Month: August 2011

Composition Week & Gift Redemption

[anti-rclick]August 30, 2011

This week is our Composition Week. Have you started writing your song yet?
這一周是我們的音樂創作週。你們開始寫自己的歌了嗎?

And just how many stickers do you have now? You better count them to put your names up on our “sticker list” and get the gifts awaiting for you to redeem for so long!
還有,究竟你們有多少貼紙呢?你們最好數一數自己有多少貼紙,然後把自己的名字寫在我們的「貼紙排行榜」上,並換取等待了你們這麼久的禮物吧!


Teresa Wong

DipABRSM: Examples of Viva-Voce Questions

[anti-rclick]August 29, 2011

I found this page of questions on ABRSM forum in which past candidates of dipABRSM listed the questions they were asked in their exams’ “viva voce” sections. I am re-posting it here as I think it might be useful for those who are preparing for their exams to read as a reference.

This page contains viva-voce questions that have been asked in diploma examinations. Any answers given are those written by the candidate and are not intended to represent good (or bad) answers to the questions: they are simply the answers the candidate gave. All viva-voces end with the question “Is there anything you would like to add?”, it is not necessary to answer this question (with anything other than no) but if you do want to say something then this is the time to do so.

The questions as appearing here have been (lightly) edited for consistency throughout the page and to better reperesent the way that examiners are likely to word questions.

DipABRSM Programme:

Scriabin Préludes Op. 11 Numbers 9 and 16
Beethoven Sontata in C Minor, Op. 13 ‘Pathetique’
Szymanowski Etude in Bb Minor, Op. 4 No. 3
Bach Prelude and Fuge No. 16 in G Minor, WTC Book 1
Debussy General Lavine Eccentric No. 6 from Préludes Book II (own-choice work)

Questions:

How did you choose your programme?
What were the technical challenges you faced when playing the Scriabin preludes?
Where do the opus 11 preludes fit into Scriabin’s compositional output?
You say the First Movement of the Pathetique is in Sonata form. What is the structure of Sonata form?
What influence did Beethoven’s contemporaries have on this piece? In particular, Dussek (Dussek’s influence mentioned in programme notes)
You mention that it was written in Beethoven’s early period; what characterises his early period?
How many piano sonatas did Beethoven write?
You said that in his early period, Szymanowski was influenced by Chopin. In what way can Chopin’s influence be seen in this piece?
What did Bach mean by ‘Well Tempered’ when he wrote the Well -Tempered Clavier?
How should one approach playing Bach on a piano?
What are stretti?
What sort of answer does the Fugue have?
I noticed that you played from memory today; what effect does that have on the performance?
What does one have to bear in mind when playing the dynamics in, for example, the Debussy, compared to the Beethoven?

DipABRSM Programme:

Source

Edwin Roxburgh – Moonscape
Bach – Prelude and Fugue in F, from WTC II
Schubert – Sonata in A, Op. 120
Rachmaninoff – Etude-Tableaux in C minor op. 33 no. 3 (off syllabus work)
Ginastera – Tribute to Aaron Copland (off syllabus work)

Questions:

How did you go about putting your programme together?
What else did Ginastera write?
What other works did Rachmaninoff write?
What works is Schubert most famous for? Did he write any other chamber works?
Who else was writing sonatas/piano music at the same time as Schubert? Name a sonata they wrote at that time.
Talk about the development of the piano from Bach’s time to modern day.
What other works/composers feature in Spectrum?
In what ways is Ginastera’s prelude similar to Aaron Copland’s music?
Do you feel that the cross-rhythmns and bi-tonality in Ginastera work against each other?

DipABRSM Programme:

Source

Bach – Toccata in D major, BWV 912
Mendelssohn – Prelude and Fugue, Op. 35 No. 5
Ravel – Sonatine
Prokofiev – Visions Fugitives, Op. 22 Nos. 8, 14, 19, 20
Ogdon – Prelude No. 9 in E from ’25 Preludes’ (off syllabus work)

Questions:

What determined your choice of programme? Does it have a theme?
How does a fortepiano differ from a modern piano?
Who else other than Bach and Mendelssohn wrote Preludes and Fugues?
What performing difficulties are there in the Mendelssohn prelude?
Is Mendelssohn’s fugue like a Bach fugue? Show me in the music the subject, and the countersubject.
What other piano music did Mendelssohn write? Did he write a concerto?
What traditional harmonies and forms can you point out in Ravel’s Sonatine?
What other piano music did Ravel write?
What other piano music did Prokofiev write?
Why did you choose the John Ogdon piece to finish with?
Is there anything further you would like to tell us?


DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Bach – Prelude and Fugue No.5 in D major from Book II of WTC
Beethoven – Sonata in C# Minor, Op. 27 No. 2, “Moonlight”
Brahms – Romance in F, No. 5 from Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118
Gerswhin – Preludes 2 and 3 from Preludes for Piano

Questions:

How did you choose your program?
What is stretto? Point it out in the music.
How can a pianist play Bach on the piano?
Explain the melody of the Moonlight sonata’s first movement.
Where is the chromatically descending bass line of the third movement?
What is sonata form?
Which movement uses sonata form?
In the Brahms, the melody is doubled in the alto and tenor. How does this affect the way you play it?
How do you play the melody of the Gershwin prelude 2?
Where is the walking bassline in the third prelude?
What were Gershwin’s other 4 preludes?
How did Ravel influence Gershwin?
Why do people like Gershwin’s more popular music more than his piano music?

DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Chopin – Nocturne No.18 in E Major, Op.62 No.2
Beethoven – Sonata in F Minor, Op.2 No.1
Debussy – Sarabande from the suite ‘Pour le Piano’
Schumann – Novelette No.1 in F Major, Op.21

Questions:

What is the nocturne? (Candidate mentions ABA form)
What do you mean by ABA form?
Is it more a day or a night piece?
What is rubato?
Would you as a performer use rubato in left, right, or both hands?
How different was the piano of Chopin from that of Mozart, and how could that have affected Chopin’s composing?
Did Chopin compose anything else that was for piano and orchestra?
What were Beethoven’s style periods? How many were there?
How big of an influence was Haydn on Beethoven?
Did Beethoven compose anything for piano and other instruments?
Have you played any other sonatas by Beethoven?
What was the Sarabande?
What was Impressionism in music?
Was there Impressionism in art?
Name any other Impressionist artists?
I see you played from music. Why did you choose to do this?
But could there be any advantages in playing from memory?
What was Schumann’s disability in his hand that you talk about?
Did Schumann compose anything for piano and orchestra?


Summary of Candidate’s Answers

Free, improvisatory piece coming from the Romantic period.. ABA form.. written before only by John Field
Describe basically the difference of parts, how they contrast, possibly modulate to other key, then come back
A night piece
speeding up and slowing down according to emotions
right hand, left hand keeps constant rhythm
larger range – Chopin experiments with all notes.. and better sound quality, allowing for “fleeting” scales , etc.
Yes, two piano concerti, but all of his compositions had something to do with the piano
Three style periods – Viennese Classical, Heroic, more serene and introverted, talk about which pieces characterised each period
Significant, was his tutor from 1792
Yes, 5 piano concertos, and 9 piano trios
Not full ones, just separate movements
Stylised old dance, 3-beat meter, Baroque, Debussy’s tribute to French baroque composers
capturing a certain feeling/atmosphere in a piece
Yes, Claude Monet
Maurice Ravel, Charles Ives
Too much effort to memorize, not very good at it, prefer to have music just in case
Yes, you don’t have to spend time glancing at the notes
Made an instrument to strengthen his hand, ended up damaging his nerves
Yes, 1 piano concerto


DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Bach – Prelude and Fugue in F# Minor,Well-Tempered Clavier Book I
Beethoven – Piano Sonata in C Minor, Op 10 No. 1
Faure – Barcarolle No. 6 in Eb, Op. 70


Questions:

Why did you choose the pieces in your programme?
What did you find difficult in playing the Faure?
What do you think about pedalling in the Faure?
Who were Faure’s contemporaries?
You wrote in your programme notes about chromatic twists, point to where these occur.
A question on keeping the pulse in the slow movement of the Beethoven (which the candidate knew was not secure)
The slow movements are notoriously hard to play – what problems did you have? (Mentioned technique, orchestral sounds, and thinking of song/opera – followup question asked whether the composer wrote any songs.)
Who was Beethoven’s first teacher? (Beethoven’s first teacher mentioned in programme notes)
Did Beethoven write any other sonatas in C minor?
Compare the piano Beethoven had to the one in todays exam.
Are there any technical things in the fugue e.g. stretto / inversion? Point them out in the score.
Did you make any adjustments to the way you played the Bach because you were playing on the piano?

DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Scarlatti – Sonatas K208 and K209
Beethoven – Sonata in F Minor, Op.2 No.1
Gershwin – Preludes 2 & 3

Questions about the programme:

How did you choose your programme?
How did you try to achieve contrast?
You did not include a Romantic piece? Why? (Candidate expresses enthusiasm about Spanish Romantic composers)
Name a Spanish Romantic composer.
Scarlatti’s Sonatas were composed for harpsichord. What difference did it make to your approach?
Did you go for stylistic authenticity or on the contrary use the breadth of the modern piano’s expression?
How had the piano evolved at that time and what difference does it make to your approach to the sonata?
How do Beethoven’s sonatas change over his 28 years of composition?
How was Beethoven’s use of sonata form in his early sonatas different to say Mozart or Haydn? How did they influence Beethoven?
What characterizes the first period of Beethoven’s compositions?
What is unusual about the key of F Minor used in this sonata?
How does this sonata compare, structure-wise with his later works? (e.g. use of scherzo to replace minuet, decreasing slow movements etc…)
How does the minor tonality bring out the piece?
What are the technical challenges in this piece, especially in the Prestissimo?
You say the inspiration for the (Gershwin) Preludes came from Chopin, can you clarify that?
How did you approach the 3rd prelude, especially the last section with large intervals, because at that point you seemed to be playing from memory?
What are the advantages for a pianist to play from memory?


Questions about the Quick Study:

About the quick study, are there any elements you particularly enjoyed? How did you approach it?
What key did the QS start in?
What did it modulate to in the second half?
Was the start major or minor?
N.B. Questions about the quick study seem to be very rare: if you are desperate to avoid these questions simply request to do the viva before the quick study (the syllabus states one can do them in any order).


DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Bach – Toccata No.2 in E Minor BWV, 914
Beethoven – Sonata No.14 in C# Minor, Op. 14 No. 2, “Moonlight”
Chopin – Nocturne in E, Op.62 No.2
Brahms – Rhapsody in G minor, Op.79 No. 2
Bartok – No. 1 from “Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm”, Microkosmos No. 149

Questions:

You mentioned in your programme notes about the clavichord and the harpsichord being the prevalent instrument in Bach’s time and not the piano. How do these instruments differ from the piano?
You mentioned in your programme notes about “Countess Giudicelli- possibly Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved” whom Beethoven dedicated the “Moonlight”. What is the relevance of stating the possibility of her being his Immortal Beloved in your notes?
And what was the keyboard instrument prevalent in Beethoven’s time and how did it affect the music that was composed in his period?
What other non-piano works did Beethoven compose?
Did he also write chamber music?
And what is the trio? What instruments does it consist of?
You mentioned in your programme notes about Bellini’s operas having a similiar style to the Chopin’s nocturne in E. Can you describe more about Bellini’s opera and in what way is it simliar to the nocturnes?
You mentioned about “coloratura” in your programme notes…what does it mean?
What other works did Brahms compose, other than the rhapsody?
You mentioned that Brahms is more of an “orchestral” composer, can you explain this?
Who were Brahms’s contemporaries?
And what kind of music does Liszt write?
What is his music like? Are they easy or difficult to play?
Have you played any of Liszt’s music?
Why did Bartok write the Mikrokosmos?
Name one contemporary of Barok?


