Mozart

Chopin, Left Hand Evenness, Runs and Trills

In this month’s practice clinic, Graham Fitch answered questions on various topics in works by Mozart, Chopin, Clementi and Grieg.

By |September 23rd, 2021|Practising|0 Comments

A Mozart Fantasy, New Pieces and Voicing a Melody

In this month’s practice clinic, Graham Fitch answered questions on various topics in works by Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky.

Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Rachmaninoff!

In this month’s practice clinic, Graham Fitch answered questions on trills, fingering, legato octaves and gave practising tips for tackling a difficult passage in works by Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff.

Mozart, Mendelssohn, Grieg and Ravel!

In this month’s practice clinic Graham Fitch answered questions on coordinating the hands, using wrist rotation, trills and other topics in works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Grieg and Ravel.

Mozart’s Sonata in G, K283

Arthur Schnabel famously said that “Mozart is too easy for children and too difficult for adults.” The modest technical difficulties and seemingly straightforward musical expression in his sonatas make many of them more approachable to younger players than, say, most of Beethoven’s. But it is this very simplicity and purity that make performing Mozart on the piano such a challenge. The notes may be few in number, but every one counts. A successful performance hinges on mastering numerous small details while retaining a sense of the long lines that contain all this detail. New From the Ground Up edition Our latest addition to our From the Ground Up series features the first movement of Mozart’s fifth sonata in G major (K283). Mozart composed his first six piano sonatas in late 1774 to early 1775. At eighteen, Mozart was already a highly-experienced composer with a masterful and mature style of his own. The fifth sonata, in G major, is one of the most often played and studied of these early sonatas. Its sophisticated phrasing, rhythmic vitality, and engaging lyricism make it a perennial delight to play, and to hear. Edition features Full score with numbered sections which map to an extensive collection of practise routines Practice routines break down each of the challenging spots, providing exercises to help you to master all the technical and musical details from the outset Reduced score illustrating the large-scale rhythmic structure of the movement’s exposition showing the measure groups (phrase lengths) and hidden meter changes beneath the music’s surface detail Glossary of general practice methods to help learning a new piece more effectively This new edition can be purchased separately from our store here or as part of a combined […]

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Grade 6

The next installment in my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus features the main pieces in the Grade 6 list. In the following video I provide some highlights and tips for a selection of pieces from each of the three lists (A, B, and C) for the grade: The complete collection of video walk-throughs for ABRSM Grade 6 is now available on the Online Academy and includes detailed video walk-throughs with practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation. Please click here to view if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe. You can get further updates on my resources for the ABRSM syllabus by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews.  The following are brief overviews of each of the main pieces (an index with links to the full videos on the Online Academy is available here): LIST A Pescetti: Allegro (4th movt from Sonata No. 8 in C)  There is plenty of scope for experimentation with dynamics and articulation in this lively Allegro by Pescetti. It requires considerable agility in the right hand and solid, rhythmical support from the left. Mozart: Allegro (3rd movt from Sonata in E -, K. 282)  Composed when Mozart was just 19, this challenging and brilliant sonata form movement requires precision and clarity in touch, and imagination in characterising the different themes. We find just two dynamic markings (p and f), leaving room for the player to add more shadings in between. C. Nielsen: Snurretoppen (No. 2 from Humoreske- Bagateller, Op.11)  This witty character piece is based on spinning patterns in the right hand that require a high level of technical control. Once mastered, this piece is great fun to play. Pay attention to details of phrasing and […]

Launching the 2018-2020 Trinity Syllabus

I am very happy to announce a brand new series featuring the current Trinity College London Piano Syllabus on the Online Academy. Having been commissioned by Trinity to write the teaching notes for the advanced grades, I was delighted to put together this series of articles and video demonstrations for a selection of pieces from the 2018 – 2020 piano examination syllabus, with several examples from each grade from Initial to 8. Within this series you will find plenty of tips for practice, overcoming technical problems as well as suggestions for piano teachers and guidance on matters relating to style and interpretation. The following are example excerpts from two video demonstrations from the series: Initial Grade – Canon by Henk Badings One of the pieces in the Initial grade is Canon by Henk Badings. There are so many different ways to get value out of this little piece, from call and response games and some singing in lessons to phrase shaping and developing equality between the hands. Grade 4 – Allegretto by Mozart Jumping to Grade 4, and Mozart’s Allegretto, we find a delightful minuet-style piece with a trio section in the minor, and many interesting compositional features that can be explained and demonstrated to the learner. It’s also interesting to know that Mozart wrote this piece on a trip to London when he was only 8 years old. In the video I demonstrate quarantine practice, and explore different fingering possibilities, as well as options for phrasing and expression. The series currently includes two articles which serve as guides to the foundation and intermediate grades, along with video demonstrations for five selected works from the initial grade through to grade 4. Please click on one of the […]

