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Thread: Advice for a beginner pianist

  1. #1
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    Advice for a beginner pianist

    Hello,

    I'm learning to play the piano, and I need some advice of some music to try. I'm at that stage where I've worked my way through all the beginner lesson books, and I'm ready to try learning pieces, but I just don't know what to try.

    I have a degree in music, so I don't need any theory, just some good, easy piano pieces to practice, preferably from the public domain.

    Here are some examples of my skill level: I learned the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, the middle movement of his Pathetique, and four of Chopin's Preludes (the easy four). Also lots of Mozart sonata middle movements. I can play lots of bits of things, but no complete pieces!

    I don't have a teacher, and I don't have access to one. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hello Zlya ...

    Welcome to MIMF. Congratulations on your desire to learn piano ... I'll leave the answers to your literature questions to those that are much better qualified than myself - my piano lesson days were ... well, a good number of years ago !

    Glad to have you aboard this forum and look forward to hearing more about your progress.

    As for public domain material, you might want to peruse The Mytpopia Project or even The IMSLP Wiki .

    Kh
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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  3. #3
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso rojo's Avatar
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    Hi zlya,

    Congrats on learning the piano and getting that far; it`s an ongoing process for all pianists, I think. I don`t think you`re a beginner anymore, if you can play those pieces.

    Of course there are heaps of things to choose from; if you`re wondering about the level of difficulty of certain pieces, I suggest getting a syllabus from a conservatory. The pieces therein are categorized by level of difficulty. Some conservatories have them online, and you can pick pieces that are suitable to your level.

    What composers do you like? If you like Chopin, maybe try his Nocturne Op.9 No.2. Or maybe one of his mazurkas (they`re all probably of your level). Debussy`s Rêverie is nice, and his Des Pas Sur La Neige, from Préludes book 1.

    Good luck!
    ''Music, I feel, should be emotional first and intellectual second.'' - Maurice Ravel
    ''The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.'' - Michael Jackson


  4. #4
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    Thank you for your help and your suggestions, as well as your good wishes.

    I've looked through some of the pieces. It did seem like I needed to grow a third hand midway through "Des Pas Sur La Neige", but I think I can probably manage it with some fancy pedalling.

    I'd really like to learn a complete piece, rather than one of a set. (I know this opens up a whole debate as to what constitutes a complete piece, but for my purposes I'm thinking an entire opus number). I'd like to have something I can play from beginning to end, for once!

    I think the heaps of things to choose from is part of my problem. Mostly so far I've played fairly mainstream pieces, but I'm willing to try something different. I think my problem so far is that I've been trying pieces that are too difficult for me, and then I get demoralized and give up.

    As for composers, I'm willing to try anything. I love Romantic piano pieces--Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, etc.-- and of course Mozart makes me fall over (which is a bit annoying when I'm trying to play the piano) but I find some Classical pieces a bit boring. Clementi never did anything for me, and Haydn can get very tedious. I'd love to play some Bach at some point, but so far even his 2 part inventions are too much for me!

    Oh, I got used to calling myself a beginner in college, where people expect all music students to be piano virtuosos.

    Thanks again for your help

  5. #5
    Civilian
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    Good repertoire to try out.

    Hello,

    I know the difficulty you have looking for a challenge that you feel is achievable.

    I don't know if it will help but I know of a good series of books call "Real Repertoire" they probably contain pieces that would interest you, designed for intermediate players such as yourself.

    I think there are 5 books one is general and the others are specific to an era and they contain lots of pieces that are proper repertoire for pianists to play but are not too tricky. The only thing is they are not usually the whole opus but a part of it, I don't know though, it may give you an idea of things to try.

    As you have a degree and therefore lots of theoretical knowledge already it is possible that these could help you and be about the right level. The one that will interest you most, from what you have said is likely to be Romantic Real Repertoire, try www.expressprintmusic.com they sell it there and it will give you further information about the book so you can decide if you think it is what you want or not.

    I hope this is helpful.

  6. #6
    Apprentice, Piano
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    You might be around my level: ABRSM Grade 8. Or maybe rather higher: you said you were playing the 1st mvt of the Moonlight Sonata, and I think that's not beginner level.

    Most of the piano pieces I have so far are examination ones, but if you like Claude Debussy, try the Arabesque in E major (available at the website linked below as Arabesque No. 1) Also there's Chopin's Nocturnes...

    http://www.sheetmusicarchive.net/ is a good place for scores. Enjoy!

