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Topic: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?  (Read 3160 times)

Offline pet

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Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
on: July 10, 2005, 10:05:54 PM
Like I said in another thread, I am 20 years old.  I've been playing the piano since I was 4, and all of my piano teachers have said that I am advanced (who knows).  Right now my goal is to play all of the preludes and fugues by Bach (because he's the greatest), and all four chopin scherzos and ballads.  Now the chopin preludes were pieces that always gave me the most trouble, and I've always felt and still feel that I can't play them.  I have played one really well, and thats op. 25 #7, and that's only because it's slower than the rest.  Also, I have small hands (can barely reach an octave) so it really puts a wrinkle in how fast I can play these pieces.  Now, if you were to give me a piece that didn't have too many octaves, and it was really fast, I can master it, because that's what I do...play fast.  Now right now, I am playing the 2nd Chopin Scherzo, and it is really giving me a hard time, and it seems like it's taking me FOREVER to get it played right and up to speed...which is usually something that I don't have trouble with.  This is the last piece that I will be playing in my recital (next year May) before I graduate, and it seems like all my other pieces in the program sounds excellent except for that, and I'm starting to feel that I'll never get this piece, because a piece usually doesn't take me long to learn. (I learned the notes January and Febuary, but had to put it aside to learn Mozart and Debussy, and didn't really start to practice it again until early June).

So my question to you all is....are there any pieces that you can't play, not matter HOW MUCH you practice them?

Offline Jacey1973

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #1 on: July 10, 2005, 11:03:42 PM
Like I said in another thread, I am 20 years old.  I've been playing the piano since I was 4, and all of my piano teachers have said that I am advanced (who knows).  Right now my goal is to play all of the preludes and fugues by Bach (because he's the greatest), and all four chopin scherzos and ballads.  Now the chopin preludes were pieces that always gave me the most trouble, and I've always felt and still feel that I can't play them.  I have played one really well, and thats op. 25 #7, and that's only because it's slower than the rest.  Also, I have small hands (can barely reach an octave) so it really puts a wrinkle in how fast I can play these pieces.  Now, if you were to give me a piece that didn't have too many octaves, and it was really fast, I can master it, because that's what I do...play fast.  Now right now, I am playing the 2nd Chopin Scherzo, and it is really giving me a hard time, and it seems like it's taking me FOREVER to get it played right and up to speed...which is usually something that I don't have trouble with.  This is the last piece that I will be playing in my recital (next year May) before I graduate, and it seems like all my other pieces in the program sounds excellent except for that, and I'm starting to feel that I'll never get this piece, because a piece usually doesn't take me long to learn. (I learned the notes January and Febuary, but had to put it aside to learn Mozart and Debussy, and didn't really start to practice it again until early June).

So my question to you all is....are there any pieces that you can't play, not matter HOW MUCH you practice them?

Don't worry about this, i know how you feel just take your time.

I had the same problem with Ravel's Alborada del gracioso. Last Sept (04) i started learning it for my recital in June (05). It got to Feb and i played it in a masterclass for Roy Howat and it was just not going anywhere! I felt so frustrated! I practised and practised it, and nothing seemed to help. Then suddenly in April time it just suddenly got better on its own, i can't explain it. I think sometimes pieces need to mature naturally, you just simply can't rush them. What helped for me with the Alborada was that i listened to the orchestral version and studied the history of the piece/history of Ravel's piano music, plus sometimes i just read through the music and practised it in my mind and perhaps that helped too.

And then, by the time it got to my recital in June i just felt so relaxed about it and really enjoyed performing it and it went well.

As a pianist i feel i need challenges sometimes in order for me to keep progressing. As now i'm beginning to learn new pieces, after the trouble i had with the Alborada i just don't find many pieces that daunting anymore, i'm just able to get on with them no matter how long it might take.

Plus the other thing with the Alborada is so many people (other pianists) tried to put me off! Even my performance seminar lecturer said to me "so you like living dangerously?!" when i told her i was learning it and another student said i was "crazy", but then it's not such a difficult piece compared with others. So whatever other people ever think/say about a piece never let in influence you. If you think you can do something go for it and just keep trying. My teacher was the only person who gave me confidence when i was learning the Alborada, otherwise i proabably would have given up on it.
"Mozart makes you believe in God - it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and then passes after 36 yrs, leaving behind such an unbounded no. of unparalled masterpieces"

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #2 on: July 11, 2005, 02:53:57 AM
I don't like to think that there are pieces you can't play. I think there are pieces that may cause physical problems, but one has to work around it. If you can't play all the notes in a chord together then don't. If you absolutely cannot do it you can't be blamed for it. Use your ear and find a way around it, produce a very similar sound, but how. Of course it is ridiculous for you to try and play peices composed of heaps of 10ths if you struggle with octaves, so in that case I would say those type of pieces you may never really learn to play as the composer intended. However that doesn't mean you cannot change it to suit your hands.

I watched in a piano competition last year a girl play Gershwins Preludes for piano. The 2nd movement she played the opening chord in the LH broken because her hands could not manage it together. But the way which she excecuted them was light, extremely well disguised, it sounded hardly as if she had broken them at all. The adjudicator even commended her on controlling pieces too big for the hands and dealing with it in a musical fashion. But of course this is one more element that you have to control in the piece which will of course add to the overall difficulty and time to master the piece.

I personally do not cringe if a chord isn't completely struck and someone with small hands arpeggiates it. It is how it should sound for people with those hands! It is unique and special in its own way.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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Offline schrewbie

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #3 on: July 11, 2005, 03:01:06 AM
Well if you practice any piece for long enough (even if it takes 5 years) you should be able to play it. I used to think that I would NEVER be able to play puck/kobolds/smatrold but now I'm a pro at that one. Now I'm working on aufschwung, and I'm thinking that I might never be able to play it good, but on the other hand, I know I will. Maybe not perfectly, but at least be able to play it without making a fool of myself.

Offline Waldszenen

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #4 on: July 11, 2005, 04:57:10 AM
There are no pieces that no one can play - otherwise they'd never have been composed.


But pieces I'll never be able to play for at least another, say, twenty years, include Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata and Liszt's Transcendental Etudes.
Fortune favours the musical.

Offline pizno

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #5 on: August 10, 2005, 02:32:34 AM
Jenni

I just read this comment (doing a search to see what has been written about Alborada) and I instantly connected to what you said!  EVERYONE tells me I am crazy to take on this piece and I am tired of it!  Yes, it is hard.  The repeated notes are very difficult (more than I realized, as I pick up the tempo) and I may never play them as well as someone else, but I do think this piece is within my reach.  It is VERY discouraging though for EVERYONE to say I am insane.  As I see it, the glissandos and the repeated triplets are the most challenging part.  But I think I can handle them, eventually.  I have been working on this piece for the past 2 months, very slowly, and would like to be able to play it for a group in another 6 weeks.  Tell me more about your experiences with this piece.  How did you manage the repeated notes?   How did you work on this difficult sections?
Thanks -I'm glad I saw your post.



Don't worry about this, i know how you feel just take your time.

I had the same problem with Ravel's Alborada del gracioso. Last Sept (04) i started learning it for my recital in June (05). It got to Feb and i played it in a masterclass for Roy Howat and it was just not going anywhere! I felt so frustrated! I practised and practised it, and nothing seemed to help. Then suddenly in April time it just suddenly got better on its own, i can't explain it. I think sometimes pieces need to mature naturally, you just simply can't rush them. What helped for me with the Alborada was that i listened to the orchestral version and studied the history of the piece/history of Ravel's piano music, plus sometimes i just read through the music and practised it in my mind and perhaps that helped too.

And then, by the time it got to my recital in June i just felt so relaxed about it and really enjoyed performing it and it went well.

As a pianist i feel i need challenges sometimes in order for me to keep progressing. As now i'm beginning to learn new pieces, after the trouble i had with the Alborada i just don't find many pieces that daunting anymore, i'm just able to get on with them no matter how long it might take.

Plus the other thing with the Alborada is so many people (other pianists) tried to put me off! Even my performance seminar lecturer said to me "so you like living dangerously?!" when i told her i was learning it and another student said i was "crazy", but then it's not such a difficult piece compared with others. So whatever other people ever think/say about a piece never let in influence you. If you think you can do something go for it and just keep trying. My teacher was the only person who gave me confidence when i was learning the Alborada, otherwise i proabably would have given up on it.

Offline jim_24601

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #6 on: August 10, 2005, 09:19:36 AM
There are very, very many pieces I can't play.

Yet.

Offline nanabush

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #7 on: August 11, 2005, 04:38:18 AM
No matter how hard I try, I just get completely punched in the face by the Prokofiev Tocatta, at one measure I JUST CANT, and my mom hates it, so I threw it away..
Interested in discussing:

-Prokofiev Toccata
-Scriabin Sonata 2

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #8 on: August 11, 2005, 06:32:27 AM
In a practical sense, the list of pieces I could never play must number in the hundreds.  In a theoretical sense, though there are pieces, many by Rachmaninoff, that I could never play because the physical reach is too big for me.  I just pick stuff I can do, even if it takes a (long) while!
So much music, so little time........

Offline prokomozart man

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #9 on: August 11, 2005, 08:25:42 PM
I'm a senior in college, and still have a long ways to go in expanding my repertoire. I really like Prokofiev a lot. I just played his tocatta, and that's damn hard. But, I think the Stravinsky "firebird" suite transcribed for piano is also hard. Any thoughts?

Offline maxy

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #10 on: August 11, 2005, 10:09:44 PM
Liszt's Waldesrausen...

I know it's not hard, but I just can't play it.  No one ever butchered that piece as badly as I did, 6 years ago...  :'(

Offline thierry13

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #11 on: August 12, 2005, 03:27:45 AM
So my question to you all is....are there any pieces that you can't play, not matter HOW MUCH you practice them?

I don't think there is any piece anybody can't play no matter HOW MUCH they practice. Some pieces require time, experience and much practices. But no pieces are impossible for anyone with dedication.

Offline nanabush

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #12 on: August 18, 2005, 02:36:49 PM
Well here are the pieces that I recently tried, without consent from my teacher that I just suddenly stopped because I couldn't get further...

Le gibet
Jeux d'Eau
Prokofiev Tocatta
Chopin Etude op. 10 #4

I think it helps if you have a teacher helping you with the piece instead of attempting to decode it yourself..
Interested in discussing:

-Prokofiev Toccata
-Scriabin Sonata 2

Offline jeremyjchilds

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #13 on: August 18, 2005, 03:13:30 PM
Well, I can play it, and I passed it with mediocrity on the exam, but I can't play it smoothly as I would like...

Prelude in D major Book one
"He who answers without listening...that is his folly and his shame"    (A very wise person)

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Are there pieces you just CAN'T play?
Reply #14 on: August 18, 2005, 07:59:34 PM
wonders where teachers get all their secret information (besides their own teachers).

chopin etudes were to me impossible until i learned one last year.  then, i realized, as someone else said, you need guidance to help you get through things you think you can't play.

because brahms often doesn't repeat things the same way each time, it is hard for me memory-wise (and large chords/many different chord changes).

when you finally play something you thought you couldn't, you have broken through another barrier and are on another level in your playing.  never give up.  put the pieces aside and come back to them later.  you'll get it eventually.

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