Jon Lee


I see you’ve taken some of the notes from last week

Revisiting repertoire

I had a bit of homework to do after I was thrown a number of possibilities for putting together a program.

I decided I was more interested in working through a survey of styles rather than concentrating on something larger. How about a Schubert sonata, where some of the movements are quite a bit shorter? We compromised on going with an impromptu instead.

Scarlatti and Haydn are still waiting in the wings until the music comes in the mail.


I mixed up the order of the patterns. The real order is:

Staying on C major, c minor, G major, g minor until they’re mastered.

I kept playing the sixteenth in pattern 2 before the metronome beat. To fix it, accent the first note, and “let off” on the longer one. Do the accent in groups of four notes.

Initially playing I changed up the articulation to try to keep things interesting. Instead of doing that within a scale, keep it to one articulation. We practiced legato within “a range” of dolce legato to molto cantabile.

There needed to be more legato in the hands. I think I articulate them more on purpose to keep the rhythm crisp, and possibly to make up for deficiencies.

The metronome tick is on the half and dotted quarter depending on the pattern. Practice this with the metronome at the whole and dotted half , or even double-whole and dotted whole in order to get a better sense of the line. When he does the exercise he even verbally just counts.

Another way to practice creation of a grander line is to perform controlled breathing during the performance. Start by taking a deep breath, and then playing the entire scale up and down under one exhale. Breath through the mouth and control with the diaphragm. Adjust the speed of exhale by dynamic–slower exhalation when piano, faster when forte.

Brahms #17

This exercise showed weakness in independence of the left hand.

The trill figuration has the melody hidden. Play it as such. Push forward with the wrist on the melody note, and receded on the others. While the exercise is supposed to be about finger independence, that does not mean the wrist remains stationary. Some rotational motion can occur but isn’t a focus.

Leading to the melody note is another way to practice. That is, convert the 16 16 16 pattern to 8 16 16 .

Brahms #20

Next time.


Played through the theme, etude 1, etude 3, etude 5, and etude 6.

Theme, noticed that I absorbed some of the notes made last week. Opening measure, subdivide the quarters, and move. It’s Andante. Let the rhythmic motion of the left hand drive the push and pull of the phrase. In the second phrase, the low A should come in as a 16 and not a grace note to give it more grandeur. The ascending chords cannot be legato in the right hand, but one “trick” to give that effect is to do the legato in the left hand. Here, that would require a 1–5 transition.

Practice the half-key trill.

Hold the fermata to get rid of the rhythmic subdivision preceding it. Listen for the decay so that the melody note can come out and the dynamic is still soft. There the melody was so focused that the other lines were garbled.

Etude 1, the 32 leading to the second beat needs to almost be a 64, like a rap on the snare drum. Everything is lighter.

Etude 3 right-hand: “not bad”. Left-hand needs to be much richer. Need to practice with an elliptical wrist motion. Sweep down going up when arpeggio ascends, and float back down on the descent. In the second section, there is a push-pull centered around the high note in the right hand. When the first theme returns, take time with the trill.

Etude 5, be careful of the accent placement. It’s not in both hands, just the left.

Etude 6, need to work on the melody line between the thumbs. And also pay more attention to the bass line.

I skipped etudes 2 and 4 because there were parts I knew I would screw up. We talked through those briefly.

Etude 2 has a triplet figuration in the left hand and crossovers that I wasn’t completely comfortable with.

Etude 4 I had problems placing some of the chords. He noticed that I was light on the sixteenth and heavy on the beat, and recommended that I hit the sixteenth as loud, to make it easier. As for “tradition”, the first edition sforzando on the grace notes is not usually heard; they are placed on the main note. Recommendation for the octave grace notes is to move the top one to the right hand.

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