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Czerny Op 335 #17, Single Version

For me the great appeal of this tuneful study has nothing to do with its possible usefulness in ballet class. I like it because it’s very useful to practice. For me drilling repeated note technique (changing fingers on the same note), especially in the LH, is uniquely valuable for strength and independance. While it may take a while to get #17 up to a speed that makes it useful in class you don’t need to be in a great hurry to do so. I’ve found that playing through #17, hands separately, hands together, at increasing tempos, for 10 or 15 minutes makes a very good daily warm up. And then, depending on how “daily” you do it, you’ll eventually acquire a repertory piece. I think of studies like this (studies I’m in no hurry to master for class but which I like for short daily practice) as “meditations.”

The square binary form of #17 is ready-made for ballet class, and it can be projected a number of ways to support different kinds of combinations. Whatever you choose to do with it, I think playing the half @60 (as opposed to Czerny’s @84) allows its music to breathe. Czerny’s 16th note figures work well on the modern piano under the soprano melody if you soften the ra-ta-tat-tat percussiveness peculiar to our instrument.

Op 335 #17, Single Version: hurried 4/4 song over light repeated-16th-note accompaniment, 16 sets of 8-count phrases

Apart from the preparation and slowed tempo, my performance of #17 is what Czerny wrote. But I’ve given Czerny’s RH melody a little shape by shortening certain of his quarter notes, and, above all, I’ve tried to reduce the LH percussiveness by keeping it quiet and allowing it to blur a little. This is the kind of thing you might or might not do on the spur of the moment.

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