Learn piano online, master works by Liszt and other composers through unswerving persistence by practicing in short sections, one hand at a time.
Works by Lizst featured prominently in the performance by Ensemble Koschka. Straightaway after the curtains were raised Liebesträum, No.37 was played during which Alyssa held the audience in attentive stillness simply by the exquisiteness of her touch and tone on the piano.
She would next follow that up with Salut d’ Amour, Op.12 (Edward Elgar) adding to the breathtaking sound emanating from Khoo-Wei-Min’s viola. As her fingers danced gracefully on that beaten up Yamaha upright, every little ornament, slightest accent and subtle nuance were faithfully addressed.
The audience was awestruck - full of wonderment.
Why would not they be? Compositions by Liszt were penned with deep understanding of its artistic context. He inserted originality and harmonic sophistication into his composition intentionally with a rather vain purpose of impressing the listener.
Learning to play Liszt requires dogged dedication and concentration.
Alyssa’s rendition of Liebesträum took well over 4 minutes to finish. It is 4 pages long comprising of more than 50 lines and 100 bars. Such a long piece could not be learned at one go. The pragmatic approach is to break it apart into small sections and practice them one at a time.
Identify where phrases start and end. If a phrase is short enough let's say 5 to 8 bars in length, you may be able to practice it whole. For a longer phrase, look for suitable points in the musical line where you can break it into shorter ones. Example; where there are rests or minims.
Liszt liked to sprinkle his compositions with harmonic chords in the bass clef. Therefore, it would be wise to practice the LH first. It is because of the elementary reason that the accompaniment in the bass clef or left hand (LH) notes tend to be repetitive.
They are less perplexing to master and can be learnt faster. Later on, after the RH notes have been learnt, you will only need to accessorize the melody with the accompanying LH notes - much like adding icing to an already well baked cake.
I saw Alyssa cross her right arm over her left more than once playing Liebesträum. A clear indication of the difficulties involved in not just the artistic and musical side of playing the piece but also in its mechanics. Locating the keys with pin point precision is crucial, the odds of losing your way while trying to cross the right hand over the left is high without rigourous practice – keys will be missed.
Having learned hundreds of songs throughout years of piano lessons with an immensely devoted teacher, I have come to realize that before attempting to conquer a song I must first get acquainted with it by familiarizing myself with all the notes in the composition.
To achieve this, play the whole song with one hand. First the bass clef notes with the LH, then the notes on the treble clef with the RH. Resist the temptation to play with both hands for a while.
Absorb the mood of the piece as you play with one hand. Get a sense of the rhythm of the piece. It’s variations in pace and tone as the music progress. Several hours later you shall have an insight into the soul of the composition and ready to begin practicing in earnest.
“If you heard me during practice, you would not think I could play the piano at all” – Anonymous pianist.
Begin by figuring out the fingering involved - LH first, then the RH. Most fingering combinations come naturally matching the way the notes are arranged in a piece. Some do necessitate trial and error. The ultimate goal is to express the music as accurately as the score intended, so choose the fingering options that suit you best.