Watch What You Say!

Over the years in my teaching, I have noticed the tendency for some students to need to preface their playing with an often lengthy verbal introduction – a description of what is going to go wrong in their performance, delivered with a sense of impending doom. Either they think I am not going to notice or they are somehow trying to hold on to their dignity by alerting me that they are aware of their errors. “I always go wrong in this bar” “The LH in that passage is lumpy and uneven” “I can’t get the pedalling right here” “It’s taking me ages to learn this piece” A genuine problem with a passage is one thing, and if you are able to get everything right by yourself you may not be in need of lessons. Those who know me realise I do not expect a performance of a piece until it has been fully digested and assimilated (this is always a process). But a post-mortem before we even play belies either guilt that we’ve not done enough work that week or – more likely, I’ve found – shame that we believe we are not good enough, not up to the task. Our brain will believe what we say over and over again.  If we say we can’t do something, we will always feel we can’t do it.  This may not be rational, but we already said it: “I can’t do it”.  The brain hears and takes that thought in.  Over time it becomes a belief.  When we believe we can’t do it, we are caught up in a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. And if we think learning a particular piece or solving a particular problem is not possible […]

The Myth of the Easy Piece

Very often people tell me as they skim through a score “I don’t really need to practise this bit because it’s easy”. I also hear “I totally messed that bit up, and yet it’s so simple!”. While the notes themselves may be readable at sight and present no apparent technical difficulties, I don’t believe there is any such thing as an easy piece – when it comes to performance.  We soon realise this when we take this so-called easy piece into a performance situation and suddenly it is not such plain sailing. All the same prerequisites of performance apply to this piece as to the next piece – communicating the musical message, playing with rhythmical awareness, quality of sound and phrasing, and good tonal balance between the hands. Let’s look at an example from Mozart’s C minor Concerto, K.491 – a small phrase from the Larghetto (solo piano part is on the upper systems):   Any self-respecting relative beginner would be able to read the notes of this passage, they are simplicity itself. And yet to create the right sound and mood with just these few notes, to feel the phrase gradually gaining in intensity until it flowers in the last bar without overdoing it – these things are far from easy and take quite a bit of judgment and control. In the hands of a great artist this passage sounds sublime, as it should. During the Mozart year in 2006 I played a solo programme consisting of some sonatas, variations and a selection of baby pieces (assorted Klavierstücke, some of which are suitable for elementary players). I did this not only to give the programme a bit of lightness, but also to show that these small pieces […]

The Weakest Link

In the run-up to Christmas, I am reminded of the low-tech decorations we used to make at school back in the day – paper chains. We would lick the gummed end of the coloured paper strip, wince a bit because it tasted horrible, then stick it to the other end and make a link. This we did until we had formed a long chain, which we taped to the ceiling and then draped across the room, making a festive decoration. Trouble was, those links we hadn’t stuck down properly caused a breakage later on, and the chain would be on the floor when we got to school the next day. A quick repair and a trip back up the stepladder usually sorted the problem. A break in a musical performance can be much more devastating, and the consequences more far-reaching – especially if the stakes are high such as an exam or a public performance. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link Let’s say you have learned a piece and yet find it difficult to get through without error. Suddenly you go blank, or your fingers stall and you break down. You have rarely managed to get through the piece from beginning to end, but it’s frustrating because the mistakes seem to happen in different places each time. If this happens when you are alone in your practice room, then it probably means you have not done enough spadework. You are likely trying to run before you can walk and you’ll need to go back to some really solid slow practice, with each hand separately, working in small sections at a time. If it happens in a more stressful situation, this is a […]