine and my teacher is insisting on my doing it correctly (and I'm glad she is!). I doubt that I'll get it to full tempo, but who knows. I think K. 116 is going to be easier for me.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: sinophilia] #2808971
01/31/19 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by sinophilia
Usually I find something difficult (even impossible) if I can't hear it in my head, if I can't figure out how it goes... which might be obvious in most music, but not in some pieces that are not simply melody + accompaniment, such as Bach of course, or complex Romantic music. Schumann is particularly bad, when there are a lot of intertwining voices and it's not at all apparent where the melody is. Once I understand which notes should be played louder at any given time, it gets better, but then it all depends on the speed. At the very slow speed required to learn the notes, I might have a hard time hearing and following the melody, so even a 1-page piece can become a lot of work. Op. 15 no. 5 Glückes genug is exactly this kind of piece.
Op. 15 No. 1 (About Strange Lands and People), m. 14, is one of those--three voices, dotted eighth-sixteenth note figuration in both hands, plus a triplet in one hand. In my Debussy piece (Reverie), the melody moves from one hand to another. It disappeared on me at measures 35-36 (and later) at slow tempo. Since I could play it at higher tempo (and hear the melody) with LH alone, I knew it was tempo I had to work on.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2808984
01/31/19 01:06 PM
01/31/19 01:06 PM
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Fingering is definitely the first place to look, but after that, I find that a lot of times my issue with a difficult measure relates to not getting the rhythm solid.


Schumann - Sheherazade Op. 68 No 32, Ravel Prelude in A minor 1913, Scarlatti Sonata in D Minor K32/ Soundcloud

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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809013
01/31/19 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Outo, I have Vol. II of Scarlatti: Sonatas for the Keyboard, edited by Maurice Hinson and published by Alfred. My first piece was K. 446, Sonata in F Major and I've now started K. 116, Sonata in C Minor. I'm still not finished with K. 446. The dotted eighth-sixteenth rhythm has been a weakness of mine and my teacher is insisting on my doing it correctly (and I'm glad she is!). I doubt that I'll get it to full tempo, but who knows. I think K. 116 is going to be easier for me.


Haven't played either of those, but they too are really nice... they can go to my long list of future to do sonatas smile

What's full tempo anyway? There's no correct metronome marking for these, they just need to have the right feel associated with the original tempo indication...

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809015
01/31/19 02:23 PM
01/31/19 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
As non-prodigies and non-virtuosos we work at a lot of music that is excellent, but not overwhelmingly difficult in the larger sense, but still from time to tome run into measures or a group of notes that give us trouble. What would you try first to overcome the difficulty? Second? When we realize we really labor over a particular measure or set of notes, how do we go about analyzing what the difficulty actually is?
Although trying a different fingering is often a good place to start(when learning a piece I often change fingerings as I find ones that are better even if the first fingering choices worked reasonably well), there really is no list of what to try first or second etc. It depends on the problem you are dealing with. And finding a good fingering is not some easy thing either in some cases. That's why editions with excellent fingerings can be helpful.

If the problem is technical in the sense one can't play the notes up to speed then besides slow practice and gradually increasing the speed one must understand the correct technique to play the passage or get help from a good teacher. There's an almost endless variety of possible difficulties. As one gets more experience, hopefully one gets better and better at figuring out solutions. The better one's technical training the easier it is to find solutions. That's why having a teacher who explains correct technique is very important especially in the beginning.

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: sinophilia] #2809082
01/31/19 05:02 PM
01/31/19 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by sinophilia
Schumann is particularly bad, when there are a lot of intertwining voices and it's not at all apparent where the melody is.


I personally hate playing Schumann. He has a handful of pieces I enjoy, but often I find his works odd or jarring in some way.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809085
01/31/19 05:09 PM
01/31/19 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by MeganR
Fingering is definitely the first place to look, ....


Yes, and the way to look at it is to start with the very hardest part, and work both forward and backward from there. Have a look at the "How long to beat ..." thread for an example of multiple fingering options.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809093
01/31/19 05:25 PM
01/31/19 05:25 PM
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And...don't forget to approach it hands separately at first. Trying with both hands adds way more difficulty than either hand alone.

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: tkdoyle] #2809134
01/31/19 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by tkdoyle
And...don't forget to approach it hands separately at first. Trying with both hands adds way more difficulty than either hand alone.
Agree. You have to at the least be able to do that.

One of the best uses (imo) of HS is with a new piece and going through it initially in a hands separately manner in order to figure out fingering. We can play so much faster HS and that helps us get a fingering that will stand up to a faster tempo. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part it works.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809151
01/31/19 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by tkdoyle
And...don't forget to approach it hands separately at first. Trying with both hands adds way more difficulty than either hand alone.
Agree. You have to at the least be able to do that.

One of the best uses (imo) of HS is with a new piece and going through it initially in a hands separately manner in order to figure out fingering. We can play so much faster HS and that helps us get a fingering that will stand up to a faster tempo. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part it works.


I usually don't do hands separate in the beginning at all. It just makes it harder. My brain works better when both hands are involved. Even for fingerings all 10 are best considered one set. There are exceptions, like with pieces where the other hand plays chords only, but even then it helps me learn to include both hands into the equation as soon as possible.

