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#575161 - 12/09/07 07:42 AM Assessing your technique
thepianist2008 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/06
Posts: 191
Loc: NY
How do you know when you're ready to play a piece? And if you know you're not ready, how do you get yourself there?

Here's the piece I want to play, and it's going to sound ridiculous, but I have a recording of it and I've fallen in love with it: Ravel's Ondine.
Now, I know I'm not ready for it, and I probably won't be for a few years, but what should I be playing to get there? When you take a difficult piece, and you pick out where its difficulties lie, how do you find another piece with similar difficulties and how do you know that it is actually easier than your target piece? How do you know that that piece you picked out is going to help you get where you want to go?

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Bach Prelude and Fugue in Bb Maj, D min, and C Maj from Bk I
Mozart Sonata K.280
Brahms Rhapsody Op. 79 No. 2
Bartok Six Roumanian Folk Dances
Prokofieff Visions Fugitives Op. 22

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#575162 - 12/09/07 10:17 AM Re: Assessing your technique
Silent Thoughts Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/05
Posts: 314
Lots of experience will let you guage the difficulties of a particular piece better than anything else. I would suggest reading through Ondine a few times at whatever tempo you need to get a good understanding of the technique involved.

Often, a piece is much more daunting at a glance than it is once you start working on it, and just as often what seems easy becomes terribly difficult at a more rapid tempo.

If I don't believe I'm ready for a piece, I usually don't pick repertoire geared toward it; I simply learn anything else that I might happen to love, content in the fact that when I'm ready I'll know and not before then. However, if there are pieces you love that happen to be close to Ondine, by all means take that route. I would suggest Chopin's Op. 25 No. 6 etude (I'd like to say that simply working on some of Chopin's etudes helps tremendously, whether or not you "finish" the etude), Ravel's Barque sur l'Ocean from Miroirs, Ravel's Jeux D'eau, and Bach fugues.

One never really knows that one piece will definitely lead to another - as such, I take the opposite approach and learn as varied a repertoire as possible without thinking about logical progressions from one piece to another. A wider technical perspective will give you both the ability and the confidence to approach literally any piece without feeling like it's beyond your abilities. It took me three or four years of very serious practice before I really felt "ready for anything," and I think there's no substitute for learning a very large volume of repertoire.

Ondine might seem like a ridiculous proposition at the moment, but you'll feel ready eventually, and when you do... good luck! \:\)

- Silence

#575163 - 12/09/07 11:54 AM Re: Assessing your technique
Mike090280 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 159
Loc: Texas
Hello. I have this probelm as well. The best solution for this is to get a good teacher. But sometimes that is not an option, like for me right now. So, I am having to go at it alone. This forum has helped a great deal.

When I want to learn a piece, I start by listening first and looking at the score. Then I will go to the piano, if I have a lot of trouble at first then most likely I will know it is too hard. I usually give it a day or two though.

For instance I started looking a Chopin etude op10 no.12, and was pretty sure It was way over my level but suprisingly it got in my fingers pretty well, the first page and a half so far anyway. A probelm I have is it takes me a long time to learn a piece because my sight reading is very bad. But it is improving.

Hope this helps a little


#575164 - 12/09/07 12:36 PM Re: Assessing your technique
thepianist2008 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/06
Posts: 191
Loc: NY
Silent Omen - I'm glad you weren't silent! :)Whether the pieces you recommended help me get to Ondine or not, I'm always looking for good pieces to try, and I'm glad that you told me about those. I'll probably go to www.pianosociety.com and see if I can get recordings.

Mike - Usually I try this, you know, looking through the piece, seeing what I can do with it. I guess I'm a little scared because I've seen much about Ondine being one of the most challenging pieces in piano literature. They say that one of Ravel's aims in writing Gaspard de la Nuit ( the collection which contains Ondine ) was to write something more difficult than Balakirev's Islamey. But I will try it, once I'm done with my college auditions. Who knows? Maybe I'll be more ready than I think I am. I certainly know it well from hearing it so many times. We'll see what happens. \:\)
Piano Hero Encore Rocks the 1800s!

Current Assignments:
Bach Prelude and Fugue in Bb Maj, D min, and C Maj from Bk I
Mozart Sonata K.280
Brahms Rhapsody Op. 79 No. 2
Bartok Six Roumanian Folk Dances
Prokofieff Visions Fugitives Op. 22

I'm going to Ithaca! Yay!!!

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