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#1067379 - 02/05/09 02:25 PM Pathetique 1st Movement, because it's there...
cardguy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 977
Hello adult type people \:\)

I've another question (what a terrific resource this forum is)

Currently playing at an Intermediate level after just resuming lessons after decades away. Now working on Pathetique 2nd movement. To give you an idea where I am skills-wise, the music is not a problem with respect to reading it and getting through it, but for the first time I'm concerning myself with proper phrasing and voicing, and since that's all new to me, it's slow going..

Currently practicing an hour a day at least, and have some decent quickness due to my years of playing boogie woogie.

I would love to be able to play the first movement, though of course at the moment it's technically way beyond me. Still, I chip away at it a little bit every day. I can handle the left hand tremolo for about 1 page, then fatigue sets in. And even just that first right hand fast passage on page 1 is a struggle to play at speed, though I think I can get there. I can almost play the a bit later on chromatic scale at speed, with one pause where the left hand comes in half way through...

So, given all that, do you guys think it's reasonable for me to work on it? I know it will take me years, but I love challenges, and this certainly qualifies..Of course no one can answer this definitively, but given what I've told you about my skill level, do you think it's a waste of time, or do you think I have a reasonable chance at playing it decently well if I keep at it..?

If unanswerable, no worries. Would love to hear from similarly situated people who have considered working on it, or who have actually given it a go as an intermediate type like myself...

Many sincere advance thanks,

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#1067380 - 02/05/09 02:41 PM Re: Pathetique 1st Movement, because it's there...
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
There have been a lot of posts about people 'over-reaching' with pieces that were far beyond them. I don't really know if there is a consensus but I do know it's much, much harder to correct bad habits in a piece later than learn it right the first time.

Playing pieces so far above your head, in my opinion, is more frustrating and discouraging than anything else, even if you do love them.

There are so many equally lovely and fun easier pieces. I would rather spend years working my way up and improving my techniques and abilities by correctly learning more reachable, realistic pieces that I loved, than battling to play one far-out-of-reach piece badly.
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

#1067381 - 02/05/09 03:04 PM Re: Pathetique 1st Movement, because it's there...
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1399
Loc: Dallas, TX
As ProdigalPianist says, there has been lots of discussion on the forum about the pros and cons of taking on pieces much above your level.

My experience pretty much agrees with PP's post. I would rather spend a year working on a couple of dozen serious pieces that advance my skills step-by-step than spend a year working on something I'm not ready to take on. I rely a lot on my teachers to keep pointing me in the direction of steady improvement without wasting time on repertoire that is too advanced for my current skills. I have been fortunate to have teachers who push me relentlessly but not unrealistically.

I don't have a single "dream piece" that I'm determined to learn. I love so many pieces from all periods and styles that I always have things to take on that are challenging yet realistic and musically enjoyable. My goal is the journey, not a specific piece or style that I want to master.

PS: I wanted to add one other note on this subject. My teachers have often asked me to look at some piece where I can't really play it to a fully polished state yet, but they have wanted me to work through the notes and the musical problems, even at a very slow tempo, just to get me familiar with the piece and so I understand what I will need to do to pick it up later and refine it further.

I go through a lot of literature in a single year with my current teacher and only a fraction do we work through to final performance standard.
Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718

#1067382 - 02/06/09 03:31 PM Re: Pathetique 1st Movement, because it's there...
tisseve Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/31/09
Posts: 7
Loc: philadelphia
I'm all for playing pieces above your level and think you should do it.

That was the first 'hard' piece that I ever tried to play and I really think it improved my technique enormously. I may not have played it perfectly, but it was good enough to my ears, and I believe without having made the jump to that piece, it would've taken me a lot longer to get to where I am now.

#1067383 - 02/06/09 03:55 PM Re: Pathetique 1st Movement, because it's there...
cardguy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 977
Nice to hear all view points. I've noticed based on some similar type queries/discussions in the past that the majority of advanced pianists think, or seem to think, one ought to take things as they come, tackling pieces that pose only reasonable challenges given one's current skill set. Of course, I'm basing that on an absurdly small sample, but nonetheless that's my sense of things. And it's certainly a reasonable point of view.

I'm torn obviously. Had I followed advice last summer I'd never have taken on Claire De Lune as I was barely intermediate at that point, but now I can play it reasonably well, or "well enough" as tisseve puts it, and I'm convinced I'm generally just further along than I would have been otherwise. It's also given me more confidence than I would have had otherwise. Learning to play that has just led onto many good things. It made me realize I'm capable of more than I'd thought possible, and at the age of 57 helped me decide to take lessons. I'd just not have thought it worthwhile previously as I really didn't believe I could progress all that much.

So on balance, I'm with tisseve at least for the moment.

#1067384 - 02/06/09 04:12 PM Re: Pathetique 1st Movement, because it's there...
GreenRain Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/08
Posts: 888
Loc: Somewhere in Europe
Try working on trembolos. If you feel pain, than please dont attempt that piece. It can seriusly damage you. If you feel no pain, than there is nothing wrong with attempting this piece (Except if you would need more than 6 months for it, which seems like waste of time).

#1067385 - 02/06/09 05:47 PM Re: Pathetique 1st Movement, because it's there...
AnotherSchmoe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Arkansas
To add to what GreenRain said, if you feel pain during the Pathetique Sonata (which I know I certainly wouldn't stand a chance of playing yet), then I welcome you to come and join us in learning Chopin\'s Raindrop Prelude . Lol! ;\)

In all seriousness though, I wish you the best of luck in learning what looks to be an extremely challenging piece! I agree that we should challenge ourselves, but don't hurt yourself! I also sometimes try and learn pieces that I know are above my head, I enjoy the challenge, but I also know my current limits and am not going to attempt anything too difficult yet, for example I'm not about to print up the 3rd Movement of the Moonlight Sonata or the Fantasie Impromptu because I know I'd just be wasting my time on something that I know I don't stand a prayer of even beginning to play yet.



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