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809160
01/31/19 08:12 PM
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HS strictly for figuring stuff out. Once you have your fingerings written down, go HT, no matter how slow. At least that's what works for me. My brain discards all HS memory and starts from zero when I go HT. So, fuggedabout memorizing anything HS.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: JohnSprung] #2809188
01/31/19 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
I usually don't do hands separate in the beginning at all. It just makes it harder. My brain works better when both hands are involved. Even for fingerings all 10 are best considered one set. There are exceptions, like with pieces where the other hand plays chords only, but even then it helps me learn to include both hands into the equation as soon as possible.

Originally Posted by JohnSprung
HS strictly for figuring stuff out. Once you have your fingerings written down, go HT, no matter how slow. At least that's what works for me. My brain discards all HS memory and starts from zero when I go HT. So, fuggedabout memorizing anything HS.

Practicing strategy #1 here appears consistent with your approaches.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: JohnSprung] #2809197
01/31/19 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

HS strictly for figuring stuff out. Once you have your fingerings written down, go HT, no matter how slow. At least that's what works for me. My brain discards all HS memory and starts from zero when I go HT. So, fuggedabout memorizing anything HS.

This is what I do. Exception--some of the Bach Two-Part Inventions. I didn't memorize HS, but I did do more than just the fingering.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809210
01/31/19 11:39 PM
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I think I am starting to realize that the biggest difficulty for me is when I don't realize there is a difficulty. Usually when first looking at a piece, I am sure most people are spotting specific difficulty areas: big leaps, fast runs, crazy cadenzas, etc..

I am training up-front to work on these challenges, even before starting to learn the piece. However, when I come over an unexpected difficulty, I always seem to just ignore it (or partly ignore it).

So in the end, I think that being aware of the difficulty is something very difficult and the first step toward solving it. So far, I have been really bad at doing this and trying to improve a lot in that area.

Also everyone probably have some recurring difficulties. For me it's tempo, no matter how hard I try, I always have tempo problems. I can solve them with hundreds (if not thousands) of repetitions with a metronome but I'd really like to find a way to be more efficient, which I just can't seem to find for the moment.

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Stubbie] #2809241
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by JohnSprung

HS strictly for figuring stuff out. Once you have your fingerings written down, go HT, no matter how slow. At least that's what works for me. My brain discards all HS memory and starts from zero when I go HT. So, fuggedabout memorizing anything HS.

This is what I do. Exception--some of the Bach Two-Part Inventions. I didn't memorize HS, but I did do more than just the fingering.


One reason why I prefer to do fingering mostly HT is that I like to coordinate position changes and finger substitutions etc. in the hands. When playing faster and memorized my head can keep up easier when there's some logic between what the hands do. Sometimes it's easier to act simultaneously while at other times it's better not to. And then of course are the cases where I need to borrow fingers from the other hand. Also the need to balance things soundwise between the hands may affect the choices. I have physical issues with certain RH fingers so for good sound may need to use another one.

I suppose my preference for polyphonic and multi-voiced music has something to do with it as well. I think in general people with small hands use different learning and fingering strategies.
But I do practice things HS often later when polishing the piece. I think I am just not able to "figure things out" with only one hand smile

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: ebonykawai] #2809263
02/01/19 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
I personally hate playing Schumann. He has a handful of pieces I enjoy, but often I find his works odd or jarring in some way.


I love almost all of his music, but some people - notably prof. John Mortensen - say that it's "unpianistic" and awkward to play. This is probably true, but I found that once you "understand" a composer's sound world and intentions, everything becomes much easier, and I think "I get" Schumann most of the times, in spite of the awkward stretches and held notes (but I've only been learning his easier pieces).
I've just started to somehow understand Chopin, while others, like Debussy, are completely unintelligible to me.

Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: Micael K.] #2809400
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Originally Posted by Micael K.
Also everyone probably have some recurring difficulties. For me it's tempo, no matter how hard I try, I always have tempo problems. I can solve them with hundreds (if not thousands) of repetitions with a metronome but I'd really like to find a way to be more efficient, which I just can't seem to find for the moment.


Tempo problems often come from being able to play almost all of a piece at a given tempo, but there are just a few hard parts that you can't do that fast. Record yourself and play back, and you may find that there are little delays here and there -- the "Uh-oh, here comes that big chord" pause... The solution is to find a tempo slow enough that you can even do the hard parts, and do it all at that tempo. Get very very comfortable at that tempo, then gradually increase it, but don't go faster until you have the next tempo very very comfortable. Repetitions with the metronome set too fast will do more harm than good. That's what makes people hate metronomes.


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Re: Why is it difficult? [Re: sinophilia] #2809452
02/01/19 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sinophilia

[...] I think "I get" Schumann most of the times, in spite of the awkward stretches and held notes (but I've only been learning his easier pieces).


Those stretches and awkward chords are to be found throughout Schumann's music. The good news is that it tends to be the same sort of awkwardness in most of his pieces, so you can get used to them to some degree -leaving aside the Fantasie and Toccata... eek

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