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#3172058 11/19/21 07:48 PM
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Picking up the piano again after about a year or so of not playing, been playing on and off for several years before. Heard Dussek's Invocation sonata and felt like giving it a shot. Started last week and thought I'd tough out the unfamiliar key, but I found a bigger problem - spanning the chords and held notes on the right hand! I don't have a teacher to ask - haven't had one since around 2012.

It's this one on IMSLP, I'm using the one at the bottom from Musica Antiqua Bohemica. I've only gotten to the end of page 1, taking it 4 bars at a time, because this is really hard.

On page 1, particularly problematic stretches are:
Bar 5: Octave with 1 and 4 - I can barely reach this, but I know there won't be any accuracy in there when I get past the "mash the individual notes slowly" stage.
Bar 12: Completely unable to reach F# without letting go of the G above, which means it'll sound different with only the E sounding. Even then, that's still a nasty, nasty stretch - using 1 2 1 on the lower notes. No pedal markings in this section to help me here, and I don't have a sostenuto pedal anyway - it sounds too blurry to use the sustain pedal for the entire first beat.

I'm following the given fingerings since that appears to give the biggest stretch. I haven't found a more comfortable fingering position that allows me to reach those, or a feasible way to redistribute the notes to my left hand - they're just too far away. Haven't seen any stretches that huge on the left hand, but I've only gotten to the bottom of page 1.

For pop sheet music I can usually invert the chords and it sounds fine, but that's not really allowed in classical music, is it. Anyhow, it'll sound very different if I do that on this one.

Also dreading those fast arpeggios starting at the bottom of page 2. I love how this piece sounds, but there's no way I'm playing those evenly with any speed.

Suggestions appreciated!

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Alberta01 #3172060 11/19/21 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
On page 1, particularly problematic stretches are:
Bar 5: Octave with 1 and 4 - I can barely reach this, but I know there won't be any accuracy in there when I get past the "mash the individual notes slowly" stage.
Play the octave with 1-5
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Bar 12: Completely unable to reach F# without letting go of the G above, which means it'll sound different with only the E sounding. Even then, that's still a nasty, nasty stretch - using 1 2 1 on the lower notes. No pedal markings in this section to help me here, and I don't have a sostenuto pedal anyway - it sounds too blurry to use the sustain pedal for the entire first beat.
Why are you holding on to the chord E-G?
In the score I'm looking at, that whole chord are all 16th notes, just like the following G-F#-G. Is your edition different?


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
bennevis #3172063 11/19/21 08:10 PM
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Play the octave with 1-5
I'm trying to get that somewhat connected to the next note. It's something I'm not good at doing without abusing the sustain pedal, which is fine in pop, but that's not correct for this.

But really, this entire piece feels like a hand-stretching exercise. Even that first F minor chord is tricky and I'm grabbing keys by their edges a lot of the time on those octave-spanning chords - I can only span a ninth, absolute max. Is this a bad piece for me to try playing on my own?

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that whole chord are all 16th notes
Okay, I'm dumb. Forget I said that. I misread that as hold the note like the other arpeggiated bits...

Alberta01 #3172069 11/19/21 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
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Play the octave with 1-5
I'm trying to get that somewhat connected to the next note. It's something I'm not good at doing without abusing the sustain pedal, which is fine in pop, but that's not correct for this.

But really, this entire piece feels like a hand-stretching exercise. Even that first F minor chord is tricky and I'm grabbing keys by their edges a lot of the time on those octave-spanning chords - I can only span a ninth, absolute max. Is this a bad piece for me to try playing on my own?
I don't think you need to play the succession of chords legato at all.

I just played through the first page, and I think the 8th-note chords sound fine detached. Notice that there are no phrase marks or slurs over those chords. I prefer to play the movement in an agitato manner (note those accented notes in LH), with minimum pedal.

BTW, I don't know this piece and have never heard anyone play it except me......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Alberta01 #3172089 11/19/21 11:02 PM
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How are you playing it at that level already? shocked Mine hasn't even started sounding like a song yet. Still a random jumble of notes with no rhythm.

True, there aren't phrase marks, but to me, it looks like the fingering implies that it's played legato. Maybe I'll go with detached on the chords - I'll give both ways a try when I get past "press it until it sounds correct".

