Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement

Posted by: KeemaNan

Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/10/12 08:47 AM

I've always thought of this piece as belonging to the super-difficult, virtuoso repertoire. It sounds fiendishly difficult, and incredibly impressive. I've often seen it cited here as a piece that people dream of being able to play one day. I well remember a few years ago, browsing the sheet music in my favourite music shop when somebody trying out a piano hammered out a flawless, barnstorming, performance of it that left me absolutely stunned (and with a severely reduced appetite for the early-intermediate fare I was browsing in the search for something new to play).

Back in the same shop today, I picked up the latest edition of Pianist, and noticed that this movement is included in the score section. I was almost as stunned as I was on that day years ago to see that the piece is marked 'Intermediate/Advanced' (NOT 'Advanced') ! I quote from the comments at the top of
the score - "Don't be put off by the presto tempo... if you practice it carefully, building up the tempo ever so slowly, you will reach a lively tempo in no time.".

Could this really be an 'Intermediate/Advanced' piece, and hence accessible to ordinary mortals in general and Adult Beginners in particular ? I'd love to read any thoughts on this, especially if you've had a go at playing it.
Posted by: Stanza

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/10/12 09:06 AM

I learned the 1st mmt in my youth, never even heard of the 3rd mmt until later in my adult life and was also blown away by it. Definately beyond intermediate but there is much tougher stuff in the advanced literature. My teacher says with pieces such as these to just keep recycling them through the years and it will all come. When you see a video of Kempff playing this you have to realize he has been working on it for all his life.

PS I did the music shop thing myself with this very piece. I sat down at an upright and played the first page or so. When I finished a guy told my how fantastic it was. I sort of deflected the praise by saying how nice the piano sounded. He agreed and said, in fact, he was in the process of buying it. I was embarassed and apologized. He said "No,no, I can barely play...yet but it was great to hear the potential of what my new piano can sound like!
Posted by: Cookie74

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/10/12 01:09 PM

It's a difficult piece. I would probably put it in the advanced category. I tried to learn it once quite a while ago and couldn't do it. I haven't tried in a long time, but maybe I should and see whether I've improved. I'm not sure there are any technical difficulties with it that can't be overcome with enough practice (just like any piece I guess), but to play it up to speed and make it sound good is the challenge. I've heard people on this forum say that it is not very hard, but if they really think that, I'd like to hear a recording of them playing it.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/10/12 02:42 PM

The third movement of the Moonlight is eleven pages long (in my ABRSM edition) and only 14 of the 200 bars repeat in the recapitulation.

Each page has enough technical difficulty to last at least a week each for anyone without a well rounded technique. There aren't any 'easy' passages to speak of. That puts the learning time around eleven weeks for someone already capable of fast scale runs, arpeggios and broken chords, a wonderful example of the Alberti bass (continued in RH in the development section and the coda) and extending to a ninth, some rather wicked weak finger trills and some hefty staccato chord passages.

There's little that can't be overcome with sufficient practise (though small hands are very disadvantaged) but you won't be approaching 160 bpm anytime soon.

Originally Posted By: KeemaNan
Could this really be an 'Intermediate/Advanced' piece, and hence accessible to ordinary mortals in general and Adult Beginners in particular ?


'Adult Beginners' are those that started or returned in adulthood; that encompasses a wide range of skills and abilities. This is not a piece to tackle immediately after Alfred's third AIO book. I think an Intermediate (ABRSM grade 6/RCM 8) would be able to get this up to a moderato within six months given sufficient patience and effective practise methods. The piece is perfectly adequate musically (and still quite impressive) at an allegro.

I learnt the piece in 1979 and currently practise it around 108 bpm. If I play it over 120 I have to compromise the trills and I haven't managed to play the whole of it over 132 since I returned to the piano last Christmas though I can still do most of it in sections at 144. I didn't use a metronome back in the day but I doubt that I ever got it up to a full 160.
Posted by: KeemaNan

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/10/12 03:52 PM

Interesting replies - having read them, and having got home and read the score (and slowly picked through some parts of it) I think this is a case where Pianist have seriously mis-graded the piece. I was asking the question because I was surprised to see it described as intermediate-advanced and wondered if it might not be one of those pieces that sounds much more difficult than it is, like CPE Bach's Solfeggietto for example, that can be worked up to a fast tempo with a reasonable amount of practice.

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
I think an Intermediate (ABRSM grade 6/RCM 8) would be able to get this up to a moderato within six months given sufficient patience and effective practise methods.

Coming from someone who has practiced the piece and spent time with it, I guess that puts it into perspetive how difficult it really is. That sounds about as hard as I would have thought it is from listening to it. My personal view is that if a piece is taking that long to learn, it's beyond your level and you could have worked on half-a-dozen pieces that would have helped build your technique instead. A lot of people are quite happy to do this though, especially on pieces like this. It's just not for me.

I guess I won't be tackling this any time soon. The Fibich piece and the Fauré Song without Words in the same edition look more like it for me.
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/10/12 08:19 PM

It is NOT ARBSM 6 or RCM 8! That would also be a HUGE leap in difficulty of songs between the levels and the Moonlight.

This piece is Intermediate/Advanced in advanced repertoire. The same way the Pathetique is "Easy." It is "Easy Advanced." The Moonlight is "Intermediate Advanced."

That said, I don't think there are very many pieces out there that late starters cannot learn. There are people here learning advanced Chopin, Ravel, Debussy, etc. It just depends on how much you practice!
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 12:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Para Otras
It is NOT ARBSM 6 or RCM 8! That would also be a HUGE leap in difficulty of songs between the levels and the Moonlight.

