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Filtering by Tag: piano lessons

Diabelli's Sonatina in F Major, Op. 168 No. 1

Cory Hall

This delightful gem has recently become my favorite teaching piece for a variety of reasons. I currently have several of my students working on this sonatina, students of different levels and abilities. This is "feel good" music that is fun to play and listen to, and in addition, is valuable for all piano students from the intermediate level up. Even students at the "advanced" or collegiate level can benefit from studying it. For more on the life and career of the lesser known Anton Diabelli, please CLICK HERE.

⇒ CLICK HERE for Piano Lessons via Skype -- I teach worldwide!! ⇐

The thing I like most about this work is that its brevity does not sacrifice musical quality. Every note and articulation is perfectly placed while each movement flows into the next with ease and grace. This sonatina teaches students many valuable skills, such as: staccato, legato, cantabile, staccato in one hand and legato in the other hand simultaneously, grace notes, short slurs, contrasting dynamics (pp to ff), ability to play in three different meters (4/4, 3/4, 6/8), ability to play in three contrasting tempos (Moderato, Andante, Allegretto), hand crossings.

In my opinion, this sonatina is an even finer work and has more to offer students than perhaps the most famous of all sonatinas, Muzio Clementi's famous Sonatina No. 1 (Op. 36 No. 1). Moreover, this sonatina serves as an ideal "litmus test" for the intermediate level pianist's overall technical and musical aptitude. If one has trouble with the technique and musicality in this sonatina, then one is not ready to study any of the Beethoven sonatas. However, if one plays this sonatina well and up to tempo and with good technique and musicianship, then one is ready to begin studying some of the less difficult Beethoven sonatas.

I urge all piano students to play and enjoy this sonatina, which is probably Diabelli's most well-known solo piano work. Please enjoy the video and thank you for reading this blog!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sLbHit2ows&w=560&h=315]

My Interpretation of "Für Elise" by Beethoven

Cory Hall

Für Elise (For Elise) is arguably "the most popular" piano piece of all time. I recorded it about four years ago for YouTube; however, I decided to upload a new interpretation which was brought about by my recent teaching of it to an 11-year-old student. (Teaching certain pieces to students often gets me motivated and in the mood to make video recordings.) I have since deleted the older version.

⇒ CLICK HERE for Piano Lessons via Skype -- I teach worldwide!! ⇐

 

One of the great things about music and piano is that, as long as one remains a human being and is still living and breathing, one will inevitably develop new interpretations of the same music. Play the same piece when you are 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and beyond, and you will discover a different performer each time. This does not necessarily mean a "better" performer, but rather a "different" performer with a new conception of a very familiar work. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus claimed that one can never step in the same place in a river twice because the water is always flowing, and thus, the ground and sediment below constantly change. Such is also the case with musical interpretation.

In my new interpretation, I have decided upon a slightly faster tempo than my first recording. Most pianists, and especially young piano students, play this piece too fast and aggressively. Moreover, most piano students -- and I know this by teaching it hundreds of times -- play it much too loud and not "cantabile" enough. For example, the third section (with the repeated "A" in the bass) is often played like an aggressive "Indian dance" as if it were one the ubiquitous "Indian" pieces found in almost every piano method book. The correct character, however, is "subdued" and "mysterious" rather than "aggressive" or "energetic."

It is important to note that Beethoven marked most of Für Elise piano or pianissimo and that the loudest dynamic mark is mezzo forte. In addition, Beethoven also indicated several diminuendos combined with ritardandos, usually before the return of the main theme or end of a section. These are very often ignored or overlooked by most pianists. Another interpretive subtlety often overlooked by most pianists is the crescendo-decrescendo hairpin accompanying the first measure of the main theme. This indicates a slight emphasis on the second beat where the last "E" occurs before moving down to "B". I like to do an ever so slight holding back in tempo here, that is, a slight "rubato" which gives the theme added expression.

Für Elise is a calm, serene, and cantabile piece of music that should be played with a controlled tempo and with much expression. I have known this piece for around forty years now, and I never get tired of it. A good way to ruin Für Elise is to play it like a robot and ignore all the expressive indications, which is the way I have heard it played 90% of the time -- even by seasoned professionals. By the way, the tempo I have chosen in my new interpretation is 108 per eighth note (quaver) which to me, at this point in my life, seems like the perfect tempo. Please enjoy my new interpretation of Für Elise and thank you for reading this blog!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8FDzcXKPNc&w=560&h=315]

My Piano Arrangement of PACHELBEL'S CANON

Cory Hall

I often get asked how I compose at the piano and my answer is quite simply that I do not have a "system." Many composers and arrangers set aside a given time slot each day to compose, but I have never been this disciplined. Rather, I compose only whenever I feel "inspired," or in other words, as if the musical ideas in my head absolutely need to be let out. Such is the case with my new arrangement of Johann Pachelbel's famous Canon in D. BUY THE SHEET MUSIC FOR PACHELBEL'S CANON HERE! PIANO LESSONS WORLDWIDE VIA SKYPE!

I had played this work hundreds of times for weddings as a church organist, although I never stuck to any one arrangement. I simply played the famous work by ear having never owned any sheet music for it. Usually, it was used as background music as the bridesmaids slowly made their procession up the aisle. I remember once a wedding party was having "problems" and I must have repeated it ten times until everyone had entered. Pachelbel's Canon is based on a "ground bass" or chord progression consisting of eight chords: D - A - b - f# - G - D - G - A. This chord progression is played for every repetition, which gives the performer the opportunity to add new material every eight bars in the melody or right hand. it is an ideal chord progression for pianists wishing to hone their skills in tonal improvisation. For more historical or theoretical information about Canon in D, please CLICK HERE.

One major aspect that differentiates my arrangement of Canon on D from the usual ones is that I often substitute E minor for G major for the penultimate (next to last) chord. This progression of e - A creates a different character and flavor than the more traditional or baroque G - A, and in my opinion, it often sounds better. I would describe it as sounding slightly more "modern" or "contemporary" than if it were in an authentic baroque style. I sat down at the piano on December 5, 2013 and for no apparent reason and with no planning some incredible spirit within me caused me to compose this arrangement in about two hours. I subsequently mapped out the overall plan in my head and then wrote it out on paper the next day.

I hope you enjoy my arrangement of this famous classic and if you teach piano I highly recommend it for all students around level 6 or beyond. It is also ideal for weddings or for concert venues. My arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon is extremely gratifying to play and is very "piano friendly." I hope you enjoy my performance and appreciate your support of my business by purchasing the sheet music!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suy3OEj5UrU&w=560&h=315]