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In life you often experience coincidences that appear to be significant. I call this the ‘Neighbours’ effect, taken from the Aussie soap where a previously unspoken of cousin is mentioned, only to appear suddenly an episode or two later. I had a similar experience a couple of lessons ago. I recently wrote a post about watching the Lang Lang roundhouse performance. Once track that really stood out at the time was ‘Ständchen’ by Schubert. I can’t say that I know any of his compositions, I was very impressed with it and at the time the thought did go through my mind that it would be great to attempt it. So, when my teacher suggested it as a new piece to learn, I jumped at the chance.

We had a run through it together to get a feel for it, with me playing the left hand and her playing the right. I was quite pleased with how I managed to keep up the speed whilst sight-reading, I’m definitely improving. The rest of the lesson was spent concentrating on me understanding how to play triplets in the right-hand whilst simultaneously playing quavers in the left. The way to play them, according to my teacher, is to say ‘Nice cup of tea’. With the right hand playing – Nice, Cup, Tea; and the left hand playing Nice, Of. I have seen a few tutorials online that recommend a mathematical approach to playing triplets and quavers together; breaking the beat down into 6 parts.  I know that music is basically mathematics, be it the rhythm or the actual sound wave, However I find that this doesn’t work for me at all. I really need to hear a rhythm to be able to understand it, so the “Nice, cup of tea” method works a treat for me.

Initially I wasn’t sure if I was leaving strange pauses in the right-hand to bring it in time with the left, however at my last lesson my teacher confirmed that I was playing it just right, so I guess it was just that the unusual timing felt odd to me.

I’ve been really pleased with my progress, although I’ve yet to play it completely error-free I’m pretty much there with the piece, so I am confident that I will play it during my piano teachers January soiree. My piano teacher feels that it is important that I learn some of the classical repertoire, so playing pieces like this is not only enjoyable, but is helping me to improve my technique. I would like to play a classical piece at a soirée that my teacher is planning for all her adult pupils in the new year. I have been practicing the Chopin piece (Waltz in A minor) for months now and presumed that I would be playing that in January, however this new Schubert piece which on the face of it looks like it would be harder, has come much more naturally to me. I think that it is now one of my favourite pieces, and am really pleased to be able to play it.

Below is a link to the Lang Lang performance of Ständchen from the 2011 itunes festival at the roundhouse. Complete with smoke effects and arty images of the sea in the background:

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