Motivation Through Listening

Posted by: Eric

Motivation Through Listening - 11/05/01 05:57 PM

In another thread, it was brought up about how much listening to great piano music can inspire our students.

In addition to sending them home with recordings of the great pianists playing pieces our students will play in the future, I'd love to send students home with recordings of things they can play now. And not a little cassette of me playing something, or a cd at the back of the Essential Keyboard Repertoire collection that contains 92 pieces played rather carelessly...

One good example of something I DO send home with students is Philip Johnston's cd, "Not Until You've Done Your Practice"...It's a terrific collection of pieces from Beginner through Late Intermediate. Plus there's a couple very advanced things thrown in for variety, too. It's a well-produced recording and a very nice listen.

Does anyone know of other recordings like this....that treat these beginning and intermediate pieces with artistic integrity?

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: Jalapeņo

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/06/01 04:01 PM

It's good to hear an opinion about the Essential Keyboard Repertoire recording. I, too, think it's carelessly done. My daughter was working out of that book, & we quickly decided that we weren't going to listen to the CD. It just isn't very good.
Posted by: songbird

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/07/01 07:55 AM

I have Jane Magrath's (Alfred) Encore, Masterwork Classics, and Masterpieces with Flair! on CD. I believe the player for all 3 of those is Valery-Lloyd Watts. I think she does a pretty good job, although I realize pianists can sometimes differ on the details of interpretation.

Have you tried any of them?

I always play through the song for them first before assigning it to them. I will also let them listen to a performance of it (only if it's exceptionally done, and beyond what I can give them :p ) when they are just about ready to polish the piece.

I lent a few VHS videos to my students, one of them having all the great performers on it... Horowitz, Gould, et al. I think it is also good for them to SEE what piano playing looks like for different people.

One parent said the listens to Mozart Sonatas with her kids a lot, and that she one day hopes her Level 1 kids will be able to play them too! I loved her enthusiasm and futuristic mind-set. I hope to be able to teach Mozart Sonatas to them too, one day! (when they're ready, though.... and not just to impress Mom, that's for sure!
;\) ).

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: songbird ]
Posted by: Jalapeņo

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/07/01 12:22 PM

A pet peeve of mine is when a pianist takes way too many liberties with a piece. That's fine for mature listeners who understand why the pianist is playing the pieces that way. But when I'm dealing with piano students & trying to teach them to observe the markings in the score, I prefer performances that more closely match the editions I'm teaching from.

I really like the Encore, Masterworks with Flair! & other recordings by Valery Lloyd-Watts. Diane Hidy is another good pianist. She's done a lot of the CD recordings for Kjos.
Posted by: songbird

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/07/01 02:11 PM

Jalapeno and all,

What do you think about Fur Elise? I've heard many different recordings of it, and they're probably dividable into 2 categories:
1) Play exactly on the beat at all times throughout the piece
2) Play with more liberality (rubato) and actually use some feeling.

One of my transfer students played it for me during his interview to show me what he could do, and it sounded more like #1 to my dismay. Had no feeling to it, my computer could have spit it out.

Is that just my personal preference, or do you think Beethoven had more passion in his music than many performers want to give it?
Posted by: Jalapeņo

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/07/01 02:34 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by songbird:
Jalapeno and all,

What do you think about Fur Elise? I've heard many different recordings of it, and they're probably dividable into 2 categories:
1) Play exactly on the beat at all times throughout the piece
2) Play with more liberality (rubato) and actually use some feeling.

One of my transfer students played it for me during his interview to show me what he could do, and it sounded more like #1 to my dismay. Had no feeling to it, my computer could have spit it out.

Is that just my personal preference, or do you think Beethoven had more passion in his music than many performers want to give it?


I don't like it when people go to extremes, either in politics or in religion or in music or in anything else, for that matter. When it comes to romantic period music, I think that rubato is definitely called for, but that it should be done with good taste, not excessively. I've heard Fur Elise butchered many times--by pianists playing it in strict time with no feeling whatsoever, & by pianists who took waaaaaaaaaay too many liberties. Surely there's a nice middle ground somewhere!
Posted by: Eric

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/07/01 03:41 PM

songbird,

We know that Beethoven provided a transition from the Classical Period into the Romantic. And yet many interpreters fail to consider that, and play him with complete classicism which is more apropos to Haydn or Mozart; contained, strict, metered and controlled. Even though in any music collection, all of Beethoven's works are listed under "Classical," at times it benefits us as interpreters and teachers to consider him the first composer of the Romantic Era.

Fur Elise is a wonderful example of how he has one foot in each period. The opening theme strikes me as utterly sweeping, wistful and romantic in nature, and deserves to be interpreted with a tenderness that involves some use of rubato. The section beginning in F major is a stark contrast, shifting into beautiful classicism. Control becomes the name of the game in this section. And it winds so gracefully back into the main romantic theme! In this little B section (which gives students some troublesome runs and things) it's as if Beethoven is intentionally looking back at the time and music he's leaving behind. It's a beautiful contrast, and in a way represents two musical periods in one piece.

