21 July 2022
By Guest Writer
We delve into why Czerny exercises are beneficial for pianists, and then take a look at Czerny's Study in D Op 187 No 49
Download the study for free here.
Carl Czerny (1791-1857) has certainly provided pianists with many thousands of frustrated hours practising technique over and over again. He often divides opinion: you either love him or hate him.
The Austrian composer, teacher and pianist, who was in fact one of Beethoven's pupils, wrote more than a thousand pieces during his lifetime. Many of these are considered etudes, or 'studies'; didactic piano pieces that serve to teach the player specific techniques.
Czerny's studies often feature a right-hand line that sustains the melody, and a left-hand line that maintains a lilting accompaniment figure. That's certainly the case in the Czerny study that we will work through in this article.
This Study in D Op 187 No 49 may be classed as 'beginner', but it will test you with many challenges. Here are some tips:
Tips on the left hand
Students of all levels struggle with the left-hand part of Czerny exercises, and this piece is no different. The three-note arpeggios require focus as it's easy to start rushing them.
Play through the left hand alone quietly and with staccato. This will help develop your rhythmical evenness. It also dissaudes the fingers from hanging on to certain notes and lilting.
Now, try playing the notes unevenly on purpose. Play the first of the three notes twice as long as notes two and three. This will help with controlling your thumb, which for many has a tendency to stick out and cause unevenness.
Try combining tips 1 and 2 together, playing the left hand both staccato and unevenly.
After trying these tips out you should find that, when you go back to playing the original, it's much easier to play and to control.
As you progress through the study, you'll notice that the last four bars mount a particular challenge. These bars are arguably the trickiest part of the study. Make sure you give these bars a few extra practises using the tips above.
Tips on the right hand
The right hand's aim is to sing, not to take over. Try implementing these tips below.
Play close attention to the regular change in dynamics throughout the study. The small crescendos and decrescendos will add expression to the melody. Try mastering the right hand alone in order to nail the dynamics.
Regarding pedalling, it's important we don't rely on it too much for our legato right hand melody. The pedal should enhance the melody and nothing more. We would recommend adding the pedal in AFTER you are confident playing the music.
Ideally, you want to engage the pedal on every dotted crotchet beat. Practise this in both the left hand and right hand before putting it all together.
At the end of your practice, you want to achieve a consistent and smooth left hand with a lyrical right hand.
Visual learner? You can watch our video lesson on this Czerny exercise below.
About the author:
John Maul has been a professional musician for over 30 years having graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1987. His skill set ranges from pianist, keyboard player and musical director to composer, arranger and programmer.
Although trained classically, he is comfortable with many musical genres including Pop, Rock and Jazz.