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Topic Options
#2092748 - 05/31/13 09:47 AM Where am I going?
90abyss Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 9
I've been playing piano since a last few months. I'm teaching myself using Alfred's books. I just completed the book 1.

I think I am kind of disappointed with my progress. I thought that by the time I would reach the end of the book level 1, I'd be able to play a few masterpieces. But sadly I'm still not as good as I'd want myself to be. I think I was expecting way too much from myself and my goals were almost impossible to achieve and therefore I'm so disappointed. I'm so dejected that I don't even believe that one day I'll be able to play the piano half as decently as many of you guys do.

I just need to know... where am I going? I mean when will I be able to play Moonlight Sonata or Clair de lune? How much longer?

If you can tell me about your own piano journey then I'll be able to have realistic benchmark to my expectations. I need to have some grounded goals.

Am I being too hard on myself? Or was I supposed to scale new heights after wrapping up book 1 of adult alfred course? How should I go from here?

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#2092755 - 05/31/13 09:54 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2380
Loc: Virginia, USA
The question comes up again and again. Am I doing OK, I thought I would be better. When will I be able to play XYZ?

There are no good answers. It's a long journey, you are near the beginning. Instead of worrying too much about the future, what about now? You have completed Alfred #1 in a few months? Depending on how well you have mastered the material in there that could be a fantastic accomplishment. If I remember rightly "masterpieces" come towards the end of the Alfred series and not Claire de Lune either.

I could tackle Claire de Lune now pretty well I think. I've had lessons for three years and improved beyond all recognition. But I wasn't close to starting from scratch because I had noodled around for decades (mostly pop.) Still, some had to be undone. I would say with focused dedicated practice on pieces up to that level, you could have that as a reasonable goal for starting it. Perhaps sooner, perhaps later.

And many will tell you this, but I get here first so: It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. There are wonderful pieces between here and Claire de Lune and you should be ready to tackle some right now. Look for threads about what to play after Alfred's book one ...
_________________________
  • Liszt - Liebesträume No. 3, S541
  • Scarlatti - Sonata in D minor, K. 213

Kawai K3

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#2092763 - 05/31/13 10:03 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
scorpio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 505
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Originally Posted By: 90abyss
I've been playing piano since a last few months.

I've been under the impression that learning the piano will take a few years; and even longer depending on your goals.

You do realize that there are two more Alfred books that follow Book 1? Finishing Book 1 is not the culmination of your learning.

I'm getting close to the end of Book 1. I have no illusions that I will be playing Claire du Lune soon. But I really don't know how well or how fast I am progressing; my teacher (me) is not so good.

I suggest you add supplemental material to your practice routine. It just may help you get where you want to be.

I am sure more experienced players will provide a better response; and I am eager to hear what they have to say too.
_________________________

    Yamaha P-155

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    #2092765 - 05/31/13 10:04 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    sinophilia Offline

    Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


    Registered: 06/26/12
    Posts: 973
    Loc: Italy
    There are a few "masterpieces" like Bach's Prelude no. 1 and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at the end of Alfred's book 3 - which means a couple of years of study, unless you're a prodigy - and the book clearly states that these will need "special effort".

    I'm in the club of disappointed beginners too, but I just found out that there is plenty of great stuff that is actually feasible and enjoyable even at my level! The music world is your oyster, just pick the right pieces.
    _________________________
    Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
    Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

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    #2092768 - 05/31/13 10:08 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    Plowboy Offline
    2000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 06/26/08
    Posts: 2300
    Loc: SoCal
    It is a long journey. Focus on playing musically, that's the most important thing. A teacher will help with that more than you can imagine. The rest will come naturally.
    _________________________
    Gary

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    #2092772 - 05/31/13 10:14 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: Andy Platt]
    Sand Tiger Offline
    1000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 03/25/12
    Posts: 1009
    Loc: Southern California
    In a recent thread about book 1, the median time to complete was nine months. That's for dedicated learners, many that had teachers. So yes, a few months alone is way optimistic, and likely means the material wasn't absorbed as thoroughly as those that spent nine months with a teacher guiding them.

    As for the other questions on pieces, it comes up a lot. It varies a lot. Someone extremely dedicated with a good teacher, like the first response, and some recital participants, may be able to achieve a lot in three years. However, the average person may be looking at a longer road. The below average person definitely is. We would all like to think we are above average, but by definition most of us are some what average, and large numbers of us are below average.