I would love to hear a good recording of Fur Elise; one that hints at Romanticism in the the A section and elicits Classicism in the B. Of course, if the interpreter over-does either one of these, the piece won't hang together at all! Subtlety is required!

As beautiful as it is, I DO wish I could interest Junior High girls into some other bit of classical piano music. This seems to still be #1 on the Charts! Maybe the recordings suggested in this thread can open up their view of classical music so they WILL want to play something other than the unfortunately overplayed and rarely-played-well Fur Elise!

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: Jalapeņo

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/07/01 05:39 PM

Great observations and thoughts, Eric.

I've always thought of Beethoven as a sort of "in between composer," not strictly classical yet not strictly romantic. That's why I said I think Fur Elise should be played in an "in between" style--not too strict with the rhythm, but not too free with the rubato. I like your idea better, though. Nice romantic-style rubato in Section A, followed by a classical approach in Section B [without overdoing it, of course ;)] Nice! \:D

[ November 07, 2001: Message edited by: Jalapeņo ]
Posted by: Jalapeņo

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/08/01 02:47 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by songbird:
I have Jane Magrath's (Alfred) Encore, Masterwork Classics, and Masterpieces with Flair! on CD. I believe the player for all 3 of those is Valery-Lloyd Watts...


songbird: the Masterwork Classics CDs are done by two different pianists. Kim O'Reilly is the pianist for the first CD (levels 1-2) & Valery Lloyd-Watts is the pianist for the other 2 CDs (levels 3-6).
Posted by: sdps

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/08/01 09:38 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric:
As beautiful as it is, I DO wish I could interest Junior High girls into some other bit of classical piano music. This seems to still be #1 on the Charts! Maybe the recordings suggested in this thread can open up their view of classical music so they WILL want to play something other than the unfortunately overplayed and rarely-played-well Fur Elise!



Eric and others, do you know much about Aram Khachaturian and his piece "Ivan Sings" (No. 1 from Adventures of Ivan)?

I'm not a junior high girl anymore but I just love that piece! I admit it is not highly recognizable like Fur Elise but so beautiful.

I haven't looked very hard but so far I haven't discovered much about Mr. Khachaturian of his "Adventures of Ivan". I would love to hear more of this collection.

I know Mr. Khachaturian also composed "Entry of the Gladiators" or something equally opposing in style.
Posted by: Piano lady

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/11/01 01:00 AM

Beethoven: The classicist or romanticist approach. Interesting.

It depends upon the piece, the mood, and the period of the piece. Late would have more romantic qualities than say the Op 2 #1. The rubato should be there but not intrusive. Strict tempo no. Tempo fluctuation yes, but not sudden unless designated by the god himself.

Schubert goes one way then suddenly takes off in another key and a completely different mood. Romantic is the only way to go with Schubert.
Posted by: songbird

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/14/01 08:03 AM

.

[ November 14, 2001: Message edited by: songbird ]
Posted by: songbird

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/14/01 08:05 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric:


As beautiful as it is, I DO wish I could interest Junior High girls into some other bit of classical piano music. This seems to still be #1 on the Charts! Maybe the recordings suggested in this thread can open up their view of classical music so they WILL want to play something other than the unfortunately overplayed and rarely-played-well Fur Elise!



I think Fur Elise is just one of those familiar tunes that almost every student wants to learn at some point. As teachers, we hear it more often than our students do, so of course, it becomes TEDIOUS to hear it played repeatedly in an uninteresting fashion. However, I do think it has its merits in a student's repertoire, as a motivational piece. But I think you're right. Many teachers I've come across (many of them inexperienced ones at that) jump to Fur Elise as the first "Classical" (if you want to call it that, which I prefer not to) piece that students play, when there is so much other engaging repertoire out there for students at varying levels to play.

I met somebody the other day who found out I teach piano, and she immediately asked, with big, fascinated eyes, "Oh, can you play Fur Elise?" Perhaps Beethoven's most famous piece, other than Ode to Joy, which I am also getting tired of teaching (Sorry! I know, I must be a bad teacher!). It's in PA Primer, and it's also in the Accelerated Books. I now have 6 students who want to perform that at the next recital! Wonder who'll get dibs on it.

[ November 14, 2001: Message edited by: songbird ]
Posted by: songbird

Re: Motivation Through Listening - 11/14/01 08:14 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Piano lady:

Schubert goes one way then suddenly takes off in another key and a completely different mood. Romantic is the only way to go with Schubert.


Boy, I have a hard time with Schubert's Impromptus, especially the one in E flat major. How do you get a handle on that left hand??? It's TOO LOUD and I have no control on it. I'm about to give up. Any ideas??? (I do not have a wide hand-span)