Can I ask where are you pedalling? I don't see where it won't blur the notes, at least on the first page. There is a phrase on page 3 with a pedal marking, but I'll figure that one out when I get there. Also, just a thought - it would be nice to have a bass sustain pedal for the passages starting at bar 16. I've only ever played on one piano that had that, and it's only for the first couple of octaves instead of half the piano. Much more useful than dropping a felt rail.

What I'm aiming for is to play it this smoothly, a little faster and different places to speed up and slow down than this interpretation though.

Alberta01 #3172111 11/20/21 04:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
But really, this entire piece feels like a hand-stretching exercise. Even that first F minor chord is tricky and I'm grabbing keys by their edges a lot of the time on those octave-spanning chords - I can only span a ninth, absolute max. Is this a bad piece for me to try playing on my own?

If you really cant reach all the notes, you have to remove some of them. In certain cases, since there is already a bass support in the left hand, you can remove some of the doubling in the right hand and see if that works. You want to keep the upper note and the third, but for example when the doubling is on the fifth, you can try to remove it. In some cases, you can also play some of the lower notes with the left hand and/or use the (half) pedal, even if for a short time and quickly roll the chord.

From what i have seen of the score, there are only a few places where the block chords span the octave. But the piece is not easy.

Alberta01 #3172126 11/20/21 05:54 AM
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Rolling chords is something I've never particularly mastered due to using the sustain pedal as a crutch instead of effect - I forget this is an option unless there's a squiggly line. Looks like now is a good time to start practicing that again. If that still doesn't work out, I'm won't be particularly happy with this, but dropping notes may be inevitable. Grabbing keys on the edge isn't that big of an issue yet when I'm still picking them out on the keys like this, but I'll need to pay attention when actually stringing them together.

I haven't given the rest of the piece too close of a look yet, but the beginning is not particularly small hands-friendly... and that theme gets repeated a lot. Loudly. While technically I can reach them, how sore my wrists will be five minutes in is the question I'd like to avoid answering. This is the first "long" piece I've attempted (even the first movement is very long for my standards - recordings go for anywhere from 7-12 minutes depending if the repeat is played) and it'll be no good if my hands are done by the middle.

Might try something crazy like switching right for left in the bar 16 passages when I get there, and see if it's any better. As long as I'm hitting the right notes, it shouldn't matter if I'm playing it with my teeth, right...

Alberta01 #3172134 11/20/21 06:50 AM
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I tend to think that you need to hire a teacher to work on this piece.

Alberta01 #3172181 11/20/21 11:25 AM
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My teacher says that with small hands, you'll need to chose your pieces wisely...

If it is any consolation, I have heard of a large man who wanted to play the piano, and he had problems fitting his knees underneath the piano and his fingers were too big to fit comfortably between black keys. He gave up on the piano and now plays the drums instead...


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Alberta01 #3172328 11/21/21 04:20 AM
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you need to hire a teacher
Yeah, I probably need to again one day, but not now. I'm not currently in a position to commit to lessons at the moment, but there are still things I want to learn (less classical and more pop though) like ear training and transcribing and arranging songs - commercial sheet music are often unsatisfactory. Among the things they test for, aural components are probably my weakest.

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with small hands, you'll need to chose your pieces wisely
A few years ago my practice piano (I don't own this piano) had an extremely, extremely light touch and things didn't bother me as much. Around 30 grams with the dampers up, if I remember correctly, and sounded like cotton balls for whatever reason. Now that I have a more normal piano, I think I'm really starting to feel that...

Gave the second page a try, those right hand parts starting bar 16 are even harder than the chords at the beginning - the succession of 16ths are brutal. My right wrist is pretty sore, but then again, I don't remember it when it hasn't after a particularly hard practice session. Not sure if that's a sign to give up on this or not.

Alberta01 #3172331 11/21/21 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
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you need to hire a teacher
Yeah, I probably need to again one day, but not now. I'm not currently in a position to commit to lessons at the moment, but there are still things I want to learn (less classical and more pop though) like ear training and transcribing and arranging songs - commercial sheet music are often unsatisfactory. Among the things they test for, aural components are probably my weakest.