This piece is Intermediate/Advanced in advanced repertoire. The same way the Pathetique is "Easy." It is "Easy Advanced." The Moonlight is "Intermediate Advanced."

That said, I don't think there are very many pieces out there that late starters cannot learn. There are people here learning advanced Chopin, Ravel, Debussy, etc. It just depends on how much you practice!


You are very encouraging! I will never be able to play Moonlight nor anything by Chopin- I am 44- not got enough years left in me to get to grade 8 or beyond- I expect that those aforementioned are way beyond grade 8.
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 12:48 AM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
You are very encouraging! I will never be able to play Moonlight nor anything by Chopin- I am 44- not got enough years left in me to get to grade 8 or beyond- I expect that those aforementioned are way beyond grade 8.


Do not sell yourself short. It is completely possible.

44 is nothing! With practice, grade 8 is more than achievable.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 06:25 AM

Anyone of normal intelligence, missing hands and fingers notwithstanding, can learn piano up to grade 8. Those that do typically have teachers and tend not to take more than 10 years. Many start in retirement and take less than that. Grade 8 is nothing special - it's a starting point; at that stage well over 90% of the classical piano repertoire is within your grasp and you can progress without a teacher.

Let me clarify my earlier post in case it was misunderstood, the Moonlight Presto Agitato is a tough grade 8 piece and a strong memoriser will do better than a gifted reader but, I reiterate, a grade 6 player (one tackling grade 7 pieces not one just finished grade 5) could get it up to moderato within six months with effective practise methods.

Originally Posted By: Para Otras
It just depends on how much you practice!


It just depends on how much you practise! smile (Please forgive the liberty)
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 09:23 AM

In my opinion the moonlight sonata is one of the easiest Beethoven piano sonatas. It's very doable for anyone who has reached ABRSM grade 8 level. Intermediate/ Advanced level is a very appropriate level for this piece. Giving it an Advanced level would imply keeping it with the intermediate sonatas like Op.2 No3., Op7, Op.28, Op.31(all three), Op.54, Op.81a, Op.90, which are technically and musically far harder than Op.27 No.2. Don't be frightened by the fast tempo, c-sharp minor fits well with the hands. And don't attempt it if you're going to play it at moderato, it would sound ugly. Vivace is a minimum. Try playing Op.49 first, and if it comes to you easily then maybe you could try the moonlight. Any "mortal" can play it with some effort. But do not try the last five sonatas under any circumstances for the next 3-4 years( do not try the Op.106 if you started so late. Professional are afraid of it!). They are incredibly hard. Out of curiosity, please listen to Op.110 and tell me whether you think it sounds harder than the moonlight sonata.
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 12:52 PM

Practice is the British spelling. Are you American?
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 03:05 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
You are very encouraging! I will never be able to play Moonlight nor anything by Chopin- I am 44- not got enough years left in me to get to grade 8 or beyond- I expect that those aforementioned are way beyond grade 8.


Unless you plan on kicking the bucket at 50 (which is statistically unlikely), you can achieve whatever you want to. Even assuming you were to live no longer than 50, quite a large amount could be achieved in that time on the piano, even if you had zero experience.
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 03:07 PM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Anyone of normal intelligence, missing hands and fingers notwithstanding, can learn piano up to grade 8. Those that do typically have teachers and tend not to take more than 10 years. Many start in retirement and take less than that. Grade 8 is nothing special - it's a starting point; at that stage well over 90% of the classical piano repertoire is within your grasp and you can progress without a teacher.

Let me clarify my earlier post in case it was misunderstood, the Moonlight Presto Agitato is a tough grade 8 piece and a strong memoriser will do better than a gifted reader but, I reiterate, a grade 6 player (one tackling grade 7 pieces not one just finished grade 5) could get it up to moderato within six months with effective practise methods.

Originally Posted By: Para Otras
It just depends on how much you practice!


It just depends on how much you practise! smile (Please forgive the liberty)

Thank you for clarifying. I just wanted to make sure that no one would assume the level is easier than Grade 8! It isn't impossible, but it is tough.

And yes, you are absolutely correct. Of course, if you aren't practicing correctly, you aren't really practicing at all! That's the mentality I have with this.

arpan70, practice is also the American spelling. Also, Moonlight is not one of the easiest Beethoven sonatas. There are many more that are much less demanding musically and technically. Of course for professionals and more advanced players, it will not seem so as we tackle the 'Great 4 Sonatas' or any of the much more difficult ones, but in the relative sense, Moonlight is up there.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/11/12 05:48 PM

Originally Posted By: arpan70
In my opinion the moonlight sonata is one of the easiest Beethoven piano sonatas.

Let me pick you up on, er, all your points. smile There is little profit from trying to agree on the order of difficulty of Beethoven's sonatas until we all have the same hand configuration and preferences. I can't see Op. 90 as that difficult even if you can't stretch the tenth. And, discounting Opp. 49, 14 and 79, being one of the easiest doesn't mean much among such summits.

Originally Posted By: arpan70
And don't attempt it if you're going to play it at moderato, it would sound ugly. Vivace is a minimum.

I regularly practise the Presto at moderato (as I do all presto's) and it doesn't sound ugly to me (maybe it's the way I play?). It might sound ugly and lose its clarity at recital speed if I didn't practise it moderato! Vivace is generally used as a mood rather than a tempo indication and has been ascribed to anything between allegro and largo. I used moderato as an indication of progress for a grade 6 pianist not as a target speed for performance. Recital speed, once a piece is in memory, is simply, pardon the pun, a matter of time (and slow practise).

