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#2237619 - 02/25/14 07:23 PM Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study
Stubbie Offline
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Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 390
Loc: Midwest USA
I'm working on Schumann's 'Little Study' Op. 68, No. 14. My teacher played it through for me, but we didn't discuss it beyond that (no time).

Here's my problem: it's boring and it's hard. grin (For me, anyway.)

I think I know the root source of my difficulty with this piece: I don't have a good feel for the keyboard without glancing at it from time to time. With this piece, I'm not finding a melody or anything I can hang my hat on to memorize this anytime in the near future (even if I wanted to). I have to follow the score closely, but, sheesh, I have to look at my hands as well on each measure. I've been working on sight-reading and sight-reading without looking at the keyboard, but it's not something I'm going to have fixed for my next lesson.

So here's the question: the score I'm working from is in Essential Keyboard Repertoire Vol. 2. At the beginning of the piece, it says, "Lightly and evenly," but another copy of the score I looked at shows a tenuto at beat 4 (it's in 6/8 time; some versions show the fourth beat as a quarter note, too). A recording I listened to played it with an accented beat. To my ears, it sounds better that way. There are also a couple of measures which differ in the bass clef. ( Here's one. Here is Cubus playing the piece.

For those of you with knowledge/experience of this piece, which way would you play it, lightly and evenly or with an accented fourth beat? Or something else?
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#2237665 - 02/25/14 08:59 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
earlofmar Offline
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Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1587
Loc: Australia
Except for sight reading I look at the keyboard whenever I want to and my teacher says this is ok. This piece reminds me of Bach's Prelude in C Major, although this is harder, and the only way I could get into that piece was to assign chord names to the arpeggios. This seemed to make it easier to follow when playing along.

I have no experience with this piece although it sounds like one I would like to learn eventually. As with the Back piece mentioned there are plenty of interpretations so why not play one you like.
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#2237682 - 02/25/14 09:49 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
Andy Platt Online   content
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Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2391
Loc: Virginia, USA
Hard? Perhaps. Boring? NEVER!

The key with this piece is to use dynamic contrasts to make this piece beautiful. Pedal appropriately and it can never be boring. wink

OK, as for the rhythm - you need to feel this in two. It's two triplets and should feel that way. If you do I don't think you'll need to worry about the "fourth" beat (really the second), it will be natural. Try to make the second triplet answer the first.

This really is a beautiful piece - must play it tomorrow!
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#2237700 - 02/25/14 10:31 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Andy Platt]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 390
Loc: Midwest USA
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Hard? Perhaps. Boring? NEVER!

The key with this piece is to use dynamic contrasts to make this piece beautiful. Pedal appropriately and it can never be boring. wink

OK, as for the rhythm - you need to feel this in two. It's two triplets and should feel that way. If you do I don't think you'll need to worry about the "fourth" beat (really the second), it will be natural. Try to make the second triplet answer the first.

This really is a beautiful piece - must play it tomorrow!


Yes, the pedaling is key here and is one of the 'lessons' of this etude. I'm also playing with a bit of ritard. at measure 16 (1st ending), measure 32, and the final two measures.

Thanks for the suggestion of thinking of this as two triplets. I have been playing it that way--one answering the other, but not explicitly labeling it that way in my mind. Thanks for the info.



Edited by Stubbie (02/25/14 10:43 PM)
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#2237786 - 02/26/14 04:10 AM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 984
Loc: Italy
I can see why you find this difficult. It looks like some Bach preludes! It's so hard when you can't read fast enough yet, so you can't simply look at the score, and memorising it all is difficult because there is no clear melody. This is my dilemma with most of the pieces I'm trying to learn right now.

What helps me the most is analysing the harmony and finding the chords, as was suggested, and also trying to hear the piece in my head very clearly, by listening to it many times, and playing it slowly in short sections until it's well into my aural memory. That makes it easier to reach for the right keys. I'm afraid you need lots of repetition in 2- or 4-bar sections (plus 1 note to connect the sections). I find that hard because I'm very impatient, but it really seems to be the fastest way.
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#2237817 - 02/26/14 06:07 AM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2375
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Just in case you still find boring the music of one of the greatest composers of miniatures smile here are some more things to focus on. Keeping your brain engaged will prevent boredom - you can't get bored if you're concentrating.

