Clair de Lune, MacDowell & a Chopin Etude –

In this month’s practice clinic, Graham Fitch answers questions on pedalling, ornamentation, arpeggios, use of forearm rotation and more in Debussy’s Clair de Lune, MacDowell’s To a Wild Rose and works by Chopin and Handel.

Debussy's Clair de Lune No. 3 from Suite Bergamasque

Practice clinic questions

Handel Suite in D Minor, HWV 437 – Can I use the 3243 in the trills in the Allemande? Perhaps you could discuss what is appropriate.

Chopin Etude Op. 25 No. 1 – I am hoping that you can assist me with getting the arpeggios in this work to sound light, effortless, and above all in the background while bringing the more pronounced melody typically played by finger 5 (and sometimes 4) to the forefront.

I’ve been working at this for about 6 months now, and feel that my performance sounds rather mechanical versus a beautiful melodic line with a sweeping background accompaniment. Any technical exercises for greater finger independence would be greatly appreciated!

Also, I’ve played around with circular wrist rotations and side to side rotations, and I just wondered if you had any thoughts on the differences between the two as they relate to voicing the melody and controlling the accompaniment.

Debussy Clair De Lune (No. 3 from Suite Bergamesque) – I’m having some difficulty a small section in between bars 36 and 39. Although I received a good mark for this in my Grade 8 exam, l still feel like I’m fumbling and even slightly dreading this section despite loving this moment in the piece.  

The fingering l’ve been using in bar 37 for RH is 5 1 3 2 (1st beat) and 5 1 4 2 on the 2nd and 3rd beats. Going from the 2nd finger to the 5th on each of the semiquavers is not a comfortable stretch for my hand so l have even been trying to replace my 2nd finger with my thumb really quickly. However, l’m not sure l can do this because this section is fast. Also a mention on pedalling here too would be great, thank you!

MacDowell To a Wild Rose (No. 1 from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51) – My first question on this piece is a request for practice tips leading from bar 25 into bars 26-28. The second question is whether you have any suggestions for pedalling in bars 39-44 if one does not have a middle pedal on the piano?

Next practice clinic & new format

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Online Academy subscribers can submit questions for practice clinics up to two weeks before each session. This can be done using the link provided on the Online Academy dashboard under “subscription benefits” (click here to sign-in and visit your dashboard).

Further information on how our practice clinics work is available here or please click here to find out more about the Online Academy.