Originally Posted By: arpan70
But do not try the last five sonatas under any circumstances...

Since the last five Beethoven sonatas are worthy of a lifetime's study, when do you think that study should begin? When one can play them up to tempo? Op. 106 can be started as soon as you fall in love with the Largo. I wouldn't wait until you can play the fugue.

Originally Posted By: arpan70
Out of curiosity, please listen to Op.110 and tell me whether you think it sounds harder than the moonlight sonata.

I have enough experience that I know not to judge the difficulty of a piece by the hearing.

Originally Posted By: arpan70
Practice is the British spelling. Are you American?

Practice is the American spelling of verb and noun. In Britain we use -s- for the verb and -c- for the noun if I may take licence to advise on British practice in defence of my spelling smile
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 12:08 AM

I guess I'll try to go through you're points as well.

I mean't easy relatively, it is still hard to bring out the strange quasi-sonata structure in the sonata. However, Beethoven wrote a lot harder stuff. Op.90 requires much more maturity. My teacher,(who has done many Beethoven sonatas) was very against my trying Op.90, and made me settle for Op.31 no.2.

And there is a difference between practice speed and performance speed. I take back my vivace, just wrote it as an indication which is generally regarded to be faster than moderato and allegro. But what's the point of playing a piece for 6 months but not being able to do justice to it?

As for the last 5 sonatas, I had said wait for 3-4 years. And the Hammerklavier isn't very appropriate for someone who started at the age of 44. If he does reach that level, he'll have a very good teacher, and he'll be good enough to disregard my advise which is for beginner/intermediate.

And about the Op.110, my curiosity doesn't extend to someone like you, who is familiar with the Beethoven sonatas, but to someone who isn't.(It's also a cheap way to expose people to late Beethoven)


And I apologize for the grammer part. Guess its really my domain.
Posted by: PhilzPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 03:04 AM

I was amused by the "intermediate/advanced" level assigned to this by Pianist magazine. For any beginners reading this thread who are unclear which piece we are talking about, have a look at this superb rendition

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zucBfXpCA6s

It's definitely on my list of pieces to learn, but I'm nowhere near ready to tackle it.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 10:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Para Otras
Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
You are very encouraging! I will never be able to play Moonlight nor anything by Chopin- I am 44- not got enough years left in me to get to grade 8 or beyond- I expect that those aforementioned are way beyond grade 8.


Do not sell yourself short. It is completely possible.

44 is nothing! With practice, grade 8 is more than achievable.


Really? Have you met any adults who achieved this? I have been told by many piano teachers that this is not possible. The reasons they gave were- late starting ( not enough living years left to learn), adults haven't the learning ability of children who they say learn two grades a year and leap way ahead of adult learners, old slow hands.
I was told there are some exceptions and one teacher told me of a man in his 60s who was grade 5-6 but it had took him 10 years to get to it.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 10:43 AM

Nearly there, arpan70 smile

Originally Posted By: arpan70
...the strange quasi-sonata structure...

Strange quasi-sonata structure? Are we still talking about the Presto agitato? The sonata structure is crystal clear. Exposition - first group: 1-20, second group: 21-64, Dev.: 65-101, Recap - first group: 102-115, second group: 116-156, Coda: 157-200. No?

Originally Posted By: arpan70
But what's the point of playing a piece for 6 months but not being able to do justice to it?
Because it might take longer than six months, perhaps? Or for the sheer pleasure of learning? If you have enough musical meat on the bone and you're learning other stuff besides then there's no time limit. You don't have to do justice to it, you just have to enjoy the learning process.

I'm tackling Liszt's B minor sonata. Six months? No chance. I may never finish it but that doesn't take away from the joy of becoming increasingly intimate with one of the finest pieces in the piano literature and the sheer ecstasy of playing the extracts I have managed to develop.

Originally Posted By: arpan70
And the Hammerklavier isn't very appropriate for someone who started at the age of 44.
I take it you're very young, id est, under 44. smile Don't underestimate the human learning process. It's not the starting age that matters nor the time taken. Hey, it's not even the point reached - it's the journey.

Piano playing is not a language. You don't have to master it by the age of ... whatever. It's a technique. You can start at any age and still make the same progress you would have made before. And very few of us make significant progress after about ten years. So with a life expectancy of 80, it's best to start by 70. But that doesn't mean that starting at 75 is too late.

And don't put the Hammerklavier on such a pedestal. It doesn't have to be tackled with a view to performing it at Carnegie Hall (in six months time, hah!).

And there's no need to apologise about the grammar. Just the spelling!
Just kidding!! wink
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 10:45 AM

Quote:
Anyone of normal intelligence, missing hands and fingers notwithstanding, can learn piano up to grade 8. Those that do typically have teachers and tend not to take more than 10 years. Many start in retirement and take less than that. Grade 8 is nothing special - it's a starting point; at that stage well over 90% of the classical piano repertoire is within your grasp and you can progress without a teacher
.

Well my intelligence must be ok as I graduated from university LOL and I have all my fingers (albiet some are crooked..maybe a problem for me...). laugh
I did think grade 8 is very hard and not everyone can do it- some of those pop musicians are not grade 8.



Quote:

Let me clarify my earlier post in case it was misunderstood, the Moonlight Presto Agitato is a tough grade 8 piece and a strong memoriser will do better than a gifted reader but, I reiterate, a grade 6 player (one tackling grade 7 pieces not one just finished grade 5) could get it up to moderato within six months with effective practise methods.


