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#2138015 - 08/23/13 11:22 PM Really Tedious Learns
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2140
Loc: Canada
Are there any pieces that you really wanted to learn, and loved to listen to, but when you started learning them it was a frustrating, tedious experience?

I'm currently working on Chopin's third sonata...and wow. I don't know whether it's the awkward passagework, or the elusive musical moments, but it's just awful to work on. There are some days when I feel like it's the greatest piece in the world, and then sometimes I wonder why I'm even working on it.

Another piece which was pretty bad was Debussy's "Pagodes" from his Estampes.

An example of a professional pianist going through the same dilemma...Richter really liked Prokofiev's 2nd sonata, but upon learning it, it "gave him no pleasure" and ceased to be one of his favourite works.

Any similar experiences?
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2138020 - 08/23/13 11:36 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
I felt very much the same way about the Schubert big A-major sonata. Almost 60 pages of score to learn, a really good slow movement, none of it physically difficult, yet only a few really good musical ideas in the rest bridged by endless transitional material that isn't very architecturally sound or logical. So it's hard to memorize and not really interesting or satisfying to work on.

I also feel that way about Islamey. A rather long score, generally tedious writing, yet you'll have to work like a slave for months or even years to to make it go, and it's not even a good piece of music.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138026 - 08/23/13 11:51 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: laguna_greg]
ScriabinAddict Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/12
Posts: 335
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Almost 60 pages of score to learn, a really good slow movement, none of it physically difficult, yet only a few really good musical ideas in the rest bridged by endless transitional material that isn't very architecturally sound or logical. So it's hard to memorize and not really interesting or satisfying to work on.


?

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#2138032 - 08/24/13 12:04 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: laguna_greg]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2140
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
I felt very much the same way about the Schubert big A-major sonata. Almost 60 pages of score to learn, a really good slow movement, none of it physically difficult, yet only a few really good musical ideas in the rest bridged by endless transitional material that isn't very architecturally sound or logical. So it's hard to memorize and not really interesting or satisfying to work on.

I also feel that way about Islamey. A rather long score, generally tedious writing, yet you'll have to work like a slave for months or even years to to make it go, and it's not even a good piece of music.

That's D959, right? I'll give it a read, I've only read through 960 from his last three sonatas. And I feel the same way about the first half of the exposition of the first movement of Chopin 3....2 bars after 2 bars of material....then a pedal point and away the sonata goes. But until we reach the second subject, yuck.... (IMO! Heresy I know...)
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2138035 - 08/24/13 12:09 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
D.959, that's the one! The slow movement is gorgeous, the rest not so much. The last movement, a rondo, only has two real themes and it's 16 pages long in my score.

You never know, you really might love it. I love that Chopin you're working on!
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138037 - 08/24/13 12:12 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: ScriabinAddict]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Almost 60 pages of score to learn, a really good slow movement, none of it physically difficult, yet only a few really good musical ideas in the rest bridged by endless transitional material that isn't very architecturally sound or logical. So it's hard to memorize and not really interesting or satisfying to work on.


?


What can I say? Schubert, one of the greatest melody writers who has ever lived, was not very skilled at the architecture required for longer forms.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138052 - 08/24/13 01:48 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Look at the next sonata and see that he was good at architecture! smile I really love 959 too...

Anything Bach for me frown

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#2138059 - 08/24/13 02:06 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
Dwscamel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/13
Posts: 466
Beethoven's Fur Elise and any movement of Moonlight Sonata.

On the opposite side, Rachmaninoff's op.32 no.10 prelude was an absolute joy to learn, and it has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.

Scriabin's op.2 no.1 is also extremely satisfying.

Not exactly the virtuoso level of writing you others mentioned, but I'll keep practicing.

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#2138061 - 08/24/13 02:16 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Orange Soda King]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5484
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Anything Bach for me frown

Seriously?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2138099 - 08/24/13 04:38 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5116
For me, a lot of Debussy is a case of diminishing returns in return for the effort.

If my last two teachers hadn't given me Debussy to learn, I probably would never have touched any of his music (other than reading through maybe a couple of the popular Préludes and Clair de lune and Arabesques and Children's Corner).

But ever since, I haven't gone back to playing any of his music.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2138127 - 08/24/13 07:07 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7840
I think it's just a natural stage that happens for many pieces. It's like you lose your coherent sense of the "meaning" of the piece when you start to really take it apart to learn it. And, for some pieces with some people, it's not possible to regain that sense - the piece never does come back together in quite the way you expect it to. There are all kinds of reasons that could happen, I think.

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#2138133 - 08/24/13 07:39 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Dwscamel]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3580
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Dwscamel
any movement of Moonlight Sonata.



