Wilton - Minuetto
Charles Henry Wilton was a lesser-known, late eighteenth century English composer. He was a violinist who studied composition in Italy and later taught and composed music for the piano.
The minuet, or menuet was a popular dance that probably originated in France. Wilton’s use of the Italian spelling of minuetto shows the influence of his composition studies in Italy. The minuet was a stately, graceful dance in which small steps were taken with the dancing couples facing each other but rarely touching.
Pupil Match & Suitability
This is a straightforward piece, ideal for the inexperienced pianist, which poses no special technical demands. A small hand will easily cope with the compass of notes. The music is in the approachable key of G major and is based on scales that will be known to the Grade One student.
Style & Tempo
The minuetto is a three-time composition, graceful in style and moderate in pace.
A metronome speed of around 112 crotchet beats per minute is ideal, although the tempo could also be convincing a shade slower or quicker.
If the pace is too slow it will be difficult to show a sense of the dance but, should the pace be too quick, the music could begin to sound, inappropriately, more like a concert waltz.
You may watch the minuet dance here:
Phrasing & Articulation
A minuetto is to be shaped in four-bar phrases, using graded dynamics.
The articulation of the RH melodic line is mainly legato legato, giving a sense of elegance.
Tone & Texture
The first phrase might by played quietly, with the second phrase a little louder.
If the first repeat is to be observed then the second playing of that section might be begun a shade quieter.
Even scale playing is required in this piece, with the ability to vary the articulation.
It is a good policy to focus on the scales and arpeggios that are relevant to any piece being learned. Students can see the point of learning scales and arpeggios when they discover fragments of them within the music
A basic guide for this piece is that every RH phrase begins with finger 5.
The only finger crossing takes place on the first line, as follows:
Pedalling will not be expected at this stage, in this particular style of piece.
Begin by playing the piece for the student to generate enthusiasm for the music.
Young students may like to make up a little dance to go with the music - this is not time wasting, but is a useful tool for encouraging memorisation of the structure and melody.
Then work on little fragments in an imitative way - first you play then the student copies.
You could use guessing games such as 'Which bar am I playing now?' or 'Spot the deliberate mistake'.
Practice should reflect what has taken place in the lesson. The small fragments should be practised with separate hands before being linked together.
Practice should also include the G major and C major scales and arpeggios. As well as playing these in the conventional way, the student might practise them as five-finger exercises descending then ascending, alternating between hands and then with both hands together.
These technical exercises can be developed into a fun activity if the student is encouraged to make up their own little pieces using fragments of scales and arpeggios.
This is a straightforward piece with no really awkward challenges either technically or in terms of memorisation.
An excellent performance will be one that characterises the minuet style successfully in a moderate, yet dance like pace and in a clear sense of phrase. Dynamics will be graded carefully and the contrasts in tone will give a sense of phrase and structure. Fluency will be assured and there will be even control of tone and rhythmic flow, with some variety in the articulation.
A good performance will show a feel for the minuet character but may not yet be completely assured in fluency and control. There will be some variety in the dynamics with a developing sense of phrase. The pace will be maintained successfully despite one or two smudges in accuracy.
A secure performance will show understanding of the rhythms and notes and there will be quick recovery from any small mistakes. Although there may not be a great deal of variety in articulation and dynamics, there will be overall continuity at a suitable pace.