Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lesson 6

More Debussy! I learned the 3rd prelude (Le vent dans la plaine) from book 1 and this is what we worked on this time. We spent some time also talking about arpeggios (arpeggi?).

1) Debussy Prelude: I used the pedal to create that wind-like effect for the accompaniment (this was discussed at our previous lesson). That was all good. In measure 3, I ws giving the first Bb staccato an emphasis but I was told not to do that as the melody really only starts with the 32nd note (Eb). I was asked to use firmer fingers for the downward cascade of chords in m9-12 as I was too loose (and hence got a sloppy sound). That suggestion immediately set that part right.

On the second page, I had difficulty with hitting the left hand notes of m16 (Gb and Bbb) accurately. The hands tangle up there and are in quite an awkward position. I was playing the left hand above the right hand there and so that angle wasn't working for the top notes of the left hand. A simple suggestion from the teacher worked wonders: "slip the L.H thumb underneath the R.H 2nd finger since that 2nd finger isn't playing any of the notes there". I am now able to play that part fairly accurately. I employ similar strategies throughout in such awkward situations and that works well to solve angle and position issues.

We spent some time on page 4 as this was something I had learned since the last lesson. The problem identified here was that the melody I played with my left hand in m36 wasn't as clean as what I played in m44. He had me play m44 first, followed by m36. I couldn't get them to sound the same. I went back home and tried working on it and found that my fingering was the issue there. I had adopted a fingering that I thought was the easier one but the fingering given in the Henle actually started working well with some effort. This was when I again started tucking fingers underneath inactive fingers of the other hand. So I'm happy to say that I've solved most of my technical difficulties on that page as well (at least in concept.. just needs some more practice (repetitions) before I get where I want to be with that).

Crescendos like the one in m37 should be honored. So there should be a rise and then a fall.. and then a rise again through those chromatic figures.

We then spent some time on m49. I was making too much of a bump in the sound there trying to execute those small cresendos in the left hand. He made me practice that leaving out the left hand top notes.

Final measure: let pedal go to clear out the notes from the previous bar (except the Bb that is held) and reapply pedal for a final solitary bass Bb to end the piece (since a huge rest is notated in the treble clef!).

2) We then talked about the last page of the Chopin waltz from the previous lesson. He asked me to use rotation to give the music better shape. It was sounding more like a machine gun rather than sensible groups of notes. So I was asked to practice those descending figures towards the end employing just rotation and playing just the important transition notes. I need to find the time to do that. We then talked about that final arpeggio. I had practiced this at home. So when I played it after he demonstrated the concept of getting the wrist and arm to lead the fingers, I did it (almost) to perfection. He was impressed and remarked "Either you are a genius or I am". I replied "I practiced that at home.. so before we decide if I'm a genius, let me try to ascending arpeggio because I haven't practiced that". So I played the ascending arpeggio.. it took me a few trials before I could get the optimal sound. When we were later discussing something else, he suddenly remarked "Btw, I've decided that you are the genius". I think he was half joking :P (of course), but I'll consider it a compliment regardless of whether he was serious or not! I'm no genius of course, but then, who is? I really believe that hard work is what makes geniuses. If there are genetic predispositions, I believe that hard work can overcome (or greatly enhance) that such that it ceases to matter after a while.

3) I finally played a iittle bit of the Brahms Op.118/2 Intermezzo in A. He asked me to play it more freely. He loved the p-pp transition (when the theme is repeated in the beginning). He suggested that I further amplify that effect by using the una corda pedal. We will start with this when we meet next. I'm still working on the 3rd page, just a couple more measures to go before I've learned all the notes to it.

When listening to classical music, I'm rarely moved (as in, rarely does a piece of music make me feel genuinely sad, or genuinely ecstatic, etc) but I do recognize the emotional ups and downs that the music intends to convey. However, Brahms is one composer who goes that extra bit and actually moves me. The first time I had goosebumps listening to music was when a family friend (Philip uncle) first gave me a cd to listen to. That had an orchestral version of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu. I had never heard anything like it before. That was my introduction to listening to classical music (I was already playing the piano at that time but my teacher or those around me never told me that I should also listen to classical music!).

The second time I had goosebumps listening to music was probably when friends took away my classical music cds and replaced them with Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. So the first time I listened to the Floyd album "The Wall", I had goosebumps.

The third time that I recall getting goosebumps from music was last year. I sang tenor in the OSU Symphonic Choir. It was our first practice session with the conductor Marshall Haddock. Something that he did suddenly made me more aware of my singing and of the entire music. This was the Brahms German Requiem, a MAJESTIC composition. I remember almost being moved to tears while singing it.

Anyway, all I meant to say is Brahms is great! Singing off, signing off now..

No comments:

Post a Comment