I think Beethoven was amazing!!
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 12:21 PM

Fingers are only crooked if they're in someone else's pockets! And some of those pop musicians are not even musicians smile

Grade 8 doesn't require special talents. It looks hard when you're starting out but every grade you achieve brings it one step closer and makes it one step easier. By the time you get to grade seven it's only one step away and many of the pieces you tackle could be used for either grade. By that time it isn't so much what you play as how you play it.

The giant leap is learning how to listen, how to learn and how to practise. And gaining confidence in that process.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 01:57 PM

Quote:
In my opinion the moonlight sonata is one of the easiest Beethoven piano sonatas.


I was given a few bars highly simplified of the first movement so can play this LOL.


Quote:
Out of curiosity, please listen to Op.110 and tell me whether you think it sounds harder than the moonlight sonata.


Do you mean this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0SeWXguVto

Probably both equally hard with the third movement of Moonlight harder!
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 02:05 PM

Originally Posted By: PhilzPiano
I was amused by the "intermediate/advanced" level assigned to this by Pianist magazine. For any beginners reading this thread who are unclear which piece we are talking about, have a look at this superb rendition

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zucBfXpCA6s

It's definitely on my list of pieces to learn, but I'm nowhere near ready to tackle it.


Ah Valentina! She has been getting a mention on classic fm radio!
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 02:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
You are very encouraging! I will never be able to play Moonlight nor anything by Chopin- I am 44- not got enough years left in me to get to grade 8 or beyond- I expect that those aforementioned are way beyond grade 8.


Unless you plan on kicking the bucket at 50 (which is statistically unlikely), you can achieve whatever you want to. Even assuming you were to live no longer than 50, quite a large amount could be achieved in that time on the piano, even if you had zero experience.


laugh I come from a long living family on both sides ( 80s) so my genes might allow me to be around long enough to get to play at grade 3 but I cannot imagine getting beyond that- those runs and arpeggios are so fast! wow

I have however lately got to play chords faster and faster (with changes ) - with no teacher I am unsure of how rubbish I am! My friends enjoy my playing but they are kind!
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 02:27 PM

Quote:
Fingers are only crooked if they're in someone else's pockets!


ha
Seriously though, I don't have straight fingers and my left little finger is quite bent and falls down on keys when it is not to be used- have to make big effort to control it. I am doing chord changes and playing fast as I can using this finger to try to get it more flexible.


Quote:
And some of those pop musicians are not even musicians smile



Too right! Most of it is utter rubbish. I hardly listen to it these days. I rate Sigur Ros though.


Quote:
Grade 8 doesn't require special talents. It looks hard when you're starting out but every grade you achieve brings it one step closer and makes it one step easier. By the time you get to grade seven it's only one step away and many of the pieces you tackle could be used for either grade. By that time it isn't so much what you play as how you play it.



You are very encouraging! When a guy played the 3rd movement of Moonlight on my piano ( not heard it before up til then ) I was so in awe I wanted to slink off and hide away. It seems so beyond me. However, I don't expect to get to that and just play cos I love Piano and actually never get fustrated or fed up when "playing"- it relaxes me. I play with no expectation in ever getting to be "good." If I live to 80 and die "good" it's a bonus! laugh


Quote:
The giant leap is learning how to listen, how to learn and how to practise. And gaining confidence in that process.



I do need a teacher to "progress" really- I plan to when I get an income.
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 03:30 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
[quote=Para Otras]Really? Have you met any adults who achieved this? I have been told by many piano teachers that this is not possible. The reasons they gave were- late starting ( not enough living years left to learn), adults haven't the learning ability of children who they say learn two grades a year and leap way ahead of adult learners, old slow hands.
I was told there are some exceptions and one teacher told me of a man in his 60s who was grade 5-6 but it had took him 10 years to get to it.


One of my students at the university level started when he was 18, teaching himself. Eventually he enrolled in a music program at a community college and spent a couple of years there before he was admitted to our university. He had a lot to work through because of previous teachers, but he is a perfectly capable pianist who plays collegiate material. He's 27 now.

I also teach at a community college. One of the piano majors there STARTED in piano CLASSES! That was his first exposure to music and piano. While he is not my student, he is now playing the easier Preludes and Fugues and easier Beethoven sonatas after three years, and he is playing them beautifully.

With dedication, it is more than possible. The problem for most adults is simply a matter of time - and I do not mean time left before they can no longer learn. I mean the time in any given day left to practice CHildrne do not have such time constraints usually. Adults are much busier. But if you can set aside 1-2 hours a day? You will flourish.

A teacher is a must, of course.
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 03:32 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
I do need a teacher to "progress" really- I plan to when I get an income.


Is there a community college in your area? Look up their music classes.

Usually there are piano classes. If so, enroll in one. It isn't the same as having a private teacher, but it is better than nothing.

At the intermediate level, the classes are usually held as a masterclass (and by intermediate, I mean after the beginning sequence of Piano 1 and Piano 2). You will learn your piece and get specific help on it while also gaining performance experience.

And even if you can only take a beginning class, that's okay too.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 04:01 PM



Quote:
One of my students at the university level started when he was 18, teaching himself. Eventually he enrolled in a music program at a community college and spent a couple of years there before he was admitted to our university. He had a lot to work through because of previous teachers, but he is a perfectly capable pianist who plays collegiate material. He's 27 now.


He has done well!


Quote:
I also teach at a community college. One of the piano majors there STARTED in piano CLASSES! That was his first exposure to music and piano. While he is not my student, he is now playing the easier Preludes and Fugues and easier Beethoven sonatas after three years, and he is playing them beautifully.


Sounds like he has also done great! What age was he when he started and what grade is he now? Do you mean in three years (from a beginner) he can play the Preludes and Fugues?


Quote:
With dedication, it is more than possible. The problem for most adults is simply a matter of time - and I do not mean time left before they can no longer learn. I mean the time in any given day left to practice CHildrne do not have such time constraints usually. Adults are much busier. But if you can set aside 1-2 hours a day? You will flourish.

A teacher is a must, of course.



Well funny thing is I do have 1-2 hours a day to devote to piano most days being unemployed and not out at work all day( but I do voluntary work and have my applications etc to do)- but without a teacher I lack structured sessions so I tend to work on some sheet music then play my own pieces.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 04:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Para Otras
Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano
I do need a teacher to "progress" really- I plan to when I get an income.


Is there a community college in your area? Look up their music classes.

Usually there are piano classes. If so, enroll in one. It isn't the same as having a private teacher, but it is better than nothing.

At the intermediate level, the classes are usually held as a masterclass (and by intermediate, I mean after the beginning sequence of Piano 1 and Piano 2). You will learn your piece and get specific help on it while also gaining performance experience.

And even if you can only take a beginning class, that's okay too.


Community colleges in Britain don't teach piano but there are adult education centres which do leisure courses- sometimes they offer beginners keyboards which are 10 week courses. They got that starting in September- I have been to the guitar ones with the tutor before- he is good on the theory of music. The problem is loads of people with learning difficulties come on his courses and you can spend one whole lesson on them trying to find a note on the keyboard or guitar. I started keyboards two years ago and we spent one whole lesson on something I already knew- like playing all the G notes on the keyboard. I didn't go back to the class as I got a voluntary job in the city art gallery.No disrespect to the tutor but I am probably ahead of what he could teach me ( due to course constraints and time).
I shall have to play on alone and study my music theory books and internet stuff til I get the money for regular lessons.
Posted by: Para Otras

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 05:41 PM

The community college student started when he was either 17 or 18, I am not sure. But it was after he graduated from high school and attended the community college. Yes, in three years, he has just now started Preludes and Fugues from what I hear.

He learned the basics and then learned the intermediate repertoire. Now he is in early-advanced. To me, I'm always amazed when people think this process will take longer. The reality is that, with practice, it will happen much sooner than people imagine.

I'm sorry that I missed that you are in England. I'm not sure how the music education system works there, so I can't offer much help. But if you want structure in your learning, you may want to pursue a 'programmed' method:


--
1) Theory: purchase a theory book (preferably an old edition of a college rudiments textbook) or use free online websites that teach the same basic rudiments (you can find many threads in this forum pertaining to this, just do a quick search)

Make sure you are doing your theory in application to the piano (eg, when you are writing chords, PLAY THE CHORDS!) as well as in ear-training (eg, when you ar0e learning the chords, play them all and listen to them and test your ears to be able to distinguish them!)

Sing, sing, sing!

2) Technique: get a graded technique series. I personally love the Keith Snell Scale Skills books - yes, in the long run it will cost you about $50-60, but that is after many many years. Each book only costs about 4-8 dollars to begin with. Purchase either the Prep level or Level 1 and be able to do everything in it at a decent speed. Then move onto the next book. Make sure you record yourself playing and put it on Youtube so others may comment on your technique.

3) Keyboard skills:

http://www.amazon.com/Alfreds-Adults-Stu...red+group+piano

Purchase this textbook and follow it as it suggests (a 'week' to each lesson). It will cover theory and technique as well, but it includes many important skills for a pianist, including harmonizing, improvisation, sight-reading, score reading, etc. If anything, choose this text over anything else!

We require all of our piano majors to take a series of classes called 'Keyboard Skills.' This book plus the second, as well as other more difficult texts, all are required. They are excellent, but start with this one and follow it! It is INCREDIBLY structured for a self-learner who has some background in playing piano and music.

4) Pick a repertoire series and work through it. My preferred ones for self-learners are:

a- The Festival Collection
b- Masterwork Classics
c- First Impressions

The benefit of a series is that it will grade things. Alternatively, you could simply look at the contents and then print them from IMSLP.org

Then, set aside time each day for everything.

30 minutes on technique
30 minutes on Keyboard Skills
1 hour on pieces (work on 4-5 pieces at a time, in sections, and of a large variety)

That is 2 hours. Then do an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour of theory/ear-training every day as well.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 07:44 PM

Quote:
The community college student started when he was either 17 or 18, I am not sure. But it was after he graduated from high school and attended the community college. Yes, in three years, he has just now started Preludes and Fugues from what I hear.

He learned the basics and then learned the intermediate repertoire. Now he is in early-advanced. To me, I'm always amazed when people think this process will take longer. The reality is that, with practice, it will happen much sooner than people imagine.


Ah, now why you are surprised that I think this will take longer is that here it will! Music here is taught privately- it is not taught in state schools or colleges- those who wish to learn an instrument have to be well off enough to afford a music teacher coming to their home for years on end, and as a child being fortunate enough to go to a private school (school here is for children not adults- age 5-18). At the age of 18 then one may do a bachelor's degree in music at university.


Thanks for the info on books- I do have a few books. There is a little difference between US and UK methods and music terminology I believe so I will stick to UK books for now. I have one in mind I'd like to buy, having borrowed it from the library once- it was similar to how you describe in that it gave you things to read about then practise.
I'd say two hours is quite a lot though- I was told by a few music teachers here 30 mins to an hour a day! I don't look and see how long I spend on my piano- I seem to come more musically inclined at night, but don't want to disturb my next door neighbour too much although she doesn't seem to mind hearing the piano sometimes!
I did start Edward Weiss' new age piano online course when I had a little job over a year ago and found the improvising approach suiting me much better- I don't really have the aptitude for sight reading- I am hopeless at understanding timing having discalculi and do so much better on my own little compositions- I am so much further on this than sight reading.
From what my Mum tells me my uncle was similar- he could sit at the piano and play almost anything ( popular tunes) by ear and make up stuff and was way ahead of their sister who had the traditional sight reading lessons.
I have been told that not everybody has the aptitude for sight reading and one tends to be more chord/ear/own stuff orientated or sight reading orientated.
I do plan to get a teacher soon as possible and spend a few weeks with him/her and then getting the verdict upon my natural aptitude.
My brother plays keyboard (pop/jazz), played in a band a few years ago and cannot sight read a note! He understands chords, knows all the keys etc. He writes music and went to that Paul Mc Cartney music college in Liverpool 15 years ago- from what I know they teach the chord approach- he told me once I see the piano as chords and not a sea of keys my whole understanding will change. He gave me a chord book and advised me to learn them.

Posted by: Para Otras

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 08:18 PM

That's the beauty of the American education system. One can learn the piano later in life and still be able to attend a university for music. It just depends on their drive. Most people here, however, do start when they are much younger.

There are very few music terminology name differences. I'd advise you to learn both the UK and the US names. I'm not particularly familiar with any methods that come out of the UK, so I cannot comment on what you have or what you can use. However, as long as they fit into the categories above, you will be fine.

It doesn't have to be 2 hours. That was just an example. It all depends on how much time you want to spend on this. It can also include whatever you are inclined to learn. This is just a very 'standard' ratio.

I am not familiar with that online course. However, anyone who says "I can't read music because I'm not adept at it and am better with my ear" is full of it. Sorry, but it is true. Anyone can learn to read music and it really is not that difficult. However, it will greatly improve your abilities. Timing is more a factor of your internal rhythm than dyscalculia (my son actually has this and dyslexia - I know it shouldn't affect your ability to count for music). If numbers do confuse you, use words instead.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't improvise however. You definitely should. It will help you in many ways. Learning to read notes doesn't stop this. You also need to learn chords, yes, but the reality of it is more theory + keyboard topography. You want to know the geography of the keyboard perfectly and 'see' the chords and scales and intervals and much more. This takes time. Just keep at it smile
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/12/12 09:01 PM

Quote:
That's the beauty of the American education system. One can learn the piano later in life and still be able to attend a university for music. It just depends on their drive. Most people here, however, do start when they are much younger.



Most who attend university to do a music degree here too would have started playing as a child also, but then a 40 year old adult who had achieved grade 8 may also apply for a bachelor's degree in music too- in fact any age could as long as the fees could be paid... ( that's another issue). Probably not many adults over 30 doing music degrees though.


Quote:
There are very few music terminology name differences. I'd advise you to learn both the UK and the US names. I'm not particularly familiar with any methods that come out of the UK, so I cannot comment on what you have or what you can use. However, as long as they fit into the categories above, you will be fine.



I don't know what the differences all are- the finger names are different though.



Quote:
It doesn't have to be 2 hours. That was just an example. It all depends on how much time you want to spend on this. It can also include whatever you are inclined to learn. This is just a very 'standard' ratio.



Considering the banging going on next door at the wee small hours right now I might want to make a racket on the piano for 2 hours! ha



Quote:
I am not familiar with that online course. However, anyone who says "I can't read music because I'm not adept at it and am better with my ear" is full of it. Sorry, but it is true. Anyone can learn to read music and it really is not that difficult. However, it will greatly improve your abilities. Timing is more a factor of your internal rhythm than dyscalculia (my son actually has this and dyslexia - I know it shouldn't affect your ability to count for music). If numbers do confuse you, use words instead.



I think maybe there is a more positive approach or belief in music teachers over the Atlantic- what I have been told here is that adults are in general poor music learners than children and youths, that not everyone has musical ability, some folks will always struggle with sight reading etc. One teacher told me he can tell in a few minutes of meeting a new student (especially an adult) if they have ability or not. He also said adults tend to be unable to count! bah
I always lose my place when sight reading and usually play music I already know cos when I play something I don't (when I had a teacher) I always got the timing and beat values totally wrong. I still don't understand them- beats..I mean how do you know how long a beat is..one second..two..three??..never could understand that.
I know a few people who play instruments by ear including piano and said they just couldn't learn reading music ( tried and tried) but play really well- some listen to music then play it by ear and make their own arrangements of it. I think perhaps the two are different skills?

Quote:
That doesn't mean you shouldn't improvise however. You definitely should. It will help you in many ways. Learning to read notes doesn't stop this. You also need to learn chords, yes, but the reality of it is more theory + keyboard topography. You want to know the geography of the keyboard perfectly and 'see' the chords and scales and intervals and much more. This takes time. Just keep at it smile



I do keep on with sight reading but it is so stilted and clusmy, but when I play my own stuff it feels and is a totally different experience- it is creative, flowing and feels freer.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/18/12 12:30 AM

Originally Posted By: KeemaNan
I've always thought of this piece as belonging to the super-difficult, virtuoso repertoire. It sounds fiendishly difficult, and incredibly impressive. I've often seen it cited here as a piece that people dream of being able to play one day. I well remember a few years ago, browsing the sheet music in my favourite music shop when somebody trying out a piano hammered out a flawless, barnstorming, performance of it that left me absolutely stunned (and with a severely reduced appetite for the early-intermediate fare I was browsing in the search for something new to play).

