I have been playing the piano for years now, because I just love playing the piano. I have even taken some piano lessons to help improve my playing abilities. However, I was just playing around with some of my music today, and I am not really sure I am playing this piece correctly. It is Beethoven's Sonatina in G (WoO Anh.5 no. 1). I know how to play this piece. My question is how long do l hold the fermatas at the end of both sections?
Although fermatas have no specific duration, they are not arbitrary. They need to maintain a relationship to the surrounding music. A useful rule of thumb (at least, as I was taught) is to hold the note half-again as long as the length of the note to which it corresponds. At minimum, this gives a useful starting point from which one can determine whether a longer or shorter hold feels best.
So, for example, the fermata at the end of the first movement, being on a whole note, would add an additional two beats. In practice, I find this to be just right for the piece -- six beats total, releasing the chord on the arrival of the seventh beat.
However, this rule of thumb doesn't work well in the second movement. As we're in 6/8 time, holding the quarter note for a total of three beats throws off the rhythm. In this case, since it's a dramatic moment -- a "wait for it" moment -- I hold for a total of 5 beats so that the following eighth note comes in as the third (i.e., sixth) beat.
There is an additional possibility for this fermata, which is that you can also add a ritardando -- either simultaneously with the fermata or leading into it. In both cases, count the fermata at the slower tempo. Depending how slow, counting 2 or 5 beats will work, such that the following eighth note will come in at the right moment according to your internal pulse.