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Popular Piano Lessons: Gymnopedie No.1

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With the first Gymnopedie by Erik Satie,
I want you to really take
charge in learning this piece.
Of course, you'll hear me and
watch me be able to play this through, but
I'm only gonna give you the performance
tempo, which is not that fast.
I want you to really try to see if you
can show me how well you're reading
your notes at this point, to help me
assess how well I'm teaching it, as well
as give you an opportunity to really
put what you've learned to practice.
It's not too difficult.
There are some technical challenges.
But in terms of reading, you should be
able to find everything given everything
that we've worked on
together up to this point.
So just be careful of your jumps.
Use your pedaling carefully, and
see if you can really pay
attention to the key signature.
And make sure you find your
notes on your own, and
I really wanna see how you're coming
along with this particular piece.
The first First Gymnopedie by
Eric Satie is a fantastic exercise
in left hand jumping dexterity.
The key thing is going to be
understanding how to use your thumb as
a targeting reticule.
And how to take advantage of the time and
space between chords to quickly
reposition yourself for the next jumps.
The whole piece needs to
be played very lightly,
very delicately and lots of pedal.
The pedal's gonna be critical to make
sure that everything sounds smooth
and connected.
So let's take a look at this piece.
The first thing you want to take
notice of is the key signature.
There are two sharps.
F sharp and C sharp.
That tells me we're in the key of D major.
So every time we see an F and a C,
we're going to make sure that
they have sharps applied to them.
Okay, so left hand you have these amazing
jumps that sound so beautiful, okay?
Now what you wanna do is of
course have your pedal engaged.
One tip to find these jumps quickly.
[SOUND] Is perhaps to practice just
the bottom note and the top note.
And try to go through them as quickly yet
as relaxed as possible.
The last thing I want to do is lunge for
these notes and
create a bad bang, so relax.
The way I would almost envision this
is as you're jumping, look at this
black key set almost like a hill,
the edge of a little bit of a ridge, okay?
You've got space before it, all right?
So it should be very easy to find
very quickly with your thumb.
See you've got extra space to reach for
If i was reaching for a different
kind of chord, it's very easy for
me to hit the horizontal values.
It's harder to make out a single
note within a white space.
White noise space here.
But here, I've got extra space and
a little bit of an abutment here.
So this should be easy to
find with your thumb, okay?
The other thing to practice then after
you get that is to perhaps the top and
bottom notes.
So I would use a three here.
And then a four here for this chord.
That's gonna be a little trickier.
Once you get comfortable with that,
then add the rest of your notes.
Now, the other trick to think about is,
don't have to hold on to this half note
quite so long, before going to the D.
The actual motion should
be something like this.
One, two, three.
Do you see, the third beat,
my hand's already down in
position to find the next note.
So one, two, three, I'm ready.
Two, three.
See that?
One, get ready, and the third beat,
your foot, your pedal,
will take care of holding notes for you.
Now, last trick.
Make sure you're holding your pinkie
long enough to catch it with your pedal.
If you don't,
you're gonna get that kind of a sound.
That's not what we want.
So make sure you're playing slowly enough,
and yet so it's a combination of
holding this long enough so
that your foot can catch it and of course
making sure your foot is fast enough to
catch this without coming in too early.
Right away, before leaving the note,
try to catch it.
It's worth just practicing those
first four measures over and
over again until you get that smooth,
delicate, perfectly peddled entrance.
All right the next thing to do is
obviously add in the right hand
melody which is so beautiful.
Watch out for the F sharps and C sharps.
Watch for the hand over here.
Now here's an interesting passage where
you have an F sharp here and immediately
followed by an F sharp in the left hand.
Okay, so what to do?
Well the best strategy I think is to keep
your pedal down treat that F sharp and
the right hand as bell.
Do you hear how that rings?
And then when the left hand comes in,
keep the pedal down.
You hear, you almost hear the echo of
the first F sharp ringing through that.
So that's the trick.
Make sure that you have a good strong
bell like sound with lots of pedal.
What I like to do with my thumb, is I kind
of like to go in the knuckle here and
really, if you have ever had
the experience of really
playing an actual metal bell,
with a metal stick and getting
that chime started you'll understand
there's a little bit of a flick.
That you have to have.
If you just hit it and
leave your stick there it's
going to have a very dull sound.
You have to hit and
almost let the stick bounce off
the surface of the bell to get that sound.
So, the difference between this and this,
you can feel the difference, right?
You can hear the difference.
I'm going to be approaching this
very gently with my left thumb, but
the right hand will be the bell, relax.
And keep the pedal down.
The harmonies are pretty enough they can
blend together right there.
Those are some basic
tricks to watch out for
to get the best sound out of this piece.
The next items to practice in your left
hand of course are gonna be
those transitions where you move
away from the F sharp and
suddenly go into other chords.
All right, so
really take some time to
study how this jumps.
Worth practicing the left hand
alone on those sections.
Take your time, but again,
don't forget [SOUND] two, [SOUND] three.
Use the third beat to move down.
[SOUND] Two, [SOUND] three, one,
[SOUND] two, [SOUND] three A.
[SOUND] Understand?
So, use the third beats
to find your place.
And the only other things to watch out for
are musical ideas,
when things change you want to
heighten them a little bit more.
So for example,
we have the theme, first time,
very delicate.
You have the F sharp bell, let that ring.
Every time music comes back again,
there's an opportunity
to do something special.
So, here.
[SOUND] It's the same beginning right?
Here it changes,
doesn't it?
So, maybe play this a little
darker, a little bit more.
Look for this change to the D.
Watch out for that.
And of course, we have this melody.
So on and so forth,
whenever you hear the theme come back.
And one more illustration right
at the very end of course.
Everything comes back to the beginning.
Like the second time,
again actually,
you hear this secondary theme coming in.
Now here,
instead of [SOUND]
doing that
at the end.
Ooh, [SOUND] it's nice to know
where things change in the music,
[SOUND] so you can feel that difference.
Instead of this E at the end,
he does [SOUND] major the first time,
[SOUND] minor the ending.
This is a piece about subtlety, so you
want to look at these tiny differences,
and just be aware of them.
That'll give you opportunities to do
some musical magic with this piece.
You know you can't play this piece
too slowly so take your time.
Particularly, take your time with
catching your notes, your base notes,
with your pedal so
that nothing gets hiccuped.
Take your time learning the notes.
It's a very delicate slow piece,
perfect opportunity for
you to take the time you need to
go from one section to the next.
Okay, so I'm really looking forward to
giving you this quote unquote homework
assignment and I can't wait to hear
what you do with it, and, of course,
I'm here to help you if
you need some extra help.