Piano Forum

The Complete Piano Works of 15 Composers
Piano Streetís digital sheet music library is constantly growing. With the additions made during the past months, we now offer the complete solo piano works by fifteen of the most famous Classical, Romantic and Impressionist composers in the webís most pianist friendly user interface. Read more >>

Topic: Biting Off Too Much  (Read 1426 times)

Offline Glyptodont

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
Biting Off Too Much
on: May 01, 2005, 10:06:25 PM
I am an older player, and have a teacher whom I like very much.  I often tend to pick my own pieces, but sometimes she will make suggestions and I will gladly agree to them.  Since I am a senior citizen, as is she, her attitude is, "I will help you with whatever you would like to try." 

My strategy at times has been to bite off more than I can chew.  I will purchase sheet music for a piece, knowing I cannot learn all of the piece because sections are just too difficult.  I play the parts that are within my reach.

One piece I have been working with is Debussy's "Cathedral Engloutie," sometimes known as "The Sunken Cathedral."  Another one that I enjoy is Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess."  I play them both only in part  -- at this point, anyway.  [And maybe forever.]

For the Ravel "Pavane" I got both the original version and an arranged, less difficult version.  I played the first page of each of these versions for my teacher.  She and I really enjoyed contrasting the simplified (easier) arrangement with the original, trying to figure out in certain measures where the arranger was coming from.  It was a learning opportunity.  The nice thing about the simplified Ravel arrangement is that I can play through to the end with little difficulty.  But I so much prefer the rich sounds of the original score.

I suppose there are pitfalls to this approach, but -- right or wrong -- it is what I am doing now.

Offline dorfmouse

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 210
Re: Biting Off Too Much
Reply #1 on: May 02, 2005, 09:21:37 AM
I'm glad you're enjoying your music. I'm sure there are no right or wrongs about it and it all depends on what your goals are and your own pleasure and satisfaction.

This approach seems to be a nice way in to understanding theory/ harmony etc by comparing the real to the simplified score and thinking about the intentions of both composer and arranger.

One pitfall I can envisage if you did it too much however is that you then have a ready-made excuse for not ever really learning a piece because, well, you knew it would be too difficult all along ....  at least that's how my lazy brain might work!
Also I think our best progress in learning - not just piano - is when we tackle a task that is just above our present level and experience the rush of pleasure when we suddenly get over this threshold.  Then we bump along on this new level for a while, consolidating the new skill and working on others and then hup! we're suddenly up to a new plateau.

But there is so much beautiful piano repertoire out there for all levels of ability, and in its original intended form, that you don't need to play the watered down versions of too-difficult stuff, unless you want to of course!.  Have you found yet on this forum the thread  "Beautiful music that is not hard to play",  Bernhard's many contributions on progressive repertoire and developing technique through repertoire, and Torp's wonderful  repertoire-grade spreadsheet?  Save "La Cathedrale Engloutie" for when you can really savour the feel of those wonderful chords!
"I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."
W.B. Yeats

Offline torchygirl

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 92
Re: Biting Off Too Much
Reply #2 on: May 02, 2005, 12:23:47 PM

It sounds like you are doing this in a very thoughtful way and going to learn a lot.  The only caveat I can think of is that it might be harder to "reteach" your fingers the trickier passages (especially when they already know an easier way).  I might find myself getting a bit confused.  But I really love your idea of comparing and analyzing the pieces that way!  I could see that being very helpful.


Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert