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#460441 - 05/10/03 06:01 PM Some Questions regarding all sorts of things

I have some questions, and instead of posting them all separately I will klump them together into one post.

1) I have taken all your advice and I am not doing the Chopin studies in chronological order. Starting with the op. 10 no. 5, "black keys" one. I learned basically the whole thing in one week, but play it at snail pace, and feel that there is alot of work into it. I've only worked on it one week, and I basically know it, but as I said, it feels awkward. Is it normal to move so slowly on Chopin studies? I'm only 15, and it feels like it's going to take months before I can get this baby up to speed!! \:D Is this normal!????

2) I've started to compose, and I'm wondering whether anyone knows a good Mozart, Beethoven, etc. sonata that is a good "model" for my own sonata. If you have any ideas on one with clear, distinct themes and a format that's easy to follow (so I can copy the form into mine, get the hang of it) that would be much appreciated.

3) I have only recently gotten "serious" again with piano and my teacher is having me do studies and non-chordal (i.e. pieces not full of octaves and chords) pieces to get a good technique. I asked her when I can do my first concerto and she said perhaps after summer. Silly as I am I suggested a Rachmaninoff conerto or a Brahms concerto and she stared at me long and hard with really cold eyes. Guess not! She said I should do a Beethoven concerto (I suggested the 5th and got yet again cold eyes) and after some talking she said the 1st would be good. Is this piece hard or is it a baby-piece? The reason I ask, is because I don't want to spend lots of time on a piece considered to be "super easy" or "whimpy." I'm not so familiar with the Beethoven concerti, so that's why I ask. Of the first 3 concerti, which is a) hardest, b) prettiest, c) easiest, and d) most suitable for me?

4) She wants me to do a Chopin nocturne for a good legato... I suggested the first one (op. 9 no, 1?) and she said she'd let me do any of them. I'm leaning towards the first, but any suggestions on one (preferably where I can get away with some octaves and chords... dying for some!) that's relatively easy and PRETTY are MOST welcome, as well.

Think that's it, sorry it got a bit long!



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#460442 - 05/10/03 07:02 PM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
Ted2 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 790
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
About the Black Key Study:

Are you sure you're not using too much force and energy to play it ? Are you sure you are using the best possible fingering for you ? It is a pretty light and fluffy sort of piece and seems to sound better to me played accordingly. If you lean into it too much it'll make speeding up more difficult, not that speed is the be all and end all anyway. Even though the chords are a bit bland it's possible to get a fair bit of poetry into it. Many, dare I say most, very good pianists end up making it sound as if it were played by a computer programme.

I'm probably a bit naughty but I don't play it as a uniform stream of notes; I try to make it breathe. For example I make the most of the build-up in bars 24-32, hesitate quite a bit at bars 65-66 and so on - all sorts of things you can do.

About the composition:

You could probably use any classical piece as a model. Doing that sort of thing is only building technique though. People who take the exercise too far for too long finish with a limited capacity to be themselves where form is concerned. Form should be a vital force, not a jelly mould. This is noticeable with modern writers of ragtime, many of whom slavishly imitate the number of bars, sorts of cadences in Joplin. The result is an aurally pleasant but dilute version of somebody else's dream. Make sure you don't go on doing it for years.
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

#460443 - 05/10/03 09:26 PM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
Kreisler Offline

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13837
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Regarding sonata form composition:

Have a look at Clementi Op. 36#3 - it's a very clear sonata form. The only difference between this and a full length sonata is that the Clementi has a short (9 measure) development and no lenghty transitions between tonal areas (this is what makes it a rather clear cut example.)

Also have a look at Beethoven Op. 49#2.

Another bit of advice - sonata form is basically an extension of rounded binary form. Writing shorter works in rounded binary form is an excellent exercise that will help when you move on to more extended sonata forms.
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


#460444 - 05/11/03 12:11 PM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
EHpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 1703
Loc: NY-Madrid-Newfoundland (rhymes...
It can take weeks, if not months, of consistent practice to get a Chopin Etude up to speed. At the beginning it will seem like it's not going anywhere and after a couple of weeks you will start seeing some marked improvement. Practice with a metronome at a speed that is comfortable to play the whole thing and slowly work your tempo up over the weeks. This will also show you where the harder passages are that you cannot play at a higher speed like the rest of the Etude and you can put special emphasis in your practice sessions on these passages so the whole thing comes out smoothly at one tempo.

Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."

