Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to play Beethoven's Sonata Op. 49 No. 2

Learn the famous "Easy" Sonata by Beethoven

In this video, Robert teaches you how to approach the simple, yet beautiful, Sonata Op. 49 No. 2 by Beethoven. Despite being known as the "Easy" sonata, it isn't really that easy...

Released on January 4, 2017

  
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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, welcome to virtualsheetmusic.com and livingpianos.com. This is Robert Estrin with a tutorial on tips on how to play Beethoven's famous sonata, Opus 49 Number Two in G Major. This is such a great work because it's a wonderful Beethoven sonata. Not a simplified version, mind you, but an easier Beethoven sonata than many of the other later sonatas and even earlier sonatas. Interestingly the Opus 49, you would think that it was written later than some of the earlier opuses, but it was actually published later. It's a relatively earlier work than the opus would reveal. Now how to approach this piece. Well, there are many aspects about playing Beethoven in general that apply to this piece. I'm gonna go ahead and play the first subject of the exposition of the first movement so you can get an idea of what this piece is about.

[Music]

There are many aspects to playing Beethoven and other classical period music. It's very important to play with a regular beat. Therefore, practicing with a metronome is indispensable for your practice. I always recommend memorizing your music first. It makes it so much easier to approach it instead of kind of looking at the music and looking at your hands. Classical period music is not that hard to memorize if you take a small section at a time, hand separately, and master them, as I've taught in previous videos. So once you do that, how to actually play the piece at a high level? There are a number of things you have to remember. One is whenever possible, practice in chords. And another thing is bring out the melody, which is typically in the right hand. Also work out your trills. So those are three aspects. Reduce things to chords, bring out the melody in the right hand generally, and three, work out your ornamentation. So let's start from the beginning and I'm gonna stop whenever there's something of value I can share with you. You'll notice I start with a nice forte. Beethoven didn't write in a lot of dynamics in this piece. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't play with dynamics. I take the liberty of doing some dynamics that I think really work well and you're welcome to use them if you like them as well. Now if you look at different editions, different people will suggest different dynamics. There isn't only one way to play this piece, but you have to do something with it to bring out the contrast of the music.

Now you notice I play a rather simple trill there. This is the way I would teach a student to play the piece. Just five notes. A more advanced student might play a trill like...but it's not necessary and it's more important to play a trill in a way that you can do it with absolute assurance. So don't worry about playing a lot of notes. Play the most number of notes you can play reliably...So over there in the left hand...learn it in chords. There's two reasons for this. First of all, you learn to get your fingers...first of all, you use the right fingers because by playing in thirds that way, you'll get your hand over a group of notes and it makes it easier to learn as well.

Notice the delineation of the quarter notes in the left hand from the wrist to get kind of a staccato. Otherwise, you can get a limp sound and you don't get the differentiation between the melody in the right hand and the accompaniment in the left hand. Listen if I didn't play those notes staccato in the left hand...By punctuating them with a little bit of wrist and making them staccato, you get this sound...And there again, the ornamentation. Play exactly the same ornamentation each time. Don't feel you have to play a lot of notes. In this case, it's probably written out in your edition...Now this whole section, learn the chords first...So the left hand, instead of playing this all the time...learn it in chords first. It's so much easier to play it that way. And you notice how the left hand is lighter. This is something that continues in the next section when you get to the second subject...And here again, the left hand can be learned in chords...Practice in chords and it'll be much easier to learn, you'll find good fingering. Delineate the melody from the harmony. Use staccatos delineate melody from harmony as well when appropriate. Work out your trills. And this is a good way to learn the piece. The first step, as I said, is memorize. Check out my "How to Memorize" video for help in that and look forward to more tutorials on specific repertoire for you. I hope this has been a help to you. Again, Robert Estrin here at livingpianos.com and virtualsheetmusic.com.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Nancy L. Morton on December 7, 2017 @3:10 pm PST
What do you mean 'Practice in chords"?

Striking the three (3) notes at the same time?

Just starting to learn this piece and want to have a plan.

Thank you.
reply
Robert - host, on December 8, 2017 @3:01 pm PST
When practicing music that has alberti bass (broken chords), practicing the music playing all the notes of the chord together first will foster an understanding of the underlying harmonies while helping you discover the best fingering. This is a valuable practice technique for any music where notes can be combined into chords.
Jan Booth * VSM MEMBER * on February 15, 2017 @5:29 am PST
You are like having a teacher in my home. Thank you for your help. Now I am encouraged to practice Beethoven with a better direction for improved results.
Marek on February 10, 2017 @4:23 am PST
I am curious, how much should the sustain pedal be used in this sonata?
I find that when I try to use the sustain pedal, the notes kind of blend together too much. Is it just my inexperience, or should this piece be played without much sustain pedal?
reply
Robert Estrin - host, on February 11, 2017 @1:13 pm PST
This work can be performed with no pedal. However, subtle use of pedal can enhance the tone. It's important to practice your music with no pedal connecting everything you possibly can with your fingers. Then the pedal can add color. Here is an article and video that goes deeper on this subject:
THE ART OF PEDALING ON THE PIANO PART 1 – THE DAMPER PEDAL RIGHT PEDAL
http://livingpianos.com/how-to-play-piano/the-art-of-pedaling-on-the-piano-part-1-the-damper-pedal-right-pedal/
Marek on February 13, 2017 @10:01 am PST
Thanks a lot for the answer Mr. Estrin, greatly appreciated! :-)
François Leroux * VSM MEMBER * on January 5, 2017 @3:32 pm PST
The metronome... the metronome! Of course. I always forget to get it out. Merci pour cette belle leçon! Et Bonne Année 2017!
Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on January 4, 2017 @5:16 pm PST
Thank you, as always, for your great lessons! I know this sonata and now I know I need to use the metronome ! Also, it seems to me that my left hand has become a bit predominant in all my playing, although I am a right handed person. Is it possible that it is an undesirable feature of my piano?
Gerardo De La Torre Morán * VSM MEMBER * on January 4, 2017 @4:10 pm PST
Thank you very much for your tutorial has been very helpful. God bless you.
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