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Offline trinapiano

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on: March 18, 2009, 03:57:13 PM
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Offline rachfan

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Re: Video: Some of Liszts Benediction de dieu dans la solitude
Reply #1 on: March 18, 2009, 10:52:54 PM
Hi trinapiano,

I listened to some of your video.  At the moment, the performance is in pretty rough shape--too slow a tempo; poor control of touch, tone and phrasing; little continuity and fluidity; wrong notes; blurred pedal; insufficient expressiveness; etc.  The piece also calls for an artistic level of interpretation.  I realize you had said it was barely practiced.  But my sense is that the issue is more important than that.

The impression I get is that Listz's "Benediction", which is truly a virtuosic piece, is far beyond your current level of pianistic capabilities, meaning this piece is a poor choice for you right now.  If you were studying with an artist-teacher, I am positive that this would not be a piece that would be assigned to you.  You would be much better served to select music at your actual level of capabilities--not a composition written for virtuosi like this one.  I believe the better aim here has to be to not to give you a critique of your playing as you requested, but instead to steer you toward more suitable repertoire. 

Having said that, I don't want you to feel discouraged.  To the contrary, the "Benediction" will always be there in the future waiting for you.  But in the meantime you can be making steady and fine progress playing music that better coincides with your ability.  Remember, without exception it's far better to play an easier piece very well than to play a difficult piece poorly.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline trinapiano

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Re: Video: Some of Liszts Benediction de dieu dans la solitude
Reply #2 on: March 18, 2009, 11:21:41 PM
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Offline quantum

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Re: Video: Some of Liszts Benediction de dieu dans la solitude
Reply #3 on: March 19, 2009, 03:09:19 AM
I agree with much of what rachfan is saying. 

Looked at several other vids of yours to get a better idea of your playing.  I find the type of finger action you are using to be quite similar to that required on organ - sort of like a spider crawling.  It is useful on organ due to its properties of a non velocity sensitive keyboard, and requirements that the fingers are heavily responsible for sustaining tone.  However piano keys are velocity sensitive, and does require more input from the player in that regard. 

There are times which I wish you would just get more sound out of the piano, transfer more body weight through your fingers.  In general I think you can afford to explore tone a lot more.  Work on things like singing a melody, differences in articulation, warmth and grandeur in forte sections, etc. 

I feel that your fingers have the ability, but you need to involve more of your whole body and mind into the music.  You need to evolve your playing to encompass more of a macroscopic identity. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline gerry

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Re: Video: Some of Liszts Benediction de dieu dans la solitude
Reply #4 on: March 19, 2009, 04:39:29 AM
I've been working on this piece for the past 6 months and it's offered one of the greatest growth experiences of my life. There are not only obvious technical obstacles to overcome but to be able to weld the different sections together into a unified and satisfying whole is a real challenge. Aside from your lack of attention to accuracy, due somewhat to your lack of practice on this piece at the moment, you seem to be grasping the overall feeling for this first section. The only real disagreement I would have is in the opening section (meas 1-40) you must let the LH melody really sing out while the RH is really just accompaniment - you are putting too much emphasis on the RH figures. One glaring misreading is in meas 84-86 - RH - b natural (not b#) it's a dominant 7th leading into the following section. I have to agree somewhat with the previous posts - perhaps you should put this piece in abeyance and come back to it later in your development while spending valuable time now on more appropriate pieces. There is nothing wrong with continuing to work on some of the challenging passages as part of your program of technique building though. It really is an incredible work to become familiar with. BTW - it's unfortunately not the type of work you play for family gatherings - unless you are blessed with a somewhat cerebral family. Good luck!
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den, der heimlich lauschet.

Offline rachfan

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Re: Video: Some of Liszts Benediction de dieu dans la solitude
Reply #5 on: March 19, 2009, 05:03:45 AM
Hi trinapiano,

Here are a few helpful suggestions for you:

1.  You mention technique.  Question: Are you able to play now ALL scales, major and harmonic minor, throughout the Circle of 5ths?  And arpeggios as well?  If the answer is "no", you need to start learning them immediately, both hands in parallel, four octaves, until someone can call out "B flat minor", and you can automatically play that scale with evenness, as well as the next scale called out.  Same with arpeggios.  Scales and arpeggios are the most essential building blocks for developing technique.  If you need to start somewhere, that's it.  If you don't have a scale book at home, get Hanon's "The Virtuoso Pianist".  The scales, as I recall, are in Part III.  His fingerings are excellent and will serve you well for a lifetime.  Get the scales and arpeggios memorized.  Then, learning the patterns of cadences is necessary as well.  Technique is never an end in itself.  It is merely the essential means to artful performance.

2.  Teachers.  Are you in a fairly urban or suburban area where there is a good choice of teachers, especially high intermediate to advanced levels?  Or are you in a rural area where the choice is very limited?  If you passed a certification exam at a certain level of proficiency, then most experienced, effective and successful teaches would be delighted to take you into their studios.  The fact that they are reluctant when you inquire tells me that they are not up to the task, so you are better off not studying with them anyway.  They cannot teach you much.  It might be that they specialize in teaching beginners.  You don't need another teacher saying "Go on to the next piece" or "Use pedal" with no explanations. You've already been there, done that, and it was not helpful.  

