Czerny op 599

by Ghazal
(Iran)

Dear Maria,

Hi, thanks for this useful website.

I have been taking piano lessons for nearly 2 years. I have finished Beyer and now I am practicing Czerny opus 599.

Also, I have learnt several pieces which I cannot play properly yet! (this is another problem that I am trying to solve it with your good tips for practicing!)

Here, I want to ask you for the best way for practicing Czerny. I found it very hard to learn and very hard to memorize (to teach my fingers, as you said!)

I'd really like to LEARN and MASTER Czerny but I don’t know how to do it. (I am 33 years old, married and have a full time job. I cannot practice more than 1-1.5 hours a day). And also, is it necessary to review Beyer, too?

Wish you a good day,
Ghazal

Maria's Answer:

Hello Ghazal, thank you for your kind words.

First of all, it seems you are able to find more than enough time to practice, despite all! Now, how you use that time is of course crucial, and also that you are not being disturbed and interrupted as you practice.

Often, practicing in shorter but laser-focused intervals, can also give great results.

So, if you are able to practice for 1-1,5 hours daily without interruptions- that's great! If you can do it in smaller intervals during the morning and evening, let's say, that is also not bad- as long as you decide and plan beforehand exactly what to work on, not to waste any time.

Since you didn't mention what piece in Czerny you are working on right now, and op.599 goes from beginner to late elementary/early advanced, I can unfortunately not give any specific technical advice.

But the practice method I give you below, works on most piano pieces regardless of the level.

Reviewing Beyer? Only if you love it.

Reviewing is good, and you need to do that later for pieces you want to keep on your repertoire. But why waste your time? There is so much piano music to learn, I'd say keep going with fresh music instead. But stay on your technical level until you are comfortable enough.

So, your problems with Czerny are two. First to learn it, and then to memorize it.

You might memorize easily as you learn it, but first you should focus on learning the piece securely with the score in front of you. After really, really mastering the score, you should practice to learn the piece by heart, but securely.

So, here is the practice plan:

Step 1: Learning the Piece with Notes.

1. Divide the piece in small sections of 2-4 measures. Smaller is better, because it's faster to learn and retain. Use a pencil and draw a line between each section of 2-4 measures. Do this with the whole piece.

2. Then work with each section like this:

  • Learn each part hands separately, first slow, then gradually faster until full (or more) tempo.
  • Next, learn both hands together, but play half the tempo of what you can play without effort hands separately. This will feel really slow, but it's a very important step.
  • Practice until you can play securely at a very slow tempo with both hands, paying attention to all that's written in the score, and that you are making music and playing with a beautiful tone, albeit not in the real tempo-yet.

3. After learning all the small sections of the piece, combine two sections together to a larger part of 4-8 measures.

Practice in the same way as above, (which will go smoother this time) with hands separately up to full tempo then both extremely slow.

This time you could use the metronome and gradually increase the speed as you play, with both hands together. Stop at a speed you feel is comfortable and where you make no mistakes.

4. Next step, after learning the medium parts of the piece, is to combine two to make even larger parts of 8-16 measures.

Repeat the process in step 1, but aim to gradually increase the speed even more this time.

5. Finally, after mastering the large parts, repeat the whole process with the whole piece.

Tip: To test if you are ready to move on to the next level, play 4 times in a row. If there are no mistakes, you're ready to move on.

Step 2: Memorizing the piece.

If you are a person who can easily memorize, you might have done it by now (lucky you!). If not- repeat the process above but this time without the notes!:)

There will be, as in all pieces, parts that are harder. You need to be more patient there and take your time to really master each step until you move on to the next.

On the other hand, there will also be parts that are easy and you can fly by basically.

Happy practicing!

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