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I did two hours of practice yesterday. Mostly on Chopin’s Waltz in A minor. There are two different A minor waltzes by Chopin, the first is numbered Op.34 No 2 and the second is normally referred to as ‘Op Post’ or by it’s Brown Index of 150. It is this latter one published after his death that I have been learning on and off since the end of July. To be honest when I started it was a little above my ability, generally regarded to be an ABRSM grade 6 piece, although it is often described as one of his ‘easier’ works. I’m finally feeling that I’ve broken the back of it.

Bars 17 – 24 have been giving  me some of the most grief, especially bar 21. I’m learning from book 4 from the ABRSM’s ‘More Romantic Peices for piano’, and my  copy my piano teacher has written ‘Elephant Hippopotamus Tiger’ above bar 21. The three syllables of Elephant representing the triplet, the Hippopotamus representing the quintuplet and the tiger for the final two notes. My piano teacher has a lot of child students so I guess she uses these terms for them, and doesn’t see the need to change the words for her adult learners.
Another section which has required a seemingly inordinate amount of practice has been bars 33 to 38. I can’t quite understand why I have struggled so much with this part, although I suppose the trills must be part of the reason. I know that my hand position is generally poor. I don’t curve my fingers enough, I.e I hold my hands too flat, and need to lift my wrists up. This is a disadvantage when performing trills, where the fingering of the two notes should be done with the finger pattern of 2-4-3. Initially I pushed back against this fingering. It seemed to me that it would be faster to just alternate two fingers, but I have finally come round to the idea that my piano teacher knows what she’s talking about, and certainly knows a lot more than me.

After today’s session I’m much happier with the piece.OK I still can’t play it all the way through  error free, but I can play each of the individual parts. Below is a link to someone playing properly:

I’m fairly confident that i’ll have the piece ready by christmas. Speaking of Christmas, when is it OK to start playing christmas tunes?

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