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Chopin Competition Aftermath: Breakfast with Tony Yang
Many have enjoyed the Chopin Competition performances live and via streaming and the “now factor” has been very well provided for. But what about after-Warsaw? During his visit to Warsaw, Patrick Jovell had a breakfast talk with laureate 2015 Tony Yang, the youngest prize winner ever – in the history of the competition. Read more >>

Topic: Improving as a pianist  (Read 1132 times)

Offline simply_piano

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Improving as a pianist
on: May 15, 2020, 02:59:10 PM
Hi all,
I have been playing the piano for over 13 years now, and have recently completed my grade 8 ABRSM piano.
Examples of repertoire;
Nocturne No. 20 in C# Minor
Nocturne Op 9 No 2
Raindrop Prelude
Military Polonaise
Grande Valse Brilliante
Waltz op 64 no 1
Waltz op 69 no 1
Prelude in C# Minor
Grieg's Wedding day at Troldhaugen

I have noticed myself improve over the last few years; now being able to play things I had attempted, and failed. Yet, now I have finished striving for exams, I want to continue improving my skills. I would love to one day, be able to have a stab at and complete pieces such as Chopin's Ballade No.1, Listz's Hungarian Rhapsodies, Rachmaninoff's Etude Tableaux, Beethoven's more challenging sonatas; Appassionata, Tempest etc.
I would put myself at about mid-intermediate level, but how can I move to advanced, so that playing these pieces doesn't seem impossible?
(By the way, I don't have a huge amount of time; to do 3+ hours at the piano)
Hope that makes sense, if not, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
Really appreciate any help

Offline pianoannieq

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Re: Improving as a pianist
Reply #1 on: May 15, 2020, 08:59:57 PM
Hi Simply_piano,

Congrats on completing your grade 8 exam! I'm not familiar with the ABRSM program, but your repertoire list looks great.

I think the best way to improve is to find a teacher if you don't have one already. After that, I think the best way to improve at your level is to find more pieces. If you already have a teacher, I would talk to them about recommendations for your repertoire since it currently seems to be all romantic music. You could take a look at Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier or some of Beethoven's easier sonatas. I would suggest sightreading through as many as you can, and then choosing one or two to really study with your teacher. As you sightread through the pieces, you'll naturally pick up on the styles of each composer. If you're dedicated to learning some of Chopin's more difficult works, I would suggest playing through some of his easier etudes. They are meant to be technical exercises, but they're also quite beautiful and virtuosic pieces. Again, your teacher probably knows your abilities better than I would, so I would refer to them for more challenging pieces.

Other than expanding your repertoire, keep practicing!!! There's really not a way around it if you want to become better at something. Try not to feel pressured about advancing through your musical studies because it will happen if you stay dedicated. The pieces that you would like to play are difficult, but they are not impossible, and they will become seemingly less so as you continue piano.

If you need the confidence that you will get better, I hope this motivates you: If you don't believe you're good, you'll never succeed; you have to believe you're worthy of success. Best of luck with piano! Sorry for the long response but I hope this helps!
I hate music (and sarcasm) :)

Beethoven Sonata 18
Liszt Rhapsodie Espagnole
Prokofiev Sonata 4 op.29
Scriabin Piano Concerto

Offline simply_piano

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Re: Improving as a pianist
Reply #2 on: May 16, 2020, 07:08:55 AM
Hi pianoannieq,
Thanks for your quick reply, it's much appreciated!
Yes, you can probably tell I like Chopin! I also love Listz and Rachmaninoff (romantic  ;D), but more of Chopin's pieces are easier. That's a great suggestion, I'll have a look into those pieces. Any suggestion on easier Beethoven sonatas? No worries if not, you've already been a big help. I did forget to mention that I have leant a few odd movements of Beethoven; Pathetique; 2nd and 3rd, (Though the 3rd is a working progress!), Moonlight; 1st, (Though probably any pianist can play that) and No.25, 1st Mov. Probably the 1st mov of the Pathetique isn't one of his easier ones, or is it? 

"If you're dedicated to learning some of Chopin's more difficult works"

Haha, are you serious? And when you said etudes, well, you are optimistic!  ;)  On a more serious note, do you have any easier etudes in mind? (I know that's another forum post). e.g. Op 10 No.3, Op 25, No.9? I agree, I like his etudes also.
Thanks again, you've really boosted my confidence in doing it!
P.S If anyone else has any other helpful suggestions, don't hold back from posting them; I need all the help I can get!

Offline quantum

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Re: Improving as a pianist
Reply #3 on: May 17, 2020, 02:45:32 PM
Hi and welcome to Pianostreet!

Keep adding pieces to your repertoire, sight read to discover music, listen to recordings.  You will get there if you persist. 

Three hours is a good amount of time.  Professional musicians sometimes have to make something out of less, say 5 mins, or even sight read live!  It is not the amount of time you have that matters, but rather they way you spend the time that is available to you. 

Sight read through the Chopin Etudes, you might be surprised at which ones turn out to be easier or more difficult for you.  Look at more of the Nocturnes, they are good training for learning to shape melodies and refine tonal balance. 

Since you like Chopin look at early period Scriabin.  You might find some interest there.

For Beethoven, check out Op 2 no 1, and Op 10 no 1.

Look at some Scarlatti sonatas, there are over 500 to choose from. 

Improvise music, every day.  Try to emulate sounds from music that interests you. 
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 simply_piano

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Re: Improving as a pianist
Reply #4 on: May 18, 2020, 02:02:56 PM
Hi quantum,

Thanks so much for your reply, it's much appreciated, yes I love Beethoven's Op 2 No.1, I'll have a stab at it (after I've mastered to the other 50 pieces I've started :'( )

Thanks so much!

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