Is there a college or university nearby with a piano performance program as part of the Music Department?  If so, many piano professors also teach privately on the side.  What you're looking for is a teacher with at minimum of a BM degree in piano pedagogy or performance.  An MM or DMA degree is preferred.  The teacher should also be an active member of a national or regional piano teachers' professional association.  Keep looking.  There has to be someone you haven't run into yet who can be truly helpful.

3. Things to learn.  Once you find a teacher, you need to study hand positions, use of arm weight in attaining a singing tone, balancing the hands, voicing chords for melody and strategic harmonies, handling melody and accompaniment within the same hand, differentiating foreground from background in music, legato phrasing as well as staccato, portato and nonlegato touches, score analysis, determining sensible fingerings, voice leading, pedaling techniques, dynamics, accents, polyrhythms, expression, nuances, rubato, listening to yourself and hearing yourself, and much, much more.  Some of this involves fundamentals and some of it involves fine points in the performing art.  In other words, you need to achieve musicality through a keen sense of musicianship, and, one day, even artistry.  For the serious student, there is nothing casual about playing the piano. It is a very lofty calling involving a profound sense of responsibility to serving each composer well when performing his works.

4. Repertoire.  Once you find a teacher, you'll get much guidance on that.  Basically, you want to be a well-rounded pianist.  That means studying the various musical periods and styles--Baroque, Viennese Classical, Romantic, Late Romantic, Impressionistic, and Contemporary repertoire.  Each period builds on the previous one and prepares you for the next.  Generally, you should be practicing and playing pieces at your level of proficiency.  To make continual progress, you'll want to occasionally select pieces at one level above your comfort zone.  That will "stretch" your abilities and enable you to eventually move into that next level where it becomes your new comfort zone.  Again, it's always preferable to play an easier piece very well than to make a mess of a much harder piece.  

5. Do you own a metronome?  If not, get one.  You can use it in selecting proper tempi, figuring out a difficult rhythm, seeing how figuration actually fits into a complex measure, etc.  You can also use it occasionally throughout a whole piece (not to make a habit of doing that, as you don't want to sound robotic in your playing) to find out if you stumble in some places--meaning you don't know those spots well enough to play the piece consistently as a whole at chosen tempo. Hand alone practice can be valuable in those instances.  The metronome helps to discover and isolate problems in not allowing you to slow down for them.  You can also use the metronome to do speed drills.  To increase the speed of a piece, you can very gradually keep increasing the metronome setting to fool the brain into playing faster.  It's a very useful and indispensable tool.

I guess I'll stop here.  I don't know if any of this is helpful to you or not.  Anyway, keep practicing.  And find yourself a really good teacher!  
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline trinapiano

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Re: Video: Some of Liszts Benediction de dieu dans la solitude
Reply #6 on: March 19, 2009, 03:17:25 PM
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Offline rachfan

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Re: Video: Some of Liszts Benediction de dieu dans la solitude
Reply #7 on: March 19, 2009, 09:11:49 PM
Hi trinapiano,

OK, I'm more encouraged from reading your last response.  That's great that you've learned the scales, arpeggios, cadences, and other fundamentals.  Don't drop those now that the exams are over.  Doing the scales daily or at least a couple of times is week is one of the best technical drills you can ever do, especially where so much music contains scalar passages.  By knowing the scales, you can automatically apply the correct fingering for those passages in pieces.  It will also keep your hands limber.

I agree with your teachers having given short shrift to technical work like Hanon's five-finger exercises, Czerny's etudes, etc.  The fact is, the value of that stuff is quite questionable, and more importantly, you can better utilize your practice time solving technical problems in a far more practical way within your repertoire pieces.  When a problem occurs, you should make a mini-exercise of it until the problem is ironed out.  Doing that will serve you very well over time as you progress.

Concerning teachers, as you speak to them in the future, avoid teachers focusing on beginners and intermediate pupils.  They will be of very little assistance to you at this point.  You need a good teacher who works with high intermediate and advanced adults.  The reason for this is that the adult style of learning is very different from a child's learning style. 

Start with that closest music school--again--(it is certainly the most convenient).  Look at their website and write down the contact information for the piano faculty members.  Then call them directly, bypassing the school administration, to discuss your goals.  If you wish to study privately, it's not, quite frankly, in the school's interest to be helpful, as the teacher, not the school, will get the tuition.  (Art is art, but money is money.)  A faculty member, however, looking to supplement income, can often make discrete separate arrangements with you.  So inquire as to whether or not they teach privately, have room for another student, their schedule, about their private lesson fee, etc.  If an adult shows interest, talent, ability, motivation, and determination, often a teacher will accept such a student.  You might luck out with this direct approach.  If none of the faculty can be helpful, then you might need to move on to one of the more distant schools.  But, it might be that a piano faculty member resides some where BETWEEN your city and the city where the school is located, making the distance not as bad as one might assume.

Failing that, look at the BM degree in performance program, requirements, tuition and expenses to see if it would be feasible or not.  If not, sometimes music schools also offer more abridged diploma and certificate programs that might cater more to your specific objectives as an adult, amateur pianist.

Good luck with all that!     
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.
 

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