The hands need to sound as if they are one. The direction, Leise und sehr egal zu spielen, means light/soft and very even.

Each measure has a climax at the fourth note and all these fourth notes together build longer phrases. So although it's written as a prelude (harmonic progression without a melody) it does still have "hidden" melodies. This is four phrases, each 16 measures long, and each, except the last finishing on the fourth note of the measure. Playing the piece as block chords should not only bring out the melody but also the bass note, which should emphasise the harmonic structure.

If you practise the piece in block chords you'll be able to change hand position at each measure so all fingers will be over all notes immediately, giving smoothness over the measure. Most of the changes can be practised blind as a good exercise in building your sense of keyboard topography. This will benefit your sight reading, too. This piece is a good first piece for analysis if you want to get into that with your teacher - or here on the forum.

Each of these four phrases builds to a climax. Note that Schumann has used hairpins for the climactic areas (M5-8 of the first two and last phrases, M8-10 of the third with a further decrease to M48. Make that second decrescendo really count here and notice the held phrase end notes without pedal. Note the measures without pedal, particularly M46 as this very poignant third phrase draws to a close. The fourth phrase also closes differently to the first two.

The missing pedal mark in M51 is probably an oversight (I would pedal it). M34 and M60 are not. I would read the smaller notes in M41, 43 and 63 as alternative notes not additional notes as cubus plays.

There is a dimin. at M31. I see you're already adding ritards at each phrase end.

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#2237827 - 02/26/14 07:48 AM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
timmyab Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/08
Posts: 461
Loc: Bristol, UK
It's a pretty little piece I think and I agree it's rather difficult because the chords in both hands constantly change position. You probably will need to memorize it if you don't yet have a good feel for the keyboard layout.
I would definitely use accents. Having just read through it quickly my natural instinct is to accent the 4th beat and to a lesser extent the 1st as well where there are bass progressions. You might even be able to slip in the odd 3rd beat accent every so often.
The alternative bass measures are a concession to children. Play the 10ths if you can, they sound much better.


Edited by timmyab (02/26/14 07:53 AM)

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#2238002 - 02/26/14 02:55 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 390
Loc: Midwest USA
Originally Posted By: Stubbie
...it's boring and it's hard. grin (For me, anyway.)...


Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Just in case you still find boring the music of one of the greatest composers of miniatures smile here are some more...


Not to worry, I'm a fan. thumb Thus far in my short time with lessons I've played three other Opus 68 pieces and really enjoyed them. This week's assignment was The Happy Farmer and Little Study. That happy, happy farmer has been singing in my head all week. Not so much Little Study.

I like the block chord suggestion, both to help get a feel for the piece and for getting better grounding in keyboard topopgraphy. I'll use that; thanks, Richard.

Timmyab, agree, it seems to want a little accent on 4. As for the 10ths, the version of the score I'm using (Essential Key. Rep.) doesn't include them, but I saw them in the other version I posted. I agree they sound better. I just have to decide which version to play and stick with it.

Earlofmar and Sinophilia--I've yet to seriously play any Bach (I've played through some but not to learn it, per se). I've been practicing essentially in longer phrases, but cutting back further to chunks of a couple of measures as you suggest, Sinophilia, is good advice.
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#2238004 - 02/26/14 03:08 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
wimpiano Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 1266
Loc: The Netherlands
I also hear the accent on the 4th note in the recording I have:
https://play.spotify.com/track/6JktL73RLWwh66mKm3HtfS
It sure is difficult.
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#2238321 - 02/27/14 07:16 AM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
WiseBuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 807
Loc: Brighton Colorado
My book calls this Little Etude and I'm working on it too. My teacher has me working on these "easier" Schumann pieces to help me play faster without tension. I'm also finding this one makes me read faster and see the chords. I've had a bad habit of reading notes rather than shapes and it slows down my reading (and of course playing) because I can't read ahead and be ready for the movement. I agree with Andy that we have to feel this in triplets. Like Wild Rider...it needs to move in 3s. Memorize...yeah
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#2238517 - 02/27/14 02:35 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
wimpiano Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 1266
Loc: The Netherlands
This album is really fantastic. I play some of the pieces and I enjoy them VERY much.
I have this edition http://shop.abrsm.org/shop/prod/Schumann-Robert-Album-f-r-die-Jugend-Op-68-complete/641122
Which has the original as well as the English titles. It includes the original fingerings added by Clara Schumann.
The Wild Rider which you mention is so much fun!! Also, a little easier, the Soldiers March, very nice.

