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#1242147 - 08/02/09 04:49 PM Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ?  
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dmc092657 Offline
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I'm an adult amateur & I intend to ask my teacher this question soon. I just wanted to get an idea from another source first. If she says no, I'm not going to argue with her as I'm just playing as a labor of love. But I'd love to start one.

Here is a sample of what I have learned or am working on:

Various P&F from Bach WTC (both books)
Various Scarlatti sonatas
Chopin Preludes & Mazurkas
Schumann Kinderscene
Brahms Rhapsody Op. 79 #2 (currently working on)

I'm just curious if there's another level of material I should work on before any Etudes. If so, I'd be happy to hear suggestions. If the above list is sufficient then whats a good one to start with ? I'd love to tackle the Winter Wind one but perhaps thats too much to start....?

I welcome your opinions !

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#1242154 - 08/02/09 05:08 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: dmc092657]  
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I'm an adult amateur like you, but I'm curious whether you think you are ready and what your pianistic goals are for the future (i.e., the technical level or sort of repertoire you hope to reach).

You probably already know that the technical challenges in Chopin's etudes differ in kind and in degree. By anybody's estimation, 25/11 is one of the hardest; opinions differ about which ones are best to start with, but in my opinion the Trois Nouvelles in f minor (#25) and A-flat (#26 or #27, depending on the edition) are less difficult technically than any of Opp. 10 or 25.

Steven

#1242197 - 08/02/09 06:35 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: sotto voce]  
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Hi Steven -

I'm intrigued by the technical challenges of Op 10 & 25 and wanted to try them for several years. I have fiddled with a few of them but never under the guidance of a teacher. I'd like to think I'm ready but of course I'm sure plenty of folks have felt that about these or others and ended up floundering. I'm not on any schedule or goal other than to keep progressing. Maybe I just need the right push to try this.

I've wondered if 25/11 might be biting off more than I can chew. If that was the consensus, then my plan B was that maybe 10/3 (Tristesse) would be a better place to start. Thats probably a little more attainable. I have to admit I hadn't considered the Trois Nouvelle Etudes. Those might be a valuable stepping stone.

EDIT:

Maybe a more appropriate question would be, is the repetoire listed in my OP sufficient prep to take on something at the technical level of a Chopin Etude ?

Last edited by dmc092657; 08/02/09 07:36 PM.
#1242471 - 08/03/09 09:17 AM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: dmc092657]  
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If we're going simply by repertoire, the answer would be no. I'm sorry.

However, you are an adult, and if you want to try them, by all means, try them. You may find that the learning opportunities presented in the etudes are boundless. You may find your teacher is better than you thought she was. As for your first etude, I'd suggest the Ab Aeolian Harp etude, then Tristesse. Leave op. 25 no. 11 alone, that one gives everyone problems.


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina
#1242538 - 08/03/09 11:29 AM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Minaku]  
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If we're going simply by repertoire, the answer would be no. I'm sorry.

However, you are an adult, and if you want to try them, by all means, try them. You may find that the learning opportunities presented in the etudes are boundless. You may find your teacher is better than you thought she was. As for your first etude, I'd suggest the Ab Aeolian Harp etude, then Tristesse. Leave op. 25 no. 11 alone, that one gives everyone problems.


No need for apologies. I asked for candor. But I'm not quite sure how I left the impression that my teacher wasn't better than I thought she was. She's certainly more than competant. As for Op 25/11, no surprise or great loss. I suspected it was beyond me. Kind of like wishing I could afford a 9 ft Fazioli (or Steinway if you prefer). Maybe in the next life ! smile

Last edited by dmc092657; 08/03/09 11:32 AM.
#1242566 - 08/03/09 12:10 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: dmc092657]  
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My "repertoire" if you could call it that, was less extensive than yours when I decided to tackle my first Chopin etude. I could play a few of Bach's 2- and 3-Part Inventions and a Chopin prelude or two. Then one day while listening to NPR in my car I had a "driveway moment". I heard this incredibly lyrical piece that kept me sitting in the garage till the end. It turned out to be Van Cliburn's recording of the etude op.10 #3. I knew I had to learn it. I asked a piano professor friend if he would give me lessons on the 10/3. He declined, saying I wasn't ready for it. Undeterred, I started working on it on my own and then found a teacher to help me along. Six months later I could play it from memory, at the right tempo, and with decent expression.

If you want to learn a Chopin etude, I say go for it! I personally found 10/3 and 25/1 quite accessible...and incredibly beautiful.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#1242567 - 08/03/09 12:14 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: chihuahua]  
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Originally Posted by chihuahua
I'm waiting for...


Please don't engage in ad hominems. If you have a disagreement with the content of what someone posts, address the specific content of the specific posts. Ad hominems - especially where the subject is not even commenting in the thread - are not really appropriate.

Last edited by Phlebas; 08/03/09 12:27 PM.
#1242671 - 08/03/09 02:34 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Phlebas]  
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dmc,

You probably know how frequently Chopin's etudes are discussed and dissected in the Pianist Corner (as befits such seminal works in piano music). I think it's worth reiterating that "difficulty" depends on a number of factors:
  1. Whether one is referring to primarily to interpretive or technical challenge;
  2. The technical skill one already has in the specific technique(s) called for;
  3. The degree of one's technical advancement generally (and therefore, as a obvious corollary, the order in which the etudes are learned); and
  4. For the faster etudes, whether one adheres to the original metronome markings (i.e., extremely fast) or the verbal directions (generally some variant on Allegro).
I've offered the following categorization of Opp. 10 and 25 before as a rough approximation of technical difficulty. It's just my opinion, and I freely admit that the strata overlap; some pieces in my "Harder Group" could be placed in the "Hardest Group" instead (and perhaps vice versa).

Slower Group
10/3, 10/6, 25/7

Easier Group
10/5, 10/9, 10/12, 25/1, 25/2, 25/9

Harder Group
10/1, 10/2, 10/4, 10/7, 10/8, 25/3, 25/4, 25/8, 25/12

Hardest Group
10/10, 10/11, 25/5, 25/6, 25/10, 25/11

I believe that 10/6, 10/9, 10/12, 25/1 and 25/2 are most often recommended to start with. I know that 10/3 is frequently cited as well, but I don't think it can be overemphasized how much more difficult the lengthy "B" section is than the placid outer parts.

FWIW, sustaining a high degree of motivation is critical to success in this endeavor. Therefore, I think it's as important in making a selection that you choose an etude that you really love as picking one that's appropriate to your technical level.

Steven

#1242685 - 08/03/09 02:56 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: dmc092657]  
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Originally Posted by dmc092657

No need for apologies. I asked for candor. But I'm not quite sure how I left the impression that my teacher wasn't better than I thought she was. She's certainly more than competant. As for Op 25/11, no surprise or great loss. I suspected it was beyond me. Kind of like wishing I could afford a 9 ft Fazioli (or Steinway if you prefer). Maybe in the next life ! smile


No, I just meant that whatever you thought of your teacher, she may surpass that with this harder repertoire. You might have thought of her as great, but she may end up being fantastic.

25/11 isn't out of reach in this lifetime. But I think it'd do you good to get at least an etude or two under your belt before tackling that monstrosity. I mean monstrosity in the most endearing of terms, of course.

(My first etude was 25/6, admittedly not the best choice.)


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina
#1243007 - 08/03/09 11:54 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Phlebas]  
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Originally Posted by Phlebas
Originally Posted by chihuahua
I'm waiting for...


Please don't engage in ad hominems. If you have a disagreement with the content of what someone posts, address the specific content of the specific posts. Ad hominems - especially where the subject is not even commenting in the thread - are not really appropriate.


Phlebas,

I respectfully disagree with your verdict.

My post isn’t an ad hominem attack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

I am simply reiterating what that person usually writes as replies to similar questions. If what I wrote misrepresents what that person truly had written in previous posts, then it’s a lie/prevarication/caricature (I didn't think it was).

I didn’t attack that “person” in particular, nor had I attacked his “beliefs.”

What in my post, pray tell, was particularly an ad hominem fallacy?

Last edited by Ken Knapp; 08/04/09 01:53 PM.

Nepotism: We promote family values here - almost as often as we promote family members.
#1243135 - 08/04/09 08:39 AM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: chihuahua]  
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Originally Posted by chihuahua
Originally Posted by Phlebas
Originally Posted by chihuahua
I'm waiting for...


Please don't engage in ad hominems. If you have a disagreement with the content of what someone posts, address the specific content of the specific posts. Ad hominems - especially where the subject is not even commenting in the thread - are not really appropriate.


Phlebas,

I respectfully disagree with your verdict.

My post isn’t an ad hominem attack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

I am simply reiterating what that person ______ usually writes as replies to similar questions. If what I wrote misrepresents what that person truly had written in previous posts, then it’s a lie/prevarication/caricature (I didn't think it was).

I didn’t attack that “person” in particular, nor had I attacked his “beliefs.”

What in my post, pray tell, was particularly an ad hominem fallacy?


Let me ask you then: What was particularly helpful about your post? Did it raise the level of discussion here, or lower it?

I'm not going to get into a debate about definitions, and where they apply. If you bring up a member, and speculate in a negative way on what he would say in a thread he is not even participating in, that is disrespectful to him, and to everyone else in the discussion because it lowers the thread to the level of sniping.

By the way, the offending post, and the one quoting it have been moderated. You should edit the post I am replying to, so the name of the member you mentioned is removed.

#1243159 - 08/04/09 09:36 AM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Phlebas]  
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Originally Posted by Phlebas
Let me ask you then: What was particularly helpful about your post? Did it raise the level of discussion here, or lower it?

Concern about promoting helpful rather than harmful posts and raising rather than lowering the level of discussion here is valid, but there's a two-fold irony: (1) the same question can be asked about the handling of the aftermath of that post, and (2) the person being defended has contributed thousands of potentially harmful posts which, together with the reactions they provoke, routinely lower the level of discussion here.