Summary of Candidate’s Answers

Talked about the make of the instruments and how it affects the sound. For eg, for the harpsichord, the strings are plucked and as such, no tonal nuances are capable on the piano. In the clavichord, small metal tangents hit the string when the key is struck and so the sound is smaller than the pianoforte. etc etc
Obviously, the dedicatee of any work is important and the relationship between the composer and the dedicatee of the work can help shape how we interpret the piece. Beethoven was said to have rejected the Countess, when she came back to him for lessons after marrying another man and going away for several years. There was some bitterness on his part, and this we can hear in the third movement, which has been said to be composed by Beethoven in a fit of jealous rage for a lost love. In this context, we would not think of the first movement as a funeral march as some would like to think it is. Instead, the first movement represents a certain pining and languishing.
The fortepiano, with a wooden frame and leather hammers, was used etc etc
He wrote nine symphonies, a violin concerto…
Yes…the most famous of his chamber music has to be the Archduke Trio.
If I’m not wrong, it consists of the violin, cello and the piano….

Sopranos… *examiners laugh* The term generally applies to sopranos..and I do have a recording of Bellini’s La Somnambula with Joan Sutherland singing the lead role…and I cannot help but notice the similarities in the style of the phrases, the florid passages etc etc


Chopin… Liszt…
Mainly piano music…
It tends to be a little showy sometimes…but generally difficult technically speaking… Liszt was like the Paganini of the piano…so…
Yes…the piano sonata.. *exams are shocked* I emphasized that I played only the easier chordal passages and they laughed
He wrote them as exercises for his son to whom he taught the piano…then they gradually increased in numbers and became a complete set of exercises over time
Debussy


DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Bach – Toccata No.5 in E minor, BWV 914
Mozart – Sonata in D, K.311
Gershwin – Preludes 2 and 3

Questions:

What is a Toccata?
Did any other composers write toccatas, if so how do they differ?
What are the differences between the harpsichord and the piano you’ve played today?
How did this affect the way you played this piece?
Guide me through the adagio section, and explain why you played it the way you did.
What do you think of using pedal to play Mozart’s pieces?
Would you use any rubato in Mozart’s pieces?
What contribution did Gershwin make to the music industry in his time?
Do you know of any other American Composers?
What’s the difference between the conventional american music and his?

DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Bach – Toccata No.5 in E minor, BWV 914
Mozart – Sonata in D, K.311
Franz – Impromptu in G flat, Op.90 No.3, D899/3
Gershwin – Prelude I in B flat, Allegro ben ritmato e deciso

Questions:

Which piece do you like most in your performance?
What is the style of Gershwin’s music?
What other composition did Gershwin write?
Where did Bach come from?
Where did Bach spend his height of his career?
Name some other composers who lived in Bach’s time.
What is the difference between the instrument Bach used and the piano? How does it affect your approach?
As there is no dynamics indication in this movement (the second movement), how do you decide the dynamics?
What is a fugue?
What is the key of this fugue and does it remain in the same key in the whole movement?
What is the difference between Baroque music and classical music?
Tell me about the structure of the sonata.
What other compositions did Mozart write?
Can you think of another of Mozart’s compositions that is similar to the theme of the second movement in this sonata?
Where did Schubert come from?
What was Schubert well-known for?
As a pianist, what did you find the most difficult in preparing the Impormptu?

DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Programme includes:

Mozart’s K 445 (adapted from Gluck’s opera)
A Scarlatti Sonata

Questions:

You might not listen to operas much, so why did you choose this Mozart piece?
Give one example of a Mozart comic opera and a Mozart tragic opera.
What technical and musical difficulties did you encounter in playing these (Mozart) variations?
Why do Scarlatti’s sonatas have a K. and Longo?
Why did he write these exercises?
Besides what you’ve said, do you have any idea to whom did he write them for? (Queen Maria Babara) Which country was she from?

DipABRSM Programme:

Source
Programme unknown


Questions:

How do you think the recital went?
What did you consider when planning your programme?
Your programme was very stylistic. What other styles have you not included? And why?
You state in your programme notes that Debussy was the most influential composer since Chopin. Why do you believe this?
What does the word Hausmusik mean? (Programme notes contain a quote including this word).
You wrote that Schubert composed over 200 songs; is this a good estimate of the volume of his output? (Schubert wrote in the region of 600 songs).
Map out the structure of the first movement of the Schubert.
What key has the music modulated to at the start of the development section?

