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#2220406 - 01/25/14 06:24 AM Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress!
RyanThePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: United States
Since TwoSnowflakes, griffin2417, and I are currently working on the famous Prelude in C-sharp minor Op. 3 No. 2 by Rachmaninoff, we've decided to start a new thread that focuses on our progress. If anybody else is working on this piece, feel free to join in and post your progress!

Don't hesitate to ask specific questions, offer practice suggestions, and take part in this learning experience. smile Please make sure nobody's questions and concerns are left unanswered! We're here to learn!

There is much to discuss, so get to discussing!


Edited by RyanThePianist (01/25/14 04:26 PM)
_________________________
1990 Yamaha G3

Studying:
- Ballade No. 1 in G minor (working on first half & coda; memorizing)
- Etude Op. 25 No. 12 "Ocean" (memorizing)
- Liebestraum No. 3 (cadenzas)
- Pathétique Sonata (relearning)

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#2220410 - 01/25/14 06:41 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
RyanThePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: United States
So my progress... I first learned this famous prelude two years ago, but I put it away for a while since then and now I'm in the process of reviving it in time for my piano audition for a university undergraduate music program, as I'm planning on double majoring in music (BA) and some other major, probably a science, that I haven't chosen yet (I'm planning to go to medical school!). I have a week left if I want to qualify for scholarships!

I'm currently polishing the middle section; I'm almost at my desired tempo with little to no mistakes. I'm focusing on relaxing my right hand more when I play because I've had occasions where it begins to tense during the repeat of the theme at the higher octave for this section. I'm thinking my crescendo to this point makes my hand tense, so perhaps I need to relax when I crescendo especially. My hand seems perfectly fine on the descending measures before the crescendo, and this is how I discovered the possible problem. Also, I'm trying to pedal the descending chords at the end of this section without any breaks in the music. Smoothness is what I'm shooting for. Lastly, I'm trying to ensure I'm voicing the melodies well throughout the piece. The LH melody must not be forgotten, and the RH melody must not be inaudible or "skimmed" over! Other than these details, I'm satisfied with my interpretation of the piece. I'm going to send my audition video to several teachers and friends (and probably on here) before I send it to the school, so it's an exciting and nerve-racking time for me! (if anybody is wondering, my other audition piece is Consolation No. 3 which contrasts greatly with this prelude)
_________________________
1990 Yamaha G3

Studying:
- Ballade No. 1 in G minor (working on first half & coda; memorizing)
- Etude Op. 25 No. 12 "Ocean" (memorizing)
- Liebestraum No. 3 (cadenzas)
- Pathétique Sonata (relearning)

Top
#2220575 - 01/25/14 12:59 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
I'm also finding that the tension creeps in as the middle section climaxes. I've found that thinking "slow down" helps. It's not a real perceptible slowing down, but it stops me from continuing to accelerate uncontrollably and keeps the melody line better articulated.

I've not yet hit the sweet spot of acceleration into the descending triplets, because it DOES need to continue to speed up there.

But the speed is mostly there. I have heard it at super breakneck speed, but for me, I feel like it has the requisite urgency and speed at 80. Not that I use the metronome there because obviously there's nothing about that section that has a rigid tempo, but in terms of an overall sense of where it is when it settles into its most common pace, I feel like 80 about right so that's what I test myself against, especially when I need to guard against over-accelerating.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

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#2220578 - 01/25/14 01:04 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
Second section again: I'm having a hard time backing off the volume without freezing my shoulder when there's that decrescendo right before it climbs again for the reprise of the main theme an octave higher. I seize and choke off my hands to get it, and consequently I am at risk for dropping notes there. This is actually a problem that I have more than just here.

First section: now that I've totally overthought the expression, my piu mosso is now really awkward sounding. Well, to be fair, it mossos quite fine. It's that I can't...meno mosso out of it in a natural way back to the main tempo.

