Piano World Home Page

Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight

Posted By: Morodiene

Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 01:46 AM

I have a student who insists on learning these pieces, but they are way beyond him. He's basically taught himself the first part (mostly) of Fur Elise by ear, and the Moonlight he can only do until the dotted melody comes in, which he can't play.

I told him I'd look for simplified versions, but I hate to do that. And since he's already "learned" the beginning of Fur Elise, there's no point in working on that either. So do you know of any pieces that are like Moonlight in feel but much simpler? Or a simplified arrangement of Moonlight is all else fails?
Posted By: AssociateX

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 02:21 AM

Why do you say there is no point in teaching him the rest of Fur Elise just because he had the first few measures already down? If he had the correct notes, isn’t that half the battle ?
Posted By: Andamento

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 02:35 AM

Schaum Easy Classics has a Level 2 solo sheet of Fur Elise. [See HERE.]

I don't know if they have a simplified version of Moonlight Sonata, but there is a Level 4 arrangement (by Wesley Schaum) of Clair de Lune HERE. It's not Beethoven, but it does involve moonlight. smile
Posted By: currawong

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 03:56 AM

If you want something that actually sounds a bit Moonlight Sonata-ish there's the Duetto (souvenir of Beethoven) op.47 no.15 by Heller.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 05:40 AM

Originally Posted by AssociateX
Why do you say there is no point in teaching him the rest of Fur Elise just because he had the first few measures already down? If he had the correct notes, isn’t that half the battle ?

In my experience, students who learned Fur Elise on their own usually have poor fingering, excessive pedaling, and other technical problems that are nigh impossible to fix later.

Over four transfer students played the first 3 lines of Fur Elise for me during our first meeting, and none could play it even 30% correctly.

It's a rampant problem.
Posted By: Vladimir Dounin

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 05:41 AM

Originally Posted by Morodiene
I have a student who insists on learning these pieces, but they are way beyond him. He's basically taught himself the first part (mostly) of Fur Elise by ear, and the Moonlight he can only do until the dotted melody comes in, which he can't play.

I told him I'd look for simplified versions, but I hate to do that. And since he's already "learned" the beginning of Fur Elise, there's no point in working on that either. So do you know of any pieces that are like Moonlight in feel but much simpler? Or a simplified arrangement of Moonlight is all else fails?


In this piece ( Fur Elise) there is something magical. Several times people came to me and said that they were not interested in music and were not going to do it. All they want is to learn some how to play "For Elise". After that, they will give up music lessons.

However, to do this, they had to learn so much interesting that they continued studying music and remained friends with her for life.
Posted By: Blague

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 08:35 AM

Does the student understand that these pieces are way beyond his skill level, or are you equivocating on that? Maybe you could take issues he has with Fur Elise and weave them into his normal lessons and skip the simplified stuff?
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 11:42 AM

Thanks for the suggestions thus far, I will definitely check them out.

To elaborate, he is a beginner, age 11 or 12, and in the primer books in Piano Town. He's got a great ear and is very talented and enthusiastic. When he asked to learn Moonlight sonata and Fur Elise, I explained to him that he would not be able to play them completely and that it would be better to use them as a goal to aim for down the road.

When I showed him the part where you have the dotted melody in Moonlight and the 9ths, he capitulated and just continued to play the part up to that. But Fur Elise he pretty much knows the A section, but with mistakes. I have to choose pieces for him to play at juries at the school and also at their recital. I'm just not sure it's worth the struggle to fix the errors, although it's not terrible.

I told him I'd look for an easier version of either, but maybe I'll just have him work on the first page of Fur Elise and leave it at that. Nobody has any patience anymore.
Posted By: pianoMom2006

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 09:02 PM

There is a really beautiful arrangement at the end of Faber 3B of Pachelbel Canon.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 09:56 PM

Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
There is a really beautiful arrangement at the end of Faber 3B of Pachelbel Canon.

Which I always skip.

FJH has a better one in Succeeding at the Piano, but I also skip that one.
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 11:12 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
There is a really beautiful arrangement at the end of Faber 3B of Pachelbel Canon.

Which I always skip.

FJH has a better one in Succeeding at the Piano, but I also skip that one.


Why skip it?
Posted By: rocket88

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/11/19 11:31 PM

One possibility is Bach's Prelude #1 in C major which sounds somewhat like the first section of Moonlight Sonata, and is fairly easy, (and a good place to demonstrate chords).

And doesn't need to be slimmed down.

I have used it with some success with students who want to play Moonlight but cannot get past the first section.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/12/19 12:19 AM

Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Why skip it?

I don't like teaching transcriptions. Students are free to play them on their own time.
Posted By: malkin

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/12/19 01:17 AM

What if as a teacher you identify skills that your student currently lacks which are needed to play the piece that your student loves and then you address those skills in easier pieces or in exercises?

You could even tell your student "(Piece X) which you love and want to play, requires (skill Al) By playing (piece Y) you will practice and develop (skill A).

When a student requests a piece that is WAY TOO HARD you could make a list of the skills needed for the piece and indicate which ones the student has even been exposed to.
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/12/19 12:49 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Why skip it?

I don't like teaching transcriptions. Students are free to play them on their own time.


Interesting. I like teaching that particular piece, but there are definitely some bad transcriptions out there.
Posted By: pianoMom2006

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 02:35 AM

Originally Posted by rocket88
One possibility is Bach's Prelude #1 in C major which sounds somewhat like the first section of Moonlight Sonata, and is fairly easy, (and a good place to demonstrate chords).

