Petite Suite or Veijo Zortzico?

Posted In: Young Harpists

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    chloe c on #165723

    Hi. I am currently working on the piece Veijo Zortzico for my grade 8 exam this June. I’ve just started it 3 weeks ago and i found that it is not an easy piece.
    Actually I sat for the grade 8 exam last year and one of the pieces I’ve chosen was Petite Suite by David Watkins. I didn’t play the piece well and i failed my exam.
    I am therefore now struggling on whether i should change Petite Suite to Veijo Zortzico for the coming exam or not.
    I started to play harp just 4-5 years ago. Is it possible for me to master Veijo Zortzico in just 3-4 months time? I can only practise for 3 hours a day now due to work.
    Can anyone give me some advice please? Thanks very much! =)

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #165724

    I taught Viejo Zortzico to a student in 3 months, but speed of mastery depends on the student and the teacher. If you have 3 hours a day to practice, you have to figure out how to budget that time for the amount of repertoire that you need to cover. It is always easier to re-learn something than to start fresh on a completely new piece. On the other hand, if you have a mental block about a piece, maybe it is better to start on something that does not carry any emotional baggage. Are these your only choices or can you look for something that takes less time to learn? The Syllabus usually has something in the list that is shorter and technically easier than the rest.

    chloe c on #165725

    My teacher encouraged me to change from Petite Suite to Viejo Zortzico but i am still considering it.

    By the way, the other two pieces that I’ve chosen are Concerto in B flat major and Variations on A Theme by Mozart.These two pieces are okay for me. The only problem is the third piece which I am struggling for. Petite Suite and Viejo Zortzico are my only choices for the third piece as we do not have much resources here.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #165726

    Do you mean the Handel Concerto? I think the Viejo Zortzico is more musically interesting, but for a similar piece that is easier to learn, you could choose Spanish Dance no. 2 by Granados, for example. If you want a more modern work, the Three Improvisations by William Mathias are not terribly hard, or his Santa Fe Suite. Not knowing how old you are doesn’t help. Actually, if you want to keep it in your repertoire, you should figure out why you didn’t do the Watkins well, and fix it. And kudos for admitting you didn’t play it was well as you wanted.

    Tacye on #165727

    Saul, she needs to choose from the pieces on the exam syllabus for the exam!

    carl-swanson on #165728

    There are two things that make the Guiridi more difficult to learn. One is the fact that it is in 5/8(or is it 5/4?), whatever, and let me tell you, that piece does not like to be in 5. If you do choose to learn it, be extremely careful that you in fact have 5 beats in each measure.

    The second thing that makes it difficult is the fact that it was not written by a harpist. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful piece, and I’ve used it on concerts many times. But there’s an awkwardness to the piece that will always be there, no matter how well you know it. I’ve never played the Petit Suite. But since it was written by a very fine harpist, I suspect that it fits the hand much better.

    chloe c on #165729

    I am 19 year-old with roughly 4 years harp experience.

    Counting beats on Viejo Zortzico is already killing me. Not to mention the chords.

    Yes, this is indeed the Trinity’s syllabus. Maybe I should practice on both the pieces now and then after considering all the pros and cons then I’ll make my decision. Making decision is still a headache now though.

    Thanks everyone for your kind advice =)

    carl-swanson on #165730

    Jenny- If you’re going to practice this piece, sit with the music at the kitchen table(away from the harp) and count the beats aloud while you sing or tap the rhythm of the notes. When you can do that, then go to the harp and again, counting aloud, count the beats while you play the notes. You might count aloud and just play the melody until the rhythm feels secure. Do this at whatever tempo you can do it correctly, no matter how slow that is.

    I first heard this piece played by Emily Mitchell on an opening recital at a harp conference years ago and loved it. Many years later I finally took the time to learn it. I found I was constantly sticking an extra beat in or taking a beat out without realizing it. I would practice a page and then when I went back to it the next day realize I had altered the rhythm. I called Emily just to vent my frustration and to see if she had any suggestions. She burst into gales of laughter and said that she had had exactly the same experience when she learned the piece. “That piece does not want to be in 5” she said. She told me that she would practice a section of the piece and then take it to her lesson with Marissa Robles who would then point out how she wasn’t playing the rhythm correctly. So you’re not the first person to have problems with the rhythm of this piece.

    Tacye on #165731

    I move a vast number of notes into a different hand from the one they are written for in this piece- some were moves suggested by my teacher but I added to them.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #165732

    Viejo Zortzico is indeed a charming piece, in a tricky meter with some challenging passages. Trying to master it in three months would be kind of foolish. It is more along the lines of at least a year to get it in the hands. Stick to the Watkins and fix it. That will be much more impressive, I think, because jurors like seeing visible progress.

    chloe c on #165733

    Thanks Saul! I think I should try to fix my Watkins now as I didn’t see any huge improvement in my Viejo Zortzico after a lot of practices. I should talk to my teacher about this and try to fix it out.

    By the way, does it really matters a lot if i played my pieces a couple of minutes longer than the suggested time given by the examination authority? Because I usually played 2-3 minutes longer than the suggested time.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #165734

    It should matter most how musically you play, but that depends on your program and what they expect. One way to improve speed is to play in a slow tempo, but with very fast finger closing, so you get used to the feel of a fast tempo.

    Alison on #165735

    Harps are allocated a longer session so play at your most comfortable and a musical tempo. Choose to play in the the order you prefer. The examiner is free to stop you if s/he’s heard enough, but unlikely. I think the Guridi is much easier to read & memorise but has more points to trip over in an exam when you play from a cold start. I’ve never mastered the Prelude even though I made a good start on it at a similar age to you, gone back to it a few times, but it never really sank in and the high stuff and left hand tricky to decipher. Suddenly I spotted the Guridi, bought it and have cracked it in 2 weeks. Work out which you prefer musically, what’s secure and reliable and how your hands cope from one piece to the next, as the styles and modes of the pieces change like a triathlon, that’s something I find particularly hard to adjust to.

    jessica-wolff on #165736

    “Does not want to be in 5”? That’s an interesting way of putting it!

    Your advice later on about putting it on the table and tapping it out is good. I’d add that listening to a lot of Greek music in 5/8, 7/8 and 9/8 helps too.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #165737

    Cracked it in two weeks? With a metronome? If you are used to 5/8, perhaps that is feasible. It lays in the hand for the most part, but playing with feeling does take some time. But if you really did, then tackle his “La del alba Seria”. Let me know how you do with that one.

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