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Debussy: Girl with the flaxen hair


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#1 funkiepiano

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 11:16

Fellow piano teachers, I need some tips on teaching this piece please, my student is really struggling! He's already played the 2 Arabesques and Clair de Lune, they took a while but he got there. He finds playing in Gb major and the parallel 4ths really tricky, anyone got any tips to help with these?
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#2 edgmusic

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 15:29

Interested that your pupil finds this more difficult than the Arabesques as I consider this 'easier!'

For the key. Before practising the piece play Gb/Eb minor scales and arpeggios a few times, then the scales harmonised with chords.

My pupils also find the parallel 4ths/5ths section tricky. I break it down to 2 phrases, get it secure in octaves and then fill in the 'between'notes.

Not sure if this adds to what you are doing already.
Best of luck - it's a beautiful piece!
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#3 fsharpminor

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 19:28

It is far easier than the Arabesques, and its quite slow.  Even Clair de Lune is in D flat so its only one extra flat. Is its because is a CFlat , so in effect a B.? I know that fazes some pianists . Are some of  the chords troublesome ?  I'm not a teacher so I will leave teaching advice to others !


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#4 EllieD

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 07:33

I've just started having a go at this too! So will be interested to see what people say. Not got to the bit in 4ths/ 5ths yet. I must admit, I don't really worry about key signatures - it may be harder to read when there's 6 flats, but when you know what the chords are, they're often easier to play. 


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#5 Latin pianist

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 08:19

Regarding the key, most notes played will be black. I've sometimes found it helps students if you circle any white ones until the feel of the key is established.I too am surprised he finds this piece more difficult than the Arabesques.
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#6 agricola

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 11:49

Although this piece is usually set at an easier grade than the others you mention I suspect that the difficulty is that as Debussy developed his style of composing the lay-out of notes became more unusual  -- so working out fingerings and hand positions becomes crucial and this definitely applies to the passages in 4ths and 5ths.  However, some pupils can be very adverse to thinking about such things and prefer the hit-and-miss method of fingering.

 

I never find that playing scales helps a great deal in learning to play with keys with many sharps or flats.  Instead I would suggest he plays through several much easier pieces in G flat.  These can be hard to come by but it's quite simple to find simple pieces in G major and just change the key signature.  Of course, if he's desperate he could just reverse the process and play La Fille in G ohmy.png


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#7 funkiepiano

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 12:41

Thank you for your replies! Some good points Agricola. Yes fingering & hand positions are not his strong point. Like many adults who didn't learn when they were children, he doesn't prepare his hand shapes enough in advance, and he's left-handed as well which probably doesn't help
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