I hope you all have enjoyed the start of the new year and are looking forward to tackling any New Year’s resolution you may have! One of my favorite ways to enjoy the company of my family throughout the holiday season is by sharing my love of music with them.
A few weeks ago, I replayed an old song on the piano called “Salut d’Amour” by Elgar. I performed the song for a piano recital back in ninth grade and then realized how much I loved the flow of the song as I replayed that one night. Then, an idea popped into my head a few days later: I should try to play the piece on the viola!
That idea sparked my latest goal which is to perfect all aspects of the song on the viola as I once did on the piano. I’ve been searching sheet music online for the viola, playing small samples of different versions and hearing which ones have the best keys and more melody.
Through practicing “Salut d’Amour” on the viola, I’ve started to fall back in love with my old music and the piano. Some weeknights when I have extra free time, I come downstairs and start playing old pieces on the piano that still give me a lot of joy.
Today, I’d like to share with you all some of my favorite pieces on the piano that will propel you to start listening to these songs or even pick up an instrument! Some of these pieces can also be played on the viola and other instruments, too. First, a little background…
Where Music Began
The origination of my desire to play the piano started in second grade, when I begged my mother to sign me up for lessons. We didn’t even have a keyboard at home when I started to practice. The piano became a pastime. In elementary school, I would wake up on Saturday mornings and go down to the basement where my Yamaha keyboard was located and begin drilling the pieces I had to practice.
Once I got to fourth grade, I started playing an instrument called the viola. In case you’re unaware with what a viola is, it’s a little bit bigger than a violin. Although it has four strings, like the violin, it has a low C string instead of a high E string. That’s why violins have parts in pieces that require higher notes than violas do.
I learned to play the viola through my school’s orchestra. Playing in an orchestra felt surreal; the harmonization of all the instruments playing at once gave me an incredible feeling when I started that still resonates within me. I got to experience the satisfying solitude of playing the piano while feeling the awakening sensation of an orchestra.
Wow! A lot of background information about me! Now, let’s get to updating your classical playlist…
1. “Salut D’Amour” by Elgar
I first learned this song on the piano about three years ago, where I spent an entire year perfecting the chords and finding the sweet spots of the song. Last month, I heard a recording of this song on the viola. The really neat gift about a stringed instrument is the ability of the musician to perform “vibrato.” It’s when the note vibrates, sounding like a wave. I was captivated by this version and decided to try it on the viola!
This piece sounds incredible because it has so many changing parts to the song. For example, the beginning is peaceful and gentle but then switching into the next part, there seems to be a feeling of apprehension and hurriedness. The moods of the songs are interesting, and in the end, it finishes on a tranquil note. Definitely listen to this one!
2. “Blumenlied” by G. Lange
In German, blumenlied means flower song. As I was practicing this piece, my teacher always made me imagine how sections of the song represented flowers, either swaying through the wind or blooming. It’s a very cheery song that’s a favorite of mine to perform. For this past Christmas, I played this one for my family, and they loved it!
3. “La Prière d’une Vierge” by T. Badarzewska
The title of this song translates to “maiden’s prayer.” Despite this piece sounding a bit intense and difficult, the sheet music looks pretty calm! I remember sitting down with my piano teacher to work on this song and realizing that the piece repeats itself quite often, so once I got at least half of it, I could play the rest quite well.
4. “Clair de Lune” by Debussy
If you look at the photo above, you’ll see that there are yellow streaks across the top line. This is because when I was too young to play this piece, I decided to start trying despite my abundant lack of experience. So my fifth or sixth grade self tried highlighting all the notes that had flats. Then, I realized the yellow pencil marks looked very smudge, so I tried to erase them, which produced that image above!
Eventually, in seventh or eighth grade, my piano teacher decided I was ready to take on this piece. It took me about a school year’s worth of practicing but with persistence, I achieved my goal! This song always reminds me of my grandmother, Jane, who passed away around the time I started playing this piece. It’s now become a blissful memory of her. You may have already listened to this song before, as it’s typically in a lot of movies and T.V. shows.
5. “Revolutionary” by Chopin
Unlike the other songs I’ll mention in this post, I have not yet gotten to play this one. It’s a goal of mine to perform this one. I found this song on the electric piano we have at my house, and I accidentally played a demo if it. It turned out being one of my favorite songs!
6. “Fur Elise” by Beethoven
This is one of the first classical pieces I ever played. On Saturday mornings when I was in third or fourth grade, I would come down to the basement where the piano was and begin practicing this song. I felt incredible being able to perform this at my piano teacher’s annual recital, and then later for my elementary’s school talent show, haha!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have found some inspiration and are ready to either listen to these songs or perhaps even try playing them. As I ease back into my usual lifestyle, I will have to brush up on my viola skills before starting to play again with my school’s orchestra. Please feel free to comment below with any questions or ideas! Let me know if you have performed or listened to any of these songs. Have an incredible week, and remember to stay warm during this chilly time of year!
Quote of the post:
“Unfounded fears about your competence and abilities can cripple your unique talents and gifts, which are waiting to be released.” ~Dan Miller