Müller - Scherzo
Interpreting the Music
Teaching & Learning the Piece
• F major
• Cheerful 3/8 played as 1-in-a-bar
• Plenty of arpeggios and chords
• Variety of articulation
• Grace note ornaments
• Octaves but otherwise fine for small hands
• Semiquavers need control
A lively piece, to be played in an exuberant 1-in-a-bar rather than 3, as the (editorial) dotted crotchet metronome marking confirms. This is also a superb teaching piece for reinforcing the use of broken chords and arpeggios, and showing how harmony can drive musical movement, and getting the student to identify modulations to new keys.
In Müller’s book “Instructive Practice Pieces”, this Scherzo is preceded by exercises in F including broken chords and scales. These are followed by a set of pieces in F evidently designed to exercise the student in different styles in this key: variations, a March, an Allegretto, etc.
Repeated material (bars 34-41, 66-73, 1-41 da capo al fine) makes this piece good value for the effort needed, however the length of the da capo means the student needs to build up the stamina to keep going for all 114 bars. Remind your student to practise restarting the piece for the Da capo, whenever they are practising bars 66-73 even if they do not then play it al Fine.
A stronger fingering suggestion for bar 9-15 RH is given in example 4A2/1. There is no need to change the finger on repeated notes (e.g. bar 11) unless the student feels more secure doing so. At bar 26 the alternative fingering example 4A2/2 brings the 4th finger on to the B flat, which is safer than 5 for many students. A possibly more comfortable fingering for the arpeggio at bar 32-33 is at example 4A2/3 .
Comfort is the reason for the suggested change to fingering at bar 51-2, example 4A2/4 . Small hands may find bar 55 RH a very awkward stretch, in which case omitting the lower F (example 4A2/5 )will not noticeably spoil the sound.
Musical interest is shared between the hands in places. Where the LH is accompanying, make sure it does not sound too loud (e.g. bars 42-49).
Technically the extensive use of arpeggios will be a big advantage to some, and a useful challenge to other student! The evenness of semiquavers is well tested in this piece. Encourage your student to listen really carefully (if necessary, play them an exaggeratedly “wrong” version) for correct emphasis. It is all too easy to over-accent the quavers in bars 16-19.
All sorts of theory and aural concepts (some beyond this grade but worth noting) can be given practical relevance in studying this piece: sequence (bars 9-12, 13-16); modulation (same bars, and also 23-24, and 42 and 52 where new keys can be detected); pedal note (24-32); suspension (51-53); dominant 7th chords (bars 7, 11, 15, 28-33 and so on); cadences including an interrupted one at bar 20.
In performance, the mood of the music is graceful, humorous and light - “Scherzo” means a joke or something playful. Although quick, it is not to be rushed. Once the notes are learned, the speed will be dictated by the most awkward passage, played with comfort and accuracy. This may well be bars 22-23 or 47-48.
There will be an element of “stage craft” in bars 62-65, where the music slows down and then stops altogether for a “wait for it!” pause. When the player restarts the music at bar 66, a gesture of renewed energy will bring a smile to the audience, especially as it is marked piano after the previous crescendo.
Dynamics are supplied at the main change points. In performance there should be plenty of shaping of phrases too, which will bring further rise and fall in dynamics. In the last four bars of the da capo, a slight drop back from f followed by a renewed crescendo will help to bring about a triumphant conclusion.