To read more, go to http://www.forumconcert.co.uk/diplomas/

and http://www.abrsm.org/resources/writingProgNotesApr05.pdf



Teresa Wong


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Anisia & Teresa: Schubert’s “Military March”

[anti-rclick]August 26, 2011

Anisia & Teresa Wong play Schubert’s “Military March”.

[qt:http://teresawong.dyndns.org:9001/video/Tanischubert.m4v 640 360]



Note: For better viewing experience, please click on the post’s title and have the video mostly or fully loaded before you start watching it.
注:為了更好的視覺體驗,請點擊這篇文章的標題和等待視像大部分或完全下載後再開始收看。

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Mae-Z Fam: Beethoven’s “Rondo” (Pathetique)

[anti-rclick]August 25, 2011

Mae-Z Fam plays Beethoven’s Sonata Op.13 in C minor (Pathetique), 3rd movement, “Rondo”.

[qt:http://teresawong.dyndns.org:9001/video/maezbee.m4v 640 360]



Note: For better viewing experience, please click on the post’s title and have the video mostly or fully loaded before you start watching it.
注:為了更好的視覺體驗,請點擊這篇文章的標題和等待視像大部分或完全下載後再開始收看。

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關於練習:為何練習?怎樣練習?

[anti-rclick]August 23, 2011

Original English Version: About Practice: Why & How

中文翻譯: Tik Wei Tsui


上課之外最重要的就是練習。


為何練習?

我們練習是為了理解一篇音樂作品,包括它的音樂內容、結構、感情、特點和風格。透過練習,我們了解到那篇作品的細節,包括分句、力度強弱編排、運音、旋律線條的運動、節奏和演奏速度等。

我們練習是為了把作品演奏得十全十美。理解之後,就要用自己雙手把它演繹出來。把我們心中理解到的傳到雙手,再由雙
手傳到鋼琴。這樣我們對作品的理解就會由鋼琴傳達給聽眾。

我們練習是為了透過鋼琴這個媒介,在課堂、表演、考試和比賽中讓別人知道這篇作品在我們的演繹下聽起來應該是怎樣的。


怎樣練習?

練習和彈奏或實際演奏整篇樂章是完全不同的。練習時,大多時間都不會完整地彈出一篇作品。不會每次都重頭到尾聽完一首樂曲。而只是零零星星、一小段一小段地聽。

練習就是分階段操練一首樂曲中困難的部分。你可以先完整地彈一兩次,找出在曲中遇到的問題。然後記下自己彈得不如意的部分,集中精神,耐心處理每個問題,逐一去解決,最後連起各個部分,彈出一首完整的樂曲。


練習:時間分配

最近一位家長問我每節練習的時間應該分配得多仔細。

現在我就告訴大家一般來說要怎樣分配:

首先,學生應該每星期最少練習五天。如果你或你的孩子能練習更多(日數和時數),那很好。但如果花在練習的時間沒那麼多,就不要問我為甚麼你或你的孩子不熟悉樂曲,學習進度緩慢。原因你是心知肚明的。(但是,我認為家長是應該讓年幼的學生每星期休息一天,不用練習。)


初學者(年幼或成年學生):

日常練習每次20至30分鐘

順序步驟:
1. 5(至10)分鐘:音階──雙手個別和一起練習相反及相似的手勢,彈一或兩個八度音階
2. 10分鐘:第一首曲
3. 10分鐘:第二首曲

開始時總是先彈音階,讓雙手和腦袋熱熱身。

視乎我給了學生多少首曲,他/她應該在練習音階之後把餘下的時間平均分配給每首樂曲。如果有一首新曲和一首溫習曲,就練習新曲(15分鐘),及在舊曲的細節上作微調(5分鐘)。

我常常以數目記下每首曲的樂句。逐個樂句練習,尤其是在彈新曲時。

除了一次連續練習30分鐘外,家長可以為年幼的初學子女(4至5歲)把練習時間分成兩個為時15分鐘的小節,讓他們可以在一節裡練習音階和一首曲,然後在另一節練習另一首曲。詳情可看我之前的貼文:”Young Children’s Practice Sessions”(年幼學生的練習)。