  7. #7
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    Thanks for your help. Actually I stumbled on the ABRSM syllabus online the other day, and I've been using it to pick out pieces. (I actually found a work by my college tonal composition supervisor listed!) I think I'm about Grade 4. I've been having loads of fun picking out pieces and doing fake exams. I think my school is getting a bit mad at me for printing out so much music on the office printer, but hey, I figure it's a perk of the job!

    I'll give the arabesques a shot tonight, though the word arabesque seems to imply lots of arpeggios, and I have only little short fingers! Still, worth a try!

    Seriously thanks again, and if you think of any more fun pieces for me to try, let me know!

  8. #8
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Quote Originally Posted by zlya View Post
    Thanks for your help. Actually I stumbled on the ABRSM syllabus online the other day, and I've been using it to pick out pieces. (I actually found a work by my college tonal composition supervisor listed!) I think I'm about Grade 4. I've been having loads of fun picking out pieces and doing fake exams. I think my school is getting a bit mad at me for printing out so much music on the office printer, but hey, I figure it's a perk of the job!

    I'll give the arabesques a shot tonight, though the word arabesque seems to imply lots of arpeggios, and I have only little short fingers! Still, worth a try!

    Seriously thanks again, and if you think of any more fun pieces for me to try, let me know!


    Haha. I don't do that often, but I do prefer using the college's printers rather than my own. After all if you're paying wads for it, use it to the max then...

    My fingers are on the short side as well. Which is why I wouldn't recommend playing Mozart's Rondo alla Turca (Turkish March) unless your fingers are very limber. The second part is horrendous to those whose fingers won't stretch more than 1 octave. Even my teacher had trouble with it, as her hands are like mine: short and broad. If only we all had the range of Maksim Mrvica...

  9. #9
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    I'm a teacher, actually, so they're paying me rather than the other way around. It can be difficult to explain why I need piano sheet music to teach Middle School English. Well, they haven't fired me yet, and I don't have a printer--or an internet connection--at home, so I'll keep abusing my privileges.

    Short fingers are a drag. My great friend has hands which stretch an octave and a half (he's almost 7 ft), and he keeps recommending piano music which is clearly not possible for me!

  10. #10
    Apprentice, Piano
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    Whoa! 7 ft. huh? You don't see that often where I'm at. Handspans are the bane of my life. Though admittedly I've stopped my piano playing since the last exam and thus am not as limber as I should be. Maybe I should start again. Are the Grade 4 pieces for this year nice, zlya?

  11. #11
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    I'm not sure, I've been trying last year's pieces! There's a nice Beethoven Sonatina and a nice Bartok Mikrokosmo, but the rest are a bit boring, so I've branched out and started working on the British Columbia Conservatory Examination pieces, which are more exciting and various.

  12. #12
    Midshipman, Forte
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    Is it possible to learn instruments such as piano or violin all by yourself. I mean no tutors.

  13. #13
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wtwt5237 View Post
    Is it possible to learn instruments such as piano or violin all by yourself. I mean no tutors.
    Yes, it's possible ... but having a teacher/tutor is essential if you wish to take your musical talents to a serious level. When we are so intent on learning a new instrument and struggling with notes, it will always be helpful to have someone else guiding us and making suggestions on tempo, expression. Teachers also give out praise for those times when we do well - that kind of possitive reinforcement, IMHO, indeed helps when we are feeling overwhelmed.

    After 47 years at the keyboard, I no longer take lessons ... I am my own worst critic - I know when I messed up ... I live by the signature message that accompanies my posts here .
    Kh ~~.
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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    fessional musicians practice until they can't get it wrong ...


  14. #14
    Commodore con Forza Andrew Roussak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wtwt5237 View Post
    Is it possible to learn instruments such as piano or violin all by yourself. I mean no tutors.
    No.





  15. #15
    Commander, Assistant Conductor zlya's Avatar
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    Hmm. My chances aren't good then.

    I rather agree with Krummhorn that to be a professional, one should have a tutor, but for amateur enjoyment it is perfectly possible to learn a new instrument by oneself.

    I learned clarinet from a teacher when I was young, but since then I have taught myself saxophone, oboe, and flute. (Ok, so I got a friend to give me some tips on the oboe embrousure). I'll never be a professional musician, but I do get paying gigs in pit orchestras. Perhaps that's a different situation, since those instruments are all in the same family.

    Still I have great confidence in my ability to learn piano on my own, at least well enough to accompany my choir in rehearsals.

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