June 23, 2020

A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.

Before I took on Liebestraum No. 3, I knew that learning the cadenzas would be very, very challenging because of the double note trills (cadenza 1) and the excellent fingerwork needed to pull both the cadenzas off at such speeds. I was especially worried about the double note trills because it is one of the hardest things to master on the piano. It can take long periods of time (years!!) to build the finger independence needed.

And sure enough, it turned out to be extremely hard and frustrating to even perform them at a slow and stable tempo (60 BPM). But, as I practiced more and more, now practicing my chromatic double thirds scales, it gradually become easier. I was performing two types of trills, one using fingers 1-3 & 2-4 and another using fingers 1-3 & 2-5 (the trill needed for cadenza 1). I managed to get the former up to 84 BPM (both hands simultaneously) and the latter up to 72 BPM (right hand only). It really surprised me because I thought it would take me many, many days to even be comfortable with 60 BPM. The goal is to be able to perform the second trill up 100 BPM. At least it’s no where near Chopin’s ridiculous tempo marking on his “Double Thirds” etude of half = 69 (quarter = 138)!

It really all just comes down to practice, and not just practicing on the piano, but also practicing whenever and wherever I can. To make this trill feel as comfortable as breathing, it’s important to practice passively. I can do this when I’m doing things that allow me to free up a hand or two to practice the trills (e.g. reading books, watching videos, etc.). By focusing on something else while practicing the trills (on a surface), I force myself to not think about the trills. And, by not thinking about them, I essentialy make it as comfortable as breathing.

I want to keep up the progress I had today, but I should bear in mind that the faster I practice them, the exponentially harder they get. Though, as long as I see progress, even a tiny bit, I’ll keep at it.

One last thing, I figured out that I don’t actually need to memorize a piece. If I can perform it well with the score, then it’s fine already (learned that with Consolation No. 3).

That’s all. Be kind and keep striving!

Written by Quarter

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