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Bing Z
03-14-2012, 03:20 AM
Hi, I need several piano pieces to be played in my story and I'd appreciate some recommendations or endorsements. The MC will be involved (play or applaud) in all scenes. She is almost 18 yo and has been learning piano since age 4. I know nothing about piano. Everything discussed below is the result of watching YouTube videos and reading Wikipedia.

The first one is a piece the MC plays to a 6 yo girl who has been learning for a year but has lost interest. The MC is going to impress her and hopefully to get her interest back. The performance is also the icebreaker for the two. Some of the videos I like from YouTube include: Turkish March, Flight of the Bumble-Bee, Für Elise. I personally like Fur Elise the most but the other two fast-paced pieces seem more impressive and intriguing to a 6 yo. What do you think? Any better alternatives? If you've played these pieces, what would be in your mind while playing?

The second one is a 4-hands duet, by the MC and an old man. The man's late wife used to be the MC's piano teacher. The old man basically only plays one piece and only with the MC. It's a deed between them. So I think the duet should be relatively easy. Will Berceuse from Dolly Suite be right? Which side should the less competent player (the old man) be playing? What would be in your mind when you play these pieces?

The final piece is to be performed by a fellow student 1-2 years younger than the MC. It should be a difficult show-off piece that the MC is unable to perform (or can't play at full speed). It should however be a piece achievable by someone who can ace at (NYSSMA) state competitions BUT not good enough to win or even partake in international competitions, ie, not someone who will become a concert pianist. Will La campanella or Transcendental Etudes be plausible? Any better suggestions?

Rufus Coppertop
03-14-2012, 04:07 PM
If the MC has been playing for fourteen years and practicing well, it's conceivable that there is no piece in the literature that is beyond her. At least not beyond her in a technical way.

Hungarian Rhapsody No 1 by Liszt?

It's difficult enough to be worthy of someone who can ace NYSSMA competitions (whatever they are) and challenging enough that being able to play the written notes at an appropriate tempo will not necessarily mean that you're going to make it as a concert pianist of international standard.

There's probably a video of Bugs Bunny playing it on Youtube. He does quite a beautiful rendition.

nikkidj
03-15-2012, 12:31 AM
I like Fur Elise for the younger child. It's a classic piano recital piece, though it might be a little advanced for a 6 year old.

As far as a difficult piece that the MC can't play, anything by Rachmaninoff (spelling?) would do. Those pieces were the bane of my existence. And for some reason, Chopin was always hard for me, but others have no trouble with him. Old Rachy, though, I don't know of anyone who finds his pieces easy to learn and play.

Al Stevens
03-15-2012, 01:15 AM
For the child, I'd play Minuet in G by Beethoven.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y2SefYg8lE&feature=related

With the old man, I'm not sure. Maybe a popular tune with easy chord changes, such as Blue Moon. The old man can play either part.

The final piece would be Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa0Z6g1XJkU
I used to play it in piano bars. The patrons often broke into singing "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" when the slower passage began.

When I'm playing anything, I think only about the music.

Bing Z
03-15-2012, 04:26 AM
Thanks for the responses.

@Rufus, I'm now considering between Hungarian Rhapsody and Fantasie Impromptu. While fingers don't fly as much, a benefit of Hungarian Rhapsody seems to be the potential of duet/trio/orchestral arrangements which give a better reason for the "show." More videos to watch.

@nikkidj. So Fur Elise it is for the 6yo. I want some awe expression from the child so it should do it, and it can provide a medium term target for her to work on.

@Al. Thanks for telling your experience. As stated I'm going to use Fur Elise for the child (for the awe effect) even though Minuet in G seems closer to her level. Blue Moon is a great suggestion. Beautiful and fit the situation. I'm still thinking about the hard one.

By the way, how playable/unplayable will a good Steinway grand piano be after left untouched and un-tuned for 3 years in a well-maintained living room in a non-humid region (inland Connecticut)?

nikkidj
03-15-2012, 04:41 AM
I haven't had my baby (grand) tuned since we moved three years ago (BAD nikkidj) and it's still playable. I only play once every couple of months, and then for short bursts.

*Thinks its time to tickle the ivories*

Al Stevens
03-15-2012, 05:50 AM
By the way, how playable/unplayable will a good Steinway grand piano be after left untouched and un-tuned for 3 years in a well-maintained living room in a non-humid region (inland Connecticut)?Impossible to say sight-unseen. Have a technician look at it. If he says it's junk and then tries to sell you one of his own, find another technician.

L.C. Blackwell
03-15-2012, 07:12 AM
It's not classical of course, but I remember the piece that moved me out of my seat and had me begging for more was an exuberant improv rendition of Billy Joel's "The Piano Man." And it was purely improv--the young man playing it was just that good. I could see a six year old enjoying something like that: I'd love to hear it again myself, and there is--alas--not much chance I ever will.

L.C. Blackwell
03-15-2012, 07:23 AM
By the way, how playable/unplayable will a good Steinway grand piano be after left untouched and un-tuned for 3 years in a well-maintained living room in a non-humid region (inland Connecticut)?

I've seen grand pianos go through far harsher treatment and still be playable. It's likely to be a little/somewhat out of tune, unless the room is temperature and humidity controlled. An experienced pianist would note that it was "off." A beginner or non-player quite possibly would not.

As to the sound--someone who's good enough with a piano can make even an out-of-tune instrument sound decent-to-good to the amateur listener. The pianist may be cringing the whole time, but unless the audience has an ear for pitch, the performance will probably pass muster.