Really? Even the 3rd movement? To me that one was very rewarding because it sounds really hard, but isn't. Sounds much harder than it is and fits the hands very easily. Good bang for the buck. wink

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#2138178 - 08/24/13 09:41 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1089
My current piece is the Rachmaninoff Prelude in G, Op. 23 no. 5. It sounds so light and carefree when others play it, but I can't make it sound that way, and then I get angry with it and then obviously it gets worse. So now I dread having to work on the piece because I don't want to get frustrated... Which leads to the piece not getting better... Arghhh! (haven't had an "Arghhh" moment for a while here smile )

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#2138183 - 08/24/13 09:49 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Orange Soda King]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Look at the next sonata and see that he was good at architecture! smile I really love 959 too...

Anything Bach for me frown


Many people argue the point, even with the last sonata.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138202 - 08/24/13 10:34 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Laguna, I've actually heard people argue about him dragging too long, but the best performances of Schubert captivate me every time!

And AZNpiano, I'm afraid so. I don't have enough experience playing his music. After I give a recital this semester, I will play a Prelude and Fugue. smile

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#2138219 - 08/24/13 11:13 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Orange Soda King]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi OSK,

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Laguna, I've actually heard people argue about him dragging too long, but the best performances of Schubert captivate me every time!

And AZNpiano, I'm afraid so. I don't have enough experience playing his music. After I give a recital this semester, I will play a Prelude and Fugue. smile


That's very true, but I think that's more about the strength of the artistic vision of the performer than it is about the work. I heard Radu Lupu, who is made for this kind of rep, play the last Schubert is if it were one long, uninterrupted sigh. A truly astounding performance. In lesser hands, the whole thing can fall very flat. Whereas if you play the Apassionata and just hit all the right notes pretty much, you'll wow the audience every time because the piece just sells itself.

BTW, good luck with the Bach!
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138231 - 08/24/13 11:41 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Orange Soda King]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4794
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
And AZNpiano, I'm afraid so. I don't have enough experience playing his music. After I give a recital this semester, I will play a Prelude and Fugue. smile
I don't believe OSK is saying he doesn't like Bach. He's saying it can be tedious to learn and I, a great lover of Bach, agree. There is no other composer who forces me to learn so slowly, note by note, measure by measure. In Classical and Romantic music, the notes often fall easily under the fingers as you follow the melodic line. Finding the best fingering for Bach can take a long time. In Bach, you find yourself doing unexpected acrobatics to make the measures, continuity and voices work. Then, bringing out the voices can take painstaking work. I adore Bach but his works take me longer to learn than any other composer. It is satisfying work but, drilling it into my fingers can be tedious at times.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2138238 - 08/24/13 11:51 AM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: gooddog]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: gooddog
I adore Bach but his works take me longer to learn than any other composer. It is satisfying work but, drilling it into my fingers can be tedious at times.


I hear that! It does get better over time though. It used to take me as long as a year to learn a fugue. Now it sometimes takes me only 6 months....sometimes...
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138248 - 08/24/13 12:12 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 757
Loc: South Carolina
I'm enthusiastic about many works written in the 20th/21st centuries, but - due to learning curves - I've given up on a couple: The Elliott Carter Sonata and Charles Ives's 3-page Sonata.

I used to know the 3rd of Schoenberg's Drie Klavierstucke , op. 11. That was an extremely tough one to learn and I like to think that I came close to mastering it. I left it alone for a couple of years and when I re-opened the score I could not remember one darn note of it.....

I pay lip service to the notion of picking up these pieces again, it's most likely an economical reason that's keeping me away.

D.959 is one of my favorite works and learning the last movement took a bit of patience for me, too.


Edited by Gerard12 (08/24/13 03:32 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling
_________________________
Piano performance and instruction (former college music professor).

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#2138274 - 08/24/13 12:57 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Are there any pieces that you really wanted to learn, and loved to listen to, but when you started learning them it was a frustrating, tedious experience?

I'm currently working on Chopin's third sonata...and wow. I don't know whether it's the awkward passagework, or the elusive musical moments, but it's just awful to work on. There are some days when I feel like it's the greatest piece in the world, and then sometimes I wonder why I'm even working on it.

Another piece which was pretty bad was Debussy's "Pagodes" from his Estampes.

An example of a professional pianist going through the same dilemma...Richter really liked Prokofiev's 2nd sonata, but upon learning it, it "gave him no pleasure" and ceased to be one of his favourite works.

Any similar experiences?


Normally it's the working out that I enjoy the most—finding solutions to technical and musical problems. But for me, the Beethoven Op 106 fugue nearly did me in; I had to postpone my senior recital because it refused to stick. I was, of course, too young for it. Finally got it learned and Performed it 3 times, then put it away forever.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#2138276 - 08/24/13 01:00 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Prokofiev 2nd concerto..... I really want to play it, but damn..
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2138297 - 08/24/13 01:06 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4777
Loc: USA
Chopin last scherzo. Everything was okay except for those descending staccato chords. I just could not get them consistent. Especially the very last one all the way down the keyboard... IMPOSSIBLE!