On-Topic: About the triplets, I doubt that. The edition I have shows Slurs from note one to six in each measure meaning the 6 notes need to be played legato and after the 6th note you need to lift. This means that the emphasis should be on the first note. After listening more carefully to the recording I indeed don't hear emphasis on the 4th note, it just seems so because in most measures it's a turn of direction.


I'm curious about it and will ask my teacher on monday.



Edited by wimpiano (02/27/14 02:40 PM)
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#2238533 - 02/27/14 02:48 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: earlofmar]
scorpio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 522
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
I look at the keyboard whenever I want to and my teacher says this is ok.
Hahaha "Why do you need to look at your hands? You know where the keys are!" - my teacher
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#2238547 - 02/27/14 03:01 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: scorpio]
wimpiano Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 1266
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: scorpio
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
I look at the keyboard whenever I want to and my teacher says this is ok.
Hahaha "Why do you need to look at your hands? You know where the keys are!" - my teacher

Hahaha "Why do you need to look at the music? You didn't get brains for nothing!" - my teacher.

ROFL (and he means it).
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#2238627 - 02/27/14 05:11 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: wimpiano]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: south florida
Originally Posted By: wimpiano
Originally Posted By: scorpio
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
I look at the keyboard whenever I want to and my teacher says this is ok.
Hahaha "Why do you need to look at your hands? You know where the keys are!" - my teacher

Hahaha "Why do you need to look at the music? You didn't get brains for nothing!" - my teacher.

ROFL (and he means it).



Hahaha "It pains me to see you searching down there for the right key when the answer is written four inches from your nose on the music right in front of you!" - my teacher

ROFLOL (and she really, really means it).
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#2238697 - 02/27/14 06:51 PM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: wimpiano]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 390
Loc: Midwest USA
Originally Posted By: wimpiano
.....On-Topic: About the triplets, I doubt that. The edition I have shows Slurs from note one to six in each measure meaning the 6 notes need to be played legato and after the 6th note you need to lift. This means that the emphasis should be on the first note. After listening more carefully to the recording I indeed don't hear emphasis on the 4th note, it just seems so because in most measures it's a turn of direction.


I'm curious about it and will ask my teacher on monday.



I had my lesson today and my teacher agrees pretty much with what you wrote about the slurs/phrasing lines and letting that dictate how it's played.
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#2238939 - 02/28/14 08:57 AM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: JimF]
wimpiano Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/13
Posts: 1266
Loc: The Netherlands
@Stubbie
Good to hear smile So these theory sessions (as part of the lesson) have some purpose after all wink

Originally Posted By: JimF

Hahaha "It pains me to see you searching down there for the right key when the answer is written four inches from your nose on the music right in front of you!" - my teacher

ROFLOL (and she really, really means it).

And she's right, and my teacher would also agree with her. Haha. He only says the don't look at the music thing on pieces I need to memorize.
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#2238980 - 02/28/14 10:30 AM Re: Schumann Op. 68, No. 14, Little Study [Re: Stubbie]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2375
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: wimpiano
On-Topic: About the triplets, I doubt that. The edition I have shows Slurs from note one to six in each measure meaning the 6 notes need to be played legato and after the 6th note you need to lift. This means that the emphasis should be on the first note. After listening more carefully to the recording I indeed don't hear emphasis on the 4th note, it just seems so because in most measures it's a turn of direction.
It's written in six-eight time. The measure is divided into two halves, each counted as a dotted quarter, two beats per bar. The strong accent is on beat one and a lesser accent on beat two, the fourth quaver. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th quavers will be unaccented. Many count the 2nd and 5th louder than the 3rd and 6th.

If you count the bar as 'apricot, pineapple' or 'higgledy-piggledy' you should get the right feel for it. The legato phrasing covering the measure should make the two halves sound even, as if played by the one hand, as opposed to the left hand being softer accompaniment, but not just the one accent per bar.

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