And doesn't need to be slimmed down.

I have used it with some success with students who want to play Moonlight but cannot get past the first section.


My son is learning/ polishing Prelude in C now for Guild. I agree it’s a nice piece and it’s one that sounds pretty good in my opinion even at a reduced speed.
Posted By: TheHappyPianoMuse

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 10:53 AM

My first piano teacher tricked me into loving music so much, it became my life. She did it by playing the classics as a "treat" ... which predictably got my interest. Then I would take the obvious next step, which was to struggle to play something way out of my range. But she was clever. She'd assign me the regular pieces and technical work, insist on my note reading ( the most important single skill a student can acquire) and then allow me to play a line or two of my laboriously played choice. I'd get maybe a line of the Pathetique at the end of my regular lesson.
Worked like a charm. And then eventually when I finally reached the end ... or a reasonable portion of the piece, I had learned what I actually was supposed to learn. Yep ... scales and Hanon and those abysmal pieces in the student's primers. And could "show" of with the forbidden fruit.
(Confession) I had three degrees in music and had taught for twenty years before I actually learned to sightread really well. Now it's the number I item on my list for my students. Sight reading cut my learning a new piece from months to a week or so.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 04:00 PM

Originally Posted by TheHappyPianoMuse
My first piano teacher tricked me into loving music so much, it became my life. She did it by playing the classics as a "treat" ... which predictably got my interest. Then I would take the obvious next step, which was to struggle to play something way out of my range. But she was clever. She'd assign me the regular pieces and technical work, insist on my note reading ( the most important single skill a student can acquire) and then allow me to play a line or two of my laboriously played choice. I'd get maybe a line of the Pathetique at the end of my regular lesson.
Worked like a charm. And then eventually when I finally reached the end ... or a reasonable portion of the piece, I had learned what I actually was supposed to learn. Yep ... scales and Hanon and those abysmal pieces in the student's primers. And could "show" of with the forbidden fruit.
(Confession) I had three degrees in music and had taught for twenty years before I actually learned to sightread really well. Now it's the number I item on my list for my students. Sight reading cut my learning a new piece from months to a week or so.

So while playing Mary Had a Little Lamb, you'd work on Pathetique? That is the level of this boy - single note melodies distributed between the hands, with maybe a couple of chords thrown in.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 08:05 PM

Originally Posted by Morodiene
. So do you know of any pieces that are like Moonlight in feel but much simpler?


How about Cole Porter's "Night and Day" or "In the Still of the Night"?
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 09:33 PM

Originally Posted by Morodiene
So while playing Mary Had a Little Lamb, you'd work on Pathetique? That is the level of this boy - single note melodies distributed between the hands, with maybe a couple of chords thrown in.

And he insists on learning Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise?

Tell him it's like trying to do advanced math (Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Calculus) without knowing how to add and subtract. In fact, show him the math curriculum, and point to where he is--at the bottom--and that in schools it will take about 8 more years to get to Algebra, and 11 more years to get to Calculus. That's measured in YEARS.

I don't get such moronic requests from my students, but once in a blue moon a parent would be dumb enough to ask. The last time that happened, the query came from the kid's grandma. I told her the kid can't even read notes fluently yet after four years of "lessons" from hack teachers. This kid came to me playing Fur Elise (the first section) by rote, and I immediately sent him down to the Primer method book for ZERO reading ability.

Another recent request came from the mother of an advanced student asking for the third movement of Moonlight Sonata, and I just laughed in her face--but in this case the kid is so much further along, so why bother learning something so trite and rudimentary??? We have MUCH more difficult music to work on.
Posted By: Morodiene

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 10:24 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Morodiene
So while playing Mary Had a Little Lamb, you'd work on Pathetique? That is the level of this boy - single note melodies distributed between the hands, with maybe a couple of chords thrown in.

And he insists on learning Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise?

Tell him it's like trying to do advanced math (Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Calculus) without knowing how to add and subtract. In fact, show him the math curriculum, and point to where he is--at the bottom--and that in schools it will take about 8 more years to get to Algebra, and 11 more years to get to Calculus. That's measured in YEARS.

I don't get such moronic requests from my students, but once in a blue moon a parent would be dumb enough to ask. The last time that happened, the query came from the kid's grandma. I told her the kid can't even read notes fluently yet after four years of "lessons" from hack teachers. This kid came to me playing Fur Elise (the first section) by rote, and I immediately sent him down to the Primer method book for ZERO reading ability.

Another recent request came from the mother of an advanced student asking for the third movement of Moonlight Sonata, and I just laughed in her face--but in this case the kid is so much further along, so why bother learning something so trite and rudimentary??? We have MUCH more difficult music to work on.

I know! I told him several times and his mother, and they still both requested either Moonlight or Fur Elise. But I decided I am going to refuse this - especially for juries where we want to uphold a standard of kids playing AT their level and not learning by rote.

I never did such a thing. I trusted my teacher and my parents never told her what to teach me.
Posted By: jdw

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 10:51 PM

Don't know if he's quite ready even for this, but I have a "Joy of Beethoven" book edited by Denes Agay that has a lovely little piece called La Marmotte, a few pages before Für Elise. The book is organized progressively, and there are some other easier Beethoven selections as well. These could be "on the way" to the Beethoven pieces they know.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Substitutes for Fur Elise or Moonlight - 03/13/19 10:54 PM

Originally Posted by Morodiene
But I decided I am going to refuse this - especially for juries where we want to uphold a standard of kids playing AT their level and not learning by rote.

Common sense prevailed!
© 2020 Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums