Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I'll be going away for a week from January 25 to February 1. When I return, I'll be going full steam ahead!! For those of you who are learning this piece with me, enjoy learning this beautiful piece.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Someone told me about this edition for Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu in C# minor Op 66. It's edited by Maurice Hinson and includes Chopin's original manuscript as well as the Fontana edition.

The Foreword includes the context in which the FI was composed, notes about the Fontana edition, and notes from Hinson about performing his piece and practice techniques. I plan to write more about this book and Hinson's notes in my blog soon.

The main differences between Chopin's original ms and the Fontana version is in bars 13 - 24. In the Fontana version, you have the thumbs accented for bars 13 - 16, then the 5th finger accented for the off beats from bars 17 - 24. The original has no accents but the first note of each 16th note group is held as a quarter note. There are other differences as well.

Since Arthur Rubenstein was mentioned as the Chopinist in this book, I found his YouTube performance of this piece, which was of the original version:


In Hinson's opinion, this piece is usually played too fast, as an exercise in velocity rather than as the poetic expression of two contrasted moods - that of the Allegro Agitato and a broadly lyrical middle section.

This edition may be purchased here:

Saturday, January 14, 2012


     When I began my Fantasie Impromptu journey six weeks ago, I only had one desire and that was to learn to play it as quickly as I could. Now, after receiving lessons from Birba and advice from AJ and other forum members, I'm realizing that what began as a goal has turned into a music educational journey. I'm now working on some technical exercises to help me through some difficult passages but I'm also practicing the rest of the piece.

     I thought it would be a good idea to post the link to my PianoStreet Topic. It's become a very lively thread and  if you're following my journey, you'll enjoy the posts on that topic. Birba and AJ have posted their videos there and so have I. I'll continue to post on this blog, of course. See you there! Feel free to join PianoStreet and tag along in that discussion thread.

Monday, January 9, 2012


     I posted a video (below) that AJ made for me to demonstrate the principle of rotation. Before watching it, it will be helpful for you to review the information that AJ has provided about it:

     Firstly, this is a SERIOUSLY in depth demonstration. I would probably not have addressed it this way in person. I think the depth of explanation is warranted because it's in a video, whereas in person I could have made a better judgement on exactly which part is difficult for you and focused on that.

     As you watch the video, you may find that it makes sense, but when you go to apply it that it feels odd or you don't quite know how to execute the rotations. Particularly when the direction is going the same as on the previous note.. for example..  if you have a phrase that goes "left, right, right, right" - you may feel as though you don't really have to rotate right each time to play the note. This is because those rotations are incredibly small, especially between fingers 2,3 and 4.

     With that in mind, I think you need to think about and focus mainly on the changes of direction - make sure these are done correctly, as this is where the problems occur. Example, if you go left when you should have gone right you will place your hand/fingers significantly off balance. Where the direction is not changing (ie. left,left or right,right), you are likely doing it correctly already so I don't want you to dwell on that and over think it.

On the amount of rotation -

Each of your fingers has a balance point, - loosely explained, the 3rd finger is the middle point and each of the fingers either side of it have varying degrees of rotation in order to keep them balanced. The 2nd finger will be slightly more to the left than the 3rd, the thumb will be more so that the 2nd finger, the 4th and 5th go to the right. When the amount of rotation is correct each finger will be placed in a comfortable supported position over the key - what this means is that there will generally be no tilting of the fingers when you rotate in a given direction. The movement is small enough that  each finger will land vertical over the key. I know this is likely a little confusing, so maybe I'll do another video later about balance and such. When you attempt to do it you should be able to feel if you are going too far one way or another as it will feel wrong and difficult to play.

Fantasie Impromptu - Bars 7/8 - ROTATION

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fantasie Impromptu - Section 1 Accented Passages

Pieces of a Puzzle

     Well, I'm not back yet, as far as getting back to practice but I had an idea last night that I thought would help me get over this slump.
     First, I will break this piece into 5 parts, like a puzzle:

  1. Section 1: Bars 1 to 24 - this is the section I've been beating up the last two weeks.
  2. Section 2: Bars 25 to 40 
  3. Section 3: The lyrical middle section - I've got this part memorized
  4. Section 4: Bars 83 to 102 - Oh, the dreaded Section 1 again but even worse, now at a faster tempo!
  5. Section 5: Bars 103 - 138 - Finale
     So, when I'm ready to return to the piano, I plan to work on Sections 2 and 3 and only work on Section 1 when I'm in the mood for it. I've also decided that I will post videos of passages I'm having trouble with and get feedback rather than beat those areas to pieces and burning myself out.

     What do you think? Does this sound like a reasonable plan?  I'm still taking a break for now but I'll be back!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Won't be back for many a day .....

     The accented section was supposed to sound like a "maiden on horseback riding through the woods with her hair swept back by the wind" but my frustration was causing it to sound like the drum beats of war! So I knew it was time to take a break, to step back and do something else other than piano for a little while. I don't know when I'll be back but I shall return as this is my favorite piece. I want to return with renewed vigor and enthusiasm and love for this beautiful piece.  I thank you very much for your continued support.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Progress Update

     Slow practice and hands separate practice has helped with the first 24 measures and I am now able to play at a tempo of 60 beats to the half note fairly well. Bars 13 - 24 still present a challenge. I have also begun working on the final passage of this A section, which is from bars 30 - 40. Once I get it to a reasonable tempo (it's very slow and halting right now), I will record a video, hopefully this week. I have memorized the slower middle section but cannot say that I can play it with great confidence yet.
     So until then, goodnight and thanks for visiting!