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Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement (Read 2753 times)

Offline beethovenfan01

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Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement
« on: January 29, 2017, 12:25:32 AM »
Hello.

After many months of struggling with the third movement of the moonlight sonata (and leaving it, and taking it up again, and not being able to master it, etc.), I finally realized what my problem was. My arm gets all tense during the first and second pages, so much that I can't play well below the first or second line. I've gone through it slowly countless times, legato, staccato, swing, etc. I can play any individual run at tempo, but all together it becomes too much for my wrist. How do I release all the tension that builds up? My piano teacher said that was what the sforzando chords were for, but that doesn't seem to be enough for me at this point. See below for my other repertoire, in case you're curious about my level.

I can play the Chopin G minor Ballade and Mozart K576 sonata without many problems, so why is this piece giving me so much trouble?

I welcome any advice anyone has!

Thanks
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline brogers70

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Re: Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement
«Reply #1 on: January 29, 2017, 02:39:54 AM »
My teacher would say that you should move your arms. In particular just bounce your elbows a bit to give a little extra impulse to downbeats, and that movement of the arms is often enough to loosen up the wrists. It's been helpful for me.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement
«Reply #2 on: January 29, 2017, 04:57:01 AM »
Try playing super quiet and lightly. Your thumb probably is too heavy too which makes it tough if you are playing arpeggios. It is a lot easier to give general advice if there is a video displaying your playing. Ask your teacher to give you easier pieces which go through similar ideas which would be appropriate for your interest/level. There is no point trying to acquire technique in a piece if it takes a long long time, you need to do easier works imho or everything just becomes frustrating and with a much higher chance of inefficient progress.
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Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement
«Reply #3 on: January 29, 2017, 06:40:12 AM »
When you're in the know you're relaxing for milliseconds all over the place.  The first thing those who attain this level notice is their practicing is no longer arduous. 
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Offline dcstudio

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Re: Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement
«Reply #4 on: February 02, 2017, 02:49:52 PM »
I suggest you post a vid of this so we can see exactly where your issues are and what you are doing.  If you are playing the Chopin then this shouldn't be giving you that much trouble. The third movement is not nearly as difficult as it sounds.

Offline vaniii

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Re: Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement
«Reply #5 on: February 02, 2017, 03:28:22 PM »
Hello.

After many months of struggling with the third movement of the moonlight sonata (and leaving it, and taking it up again, and not being able to master it, etc.), I finally realized what my problem was. My arm gets all tense during the first and second pages, so much that I can't play well below the first or second line. I've gone through it slowly countless times, legato, staccato, swing, etc. I can play any individual run at tempo, but all together it becomes too much for my wrist. How do I release all the tension that builds up? My piano teacher said that was what the sforzando chords were for, but that doesn't seem to be enough for me at this point. See below for my other repertoire, in case you're curious about my level.

I can play the Chopin G minor Ballade and Mozart K576 sonata without many problems, so why is this piece giving me so much trouble?

I welcome any advice anyone has!

Thanks

When I approached this piece the first time (in my early teens), it was after watching Wilhelm Kempf.  I was taken by the vivacious qualitys, notably the required tempo.  As a result I started from the wrong place.  My obsession was with getting it out, at the speed needed.

Years later, when I returned to the piece, my ear and eye had improved and I saw a lot more in the score that I had not noticed before.

1) The piece is made up almost entirely of arpeggios.  Having a thorough understanding and ability to execute C-sharp minor (and directly related keys) in a variety of applications helped.  This meant, time was spent listening to the quality of sound, not producing the correct note.

2) Understanding the composer helped.  Beethoven was a keyboard virtuoso; even his orchestral writing imitates his understanding completely of keyboard harmony.  That said, yes in an orchestral setting, he has more colours to play with, but essentially, you could play all of his symphonies on a keyboard instrument and still get his general intention.  Look at HOW he writes his phrases, then think WHY it was written that way.  Remember, he would have played everynote of this piece himself, likely improvising various sounds before notating it.

3)  You would be surprised how changing your understanding of tempo and metre can help your performance.  Are you thinking about each measured semi-quaver, quaver or crotchet?  Are you counting in relation to this?

Semi-quaver
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X | X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X |  etc

Quaver
X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - | X - X - X - X - X - X - X - X - |  etc

Crocthet
X - - - X - - - X - - - X - - - | X - - - X - - - X - - - X - - - |  etc

Minim
X - - - - - - - X - - - - - - - | X - - - - - - - X - - - - - - - |  etc

If the X represents where you are thinking in terms of beat, you are using a lot of energy playing just the first two bars, thinking in semiquavers, and markedly less with minims..

Thinking in regards to the minim, though contrary to the metre of the piece, can help reduce your effort, and actually increase the perceived tempo, also helping drastically with your muscle tension.

PS edit: the crotchet is what gives the piece is agitated; remember it needs to sound that way, you cannot think that way.


Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Relaxing during Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement
«Reply #6 on: February 03, 2017, 08:20:45 PM »
WOW, THANKS, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED!!!

Sorry for the outburst ...

But I think I know what you're talking about.

Thanks again!

I'll go and apply it now, and get back to see how it works.
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH