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I can successfully play the first movement and would otherwise consider myself to be at Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music level 8 to 9 (can play Chopin's Prelude No. 6, Op. 28 with my own interpretation, and can play Chopin's Nocturne in C sharp minor with difficulty and relying on the publisher's interpretation). I've recently started studying the 3rd movement of Moonlight, but I'm noticing that I'm not making much progress - although I am certainly progressing through the first page in the sense that I am playing the correct notes more often than not, I'm not noticing any significant increase in my ability to play new passages - all of the passages I encounter, unless they are similar in form to those I've already seen, I'm just brute forcing my way through.

Are there any studies around my level that might better prepare me to handle the full movement?

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I can only support the answer by alephzero! You should definitely be on a level that you do not have to search for the correct keys on the keyboard, but have a good feeling how to place your hands and fingers. Without this, you will probably have a hard time searching for the best finger position. Perhaps you should do some exercises before beginning the Moonlight (3.), for example some Czerny Etudes. They will help you improve your technical skills and stamina.

  • I agree. The question was really asking: which pieces are best to use as preparatory pieces? With regards to Czerny, do you mean the finger dexterity etudes? (Op 740 I think?) – Michael Stachowsky Apr 24 '17 at 10:32
  • I don't remember the opus, but what you refer to sounds good! – ml4294 Apr 24 '17 at 10:41
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Most of the 3rd movement is pretty much a "study" in arpeggios and tremolos. If you are at the right level to realistically attempt it, you should be able to construct technical exercises yourself from what Beethoven wrote.

IMO the real problem here is not so much the technical difficulty of the notes as the stamina required for the relentless "Presto agitato" tempo mark, which paradoxically would be easier if it was also relentlessly loud - but that's not how Beethoven marked the dynamics!

The two Chopin pieces you mentions are not even close to the same level of technical difficulty as the Beethoven 3rd movement. If you can only play the C# minor Nocturne "with difficulty," maybe you just aren't ready for the Beethoven yet.

  • I can definitely accept that I'm not ready yet for sure. Are there​ any pieces that similarly challenge a student to gain stamina without as many technical difficulties? – Michael Stachowsky Apr 23 '17 at 15:44

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