    Keep in mind that the recital participants skew heavily towards the top 10%. The uploaders tend to be the among the most dedicated, the fastest learners, the most skilled, those with the most time, the best teachers.

    The average person may listen to the recital and feel bad. They forget that the recital is a self-selective group. Below average folks are less likely to share their music, or be able to make a clean recording.

    The question boils down to if a person is enjoying the activity. The cliche is to enjoy the journey. If only the top 10% achievers are happy with themselves, it is a lonely group. Even then, many like to point to their minor issues, even when they are far more accomplished than their peer group.

    I get frustrated with what seems like my slow pace of learning. However, I am self-taught, and in reality I think I am in the average group, perhaps a little below average. I get comments along the lines of, gosh that is poor technique, or whatever, but I realize that I am often being compared to the top 10% group. Wishing doesn't make me better. I can only focus on the next day, the next thing to learn, or going back a step and relearning something that I need a refresher on. I focus on enjoying what I can do, and looking at how far I have come, not how far I have to go.

    Another beginner said that learning piano is like climbing Mount Everest, or perhaps even multiple summits because of all the genres of music. Wishing doesn't get a person there, and many of us have no desire to summit. Some of us are content to get high enough to enjoy the view, and that may be at 1000 feet or 3000 feet, not 29000.

    /edit to add: back in March 2013 I wrote a lengthy post on the forum and copied it to my blog about my progress after one year ( link to blog post).


    Edited by Sand Tiger (05/31/13 12:40 PM)
    _________________________
    my piano uploads

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    #2092774 - 05/31/13 10:18 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    kurtie Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 07/06/10
    Posts: 207
    Originally Posted By: 90abyss
    I've been playing piano since a last few months. I'm teaching myself using Alfred's books. I just completed the book 1.

    I think I am kind of disappointed with my progress. I thought that by the time I would reach the end of the book level 1, I'd be able to play a few masterpieces. But sadly I'm still not as good as I'd want myself to be. I think I was expecting way too much from myself and my goals were almost impossible to achieve and therefore I'm so disappointed. I'm so dejected that I don't even believe that one day I'll be able to play the piano half as decently as many of you guys do.

    I just need to know... where am I going? I mean when will I be able to play Moonlight Sonata or Clair de lune? How much longer?


    I've been there, about two years ago: I completed the first Alfred's book self taught. But I needed to learn more to play things I wanted to play. Then I continued with the second Alfred's. I improved... but it was not enough.

    Then after some months feeling a bit lost and without a clear direction I got a teacher (that was a year ago), and since then I am satisfied with my progress. I still would like to know more, but I think that I always will have tons of things to learn. In my case I am more focused on jazz than on classical (although I would like to play Clair de Lune also... maybe I could try now), but my guess is that the journey is more or less similar at the beginning.

    I am still learning (and always will be). But I've also learnt some good stuff and, slowly, but my skills keep improving. So my advise is: keep it practicing, and enjoy it. You will improve. And every time you know something new, you will enjoy it more, and you will want to learn more. A good teacher can be of great help, specially when you don't know how to continue. At least it was for me.

    Regards,
    Kurt.-

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    #2092784 - 05/31/13 10:38 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: Andy Platt]
    Derulux Offline
    5000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 06/06/05
    Posts: 5294
    Loc: Philadelphia
    Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
    The question comes up again and again. Am I doing OK, I thought I would be better. When will I be able to play XYZ?

    There are no good answers. It's a long journey, you are near the beginning. Instead of worrying too much about the future, what about now? You have completed Alfred #1 in a few months? Depending on how well you have mastered the material in there that could be a fantastic accomplishment. If I remember rightly "masterpieces" come towards the end of the Alfred series and not Claire de Lune either.

    I could tackle Claire de Lune now pretty well I think. I've had lessons for three years and improved beyond all recognition. But I wasn't close to starting from scratch because I had noodled around for decades (mostly pop.) Still, some had to be undone. I would say with focused dedicated practice on pieces up to that level, you could have that as a reasonable goal for starting it. Perhaps sooner, perhaps later.

    And many will tell you this, but I get here first so: It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. There are wonderful pieces between here and Claire de Lune and you should be ready to tackle some right now. Look for threads about what to play after Alfred's book one ...

    Great response.. I'm with Andy. And yes, this question appears at least once a month.

    I like to answer it this way:

    If you are taking a road trip, and are focused on getting to your destination faster, you drive. If you need to go faster, you fly. Same for the piano. If your focus is on the destination, and you need to get there sooner, get a good teacher. Otherwise, forget the time-table and just enjoy the ride. Learning to play the piano takes years either way. smile


    Edited by Derulux (05/31/13 10:39 AM)
    _________________________
    Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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    #2092825 - 05/31/13 11:50 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    Daniel Corban Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 05/17/13
    Posts: 215
    Loc: Canada
    Months ago, you said your goal was to complete all three book in six months. It seems you never pushed this goal out of your mind.

    Like you, I have plenty of free time and play piano for several hours each day. It's been almost three months and I am near the end of book one. My progress through the book has slowed lately, as I have been focusing on technique, dynamics, and rhythm instead of just trying to get through the songs with no mistakes. I am also working through the "Masterworks" books, which add some variety.
    _________________________
    Playing: Yamaha CLP-440

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    #2092925 - 05/31/13 02:20 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    wouter79 Offline
    3000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 3494
    Get a teacher that can teach you how to make music instead of getting as fast as possible through a book. Music is in even the simplest tune.
    _________________________

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    #2092988 - 05/31/13 04:20 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    Dumik Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 05/21/13
    Posts: 7
    Why don´t you just try to learn to play moonlight sonata now? Yes it will be hard, and yes it will take time to master but I think you can learn to play it eventually. I don´t know if this is a right way to learn, but when I started to play (4 months ago) I never had patience to learn anything else than "masterpieces". So I just picked mozart´s sonata K545 2nd movement and started to play it, with my "teacher"(mom) of course because I could not even read notes back then. It took me like 1.5 months to play it decently, but during the learning process I learned, notes, technique etc. without even noticing it. When I started to play the next piece after that one, it was much much easier to start learning it and it also took a lot less time to master although it was also harder piece than the first one. I don´t know if this is the right way for everyone but it definitely was for me. Also its much more fun way to learn.

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    #2093005 - 05/31/13 05:00 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    JimF Offline
    1000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 10/08/09
    Posts: 1706
    Loc: south florida
    90Abyss,

    Don't beat yourself up too much. Many of us have had to go through book 1 of Alfred only to discover that the journey we have undertaken is a lot longer than we initially thought.

    The good news is that if you just keep at it you will improve more or less continuously for years and years to come. Plus, there is so much music that will open up to you as you progress.... maybe not Clare de Lune or Moonlight for another year or two, but countless other important pieces of beautiful music will be available for you to study and play. You will find your horizons greatly expanded if you allow more than the best known masterpieces into your plans...and it can be a lot of fun in the process. As others have already said, a teacher can really help you progress, particularly in finding pieces that you like and that are within reach of your skill level.

    Whether under a teacher's care or self-studying, you should be prepared for occasional lows, like the one you describe feeling right now. We all get these periods of self-doubt. Just ride it out and move on to the next step. It is going to take each of us a certain amount of time to get where we want to be and there isn't much we can do to speed up the process except to work at it diligently and intelligently.

    Have fun.

    Jim
    _________________________
    La Fille aux cheveux de lin - Debussy
    Ma Mere L'Oye - Ravel
    Mozart Sonata K545

    Estonia L190 #7284





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    #2093008 - 05/31/13 05:04 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    PianoStudent88 Offline
    3000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 06/16/11
    Posts: 3161
    Loc: Maine
    I think especially at the beginning levels, a teacher can help you with relaxation, form and musicality in ways that are difficult for a beginner to figure out on their own, or even realize are possible or desirable.

    But if you're not going to get a teacher, consider the following:

    Look at the pieces at the end of Alfred Book 1. Compare them to Moonlight Sonata and Clair de Lune. The scores should make the difference in difficulty apparent. Do the same with Book 2 and Book 3, if you want to look a little in the future.

    Just playing through the pieces in a book doesn't necessarily mean you've mastered a level. You may need more time playing some or a lot of pieces at a similar level to really become facile with the skills. This is important because if you try to move to more advanced pieces with a poor foundation, you are liable to increase tension and have shakier and shakier performances.

    How are your fundamentals? Are you playing relaxed? Are your hands, arms, body, and legs in a good position when you play? Can you play at least three levels of dynamics (piano, mezzoforte, forte)? Can you crescendo and decrescendo? Can you identify and shape phrases? Can you keep a steady tempo? Can you play various rhythms? Can you play at various speeds? Can you play legato and staccato? Can you read music? How is your sightreading of simple music? Do you know how to learn and practice a piece (e.g. break it into sections, play slowly, if you have trouble play even slower, etc.)? Is your playing of Alfred Book 1 pieces assured and confident, or do you frequently make mistakes?