Third section: I'm pretty clear on where I want to go with this. It's definitely the easiest section once the jumps are patterned in. I just have to work slowly, like suggested in the other thread, to get those secure. I have to look down. I appear to be constitutionally incapable of disengaging from the score even when I've played something for months.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2220584 - 01/25/14 01:17 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
phantomFive Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1487
Loc: California
Hey, sounds fun! Maybe I'll join in and relearn this song too.

I always looked at this song as the "gateway to virtuosity." It's the end of the road of amateur, and begins the road of a virtuoso. Anyone who has gotten this far is impressive.
_________________________
Poetry is rhythm.

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#2220589 - 01/25/14 01:21 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
Med school, huh? I was a biological sciences major (neurobiology, more or less), and then totally veered suddenly to law school.

I wish I were in your place right now because what I should have done is taken premed courses and not necessarily majored in science, even if I was going to med school. I was constantly gobbling up courses in other humanities, including music, and found I just LOVED music history and theory. I should have followed my gut and at least minored in it but I felt like it was incompatible with being premed so I didn't. Big mistake.

Even if I were to have gone on to med school, or even science in grad school (a program I did actually start before going to law school), I now see the enormous benefits to not majoring in science at all because you will get all the science you'll ever need later and your bachelors degree is the time to learn something simply for the academic pursuit of it, as long as you are covering your bases with the science you DO need. I'm not saying ignore the science--you can't do that, and you wouldn't want to, especially if you like science. But there are already plenty of scientific brains who are wired to do nothing but science. BUT, if you have another side of you that could use some academic nurturing, like music, make sure you DO IT NOW. There's no other time to do it.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled Rachmaninoff.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2220594 - 01/25/14 01:37 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: phantomFive]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
Originally Posted By: phantomFive
Hey, sounds fun! Maybe I'll join in and relearn this song too.

I always looked at this song as the "gateway to virtuosity." It's the end of the road of amateur, and begins the road of a virtuoso. Anyone who has gotten this far is impressive.


I wish I felt like I was on the cusp of being an advanced pianist. I doubt that I am. Well, I KNOW I am not. This piece has required me to learn a lot from very far back just to get to where I am right now.

On the other hand, I can tell that working like a dog on all the details has helped me enormously with my overall technique. Well, that, and the endless scales, arpeggios and chromatics my teacher has me doing!

I would say that I'm solidly a mid-intermediate to late mid-intermediate player now with at least a year or so before I can really be an advanced student (advanced student, not advanced player). This piece was definitely my "reach" piece in the sense that one should always have a piece they're studying that is reach-ably above their level, and this one was it.

But, that being said, it gratifies me to know that this piece was not an unreasonable choice as a reach piece for me. Maybe I'm not at the "gateway of virtuosity", but it might be on my horizon in the not-too-distant future.

Since we're talking Rachmaninoff, I'll imagine it as the Golden Gates of Kiev, and I'll keep that Mussorgsky theme playing in my head as I approach! smile

_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2220614 - 01/25/14 02:05 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
phantomFive Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1487
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes

I wish I felt like I was on the cusp of being an advanced pianist. I doubt that I am. Well, I KNOW I am not.

You are!


Edited by phantomFive (01/25/14 03:06 PM)
_________________________
Poetry is rhythm.

Top
#2220650 - 01/25/14 04:13 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: phantomFive]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2451
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: phantomFive
Hey, sounds fun! Maybe I'll join in and relearn this song too.

I always looked at this song as the "gateway to virtuosity." It's the end of the road of amateur, and begins the road of a virtuoso. Anyone who has gotten this far is impressive.


I hope you will join in phantomFive! I haven't even started on the keyboard with this yet. I never even entertained the thought of attempting to work on this piece. I was pretty shocked when my teacher suggested it. He will be getting me started with this some time in February.

I'm really glad this thread was started. I am looking upon this as a learning journey. However, it will be great to be with some folks at various stages of learning this piece.

I'll be back a bit later today to give a little background about my specific needs at this point.

Ryan, thanks again for getting this thread started! smile
_________________________
Carl


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#2220734 - 01/25/14 07:43 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
RyanThePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes

I'm also finding that the tension creeps in as the middle section climaxes. I've found that thinking "slow down" helps. It's not a real perceptible slowing down, but it stops me from continuing to accelerate uncontrollably and keeps the melody line better articulated.


I definitely think that consciously monitoring your tempo and shoulder really helps. No blind practicing (in the sense of practicing with no goal)! However, literal blind practicing is actually a good technique I'm starting to utilize in my practice to support memorization, solidify jumps, etc.


Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
Second section again: I'm having a hard time backing off the volume without freezing my shoulder when there's that decrescendo right before it climbs again for the reprise of the main theme an octave higher. I seize and choke off my hands to get it, and consequently I am at risk for dropping notes there. This is actually a problem that I have more than just here.



What do you mean by, "backing off the volume"? You're having problems performing the decrescendo? It sounds like more of a technical and relaxation problem. Perhaps continued staccato practice and conscious awareness of your shoulders will help!


Edited by RyanThePianist (01/25/14 07:44 PM)
_________________________
1990 Yamaha G3

Studying:
- Ballade No. 1 in G minor (working on first half & coda; memorizing)
- Etude Op. 25 No. 12 "Ocean" (memorizing)
- Liebestraum No. 3 (cadenzas)
- Pathétique Sonata (relearning)

Top
#2220739 - 01/25/14 07:54 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
It definitely is a overall technical and relaxation problem. My teacher is working on it. She zeroes in on it all the time ,but as of yet I haven't totally worked it out.

I hit the staccato practice with a vengeance today and things actually got perceptibly better. Both here and in my Haydn sonata; the third movement is presto with a lot of volume changes.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2220742 - 01/25/14 08:03 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
RyanThePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
Med school, huh? I was a biological sciences major (neurobiology, more or less), and then totally veered suddenly to law school.

I wish I were in your place right now because what I should have done is taken premed courses and not necessarily majored in science, even if I was going to med school. I was constantly gobbling up courses in other humanities, including music, and found I just LOVED music history and theory. I should have followed my gut and at least minored in it but I felt like it was incompatible with being premed so I didn't. Big mistake.

Even if I were to have gone on to med school, or even science in grad school (a program I did actually start before going to law school), I now see the enormous benefits to not majoring in science at all because you will get all the science you'll ever need later and your bachelors degree is the time to learn something simply for the academic pursuit of it, as long as you are covering your bases with the science you DO need. I'm not saying ignore the science--you can't do that, and you wouldn't want to, especially if you like science. But there are already plenty of scientific brains who are wired to do nothing but science. BUT, if you have another side of you that could use some academic nurturing, like music, make sure you DO IT NOW. There's no other time to do it.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled Rachmaninoff.


Law school? Impressive, so what do you do now? Do you enjoy it?

I believe in trying to find that balance between being practical and pursuing something you love, at no matter what age. I'm considering music because, well, that's a given, and I'm debating whether I should even major in a science before going to med school. I could easily major in English and be satisfied, but my number one worry is a back up plan if I don't get into med school. But then again, if I'm really coming up with a backup plan now, doesn't that make me sorta doubt my abilities in medical school? It's a lot to consider... the job prospects in science majors aren't that great from the general consensus I've developed anyway, but I'm also considering a nursing degree, but then another bump in the road occurs. If I major in nursing, doesn't that make med admissions think I'm committed to nursing and not medicine (these are two totally different things if you think about it)? In fact, in nursing, there's more learning how to DO things rather than acquiring intellectual stimulation. Med admissions want the most well-rounded students who can handle the voluminous memorization in med school, not someone who knows how to do something that they may not even use anymore if accepted into med school!

I apologize for the digression, but it's all in good faith to learn. smile Do continue to post prelude progress!
_________________________
1990 Yamaha G3

Studying:
- Ballade No. 1 in G minor (working on first half & coda; memorizing)
- Etude Op. 25 No. 12 "Ocean" (memorizing)
- Liebestraum No. 3 (cadenzas)
- Pathétique Sonata (relearning)

Top
#2220747 - 01/25/14 08:09 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
RyanThePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
It definitely is a overall technical and relaxation problem. My teacher is working on it. She zeroes in on it all the time ,but as of yet I haven't totally worked it out.

I hit the staccato practice with a vengeance today and things actually got perceptibly better. Both here and in my Haydn sonata; the third movement is presto with a lot of volume changes.



Here's a neat "check" for relaxation that I've recently acquired through YouTube video from Josh Wright (one of my favorite online piano teachers). While you're playing, have someone "hit" or "push" the bottom of your arms so your arms lift up. If they flop around, you're relaxed. If they remain a stiff, you're causing tension.
_________________________
1990 Yamaha G3

Studying:
- Ballade No. 1 in G minor (working on first half & coda; memorizing)
- Etude Op. 25 No. 12 "Ocean" (memorizing)
- Liebestraum No. 3 (cadenzas)
- Pathétique Sonata (relearning)

Top
#2220797 - 01/25/14 10:35 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
Ha, my teacher does this all the time. She's constantly testing my arm suppleness from underneath, or to guide it in the right motion and she'll also lay a flat palm on my shoulder blade to get me to rotate up and back or gently place a hand on the top of my shoulder to ease my shoulder down.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2220807 - 01/25/14 11:12 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
phantomFive Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1487
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: RyanThePianist

Here's a neat "check" for relaxation that I've recently acquired through YouTube video from Josh Wright (one of my favorite online piano teachers). While you're playing, have someone "hit" or "push" the bottom of your arms so your arms lift up. If they flop around, you're relaxed. If they remain a stiff, you're causing tension.

Most traumatic part of my piano career was during a master class when the teacher hit the bottom of my arms without warning me.
_________________________
Poetry is rhythm.

Top
#2220812 - 01/25/14 11:27 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7643
Loc: New York City
That's extraordinarily inappropriate. I hope teachers don't do these things on a regular basis.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2220815 - 01/25/14 11:32 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: phantomFive]
RyanThePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: phantomFive

Most traumatic part of my piano career was during a master class when the teacher hit the bottom of my arms without warning me.


Wow, now that without a warning is a different story... XD I'd feel like my personal space was being invaded... and it shouldn't really be a "hit", but rather a lift. Hard to explain. :p


Edited by RyanThePianist (01/25/14 11:33 PM)
_________________________
1990 Yamaha G3

Studying:
- Ballade No. 1 in G minor (working on first half & coda; memorizing)
- Etude Op. 25 No. 12 "Ocean" (memorizing)
- Liebestraum No. 3 (cadenzas)
- Pathétique Sonata (relearning)

Top
#2220822 - 01/25/14 11:40 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
Really? Because the tactile part of things is most helpful for me. Not that I want to be surprised with a tap or a test, but generally my teacher is not a hands-off teacher--maybe it's a Russian thing.

When she explains the weight she wants on the keys, she'll use my arm or my leg to demonstrate. She'll hold my wrist and maneuver my fifth finger exactly how she wants it. She will guide my elbow as I'm coming down an arpeggio.

If she were not otherwise so tactile, though, I would definitely find random hitting or touching to be unwelcome.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2220845 - 01/26/14 01:33 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
RyanThePianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/12
Posts: 55
Loc: United States
Just finished a session of practicing the middle section. Playing around 130 BPM with no mistakes, I just need to make sure my dynamics and the melody are clear. Planning to wake up early tomorrow to practice. smile
_________________________
1990 Yamaha G3

Studying:
- Ballade No. 1 in G minor (working on first half & coda; memorizing)
- Etude Op. 25 No. 12 "Ocean" (memorizing)
- Liebestraum No. 3 (cadenzas)
- Pathétique Sonata (relearning)

Top
#2220923 - 01/26/14 07:51 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
You and me both. I'm storming to the finish on this one. I hope you mean 130 per quarter note, because I'm counting one click per half note; otherwise you're playing this at inhuman speeds! I have it fairly securely at 70 or what I hope is 140 for you. My goal is 80(160).
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2221002 - 01/26/14 04:27 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
phantomFive Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1487
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: RyanThePianist
Just finished a session of practicing the middle section. Playing around 130 BPM with no mistakes, I just need to make sure my dynamics and the melody are clear. Planning to wake up early tomorrow to practice. smile

lol I better get started!
_________________________
Poetry is rhythm.

Top
#2221006 - 01/26/14 04:39 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2451
Loc: Minneapolis, MN

Wow! I really like the energy on this thread.

Ryan and TwoSnowflakes are in the final stages of their work completing the Prelude in C# Minor.

I will be starting on this piece for the very first time. I'm hoping to learn from their experiences as well as others. Now that I'm retired I'm hoping that working on this piece will also help me further develop my practice routines.

Right now I'm simply reading the score and listening to a variety of recordings. I've never played any music by Rachmaninoff. If anyone has any suggested materials I might read in preparation, I would appreciate that as well. smile

I returned to piano studies three years ago after a 35-year hiatus. I started private lessons at age five. I continued with piano for about 13 years, including two years in college.

I had planned to major in music when I got to college. I enjoyed the courses in music literature and music theory. However, I realized that a degree in music was not a good option for me. It was clear that it would take longer than normal for me to complete my work for an undergraduate degree in music.

I made the decision to shift my time and energy to pursuing a degree in journalism and mass communications. It turned out to be a good and practical choice for me. I was already writing for the college student newspaper and developed many friendships that continue even today.

After I completed my journalism degree I worked as a general assignment reporter and freelance writer for about 15 years. I eventually transitioned into administration work for a variety of nonprofit organizations.

Up until recently I only had limited amounts of time to practice the piano when I returned to it three years ago. Yet I did (and do) practice. However, I did my practice sessions in 15 minute segments, allowing me to squeeze practice into my busy work schedule. I've noticed a lot of people do this.

Last summer I retired from a very rewarding career. Now I'm spending significantly more time with the piano. I'm in the final stages of completing Clair de Lune (Debussy) and Prelude in D Flat Major (Chopin).

That's it for me. Feel free to ask any questions either on this thread, or send me a PM.
_________________________
Carl


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#2221035 - 01/26/14 06:26 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
Yay, Carl! Start it. You won't regret it.

Sure, it's a little overplayed, but it's kind of de rigeur. I don't see how I was going to jump into Rachmaninoff and somehow skip this one.

You and I both returned to the piano after an extended hiatus. However, you played for longer than I did, and while you waited longer to come back (35 years to my 25), you restarted three years ago, and I hit the bench a mere eightish months ago.

If I can do it, you can do it better.

I picked up this piece after only 4-5 months back at the piano and have now had it for 4 months or so. There was a lot to catch back up on, so maybe you're already over that hump, if so, so much the better, because I'm still playing catchup.

Perhaps you don't feel the same way, but Rachmaninoff is intimidating to me. I'm a bit of a weird case and I'm guessing you are, too: you're not a rank beginner and therefore come at it with a certain fundamental familiarity with the keyboard that was retained from years ago. At the same time, things are rusty: movements are creaky, tension is high, and consequently velocity and evenness is a struggle. Which is doubly annoying because a) you have expectations because you used to play well, and b) while your ear has been maturing your whole life, your skills didn't progress a day beyond the day you stopped playing, at best. At worst, they've eroded significantly. Nasty little combination because the last time I sounded like this, I was 11 and had the ear to match. Very tolerable.

You also don't have a ton of repertoire that's been building all those years so if you're like me, you can count on one hand the number of pieces you currently play at a level satisfying to you, which means very little overall depth to absorb Rachmaninoff without fear.

I have worked out a ton in just these past 9 months, so my guess (my hope) for you is that you're already past that stage, or approaching it.


