I’m really happy to share with you one of the most special tutorials I have designed so far :
The conclusive lesson of the 2nd big Chapter from our step-by-step
Video Course for Beginners –
Lesson No. 75 ‘for Dessert’!!!
This Course was launched in September 2012, for my online students at PianoCareerAcademy.com – and since then we have covered an impressive distance (more details in the video below – and also on the Complete List of PCA Tutorials!).
Most Lessons from the Course are based on Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing (a fundamental method book that covers the first 2-3 years of piano practice) – but once in 5-10 Lessons we also have a Lesson for ‘Dessert’: we practice a jazz/modern piece , or a piano arrangement of a famous orchestral piece (like we will do today), or a beautiful piano piece that is not included in this book.
Lesson No. 75 for ‘Dessert’ is available for free on my YouTube channel and here on PianoCareer.com. Even though it is a part of the progressive Beginner Course, the piece that we are going to learn today can be practiced separately as well, being accessible for the late beginner/early intermediate levels (after at least 2 years of serious practice).
So, today we are going to discover a masterpiece of the universal orchestral repertoire – a piano arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers (from the ballet The Nutcracker)!
This piece is usually associated with the magic of Christmas – but it can certainly be practiced and enjoyed during any other time of the year!
I designed, recorded and edited this video with all my heart , trying to make it as beautiful and special as possible!
The tutorial comprises:
- a ‘celebrational recapitulation’ of the most important things we studied in the previous 74 Lessons;
- my demonstration of the Waltz of the Flowers;
- a video/audio presentation of the Nutcracker – with beautiful scenes and music from the ballet!
- a detailed analysis of today’s piece;
- a detailed step-by-step Practice Guide (filmed with 3 cameras simultaneously);
- a Conclusion where I share our plans for the near future!
Moreover, this is not just a detailed tutorial dedicated to this particular Waltz – but also a ‘practice blueprint‘ that you can (and should) apply to any other work that you’re studying, a step-by-step analysis/practice method that will help you to bring many other pieces to a sparkling, professional performance level! 😉
So, it’s time to fill your home (and your heart!) with the magical sounds of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers – but not before you download the score for today’s Lesson (with my fingering and pedaling indications):
Tchaikovsky – Waltz of the Flowers
Lesson No. 75 for ‘Dessert’:
A recap of the main things we learned in the first 74 Lessons. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker: concept and subject. Continuing to imitate orchestral timbres on the piano. Practicing the Waltz of the Flowers from this ballet.
00:30. Celebrating the completion of Chapter 2 from our Course for Beginners! On our Christmas menu today …
01:19. A recapitulation (retrospective) of the most important things we learned in the first 74 Lessons.
05:04. Waltz of the Flowers. Demonstration in the final tempo.
Waltz of the Flowers. Detailed Analysis.
06:10. The Nutcracker – concept and subject (with images and musical quotes from the ballet!)
10:02. Our piano arrangement of the Waltz. Tempo, time signature, tonality.
11:09. Structure of the musical text.
11:24. Phrases, dynamics, dramaturgy, instrumentation. Exposition.
16:23. Middle section.
17:45. Layout, rhythmical formulas, articulation.
Waltz of the Flowers. Step-by-Step Practice Guide.
18:19. Practicing the accompaniment. Exposition. Sound character & key attack, phrasing and dynamics.
20:50. Middle section.
22:21. Reprise. Making legato between the bass note and the first interval.
23:27. Practicing the melody. Exposition. Imitating the timbre of the French horns :). The importance of weighted playing for creating a deep, resonant and melodious sound.
24:39. A useful exercise for remembering the sensations involved in weighted playing.
26:08. Practicing the 1st phrase portamento.
27:22. Legato practice – 1st motive. The walking arm technique; intonation; phrasing.
29:56. 2nd motive. Fingering is the art of anticipation!
31:11. The 2nd phrase and its 3 motives.
31:55. Making a sudden ‘switch’ of attitude before playing this phrase. Imitating the timbre of the clarinet.
32:53. Step-by-step ‘magnifying glass’ practice tips for this phrase.
36:11. Being aware of a dangerous rhythmical trap!
36:41. Connecting the entire phrase and increasing the tempo.
36:53. The 3rd phrase (bars 19-25).
37:13. The 4th phrase (bars 26-34): the 2nd phrase of the clarinet.
39:13. Useful metaphors to help you express the atmosphere of the the transition between Exposition and middle section :).
39:35. Middle section. A few words about fingering.
40:45. Practice recommendations. 1st motive of the 1st phrase: imitating the timbre of the entire string section.
42:15. The 2nd motive – the playful flutes and oboes :).
42:59. The 2nd and 3rd phrases (bars 39-46). The phrasing micro-dynamics.