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#2138298 - 08/24/13 01:06 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: NeilOS]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Neil, I bet you play the heck out of that piece regardless of your misgivings.

My favorite parts of learning anything are usually the beginning, when you are working things out, free to imagine how it might sound, and all the possibilities, and the end, where you can make it sound any way you want most of the time. The middle is usually slave labor, albeit often pleasant.

I have a very good friend who is a very fine singer and had a big career. She actually made herself learn the soprano lead from Wozzek. She said learning it nearly killed her, but she did it very well and then she was engaged to sing over 50 times because hardly anybody else could.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138304 - 08/24/13 01:14 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: laguna_greg]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
I felt very much the same way about the Schubert big A-major sonata. Almost 60 pages of score to learn, a really good slow movement, none of it physically difficult, yet only a few really good musical ideas in the rest bridged by endless transitional material that isn't very architecturally sound or logical. So it's hard to memorize and not really interesting or satisfying to work on.

I also feel that way about Islamey. A rather long score, generally tedious writing, yet you'll have to work like a slave for months or even years to to make it go, and it's not even a good piece of music.


Hi, Greg

I hear you re Schubert and larger forms. But why bother with Islamey?

I had some rude thoughts regarding Scriabin the other day, as I was starting on Op. 42, No. 5, C# Minor—key of D# at one point, for pity sake. Gave me a headache just trying to figure out what notes he meant, what with the long measures and double-sharp accidentals—and those middle of the staff ledger lines that all seem to run together!

Re Schubert, maybe that's what Rubinstein meant when he said that S. was too "personal" to play in public. I heard him play a stunning B-flat sonata, though, at Carnegie, which was about as public as you could get in those days.

We should compare notes about our vintage M&Hs. Mine's a BB from 1926, big sister to yours.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#2138309 - 08/24/13 01:20 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: NeilOS]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
niel,

I don't know, I think we should meet for diner next time I come down to LA.

Islamey- exactly. Why bother?
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2138312 - 08/24/13 01:27 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: laguna_greg]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
niel,

I don't know, I think we should meet for diner next time I come down to LA.

Islamey- exactly. Why bother?


Absolutely, dinner it is. Let me know when you're here. I'm near Fairfax and 3rd (Park La Brea).
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#2138333 - 08/24/13 02:19 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
I think Kuanpiano raises a super interesting question. I read the thread last night and didn't reply but was thinking about it on my run this morning so read through it again and the new posts. It's so interesting where people lay along the "tedious" continuum. Bach for me just makes sense. The example I would offer would be O'Riley's Radiohead Transcriptions which doesn't seem to offer any short cuts to get it under the fingers. I think one element is that Bach can still sound musical at slower speeds whereas the transcriptions just kind of unravel at anything less than performance tempo.

I think sometimes we are enamoured with our North American culture which encourages the view only towering genius dare attempt such feats. Seymour Bernstein in his book has a section on this. What I took away is that this condition is extremely wide spread and normal (though I would be very interested in what other piano teachers on PW have to say about this since their view is more broad). I attack the problem two ways; one as stated above, I view it as normal and just try to practice intelligently and keep it musical so it keeps me at piano and motivated. Secondly, I try to remember the focus is on the performance. One day, one time, one chance, to get it right. There are no marks for how one gets there. Bernstein lists other professional musicians who struggled with learning new pieces and - this made me think - they still get paid. (Realistically there is the complicating demand of efficiency for the student or professional which I have ignored for the sake of length.)
_________________________
Bad spellers of the world untie!

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#2138342 - 08/24/13 02:45 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Kuanpiano]
Brendan Online   content



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5312
Loc: McAllen, TX
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Are there any pieces that you really wanted to learn, and loved to listen to, but when you started learning them it was a frustrating, tedious experience?


Ligeti's Études. I've given up in those more times than I care to remember. They're cool to listen to, but a total pain to learn (and, ultimately, not worth the squeeze, IMO). At one point, I was hoping that one measure a day was sufficient progress on Autumn in Warsaw, but even that was impossible!
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#2138366 - 08/24/13 03:24 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: AZNpiano]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1089
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Anything Bach for me frown

Seriously?


Is it just learning the notes, or is it connecting with the music too? Since you love choral music so much, it might be useful and entertaining to imagine the fugue as sung quartet (or trio for a 3-voice fugue). Add words if you wish, and characters to each of the quartet members. I did this for the last fugue I worked on, and it greatly helped with shaping all the lines, and made it fun listening to their arguments.

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#2138388 - 08/24/13 04:11 PM Re: Really Tedious Learns [Re: Arghhh]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
It's whatever part you find tedious in learning a piece, and whichever piece you find tedious to learn, Arrgh.

BTW, I just love your name. Now, back to cleaning my gutters...
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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