Back in the same shop today, I picked up the latest edition of Pianist, and noticed that this movement is included in the score section. I was almost as stunned as I was on that day years ago to see that the piece is marked 'Intermediate/Advanced' (NOT 'Advanced') ! I quote from the comments at the top of
the score - "Don't be put off by the presto tempo... if you practice it carefully, building up the tempo ever so slowly, you will reach a lively tempo in no time.".

Could this really be an 'Intermediate/Advanced' piece, and hence accessible to ordinary mortals in general and Adult Beginners in particular ? I'd love to read any thoughts on this, especially if you've had a go at playing it.



Hello there. I created quite a stir when I first joined this forum 7 years ago in another thread of similar question. In it, I believe I suggested that it was possible to learn this piece within a few days. I stand by that statement then as I do now (and at the time, was asked to prove it, which I did).

Many pieces sound extremely daunting, but in practice, are not so nasty as they sound. This movement, I believe, belongs in that category. There is one major technique to the entire piece (arpeggiated chords). It repeats throughout the piece, and once it is learned, there are few other difficulties to master provided the person attempting it has a good foundation to begin with.

That said, I would not approach this piece as a complete novice. It's fun, yes. But it's also a waste of time (which I did not understand until I was in my twenties). Don't spend six months trying to learn the notes and technique for the piece. Learn pieces you can get into your fingers in a week or two, build your technique and repertoire, and when it's the right time to touch the piece, pull it back out. (Spending six months on musicality, interpretation, and nuance is another thing entirely--I would argue one should never stop doing this even once they "know" a piece. Just don't spend that much time on learning the notes themselves.. not for this level piece.)
Posted by: TheCorecase

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/18/12 06:49 PM

I just saw this post, I didn't read any of the previous replies -- I don't where the conversations were headed, but I'd like to add my own opinion here. grin

Moonlight Sonata's Third Movement is definitely a difficult and impressive piece; however, the reason why it's ranked intermediate/advanced is because it does not have extreme technicalities i.e trills, leaps, etc.. It is mostly composed of large chords, arpeggios, and it has a key change (which is probably the most annoying part to learn in this piece).

If you'd like to hear what an advanced/professional level piece is like, check these out:

Liszt, La Campanella: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD6xMyuZls0

Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H99FM6S8rU

Chopin, Heroic Polonaise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW0Y3M4EJ4M

These are just a few examples. smile
However, Moonlight Sonata 3rd Mov, is a beautiful and quite difficult piece, as well.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/19/12 06:17 PM

The Heroic Polonaise= awesome!
Posted by: Bentissimo

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/20/12 11:46 AM

I've been playing for all of 9 months, so I might get disregarded here. I can't believe the negativity with respect to saying people will not be able to reach such and such a level or play this piece because they started playing piano at age X. Who says?? I believe you can play any piece you want if you are willing to take the time to learn it.

When I come across a difficult piece, I think to myself, "I wonder when I will be able to play something like that or with that degree of expression and skill." I don't think to myself, "well shucks, I'm old and guess I'll never be able to play that." How depressing! Have a little faith and don't limit yourself.

Feel free to explain to me why I'm a starry-eyed newbie pianist who doesn't understand the technical reasons behind all this talk of limits. I don't care smile I'm going to keep playing and enjoy the ride. I don't see any limit to where any of us can go if we want it.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/20/12 07:04 PM

Quote:
I've been playing for all of 9 months, so I might get disregarded here. I can't believe the negativity with respect to saying people will not be able to reach such and such a level or play this piece because they started playing piano at age X. Who says?? I believe you can play any piece you want if you are willing to take the time to learn it.



Bravo! I agree- self belief will take one far. However, piano teachers and certain articles I have read ( no one on this wonderful forum I hasten to add)have told me adults are slower learners and children faster and that adults have clumsy hands in general. In my case clumsy hands seems to be true. Today I was out in town and they had a piano in the street free to play. A young man in his late 20s (who was grade 8) was playing. He played Moonlight for me and people clapped him after. A boy who looked to be about 12 came along- a lovely sweet lad who has an electronic piano. He sat and played Adele's "Someone Like You" perfectly with very nimble hands and correct fingering- all self taught- fingering and learnt by ear! He has just started having theory and sight reading lessons. He is already way beyond me. I don't know if it is my age or maybe he plays more reguarly than I do.



Quote:
When I come across a difficult piece, I think to myself, "I wonder when I will be able to play something like that or with that degree of expression and skill." I don't think to myself, "well shucks, I'm old and guess I'll never be able to play that." How depressing! Have a little faith and don't limit yourself.


Again, I admire your belief in yourself. I do tend to think I will never be able to do that, thinking I must be "realistic" as I middle aged with small stubby clumsy hands- heck I still even type with two fingers!
The index ones LOL. I do excel at cooking soup though... grin


Quote:
Feel free to explain to me why I'm a starry-eyed newbie pianist who doesn't understand the technical reasons behind all this talk of limits. I don't care smile I'm going to keep playing and enjoy the ride. I don't see any limit to where any of us can go if we want it.



Go you! What are you learning at the moment?
Posted by: sandalholme

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/21/12 10:56 AM

Whilst it is true in general that young people learn new skills more quickly than older people, clearly some older people will learn more quickly than some older people. It varies. Moreover, even if an older individual will learn more slowly than when s/he was younger, hey, who knows whether that person was originally a phenomenally fast learner?

My belief is that motivation and hard work takes people a long, long way. At the same time we all have our technical strengths and weaknesses. We all have some physical limitations. If we are, or become, wise, we will develop our repertoire as widely/deeply as we wish up to those limits. If we become convinced that there is a brick wall in some respect that try as we might we cannot break down, then the wise course is to quietly let go of pieces that contain that brick wall and enjoy all that music we can enjoy playing. But it should take a long time for that brick wall to convince us it's not going away.

I am not an adult beginner: I have been learning/playing the piano for 63 years. There are pieces I have no intention of even trying, but there are pieces, now, that I am progressing which a few years' ago I would have thought impossible for me. If we want to, we can learn new works at any age, we can explore composers new to us, so long as we remember how we are enjoying the journey, rather than dwelling on what we cannot yet do.

Not re the piano, but my wife - a similar age to me - started playing the 'cello about 4 years' ago. Later this year we and a violinist friend will perform a Haydn piano trio in front of friends. None of us is exceptional. It may not be very good on the night, who knows, but we have enjoyed learning and playing it together.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/22/12 08:34 AM

I bet you are all good and your friends will love the evening. yippie
Posted by: sandalholme

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/22/12 12:59 PM

Many thanks! grin
Posted by: Bentissimo

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/22/12 04:29 PM

Originally Posted By: EdwardianPiano

I do tend to think I will never be able to do that, thinking I must be "realistic" as I middle aged with small stubby clumsy hands- heck I still even type with two fingers!


Funny you should mention the typing with two fingers thing. I have a friend who does the same thing but has incredible dexterity when it comes to painting miniature figures. He can paint super thin, controlled lines and create some really impressive effects, but put him at a computer and he looks like an angry monkey. I guess what I'm saying is that you can be dexterous at an activity regardless of typing technique. And personally I don't feel like my piano playing or typing has influenced the either all that much!

Quote:
Go you! What are you learning at the moment?


Well, nothing as impressive as I probably made myself sound, haha. My teacher has me working through a method book (Belwin book 5) and we just finished getting Moonlight Sonata 2nd movement up to a reasonable tempo and getting the connections to happen. Prior to that, it was the 1st movement (which is still far from perfect). I asked my teacher about starting the 3rd movement and he advised that we should wait a bit until I get some better abilities in terms of raw speed. So last week we started on a David Nevue (While the Trees Sleep).

Again, nothing all that impressive! And I probably came across pretty arrogant in my previous comment. I just think that human beings are truly incredible and usually only limited by our own resignations, not so much our age.
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 08/22/12 06:32 PM



Quote:
Funny you should mention the typing with two fingers thing. I have a friend who does the same thing but has incredible dexterity when it comes to painting miniature figures. He can paint super thin, controlled lines and create some really impressive effects, but put him at a computer and he looks like an angry monkey. I guess what I'm saying is that you can be dexterous at an activity regardless of typing technique. And personally I don't feel like my piano playing or typing has influenced the either all that much!




Your friend sounds very artistic. Funny, I type with just the two fingers yet managed a university dissertation typing like that and write some fiction. But creating music for me might be different- who knows! I can play relatively fast arpeggios but my fingers are definitely not in the right positions.



Quote:
Well, nothing as impressive as I probably made myself sound, haha. My teacher has me working through a method book (Belwin book 5) and we just finished getting Moonlight Sonata 2nd movement up to a reasonable tempo and getting the connections to happen. Prior to that, it was the 1st movement (which is still far from perfect). I asked my teacher about starting the 3rd movement and he advised that we should wait a bit until I get some better abilities in terms of raw speed. So last week we started on a David Nevue (While the Trees Sleep).



That is impressive for 8 months' learning.

Quote:
Again, nothing all that impressive! And I probably came across pretty arrogant in my previous comment. I just think that human beings are truly incredible and usually only limited by our own resignations, not so much our age.


No you didn't- you come across as dedicated and confident! smile
Posted by: RiskEngineer

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 01/06/14 05:34 PM

There is a great YouTube video by a guy who's channel is called "Bach Scholar." He plays the third movement at five different tempos. By playing it very slowly, he showed me how to make sense of it. Now it just seems hard and attainable instead of impossible and mysterious.
Posted by: Michael D

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 01/06/14 05:41 PM

Regarding the first movement, which took me about 6 months (with an almost year break between months 3 and 4) to get to the point where I can play the notes with an occasional glance at the score to remind myself, and where I can get some of the dynamics correct, what is the consensus on the sustain pedal?

After some experimentation, what I prefer is holding the pedal until striking the first note of the next measure and then releasing/re-applying it. At least to my ear, that gives me a steady continuous sound throughout. I've heard some advocate for an almost constant use of the pedal, some argue for half-sustain, etc.
Posted by: RiskEngineer

Re: Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, third movement - 01/06/14 08:11 PM

According to Chang ( best book I've read about piano technique) the pedal was to be held throughout. However, pianos have gotten better and better. On a Steinway, for instance, holding the pedal down continuously turns the piece to mush. I agree with your interpretation about the release and repeat with each measure, except in a few select places, the locations of which escape me right now.