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with small hands, you'll need to chose your pieces wisely
A few years ago my practice piano (I don't own this piano) had an extremely, extremely light touch and things didn't bother me as much. Around 30 grams with the dampers up, if I remember correctly, and sounded like cotton balls for whatever reason. Now that I have a more normal piano, I think I'm really starting to feel that...

Gave the second page a try, those right hand parts starting bar 16 are even harder than the chords at the beginning - the succession of 16ths are brutal. My right wrist is pretty sore, but then again, I don't remember it when it hasn't after a particularly hard practice session. Not sure if that's a sign to give up on this or not.


I would recommend you stop having a ‘hard’ practice session where you continually work on one type of movement. You will continue to have pain and there is the risk of RSI. Practice the 16 note section for only a few minutes, then move onto to a section with a different type of movement, etc.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Alberta01 #3172338 11/21/21 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
there are still things I want to learn (less classical and more pop though) like ear training and transcribing and arranging songs - commercial sheet music are often unsatisfactory. Among the things they test for, aural components are probably my weakest.

Gave the second page a try, those right hand parts starting bar 16 are even harder than the chords at the beginning - the succession of 16ths are brutal. My right wrist is pretty sore, but then again, I don't remember it when it hasn't after a particularly hard practice session. Not sure if that's a sign to give up on this or not.
I've just played through the whole sonata (well, because I've nothing better to do smirk and because I realized I'd not sight-read a complete Classical sonata that I'd never heard or seen before, nor knew anything about, for a very long time....) and my impressions are: it's beautifully written for piano, very pianistic, and that dude Dussek is very considerate to pianists (unlike that grumpy younger dude Ludwig van B. wink , who I won't name) in the way he makes it easy for them to voice melodies (whether at the top or middle) while playing accompaniment in the same hand, all movements feel natural - even the consecutive one-handed sixths and thirds - and on the few occasions when he writes chords (or held) notes etc bigger than an octave span, you can easily roll them without disrupting the music's flow (or use pedal).

I think this piece is technically beyond you at present, based on what you've written, and it's not just about the size of your hands (my hands are also small, reaching 9ths with effort, and 10ths only in LH with preparation with fingertips, but I have no difficulty playing this piece), because it's evident that the chords and the repeated one-handed sixths are already giving you problems (later, there are thirds too), but they are 'stock' pianistic techniques that are liberally used in 'advanced' (i.e. not composed for kids, or for teaching purposes) piano music.

If your main interest isn't classical, why tackle a big piece like this and risk injuries? You would be better off learning much shorter (and more immediately appealing) pieces that develop your technical skills more easily, like Scarlatti sonatas (e.g. Kk378 - easy, Kk9, 27, 87, 322, 380.....) - which, BTW, don't require big hands.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Alberta01 #3172351 11/21/21 08:36 AM
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Practice the 16 note section for only a few minutes, then move onto to a section with a different type of movement, etc.
I try to. But when that 8-bar segment alone takes me a couple of minutes to make sure I'm not missing notes in the middle of it (until muscle memory sinks in, anyway), it doesn't take that many attempts.

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If your main interest isn't classical, why tackle a big piece like this and risk injuries?
I did ABRSM so I have some background in classical (barely squeaked through Grade 5, no thanks to aural tests or sight reading - this must be around 2012 - so early intermediate, I reckon?), but looking to go into a different direction in the future. Getting into a lot of Westcoast aor lately and I want to be able to arrange and play some of those songs, some of them are obscure enough that there aren't chord charts that I could go off from. Between replaying old repertoire from then and less-than-satisfactory arrangements of pop music sheets lately, plus a little free time, I got bored and went off to find some interesting sheet music, and found this Invocation sonata.

Also, you got me jealous of your sight reading skills! I can't begin to imagine what notes on a page sound like unless I've heard a recording, so that might feed into my trouble of sight reading.

Alright, so I think I'll give up on this piece for now. Might be more trouble than it's worth.



I found an old recording of practicing on the piano that sounds like cotton balls... No, that's really what it sounded like in real life when you sit and play it. This isn't a mic issue or an echo in the room - I put my phone right on the metal frame. And the little sound at the beginning was not me - this piano makes random "twang" noises like that all the time. (Built in the early 1930s... ghosts? crazy)
https://soundcloud.com/user-2620370...6aT3?si=bf71f42230834b21935a952df02d8740

Not sure what kind of info can be gleaned from this since it's not a perfect recording (or a very good piano, but I didn't have many options), but I'll leave it here just for the sake of it.

