18/100 Starting a New Piece; Meaningful Learning

I’ve just started teaching a piano student the Ballade from Burgmuller op 100. This one:

Burgmuller Ballade 1

You can hear someone playing it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTn04HtKXO0

It’s pretty straightforward to teach the notes, especially as almost every phrase is played twice – I call it a “self-practicing” piece. There are some technical issues – developing a “floppy” or relaxed wrist for the repeated chords takes some patience, but that’s a story for another time. The bit I want to talk about in this post is later; here;

Burgmuller Ballade

There’s a change of key signature, and a bel canto melody over gentle little left hand chords. Not hard, really not hard, so long as everything is learned correctly from the start! For this student that means slowing her right down as she read through each hand.

For the right hand, “Play the first note, hold it, read the next note, THINK about the next note, and THEN play it correctly.” Simple? No. It took a couple of goes of “trail and error” before she started following this method and getting it perfect every time. The thing is, if she could only control her rush to go headlong and heedless into the learning process, she could save herself SO much frustration in the longer term!

Regarding the left hand chords – she’s not much of a bass-clef note reader at the moment. So, we “snuck up” on the chords, reading just the thumb notes, then the bottom notes (nearly all played with 4th or 5th finger), and then working out the middle notes. This worked fine – she’s still inclined to make wild, panicked and incorrect guesses at the chords rather than slow, relaxed and correct moves from one to the other.

Let’s see what’s happened after Easter….





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