Erster Wiener Lehrmeister im Pianofortespiel, Op. 599, Nos. 1 – 20
Alright, guys, it’s time for a new piano project!
That sentence was misleading, because it somewhat implies that I have completed older piano projects, whereas in fact, I have not completed any piano projects! Nor started any, for that matter… until now.
What is the project? The project is to play all 100 pieces in Carl Czerny’s Erster Wiener Lehrmeister im Pianofortespiel (lit. “First Viennese Masters in Piano Playing” (courtesy of Google Translate), or ‘Practical Exercises for Beginners on the Pianoforte’), Opus 599.
But first: an important note about book versions. The book I’m currently reading off of is some sketchy possibly illegal contraband Chinese copy, and it differs significantly from the most commonly accepted G. Schirmer’s edition. Unfortunately, I do not legally possess a copy of G. Schirmer’s edition, and so I cannot play from it. However, take heed of these notes while practising:
If you have G. Schirmer’s edition of Czerny’s exercises, follow their recommended fingerings to the tee. Or to the thumb. Because, y’know, T stands for thumb. No, it actually doesn’t.
If you do NOT have G. Schirmer’s edition of Czerny’s exercises: do not play on!! Especially if you are using some sketchy possibly illegal contraband Chinese copy! The sketchy possibly illegal contraband Chinese copy doesn’t switch fingers on repeated notes (switching fingers is the only way to swiftly execute repeating notes), has added unnecessary editorial slurs (you’ll see how horrible slurs sound by listening to the videos below), and is generally sketchy and possibly illegal.
Instead, buy a copy of G. Schirmer’s edition of Czerny’s exercises, or play from another book of exercises! Sketchy possibly illegal contraband Chinese copies of piano exercises will ruin your life… for life!! I know because my life is ruined and it has been like that for my entire life.
Anyways, without further ado: onto individual exercise remarks! I’m sure these will be as educational as Fox News.
- I played this at double time, so if you are a piano beginner, play this at half the speed I play it at. Remember to strike down firmly on all the notes. Your fingers should stay on the same keys the whole time.
- This exercise is actually tied for the longest exercise in the book! It has 32 measures, more than all exercises but a half dozen (which all also have 32 measures). Unfortunately, I also accidentally played this (as well as several other following videos) twice as fast. Yes, it’s a terrible video.
- Well, this first section is subtitled ‘Learning the Notes’, so I suppose you’ll have to do that. I highly recommend watching Lypur’s How to Play Piano Playlist; even though I did not study his videos, he radiates this exuberant coolness that you just have to listen to.
- The left hand often takes an ancillary role to the right, as in the last four bars of this example. However, perfect equality in playing (so that your left hand is as proficient as your right) is one of the key aims of étude collections. [TL Note: étude means 'study'!]
- As I mentioned in my important notes: remember to change your left hand fingers, even when you press down on the same key! Using the same finger for repeated notes is lazy, sketchy, and possibly illegal.
- I set my camera macro to infinity so it does not automatically zoom in on my piano curtains anymore. Just a note about the sudden change in video quality. Also, I uploaded this 6th étude in this opus on the 6th day of the 6th month. THIS IS OMINOUS
- Don’t worry if I seem to be playing too fast: that’s because I’m playing too fast. Don’t play like me. I’m not a player.
- Now, Czerny starts working on chords: multiple keys, pressed down with one hand at the same time. Instead of using your fingers to play the chords, put your fingers on the notes and push down with your entire hand. This will create a full, rich sound that doesn’t sound like a sloppy mess >_>
- Watch out! It’s the repeated notes! Remember: use different fingers to play repeated notes. The fingers I use in my video probably weren’t correct because I still based them off of my sketchy possibly illegal contraband Chinese copy.
- Chords with both hands! This is hard to coordinate, but you have to press down with both of your arms at the same time. Using your shoulders might help (since both arms are connected to your shoulders), but that may lead to bad habits in the future. Anyways, coordination is key! And that’s it for the first week.
- Now, to start off the second week with a new section: Five-finger Exercises! Oh boy! As opposed to Four-finger Exercises, or Twelve-finger Exercises! Anyways, for the next eight exercises (until the next section), the left hand will play exactly the same bass harmonies. Even though they may be in different forms, the left hand sounds exactly the same in every exercise. Fun.
- Those notes with dots on top are called staccato (Italian word for ‘detached’, or ‘separated’) notes. Play them like your fingers just touched a boiling hot dog. Why the hot dog is boiling nobody knows. Since nobody knows, we can hardly blame you for touching it. I’m a horrible teacher…
- The left hand seems to have changed, but it really hasn’t. Look at the notes: even though some are longer and some are shorter, the notes are still in the same positions. Remember to hold down your left pinky while playing this section.
- The left hand seems to have changed once again, but it really hasn’t… once again! This pattern of notes in the left hand is called an Alberti bass, because some guy called Alberti used it in his bass. Huh. Place more (not too much) emphasis on the first and third notes of each group – but by Madoka, do NOT EVER accent the highest note (G)! Doing so will make the rhythm lopsided. You’ll notice that my rhythm is already lopsided and that’s because I accented the highest note (G)…
- Emphasize the first note of each triplet, but don’t accent it like I do. I’m accenting it because I suck at playing piano, and if you don’t want to suck at playing piano, then don’t accent it like I do.
- Ahhh! The right hand has no dynamic markings on Schirmer’s edition, but my sketchy possiblly illegal contraband Chinese copy emphasizes them. Remember: ALWAYS USE SCHIRMER’S EDITION! Also: emphasize the slurs and endings of each quadruplet, but don’t accent them like I do. I’m accenting it because I suck at playing piano, and if you don’t want to suck at playing piano, then don’t accent them like I do.
- This is a bit tricky at first. Try practising the right hand melody with only one finger first, and then play the triplets. This requires much practice before it becomes smooth. Before, I played too fast, and now, I’m playing too slow…
- Oh boy! The final exercise before we move onto different chords. If you don’t know what chords are, Lypur has an amazing music theory playlist that you just must listen to! I’m purposefully not explaining what chords are so that you’re forced to watch that playlist! So watch it! It’s interesting! P.S. Notice the Alberti basses in the melody (not really an Alberti bass, is it). The one in measure eight is flipped upside-down, so it’s not the top note (G) that has to be played softly: it’s the bottom note now, C. So play that softly, and do NOT EVER accent it, or it will make the rhythm lopsided.
- Listen closely to the bass: you hear a different sorta sound in bar 2, don’t you? It’s different! Right? RIGHT?! Remember to slur where there’s slurs and staccato where there’s staccatos…
- Finally, the last video in this post. This melody actually sounds pretty melodious, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s just good to relax and enjoy the music… don’t ask me what’s happening to the camera lighting, I have no idea. Besides, these videos are meant to be heard and not seen.
Ah. Well, that’s it. Twenty Czerny exercises in one post. Hopefully, you’ve learned something here, whether it be ‘don’t ever play like that Mushyrulez retard’ or ‘I think I ought to invest in a Bulbasaur plushie.’ Any other learnings are strictly prohibited here at O-New.
A quick conclusion: always use G. Schirmer’s edition; pay attention to slurs and staccatos; switch fingers on repeated notes; and emphasize the bottom notes of an Alberti bass, unless it’s flipped upside-down (then, you emphasize the top notes).
I personally think Czerny’s learning curve is too fast. Even I’m having trouble keeping up with memorizing two every day now.. I think I’ll burn out soon. But before I do, why not check out the next post in this series?