    Best wishes in your piano journey. Look for ways to enjoy the journey and the process, and set intermediate milestones that are attainable in the short- and medium- term. Recognize your progress: what can you do now that you couldn't do 3 months ago?
    _________________________
    Ebaug(maj7)

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    #2093010 - 05/31/13 05:11 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    Bobpickle Offline

    Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


    Registered: 05/24/12
    Posts: 1383
    Loc: Cameron Park, California
    Originally Posted By: 90abyss
    Am I being too hard on myself?


    Yes. The Great Wall of China wasn't built in a day. It would take children on average probably 3-5 years or so to build up the skills to be able to tackle similar pieces (i.e. mvt. 1 of Moonlight Sonata and maybe Clair de Lune). Now just work to practice smarter than a child and you can maybe get there in 50%-75% of the time. We have to spend a great deal of our time as pianists practicing, so we'd best to learn to enjoy it.

    If you get bored, there are hundreds of level-appropriate pieces by the great composers that you can supplement with; if you work with a teacher, they can best point you in the direction of them based on taste and skill level. Most older works can then be found free on the internet (not that better quality print collections don't exist for purchase).

    http://musiciansway.com/blog/2009/12/the-benefits-of-accessible-music/


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    #2093055 - 05/31/13 06:40 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    earlofmar Online   content
    1000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 03/21/13
    Posts: 1499
    Loc: Australia
    I guess I went into learning to play piano with a different approach. I had no "masterpiece" goal but I wanted to learn something the proper way from the ground up and no skimming past the difficult bits.

    It has been six and a half months now since I started and even forewarned I was unprepared for how slow the forward progress is. I have rolled with the punches so to speak and reset my goals accordingly for there is no easy route no matter how determined you think you are. Single-mindedness, dedication and time are not the tools needed to advance quickly they are just the prerequisite tools for the journey.

    There is hope though, the Alfred Book 1 is a good foundation. You will be at least ready to tackle longer more technical pieces. They may not be the Moonlight Sonata but can be just as rewarding. I made some comments on my journey to date including my thoughts on the Moonlight Sonata you can read it here


    Edited by earlofmar (05/31/13 06:41 PM)
    _________________________
    I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
    XXXV-6-XXX

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    #2093177 - 06/01/13 01:22 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    Saranoya Online   content
    500 Post Club Member

    Registered: 01/27/13
    Posts: 591
    Loc: Brussels, Belgium
    I tackled the Moonlight Sonata's first movement (which is what I assume you are talking about) four months into my journey as an adult re-starter. I'd had a year of serious lessons as a teenager, and a few months here and there before that (I started at six, then stopped, started once more at eight, and stopped again).

    The destination is not the point, as many here have said, nor should it really matter how fast you get wherever you're going. But I do understand the desire to play "masterpieces", rather than standard method book fare.

    When I got started with the Moonlight, I did not believe I could do it. But it was something I had dreamed about playing for so long that I was more motivated than ever to learn it. And so I did. Through sheer stubbornness, you might say.

    You can listen to the results of four months of my work on that piece in the most recent ABF Recital, if you'd like. I'm number five in the line-up, and the Recital topic is still a sticky right now. My rendition is still not perfect, but I think it turned out rather well, even though all of the other stuff I'm playing is well below that level.

    Point being: if you really want to learn a "masterpiece", be it the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata, or anything else, just go ahead and do it. Make sure you keep working on more basic stuff too, because otherwise you'll end up being able to play exactly one piece, and nothing else. But don't let the fact that you have still more method books to tackle stop you from venturing into the repertoire world.
    _________________________
    Beginner with some priors since 9/2012

    Currently Playable
    Bach 846, 926, 930
    Beethoven 27/2 mvt. 1
    Burgmüller 100/3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 19, 25
    Chopin 72/1
    Clementi 36/1
    Grieg 12/1, 7
    Tchaikovsky 39/9

    Future
    Burgmüller 109
    Bartok Sz 56
    Mozart K331

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    #2093182 - 06/01/13 01:50 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    4evrBeginR Offline
    1000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 06/27/09
    Posts: 1607
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: 90abyss
    I think I am kind of disappointed with my progress....

    I just need to know... where am I going? I mean when will I be able to play Moonlight Sonata or Clair de lune? How much longer?

    If you can tell me about your own piano journey then I'll be able to have realistic benchmark to my expectations. I need to have some grounded goals.