Alberta01 #3172358 11/21/21 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
I did ABRSM so I have some background in classical (barely squeaked through Grade 5, no thanks to aural tests or sight reading - this must be around 2012 - so early intermediate, I reckon?), but looking to go into a different direction in the future. Getting into a lot of Westcoast aor lately and I want to be able to arrange and play some of those songs, some of them are obscure enough that there aren't chord charts that I could go off from. Between replaying old repertoire from then and less-than-satisfactory arrangements of pop music sheets lately, plus a little free time, I got bored and went off to find some interesting sheet music, and found this Invocation sonata.
You know, singing (and sight-singing) is the best and most enjoyable method of developing aural skills. Download simple classical songs like Bach/Gounod's Ave Maria or Schubert's Ave Maria (indeed, anyone's Ave Maria wink ) or Adolphe Adam's O Holy Night (well, it's Christmas, innit?) from IMSLP or buy song sheets of pop songs (with melody printed on staves) and have a go at recognising intervals and harmonies (and learn about harmonisation, of course).

My own aural skills, when I was a kid, developed by leaps and bounds when I joined my school choir, and had to sight-sing Bach, Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Fauré.....Britten and Peter Maxwell Davies et al, and at this time of the year, would be learning some twenty Christmas carols to sing at the school Christmas service - all in four-part harmony. My piano teacher, when she found out that I'd joined the choir (because she saw me singing in a school concert), didn't even bother to 'teach' me what I required for the ABRSM exams: just a five-minute test a few weeks before the exam to make sure I knew what I was supposed to know.

Incidentally, the Dussek sonata is a diploma standard piece.....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Alberta01 #3172376 11/21/21 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
My right wrist is pretty sore, but then again, I don't remember it when it hasn't after a particularly hard practice session. Not sure if that's a sign to give up on this or not.

If that is the case after each hard practice session, I would say that it is a sign that you do need a teacher who works with your technique.


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Alberta01 #3172385 11/21/21 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
I did ABRSM so I have some background in classical (barely squeaked through Grade 5, no thanks to aural tests or sight reading - this must be around 2012 - so early intermediate, I reckon?), but looking to go into a different direction in the future.

Alright, so I think I'll give up on this piece for now. Might be more trouble than it's worth.


Sounds wise. Anyway based on the score and quicly reading it, I would say that sonata is above Grade 8. That said you can extract some passages and use them to practice, not too long at a time.

Alberta01 #3172556 11/22/21 03:13 AM
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Beyond Grade 8, diploma level?? Okay, I'm clearly in over my head here. Eyeballing skills appear not up to par, either!

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My own aural skills, when I was a kid, developed by leaps and bounds when I joined my school choir
My school choir teacher taught us by rote. Gather everyone with the same voice together and tells us the exact notes to sing. No paper, just instant singing. Probably didn't help too much with my aural skills - my old piano teacher tried everything and I still struggle with immediately repeating a short passage that's just been played, even if it was only clapping out the note rhythm eek

I like to think I got slightly better since then... Give me a key and several notes to start off, and I could more or less follow the melody of songs I'm familiar with, without having to individually poke out every note in there anymore (still can't do a proper transcription, though).

I have a little sheet music/leadsheet collection, could start from there with stuff I already know. When no one's home though - I get complaints about my singing.

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I would say that it is a sign that you do need a teacher who works with your technique.
Yeah, I probably do - didn't get very far the first time around. I'm not currently in a position to take lessons, but I hope to again in the future. Lots of things still to learn and also unlearn...

Alberta01 #3172597 11/22/21 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Alberta01
My school choir teacher taught us by rote. Gather everyone with the same voice together and tells us the exact notes to sing. No paper, just instant singing. Probably didn't help too much with my aural skills
Looks like your school didn't have enough kids who could read music.

