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Sample lesson notes 2: intermediate classical student

The last set of lesson notes I wrote for an adult intermediate student who was mostly interested in playing classical music and was a complete beginner when we started, but who’d been playing for a couple of years by the time of these notes. We stopped because I stopped teaching, not because he quit piano!

Note: they were written for a specific student at a specific time and won’t be useful to anyone else, so don’t try and learn from them! I publish them only as an example of how I’d teach.


I’ll think about ways of maintaining external accountability for students, ideally without forcing you to join Facebook!


1) Practise a 1-octave RH chromatic scale in octaves, remembering to put your 4th finger on black notes:


This is good preparation for the middle section.

2) Focus on the 2 sections in brackets on pages 3 and 4. Practise the first 2 bars of page 3, line 2 RH only until they’re up to speed, then add the LH without losing the RH legato (see the last set of lesson notes for the video).

Hold the middle 2 notes of the RH chord in the las bar of page 3.

3) And learn the end of page on page 2!

4) Pedal page 2, line 3 once a bar – it won’t sound mushy at full speed.

2 good reference recordings for the piece are Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Pascal Rogé (both French pianists, as you can guess). Thibaudet basically makes the same pedalling choices I recommended (as does Anne Queffélec), whereas Rogé mixes it up, switching between pedalling and not pedalling quite frequently. (You can find pianists who pedal all the way through, which is obviously not what Satie wanted, but they tend to be not-French, e.g. Joanna MacGregor.)


1) Focus on bars 11 and 12. The 2nd chord of bar 12 is a diminished 7th chord, i.e. a 4-note chord with each note a minor 3rd apart:


2) In bar 8, make the LH F that’s a melody note louder.


3) Once you’ve mastered bars 11 and 12 it’s probably worth practicing the whole LH by itself to make it more fluent. Once it is it’ll be easier to make it quieter.