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#460445 - 05/11/03 05:05 PM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
ClassicalVegan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/02
Posts: 156
Loc: B.C. Canada
The only concerto I've worked on is the Beethoven 1 - I performed only the first movement, with a string quartet - and although it's not technically terribly demanding, it's hard to play it really well. (like all good music!) I don't think it's considered a "baby" piece; I heard a concert artist perform it with orchestra and it was very impressive indeed. Good luck with deciding; I'm afraid I can't give you much info on the other Beethoven concerti! \:\)

"Sing praise to the God of Jacob! Start the music and beat the tambourines; play pleasant music on the harps and the lyres." Psalm 81:1-2.

#460446 - 05/12/03 01:08 PM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
Phlebas Offline

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
EHPianist's advise re the Chopin etudes is spot on. I would only add that if this is your first Chopin etude, it may take a while to get it up to speed. Have patience. If you try to rush the process it will only take longer.

IMO, the Beethoven piano concertos are ranked in difficulty from easiest to most difficult as follows: #1, #2, #3, #5, #4. His first concerto is a wonderful piece, and is definately worth the time learning. There are also many beautiful Mozart concertos around the same difficulty level as well.

#460447 - 05/13/03 06:52 AM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
David_J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 175
Loc: Australia
Mozart is harder than them all in one way... but technically probably a lot easier...

if u did your scales \:\)

#460448 - 05/13/03 10:50 AM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
Marquis de Posa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/02
Posts: 157
Loc: New York
Etudes do take quite a bit of time to learn properly; I remember the Revolutionary Etude took me a few months.

As for the sonata, try looking at one of Beethoven's earlier sonatas (I'd recommend Opus 22; here Beethoven really follows traditional sonata form.)

In my opinion, the first is the most difficult of the first three concertos. Definitely not a "baby piece" by any means. I've gotten the impression the second concerto is the easiest. As for which is pretty, they all are, but I like the first more than the other two. And as for which is suitable for you, you have to ask your teacher as I am not familiar with your playing.

Nocturne: I'd also recommend the Opus 27 Number 1. Starts out calm with big arpeggios in the left hand and a very dark melody in the right. In the middle section it accelerates to a big chordal section and a cadenza, and then it goes to a paraphrase of the opening and ends with a calm C sharp major coda. Just so you know, the Opus 48 Number 1 C minor Nocturne is the most difficult out of all of them, I think.

#460449 - 05/13/03 03:18 PM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20233
Loc: Victoria, BC
I guess age - and working with young people most of my professional life - have given me a tolerance for youth's enthusiasm along with a never-ending bemusement over their boundless optimism, their sense of invincibility and their (sometimes exaggerated) sense of their own capabilities.

That some world-class professional pianists spend many years of their adult lives working towards mastering the Chopin Etudes, that some composers-to-be start not only by studying the formal works of other composers and by studying composition at a Conservatory or University but then compose some modest small-scale works to prove their knowledge of the vocabulary; none of this reality seems to phase this youthful - perhaps beginning - musician who is frustrated that he can't perform a Chopin Etude in a couple of weeks and who also wants to begin to compose his own sonata. (May I presume, for my polemic, that BeePhlat is male?)

Here is someone who, at age 15, has "recently gotten 'serious' again" about piano and fears that a Beethoven concerto might be 'wimpy' and so wants to do a Brahms or a Rachmaninoff concerto instead.

BeePhlat has not given us any indication in this thread of what he has already accomplished, what pieces he has really brought to a performance level, so we really don't know whether we are talking to - and wanting to advise - another voracious prodigy who really can embark upon such a program as he suggests or whether we are talking with a dewey-eyed idealist who has no idea about what he's up against by even considering these works.

BeePhlat, it seems to me, you evidently need to have a teacher to give good, constructive advice and to underline the concept that "Rome wasn't built in a day," and that anything worth doing is worth doing well, when you're ready for it.

As I get off my soapbox, I will just say that opinions were solicited; these are mine.

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#460450 - 05/13/03 06:22 PM Re: Some Questions regarding all sorts of things
Praetorian_AD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/01
Posts: 717
Loc: England
I firmly back BruceD's wise opinions, who's succesfully summed up my views on this kind of thing. I'm 17, and I wouldn't dream of touching a Chopin Etude for probably another 7 years, even though I've been playing since I was 6 or so, and working quite hard at it too. I know that when I'm ready, I'll know it, and I'll be that much more satisfied when I begin to attack the piece. As for now, who could stray for good ol' Bach and Mozart?? There's always so much to explore.



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