Bing Z
03-15-2012, 07:35 AM
Impossible to say sight-unseen. Have a technician look at it. If he says it's junk and then tries to sell you one of his own, find another technician.

Oh I don't have that piano. It only exists in the story, so I just need plausibility, and it seems it can go either way, which is great. :D


It's not classical of course, but I remember the piece that moved me out of my seat and had me begging for more was an exuberant improv rendition of Billy Joel's "The Piano Man." And it was purely improv--the young man playing it was just that good. I could see a six year old enjoying something like that: I'd love to hear it again myself, and there is--alas--not much chance I ever will.

Oh yeah, I love The Piano Man, too, and am listening to it right now. I'll think about it, but the MC may be more likely use a classical in this case esp when she's not singing (no clue if she can sing ^_^). I'll give it another thought though. Thanks.

L.C. Blackwell
03-15-2012, 07:37 AM
He didn't sing at all, which was what made it so impressive. Pure piano, pure magic.

Bing Z
03-15-2012, 07:40 AM
I've seen grand pianos go through far harsher treatment and still be playable. It's likely to be a little/somewhat out of tune, unless the room is temperature and humidity controlled. An experienced pianist would note that it was "off." A beginner or non-player quite possibly would not.

As to the sound--someone who's good enough with a piano can make even an out-of-tune instrument sound decent-to-good to the amateur listener. The pianist may be cringing the whole time, but unless the audience has an ear for pitch, the performance will probably pass muster.

Great. This is exactly what I need. The MC may cringe a little at first for the out-of-tune piano, but since the old man hasn't played a note in 3 years, waiting for him to warm up or adjust should take more tolerance than the instrument. Cool.

ETA: Wow, that piano man young man is a heck of magic then. Wow. Wish I'd been there.

blacbird
03-15-2012, 08:13 AM
My son, who is a professional jazz keyboardist and also teaches piano lessons for children, suggests Tchaikowsky's Album for the Young as a source of appropriate material.

caw

L.C. Blackwell
03-15-2012, 08:23 AM
I can add one more thing about "out of tune."

Frequently several notes or one section of the keyboard will be off, but the discordant notes are not always consecutive. For instance, if I play a scale on a piano that hasn't been serviced, it may be D or G-sharp that catches my attention, but not necessarily D, E, F together. Or--one octave may be in tune with itself, but out of sync with the octave above or below.

In what I imagine are rather rare cases, the entire piano can be out of perfect pitch, but still in tune with itself. I know of one instance where a technician refused to tune a century-old piano for this reason. The instrument was correct in its intervals, at least to the point of being pleasant to the ear; and the piano tuner didn't want to risk putting a crack in the sounding board.

If random info helps... :)

Bing Z
03-16-2012, 04:03 AM
My son, who is a professional jazz keyboardist and also teaches piano lessons for children, suggests Tchaikowsky's Album for the Young as a source of appropriate material.

caw

Seems like a beautiful piece. Considering. Thanks.

Bing Z
03-16-2012, 04:22 AM
I can add one more thing about "out of tune."

Frequently several notes or one section of the keyboard will be off, but the discordant notes are not always consecutive. For instance, if I play a scale on a piano that hasn't been serviced, it may be D or G-sharp that catches my attention, but not necessarily D, E, F together. Or--one octave may be in tune with itself, but out of sync with the octave above or below.

In what I imagine are rather rare cases, the entire piano can be out of perfect pitch, but still in tune with itself. I know of one instance where a technician refused to tune a century-old piano for this reason. The instrument was correct in its intervals, at least to the point of being pleasant to the ear; and the piano tuner didn't want to risk putting a crack in the sounding board.

If random info helps... :)

Certainly helps. Thanks for bringing these up.

The rare case may actually be close to my scenario. The old man is a retired art dealer and most things he owns are quite antique, including a 1965 Jaguar S-Type. The piano in question (in my notes, probably won't be mentioned in the story) is a 1916 Steinway Model A. But I think I won't play on a pleasant out of perfect pitch. I think the MC will just notice that a key here or there (like you said, not necessary a whole block) is out of tune and cringe a little, but will keep on playing and move on. The key of the scene will be finishing the piece and the two characters reconnecting their emotional ties.

psyche_13
03-27-2012, 11:47 PM
Some things for your third piece you might consider are pieces with a long hand reach - I took piano lessons for 13 years, and still have a trouble with some pieces because my baby finger is a bit short compared to my next finger! A lot of women, especially younger or shorter ones, have trouble with certain arrangements. One in particular that I've always struggled with is a really lovely piano arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon in D

Al Stevens
03-28-2012, 01:05 AM
I once had a teacher refuse to take me on as a student because he said I was a pianist "from the wrists up." At the time I was making a substantial part of my living playing piano in lounges and saloons.

mtrenteseau
03-31-2012, 08:12 AM
Beethoven's "Rage Over a Lost Penny" is a difficult and lengthy piece that I learned a short version of many years ago, which never fails to impress.

Bing Z
04-02-2012, 07:41 AM
@psyche_13: I'm listening to George Winston playing Johann Pachelbel Canon now. It's beautiful. I'll think about it. Thanks.

@Al Stevens: I don't really know what that teacher meant by that.

@mtrenteseau: Will look up Rage Over a Lost Penny. Thanks for the info.

Bufty
04-02-2012, 08:29 PM
Try - Rustle of Spring.

Written by Singdin? it was one of my late mother's showpieces -she was an excellent pianist and it's a thrilling piece to listen to when played with the right tempo.

Good luck.