44:01. Practicing the 4th phrase – the dramatic culmination of the entire piece.
44:59. Don’t forget about the anacrusis before bar 19!
45:33. The Reprise. Practicing the ending of the piece.
47:01. Practicing both hands together, with pedal. When (and why) we should add the sustain pedal to our practice.
47:31. Exposition. Introduction and 1st phrase.
51:29. The 2nd (clarinet) phrase.
52:39. Phrases 3 and 4.
53:37. Middle section.
54:44. The Reprise.
55:33. The original ending from the orchestral version.
55:52. It’s time for your independent practice!
56:08. Conclusion. A quick ‘sneak peek’ into our plans for the near future…
Get access to Lessons No. 2-74 from the Beginner Course by becoming a member of my Piano Coaching Program at PianoCareerAcademy.com! 😉
In the Private Members Area you will also be able to follow our step-by-step Scale & Arpeggio Course (comprising super-detailed progressive Video Lessons for each level) – and many hundreds of other exclusive piano playing tutorials that will transform your expressive & technical skills and bring them to a whole new level!
Don’t forget that Lesson No. 1 for Beginners is available for free here on PianoCareer.com: Nikolaev’s Russian School of Piano Playing. Lesson No. 1 from the Beginner Course.
And now, let’s continue our holistic work on the Waltz of the Flowers! 😉
During the practice process, listen as often as possible to the orchestral recording of this piece!
First, a recording of the dance itself – where you can watch the ballet (but not the orchestra):
And now – a concert recording where you can see the orchestra – and pay lots of attention to the instruments playing the main Themes!
And, for your listening delight , the two other famous fragments from the ballet that I mentioned during our Lesson:
The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy:
Pas de Deux:
And, the ‘dessert’ of our Dessert Lesson LOL – a modern adaptation of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, by the vocal group Pentatonix! I simply had to share this!
I hope that you enjoyed today’s musical celebration – and that you will have an inspired practice during (and after!) the holiday season!!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS – and have a joyful, bright, successful and very musical New Year!!!
Lots of love,
P.S. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter (and now also on Pinterest!) to get instant updates, support and motivation!
If you enjoyed this piano tutorial, here are some other piano learning and practice topics you’ll like:
No Time to Practice? 5 Powerful Solutions for Lack of Time
Chopin – Nocturne in C Minor, op. 48 No. 1. Detailed Piano Tutorial
CONGRATULATIONS, IT’S AMAZING!
Thank you so much! :)))
Hi Ilinca madam,
I really enjoyed the tutorial and most importantly learnt some interesting things from the video.Thank you for providing it as a step-by -step guide.It makes it easier to understand and easy to follow.I found your piano career blog very helpful.It contains invaluable secrets.I feel very bad because I am unable to join your piano career academy coaching program.But i enjoy your blog.I don’t celebrate christmas because I’m related to a different religion but I do celebrate New year .You are a very good teacher and I’m happy that I learnt atleast some important secrets from your blog.It really influenced my piano practice.I also consider you as my teacher.I wish you an MERRY CHRISTMAS and a happy and successful HAPPY NEW YEAR.Thanks for making and sharing this video.
Thank you! Happy New Year!!! 🙂
I was very impressed with the time and detail in your presentation.
Thank you, Vince! 😉
Very nice indeed!!
Thank you, Ray! Merry Christmas!!! 😉
I had watch your tutorial. Tchaikovsky – Waltz of the Flowers.
I love this music. will try to play.
Merry Christmas & Happy new year — — illinca
Thank you – and enjoy practicing this piece!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!! 😀
By the Way what is the meaning of the legend for “P” & “*”…….????
These are pedaling indications.
“P” means ‘press pedal’.
“*” means ‘release pedal’.
“*P” means ‘change pedal’ (the delayed pedaling technique).
I demonstrate all these things in a very detailed manner (on a separate pedal camera) in the video above (the pedaling guide starts at 47:01, as you can see in the Video Highlights).
You can also learn the main pedaling techniques AND all the details of pedaling notation by watching/reading these free tutorials:
Using the Piano Pedals – The Art Behind the Mechanism
Using the Piano Pedals: On Style and Notation
I really enjoyed watching this video. Thank you.
I have recently signed up for your lessons and am really looking forward to them. I have developed some minor hand injuries from improper playing and started searching for what to do about them and discovered your site. I am looking forward to beginning again with my entire piano playing technique to prevent my injury from becoming permanent. I have given it a couple of days off to recover.
I do have one suggestion. If you would use a piano microphone to record your piano playing it would sound much better.
Welcome to PCA, and I hope you enjoy every step of the way!
Regarding your suggestion – the video above is many years old, and since then I have changed and improved my recording setup many times. I keep upgrading it as time goes on :).