    It really depends on how well you expect to play these. If all you care is to be able to play with a recognizable melodie and don't care much about the music or the intentions of the composer, then you probably could just pick up the music and start learning right now. There was a Clair de Lune thread here some time ago that taught a beginner how to play it with absolutely no prior experience with the piano, one measure at a time. http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1897820/1.html

    If you are asking for how long it takes to get to the point where you have the ability to learn any other piece music like Clair de Lune or a Beethoven sonata or two within a reasonable amount of time, that's a completely different question.
    _________________________
    Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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    #2093204 - 06/01/13 06:03 AM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    IanW Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 08/28/09
    Posts: 50
    Loc: Adelaide, South Australia
    The AMEB has both the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata and Claire de Lune at grade 7. So, seven years to get there? Five or six of you push it along. Four years if you really go after it? These are certainly not pieces that can be tackled after a few months, unless you're happy with some seriously simplified arrangements.
    _________________________
    [url=www.weathermanmusic.blogspot.com]www.weathermanmusic.blogspot.com[/url]

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    #2093503 - 06/01/13 05:34 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    PaperClip Offline
    500 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/21/09
    Posts: 521
    Loc: Amsterdam, Holland
    A teacher told me that she had a beginning student who had never played before. But that student was very, very motivated to learn the moonlight sonata the first part. And although he had to work very hard and long at that piece, in the end he played that piece very decent and well. It was his first piece he learned.

    About the Alfred adult serie, it's not for everybody. The songs sounds a bit honky tonky. Not at all like the pieces you want to play. Maybe you should look for more beautiful and easy classic pieces. If you like the piece than the learning process will be much quicker.

    Maybe you want to get lessons from a teacher so she could give you the right pieces. Then you dont have to search for them. If you finish Alfred book 1, then you are ready to play classical pieces from now on. But they are difficult to find if you just started to play piano, because you can't play much.

    To set a realistic goal. I think after a year practising, then you are able to practise the first few real pieces. The first year is the most difficult. A lot of emotional up and downs. However, if you past that year, you'll have wonderful future. The first year is also about how to learn YOU. Yes, yourself. Overcoming an unrealistic goal, will prevent you for doing the same mistake in the future. You need to overcome a lot of self inflicted problems in the first year. Thats the bad side. The good side is after the first year, you know what you need to do in those situations, making those problems very minor, if you can call them problems anyways. You'll be very confident.

    The very good side of it, it learns you how to deal with problems in many aspects in life, so you not only get better in piano playing, but you would do better in anything you picks up in life.

    If it comforts you, everybody who learned to play piano, has overcome the same problems in some sort of way.

    My suggestion? Start to learn the first movement of moonlight sonata with a teacher now. Then it will take you probably 3 to 5 months before you can play it if you really want it to. At the end of the first year, you would have a piece that rocks. Go for it.
    _________________________
    Chris

    Playing since May 02 2009

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    #2093638 - 06/01/13 09:38 PM Re: Where am I going? [Re: 90abyss]
    carlos88 Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 01/18/13
    Posts: 87
    Loc: Colorado
    My feeling is that it can almost always be motivational to pick at pieces that are above, sometimes, way above, your current level. And those kinds of pieces will always be out there just over the horizon.

    One of my current 'dream pieces' is Rhapsody in Blue, which will take years and years for me to really work up to. But I still work on small sections of it, in between all the things that I can really play and grow with now.

    I came back as an adult player because I wanted to learn Rach's Prelude in C# minor. Initially music notation was a half-forgotten language, and it took me 6-9 months to mostly play the piece.


    I learned the first movement of Moonlight my third year of lessons as a kid, and learned Clair de Lune coming back as an adult. My own belief is that Clair de Lune is far more complex. The first movement of Moonlight basically has one kind of thing to think about - triplets played off against chords. Clair de Lune has complex rhythms, complex hand movements, vastly varying musical ideas to communicate, and overall, just a lot more to think about while playing.


    I probably could have played the first movement of Moonlight the end of my second year of my childhood lessons (Well, assuming my hands were bigger then to make the octaves easily reachable).

    Clair de Lune was undoubtedly beyond me until my fifth and final year of childhood lessons. (I didn't play it then - never even heard of Debussy until I was much older). I played the third movement of Moonlight that year.


    If you're comfortable reading the music for Moonlight, why not try it? Just don't make it your main focus.
    _________________________
    I'd rather play badly than not at all...

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    What kind of fingering should I be using for these phrases?
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    Here's a Paranoid Question:
    by Paul678
    08/23/14 01:19 AM
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