I think if I had it to do over again, and wanted to avoid spinning my wheels for a while, I would recommend:

1) Just pick a fingering and stick the heck with it. Do the overlapping hands if you have hands that are normal sized, don't try to reinvent it with the "oh, it's just two three note chords". Yes, that's true, but the overlapping hands isn't as it is for no reason at all.

2) Try not to do too much at once. Get super confident with the notes in the first and third section until the jumps are smooth and your hands drop with accuracy where they need to be. Do not bring up the tempo until that is done. Don't even really worry about expression until that is done.

3) The second section is going to drive you nuts if your hands lack the velocity and are highly tensioned when any kind of speed creeps in, like mine are. On the other hand, this will make you relax because it's unplayable any other way. Which will be a terrific boon to your overall playing. Be rigorous about even triplets even if the speed ebbs and flows as it must when this thing is being played musically. Whatever it takes for you to reach the keybed quickly and smoothly, do it. Staccato practice, super slow practice, whatever. If you are playing tensioned and shallowly, it'll sound jagged and you'll just drop notes. And the whole thing will fall apart worse as it gets faster and faster.

I had to literally pattern in the hand falls on this part. When I play it slowly it LOOKS like I'm in slo-mo--I don't start playing it without the anticipatory movements to get where I need to go simply because I have the time when it's slow. It was the ONLY way I was able to start building velocity because I just don't have the muscle memory for how to move quickly and efficiently after all this time, if I ever had it.

Pluck that melody line from the get-go. You don't want to have to work on changing your motion later to get the articulation you're going to need for that melody line. That melody line requires a whole different motion in the wrist to play it than if that were just accompaniment, so don't neglect it. You don't have to rubato it all up quite yet, but make sure you're emphasizing the melody from the first time you play it.

I actually spent several days just playing the melody line with the left hand and simply nodding my thumb and third finger to the inner notes.

3) Learn the third section along with the first. Don't leave it looming like a four staff behemoth on the horizon until the second section is non-awful like I did, only to find out that it has to be learned almost from scratch because you waited too long to leverage your familiarity with the first section into the third section.

Now, here I am, 4-5 months into this piece and while I'm finishing it up, I'm still not satisfied with how it sounds. It is STILL uneven. I can still drop a note or two. Or three. I panic mid jump and forget where I'm going. My middle section is both blurry and jagged at times and the melody sometimes fades, and I am certainly not beyond the very real risk that I will hit a huuuuuge clunker.

I had and still have a lot of work to do in general.

I just want you to know that while I can give the advice I'm not claiming I have it all worked out myself or anything.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

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#2221208 - 01/27/14 12:26 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 250
Hi Everyone,

This sounds like a fun project and I'm very interested in learning this piece! I'm just a little worried about the possible strain on my hands with all the big chords, especially given the other pieces I'm working on right now. (arthritis and tendonitis in my wrists). So, I'm not committed to learning this piece yet, just exploring it as a possibility.....

Today was the first day i really looked at the piece. Didn't try section 3...but went over some of sections 1 and 2 hands separate. holy ledger lines!! Seriously it took me a while to work out many of the notes and I'm still not sure i got them right.

When going over some of the chords today I really tried to relax my hands. In a few places I noticed some rather nutty notation and i don't know how it is reachable. (maybe around M27 in the LH?).

Speaking of bar numbers, I also tried to number the score. Is it the first bar with the whole notes in both hands that is considered bar 1? I counted that as bar 1 and not the bar prior to it with the two quarter notes, but I'm not sure if that was the right way to count them.

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#2221379 - 01/27/14 11:07 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: Valencia]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2451
Loc: Minneapolis, MN

Hi Valencia! I'm glad you're joining in. I'm already having fun, and I've hardly played a note of this piece! smile
_________________________
Carl


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#2221463 - 01/27/14 01:28 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Hi Valencia, fancy seeing you here! smile

In M27 (you have the numbering right) you have to stretch the beat a little and make both notes. It's quite intentional to have a gap between them. It happens again in M51 and 53.
________________________

I'll be starting this piece with Carl. We were planning it to be a collaborative effort between us since his teacher assigned it but it seems we have more company now. This is my first Rachmaninoff piece, too.

