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It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!
It's coming along. Here's the last half of the first movement as it stands today. I started it four or so weeks ago. I can play it better, but this is the best I can get recorded. I don't know what happens when there's an audience, even when that audience is simply a camera, but so be it.
I guess I'd like some input as to where to go from here. I've changed a lot in the past several months since restarting in April, and I'm trying very hard to remember that whatever problems there are, it was still only four months ago that I could not play two octaves of c major with both hands without running out of fingers or ending up with one hand several notes behind the other.
My teacher assured me that as time went on, things would feel more like it used to, and that's certainly true, but I continue to struggle with control, evenness and overall tension. Some of it is just letting myself reacquaint myself with the piano, but plenty of it is stuff I should have learned better the first time.
Frankly, the best progress has been in technical exercises. I can really concentrate on what needs to change. But when I try to play something musical, I get very bogged down and struggle. I panic, the tension creeps in, and I rush, or things get uneven. I start to play very shallowly. Fingers jut out in weird places. Old habits come back. I seize up and the trills and ornamentation grind to a halt.
I can sometimes just take a deep breath, relax and GO, but just as often trying to really play a piece makes my attention shifts to fear of errors, leaving very little attention to the things that actually avoid errors: staying calm, thinking ahead and staying focused on the many technical things that are not yet automatic.
On other hand, there's PLENTY that was deliberately fixed and is now automatic. I looked at the video I made of myself in the first few weeks and it doesn't look like the same person is playing. In fact, the only reason I'm ok posting this is because deep down I probably ought to a little bit proud of where I've gotten to in a few months, even if there's very big difference between how I play and how I want to play/I used to play/you guys play.
I can honestly say I am utterly enjoying the process of relearning piano, so it's already a definite success. I guess I hope there's at least some apparent potential there because in the end I would very much like to get to a point to be able to offer something that is objectively enjoyable to others. Many of you play at a level that I probably can't reasonably aspire to at this late stage, but if I could get to a level where I can simply legitimately loiter in the corner of the party where all the good pianists are, I think I would consider the whole thing not just a success but a smashing success.
So, could you guys take a minute or two break from the party to give me some pointers so I can earn my way in? It'll be worth it. I bring fabulous dishes to parties.
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
You play well and I am glad you are sharing your work here!
Haydn was quite the humorist, as with the "Surprise" Symphony, and his music seems designed to do well with a bit of surprise so with that in mind, and focusing in on just a few bars, I would play the circled chords below less pesante and more abruptly and playfully. Also with the first bar there as an example, the sixteenth notes are separated with the slurs, so in the top voice one can drop into the B, A-sharp, A-natural, and G a little bit but not the F-sharp, G or E afterwards for that articulation.
The final chord in this next image is the deciso one, and keeping the surprise element in mind one can diminuendo with the staccato thirds preparing the listener for a mezzoforte ending and then have a sudden forte with the circled final chord. The final chord could have been in half-notes but isn't which I think says something about the atmosphere of the music.
Maybe this gives you some additional ideas to work with!
Loc: Rockford, IL
You're IN!!! LOL!
I appreciate your detailed intro, and can relate to everything you've written. I caught your post pretty much as soon as you posted it, and after listening, my first thought was, "Yep. That's Haydn, alright!" I just listened again, and it's fun to listen to, and, yes, you are getting it to shape up nicely!
Since you seem to be pretty self-aware as to those things you want to fix, I will provide just one insight for you, regarding this:
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
[...] I don't know what happens when there's an audience, even when that audience is simply a camera, but so be it. [...]
It's called "divided attention," and can get you every time (if you let it!). If I can trust what I've read about how "multi-tasking" works, the summary is that the brain can really only handle one thing at a time. When "multi-tasking," the brain is chopping up attention to focus on 1) this thing, and then, 2) that thing, and then 1) this thing, again, and then, 2) that thing, again... and so on. The brain works fast, so it can *seem* like you're doing two things at once, but really you are doing one thing at a time, back and forth, really fast. You can see what happens when you try to do three or four things "at once." (My sister has a joke that goes, "Yeah, I have A.D.D. I get a lot of things done every day, but I never get anything completed!" ). Anyway, you can figure that when you are simply playing a piece and trying to follow the score and bring forth the music using all of your sensitivity and skill, you are already doing about a million things! (Well, o.k., maybe twenty-five.) Add an audience or a recording device to the mix, and, well, where is your attention, now? Furthermore, I suspect that the adrenaline rush happens because the brain is calling for a chemical boost to try to take care of all of the demands that the spirit and soul are putting on it in order to perform. So then, comfort goes right out the window, too.
My best playing (if I can say that) comes when I pay attention to the sound of the hammer hitting the string. When I put ALL of my attention right there, it seems to funnel the "sensitivity and skill" part to the right place. In fact, I have recently found "the zone" several times when playing for audiences. I actually chose to ignore the audience, and I was so focused on the sound that was coming from the piano that I became very, very calm. One of these audiences was a lunch-time crowd, and it was very interesting to note how many times during the hour or so I was playing, how quiet the room became as people were drawn in to listen. That kind of thing does not always happen when one is sending fluffy atmosphere music into the room for people to talk over. (That's why I'm noting that experience here for you. It was one of those significant leaps in awareness for me on a number of levels! Adrenaline was not an issue, because I did not overload my brain. I think so, anyway. I was very, very calm, and the piano itself was a joy to listen to, so I just went with it!)
So, the "practice" is in focusing your attention on the right thing. Ignoring the recording device does take practice. Just like learning to relax your arm to accomplish that one trill in that one measure when you get there, takes practice. For a while, I practiced with my recording set up in position all the time, just so I could get used to ignoring it!
Hope this helps! I'm looking forward to hearing the whole piece when you are ready to share it!
Edited by Cinnamonbear (09/22/1303:41 PM)
I may not be fast, but at least I'm slow.