When I approached the choirmaster, all he asked me was "What grade are you at?" (He didn't ask me which instrument I played, nor whether I'd ever sung before.) When I said:"Grade 5" (actually I'd only just done Grade 4 ABRSM smirk ), he nodded and told me to try singing tenor, but switch to bass if it was too high, and to come to the next rehearsal. I duly turned up and he passed vocal scores of Haydn's Nelson Mass to everyone in the choir - about forty of us. Everyone played an instrument or sang (and did ABRSM or Trinity exams), and therefore could read music.

I'd never sight-sang before, certainly not from a score in SATB. But sandwiched between other boys who'd been singing in the choir for a while, I soon picked it up, 'found' my first note from the tonic chord he played on the piano (D minor), and we started sight-singing in 4-part harmony. The girls and a few younger boys (whose voices hadn't yet broken) sang soprano & alto. I sang very softly, listening carefully to make sure I was singing the right notes and in tune....and mouthed the Latin words (which I didn't understand wink ) silently if I wasn't sure of the right notes. Yes, I was thrown in at the deep end in shark-infested waters, but I was in a shark cage whistle.

And using my knowledge of intervals developed from aural training with my piano teachers, I basically learnt to sight-sing using solfeggi (moveable 'do' - just as Julie Andrews taught in The Sound of Music). This is the vocal score (our choirmaster accompanied on the piano):


Quote
I have a little sheet music/leadsheet collection, could start from there with stuff I already know. When no one's home though - I get complaints about my singing.
A good way to develop listening skills and harmonic acuity is to attend church wink and get singing the familiar hymns - but try to sing the bass part (of the organ/piano) instead of the melody. The bass line is the backbone of the harmonic progression, and if you can 'hear' and sing it you'll soon pick up what harmonies are used.

When I was in high school, that was what I did when singing hymns during morning assemblies, and after school, I'd write down the hymns I'd sung on manuscript paper, initially just soprano and bass lines, then filled in the alto and tenor parts based on the harmony I heard. Then I checked what I'd written by playing it on the piano to see if I got things right.

If you're planning to do your own arrangements of pop songs, being able to 'hear' and write down the harmonies (without needing to go to the piano to try things out) is an invaluable skill. You can do it with straightforward pop songs too.


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Alberta01 #3172634 11/22/21 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Bennevis
Looks like your school didn't have enough kids who could read music.

When I approached the choirmaster, all he asked me was "What grade are you at?" (He didn't ask me which instrument I played, nor whether I'd ever sung before.) When I said:"Grade 5" (actually I'd only just done Grade 4 ABRSM smirk ), he nodded and told me to try singing tenor, but switch to bass if it was too high, and to come to the next rehearsal. I duly turned up and he passed vocal scores of Haydn's Nelson Mass to everyone in the choir - about forty of us. Everyone played an instrument or sang (and did ABRSM or Trinity exams), and therefore could read music.

My experience is a sad contrast to yours. (sigh) I joined two choirs in a row, trying to get group music experience since I had just started out on the instrument and wasn't good enough on it yet. The third choir, finally, seemed to be more serious - you had to be able to read music and there was an audition. They were doing the Mozart Requiem and had already been rehearsing a month by the time I heard of it. So I printed out the score, studied the movement they'd be rehearsing that week, and went for the audition.

At the audition, I was not asked to read anything. He tested how well I could imitate a line of music he played at the piano. I got admitted, and joined the altos & sopranos who were already in session. I had practised the movement being rehearsed, knew it cold, and ofc could read it. They were memorizing by rote, line by line for each voice, with the pianist playing a line over and over. I was offered a recording. Apparently the practice was to walk around with earbuds in ear, listening to it over and over until you had it memorized that way. Why did I expect others to be able to read music, when we all had the same education system?

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Looks like your school didn't have enough kids who could read music.
Oh, I doubt that. Picking one of recorder, keyboard, or violin was mandatory. Though we played as a group - when there's 30+ people around you, anyone can look to the side and just go mime whatever the next guy is doing.

Bass transcriptions are probably the only thing I've done so far, by using a software to reduce everything else above to nonexistent levels so that's all that's left to pick out the notes. Then combine that with stuff from a different software that automagically spits out a song's chords - probably not all that accurate, but I've done this before to use as a very basic singer's accompaniment. Otherwise, I get very hung up on figuring out what each instrument is doing, possibly because of not recognising what harmonies are what.

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by monsieur souvlaki - 01/20/22 03:28 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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