Valencia and myself are planning on the Chopin Ballade in G minor, Ryan. I see it's in your sig. She has started recently. I have barely touched it since the mid-eighties when my teacher assigned it but I stopped lessons shortly thereafter because of a company relocation. I expect to resume it in April. There's a thread in the ABF on it if you're interested.

Some history: I dabbled in my teens but only started lessons at 23 (in the late seventies), which continued for 7/8 years. I gave up piano in 95 to become a conscientious father and my return took longer than expected. I finally resumed practise two years ago over Christmas.
_________________________

I almost have this Prelude memorised (in my head) from reading the score and have listened to a few diverse recordings so I'm close to go.

I've mapped out an approach and will be taking it in small steps. I've used MS Paint to fix up the score into a workable solution for me. I don't like to learn from cluttered scores so I've removed all the fingerings and editorial markings from my rack sheets and pasted various passages together for learning.

I've four clean pages for memorising, reflecting my intended working order, and another four/five for putting it all together later on:
P1. M2-8, M45-51
P2. M8-11, M51-55
P3. M35-43, M55-61
P4. M31-35, 27-30, 21-26, 13-17

P5. M1-14
P6. M12-28
P7. M26-45
P8-9. M43-61

I'll be spending a minute or two on each bar for the first week to cement the fingerings and make sure there are no surprises. M17 and 30 look like they might be troublesome where the pattern is disrupted.
_________________________
Richard

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#2221792 - 01/28/14 08:58 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2451
Loc: Minneapolis, MN


Hi Richard! I am glad you are here. I'll be meeting with my teacher later today. Afterward, I'll have a better idea of when he wants to get me started with this piece. I suspect he wants to make sure I'm off to a good start with the Invention he recently assigned to me.

TwoSnowflakes, thanks for your encouragement. I really relate to all you said about what it's like coming back to the piano after a very long hiatus. My teacher has advised that I should plan on a year studying this piece.

I must be off right now to get ready for my lesson. I'll check in later.
_________________________
Carl


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#2221800 - 01/28/14 09:07 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: RyanThePianist]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1285
A year? Really?

That's GREAT news.

Seriously. I often question whether or not my progress is sufficient and a lot of doubt creeps in at times. To know that some of these things DO take a while and a lot of two steps forward, one step back, is good to know.

I try to keep an eye on the long term, and I will, at times, proactively think about how something was played at the beginning just so I can see the progress at times, but it's not clear to me how long I should be taking on certain pieces before I should question my methods, or worse, my aptitude.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

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#2221857 - 01/28/14 11:46 AM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
phantomFive Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1487
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
but it's not clear to me how long I should be taking on certain pieces before I should question my methods, or worse, my aptitude.

Always question your methods, for they can always be improved. Never question you aptitude, for you are a human being, full of brilliant potential.
_________________________
Poetry is rhythm.

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#2222778 - 01/29/14 08:03 PM Re: Prelude in C-sharp minor - Post your progress! [Re: phantomFive]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2451
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: phantomFive
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
but it's not clear to me how long I should be taking on certain pieces before I should question my methods, or worse, my aptitude.

Always question your methods, for they can always be improved. Never question you aptitude, for you are a human being, full of brilliant potential.



Good advice phantomFive!

Two Snowflakes, I truly relate to what you're saying. I went through some of that too. I've found it helpful to remember my teacher's advice when I doubt my own abilities.

"Relax, and enjoy the journey of learning."

I think about that and realize that I'm doing this for my own enjoyment. I don''t have to prove anything to anyone. I'm not into a competition. Then I take a few deep breaths and quiet down that negative mind chatter and get back to the piano. smile

BTW, I've listened to your recording. I am very impressed and inspired. You should be very pleased with what you've accomplished so far! (IMHO) smile
_________________________
Carl


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