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Schumann Toccata
#2878633 08/11/19 05:59 PM
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Audition recording, possibly to help me transfer to either UT or Vanderbilt's music programs. Any idea if this is strong enough?

Audio isn't all that good and technically, some parts are a little bit messy and yes, I'm working on a better fingering for those darned thirds.

Any interpretative advice? Thanks.

Last edited by achoo42; 08/11/19 05:59 PM.

Schumann is the mann.
Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2878677 08/11/19 09:17 PM
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Hi Caleb - What are the audition requirements? Is this the only recording you plan to submit? What about the Kapustin and Beethoven Concerto vids on your YouTube channel?

As for the Schumann - you have an amazing technique (I'm in awe, believe me smile ) but, as you say, some passages are messy. I would rather hear the piece played a tad slower with greater clarity and control. I also agree that the audio isn't all that great. Is there an opportunity to use different recording equipment and another piano?


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Re: Schumann Toccata
Carey #2878692 08/11/19 09:54 PM
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Thanks for responding!

So Vanderbilt requires "a work from the Romantic period" for prescreening, while UT wants 20 minutes of "Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionistic/Contemporary music (3 out of 4)". The Kapustin doesn't fit both but it could work for a couple minutes for UT, and the Beethoven doesn't work at all since it's edited (colleges want one camera angle). Brandeis offers a scholarship for a video of...pretty much anything, as long as it's decent.

I'm not sure if I can get better audio, and the piano (which is a bit too loud/bright for indoor recording-even with the lid down as I have here). I try playing the opening sections as quietly as possible and my phone simply refuses to convey that much dynamic contrast frown


Schumann is the mann.
Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2878744 08/12/19 02:25 AM
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Did you perform the Beethoven straight through without pause? If so, I don't see why the different camera angles would be an issue in this instance given that it was a live performance in front of an audience. But I could be wrong.....

As for the Schumann recording, do you know anyone who owns a digital recorder? That would certainly be better than your phone.


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Re: Schumann Toccata
Carey #2878896 08/12/19 01:23 PM
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It was indeed live and the sound itself has no edits. I'm still not sure if they would consider it for prescreening.

I will try to get my hands on a digital recorder and in the meantime get a better recording.


Schumann is the mann.
Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2878928 08/12/19 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo42
It was indeed live and the sound itself has no edits. I'm still not sure if they would consider it for prescreening.

I will try to get my hands on a digital recorder and in the meantime get a better recording.

Regarding the Beethoven video, please don't hesitate to contact the schools directly and request clarification.

Do any of the schools you are considering accept audio recordings - or must all recordings be submitted in a video format? (Back in the middle ages my own audition tapes were submitted on reel-to-reel.) ha

You owe it to yourself to submit the highest quality recordings to demonstrate your skills. grin


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Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2879034 08/13/19 12:23 AM
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It's very important to have the piano tuned. A lot of good interpretive ideas can be lost if the piano doesn't sound good.

Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2879197 08/13/19 12:27 PM
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I agree that you should play the Schumann slower showing more control and expression. You need to show that you are not just letting your fingers run away from you.

If you have a good performance, what you record it on will not matter. The piano and the recording are good enough. You are auditioning for admission into the schools, not for a recording contract, and definitely not for recording engineering.


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Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2881926 08/21/19 06:17 AM
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Sorry I forgot to compliment you in my earlier post. You have great technical ability and potential. Good luck with you auditions!

Re: Schumann Toccata
johnstaf #2882147 08/21/19 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Sorry I forgot to compliment you in my earlier post. You have great technical ability and potential. Good luck with you auditions!


Lol no worries, I posted this for criticism and not for compliments haha. I appreciate the feedback.

Last edited by achoo42; 08/21/19 05:38 PM.

Schumann is the mann.
Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2883641 08/26/19 12:27 PM
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For someone who has ambitions to study at university level, you don't show much sense for intelligent or imaginative phrasing. For example, the opening flourish is very perfunctory and as such, you wonder why Schumann bothered to include it. You need to think a bit more about the music in this piece, rather than what the notes are. The only justification for playing this Toccata is if you can convince your audience that it is not just a sterile exercise in double notes, and yet I feel that the only thing that interests you are the double notes!

Good luck though.

Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2884063 08/27/19 12:44 PM
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Many good things happening here.

I think the tempo should be just a couple clicks slower (not much, just the tiniest bit). Regarding the opening, I think it seems a tad rushed, and a couple of the chords aren't played as prominently as I feel they should be - for example, the C major chord (the third chord of the piece) seems a bit glossed over compared to the previous chord. G7 leads to C major, so rushing through the C major chord doesn't make musical sense to me.

Also, once you get into the body of the piece, I wonder how much more lyrical you can make each individual voice. It kinda sounds like alternating notes back and forth. A slightly slower tempo will also help you take a little more care in mm. 21-24.

This work is highly polyphonic, so I recommend you try isolating various voices (such as playing just the right hand and focusing on how lyrical/independent you can make the two voices). Also, try singing different voices/lines. If you are self-conscious about your singing, just do it when nobody is around. That's what I did when I was younger! Of course, now I couldn't care less and I sing probably too much for my friends' comfort ha

Regarding the thirds, I don't think the fingering matters as much as how you tense up your elbows and forearms... I think you'll find much more success, and have less risk of an injury long-term, if you can do the rapid motion with your wrist as the fulcrum of the lever instead of your elbow. Of course, that's easier said than done... It would probably take a lot of practice and time to switch your technical approach, but since you are pursuing a music major, it's highly worth it.

People like to crap on Hanon, but maybe you should try out exercise 48. His advice right before the exercise is actually really good... But just remember the faster you go, the less up-and-down motion you'll want. Eventually, as you get to the second part of the exercise (which is quite similar to the Schumann passage in question), you'll want it to feel as horizontal as possible, instead of a bunch of up-and-down motions.

You actually achieve this (playing from the wrist instead of the elbow) quite nicely in the octaves of the development section. For the octave section, since the right hand is in good shape, I'd recommend focusing on your left hand more, and bringing out the counter melody and harmony changes more clearly... A tempo just a couple clicks slower will help with that.

This is a tough work, and there is still work to do as you have acknowledged, but you do have good chops and with good, smart (AND PLENTY OF SLOW) practice, I think you can work toward performing this very well.

Last edited by Orange Soda King; 08/27/19 12:46 PM.
Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2884189 08/27/19 06:55 PM
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Obviously you have strong potential. I wont comment on the technique as it is not really a good place for extended tech comments. For the interpretation, it is too fast and as a consequence the musicality is lost. Music is not about winning a race. It seems like you are playing it for the sake of the technique and practising rather than playing as a piece of music. The articulation is missing and therefore the musical message. I would suggest you slow it way down and work out the phrasing, accentuation and intonation ie the musical message, and then put it back into the proper speed that is necessary to convey that message.

Re: Schumann Toccata
achoo42 #2884352 08/28/19 07:47 AM
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All I can say is that I enjoyed your playing. Keep it up.



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