學琴一年以上和低級別學生(1至5級):

日常練習每次30至45分鐘(學琴一年的學生最少30分鐘;準備考試的學生最少45分鐘)

順序步驟:
1. 10(至15)分鐘:音階
2. 15分鐘:第一首曲
3. 15分鐘:第二首曲
4. 5(至10)分鐘:第三首曲(溫習曲或二重奏曲)

和初學者一樣,先由音階開始。所有學生都應該花多點時間,以彈出正確的音、正確的指法(一定要跟從指引)、穩定的節拍,然後是準確度和快速,來練習音階。

這個程度的學生應該懂得怎樣逐個樂句練習,這一點我已經在每個學生的課中,並對他們的家長個別地說過很多次(也再三強調)了。


高級別學生(6至8級):

日常練習每次45分鐘到1小時

順序步驟:
1. 15分鐘:音階──到了這個程度就要有速度和準確度了!如果我給你音階以外的技巧練習,也要在練習時先做
2. 每首歌練習15至20分鐘(獨奏)
3. 二重奏曲練習約10分鐘(如有的話)

不用我說,你也應該知道要怎樣練習了!但我要再次強調音階練習的重要(還有個別給你們安排的特定練習)。至於樂曲,就要逐個樂句、逐段練習!逐少努力熟習。雖然我都說過很多次了,但我知道你們很少會照著做。你重頭到尾把一首曲彈十次,然後說你練習完了,這是完全沒有意義的。如果你現在還是這樣做,就因為你懶惰!而且不想用心思考怎樣把曲彈好。你要逐個問題檢視,逐個問題處理、解決,不要害怕它們。花多點時間在有問題的地方,而不是你已經很熟悉的部分!(你會花更多時間溫習你擅長的學科和章節嗎?不會!那為甚麼在練琴時你要這樣做呢?所以要有合理的取捨。)

聆聽自己的練習,注意細節,努力改進。這些才是讓你進步的做法。


文憑級學生:

這不應由我告訴你,因為你應該已經很清楚要怎樣練習了!

可惜大部分學生都不知道……

好了,所有學生都一樣。做技巧練習,首先是練習曲,用十分鐘左右。重要的是練習的質素,而非時間。

第二,練習樂曲。有時候你練習的只是一篇長篇樂曲。開始時花些時間學習新曲(就像初學到考等級試的所有學生那樣)。如果你一開始時多花些時間了解一篇樂曲,在學習時就更有機會能把它彈好。要清楚了解你的樂曲。每個樂句的作用是甚麼?每節的位置在哪裡?這篇樂曲想表達甚麼?又是怎樣做到的?(例如採用的音樂手法)

另一點是,花多點時間掌握好特定的技巧,練至嫻熟。而我教給你們的那些技巧動作,是要多加練習才能做好的。要掌握並非易事,也的確得花點時間。有了技巧,你就能輕易讓自己的演奏更上一層樓。沒有技巧的話,就可能長期停留在同一層次。

但還是那一句,要保持樂觀正面。要知道專心致意地練習總能帶領你向著目標邁進。不要草率地練習,匆匆進入下一階段。這是急不來的。如果你一心只想著取得文憑,就不會有任何進步,運氣奇佳的話你或者也能在牆上掛上那些沒意義的證書。你不持續彈奏、學習、琢磨技巧的話,證書也不過是張紙。保持你對彈奏和練習的熱誠吧。在每天的練習中發揮正能量,給自己希望和信心。我們可以一起努力的。


別忘了:練習是學生和家長的責任,而不是老師的。


老師負責教導學生如何練習。
家長負責提醒孩子上課前要先練習好。


沒有練習,老師就不能在幫助學生學習和取得進步方面發揮作用。這就等於任何學校科目的家課和復習。不認識字母的話就學不了單詞,學不了單詞也就學不了語法和句子。鋼琴和音樂學習也一樣。不熟悉音和節奏,就不能再進一步掌握到節拍和速度,更不要說樂曲的個性和情感。


要感受音樂帶來的喜悅,就要學習彈奏音樂的方法。


黃穎妍 Teresa Wong

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