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27 July 2023

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Allegro (1st movement from Sonata in C - Grade 6 ABRSM Piano A3 - Teaching Notes

Allegro: 1st Movement from Sonatina in C Op. 20 No.1
Friedrich Kuhlau

Teaching Notes
Although this piece is marked "Allegro" with a suggested metronome mark of C=120, it is best to start off at a slower tempo, not least in order to get even rhythm in some of the semiquaver passages. If this is a challenge for you try the this link for a good exercise to get your fast notes played with equal length and tone.

Another reason for initial slow practice is to get the balance between tune and accompaniment. For example the "Alberti bass" of bars 1 to 6 should never dominate the RH melody. From bar 9 however, the tune has transferred to the LH and it should be the repetitive patterns in the RH that need subduing.

For the softer passages, the touch is generally legato and although very few actual slurs are marked, students should be careful that their fingering is such to create a smooth transition between notes. From experience of teaching this piece, common "bumpy" areas where legato is lacking are the last quavers of bars 4, 5 and 6 where they should flow without a break over into the next bar.

Another common error that I have come across is ignoring rests. It is very tempting, in bars 24, 26 and 28 to let the LH overstay its welcomepast the second beat of each of these bars. Then in bar 30, I would suggest memorising the RH to the end of the page and turning early with the LH, rather than leaving it to the last minute and arriving in a panicked mess on the "p - dolce" of bar 32.

Bar 36, is a more intense version of the tune in bar 32, and although not written and increase in volume here either sudden or gradual would not come amiss. The three repeated quavers before bars 36, 37 and 38 obviously would be detached as they are repeated notes, but the question arises then whether to slur over the bar line in each case. Although above I spoke about legato lines, the style here is different, as I mentioned - intensifying. As such it seems more consistent to NOT slur over the bar line and keep the third quaver of each group the same length as the two before it.

Bar 39 will need some thought as to balance. An over-dominant RH will sound like an irritating woodpecker, whereas the interest lies in the descending chromatic bass line.

Be careful to articulate bars 45 - 47 precisely. Both hands should release each beat at the same time. It will often be heard to slur one hand and detach the other, but I would suggest lifting both hands together after the first and third beats of each bar, that is before each semiquaver run.

Bar 49 is another opportunity for a lazy LH not releasing where instructed and note there is a decrescendo here that leads back into the recapitulation of the opening melody. As everything from bar 50 is basically a repeat albeit sometimes in a different key, the teaching notes above will cover all points from here on to the end of the movement. 

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