Steven

#1243166 - 08/04/09 09:57 AM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: sotto voce]  
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Originally Posted by sotto voce
Hardest Group
10/10, 10/11, 25/5, 25/6, 25/10, 25/11
Steven


The E minor study? One of the hardest of all? Seriously?

#1243181 - 08/04/09 10:34 AM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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I don't think it's a mistake to include it in that category, especially given my caveats about defining "difficulty" and my acknowledgment that etudes in my hardest group might instead be put in the next-hardest group and vice versa.

In the past, my inclusion of 10/1 and 10/2 in the Hard rather than Hardest group has been questioned, too. Though that was a deliberate choice as well, it can certainly be disputed by those with differing opinions.

I've worked on more than half of the etudes over the years, but 25/5 isn't one of them. It could be that I'll find it easier than I imagine, as was the case for me with 25/6, but even a judgment based on such experience is still subjective.

Steven

#1243237 - 08/04/09 12:08 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: chihuahua]  
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You probably know how frequently Chopin's etudes are discussed and dissected in the Pianist Corner (as befits such seminal works in piano music). I think it's worth reiterating that "difficulty" depends on a number of factors:

Whether one is referring to primarily to interpretive or technical challenge;
The technical skill one already has in the specific technique(s) called for;
The degree of one's technical advancement generally (and therefore, as a obvious corollary, the order in which the etudes are learned); and
For the faster etudes, whether one adheres to the original metronome markings (i.e., extremely fast) or the verbal directions (generally some variant on Allegro).
I've offered the following categorization of Opp. 10 and 25 before as a rough approximation of technical difficulty. It's just my opinion, and I freely admit that the strata overlap; some pieces in my "Harder Group" could be placed in the "Hardest Group" instead (and perhaps vice versa).

Slower Group
10/3, 10/6, 25/7

Easier Group
10/5, 10/9, 10/12, 25/1, 25/2, 25/9

Harder Group
10/1, 10/2, 10/4, 10/7, 10/8, 25/3, 25/4, 25/8, 25/12

Hardest Group
10/10, 10/11, 25/5, 25/6, 25/10, 25/11

I believe that 10/6, 10/9, 10/12, 25/1 and 25/2 are most often recommended to start with. I know that 10/3 is frequently cited as well, but I don't think it can be overemphasized how much more difficult the lengthy "B" section is than the placid outer parts.


Steven - Thanks for this. I think its very helpful info for someone in my position. One thing I've wondered about is if there is anything available that discusses the technical deficiency that each etude is intended to target ? Some of course are fairly self explanatory:

10/1 & 25/12 - Arpeggios
10/2 - RH fingers 3,4 & 5
25/6 - The dreaded 3rds !
25/10 - Octaves

But others are less obvious (to an amateur like me anyway). I assume each one was written to address a specific technique challenge wasn't it ? Is there anything available that talks about these individually ?

#1243241 - 08/04/09 12:18 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: sotto voce]  
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Originally Posted by sotto voce
I don't think it's a mistake to include it in that category, especially given my caveats about defining "difficulty" and my acknowledgment that etudes in my hardest group might instead be put in the next-hardest group and vice versa.

In the past, my inclusion of 10/1 and 10/2 in the Hard rather than Hardest group has been questioned, too. Though that was a deliberate choice as well, it can certainly be disputed by those with differing opinions.

I've worked on more than half of the etudes over the years, but 25/5 isn't one of them. It could be that I'll find it easier than I imagine, as was the case for me with 25/6, but even a judgment based on such experience is still subjective.

Steven


Specifically what is supposed to be so hard? I've never worked it up to full performance standard, but I wouldn't exactly be terrified if I had to finish it up within a few weeks for a concert. All it has is few unusual chord shapes. If you can get your hand around these moderately unusual positions, there's not a whole lot of difficulty. Conversely, I've worked on 10 nos 1 and 2 plenty. I wouldn't particularly want to perform those even if I had another year to work at them.

#1243267 - 08/04/09 12:46 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: dmc092657]  
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Originally Posted by dmc092657
[...] I assume each one was written to address a specific technique challenge wasn't it ? Is there anything available that talks about these individually ?

Here's one online source, though I don't consider it absolutely reliable. (For example, the author claims that 25/12 contains "a full four-voice contrapuntal line that is both harmony and melody," something that was challenged and pretty soundly debunked in a recent thread in the Pianist Corner.)

In Arthur Friedheim's edition of the Etudes, published by Schirmer and certainly one of the best, he provides for each one a paragraph of commentary that includes its didactic purpose. The edition of Alfred Cortot has extensive remarks about each along with a mind-boggling assortment of preparatory exercises.

I'm not aware of any books that specifically concern the Etudes, but most titles that cover Chopin's music devote at least a chapter to discussing them. The authors I recommend are Jim Samson, Alan Walker, Eleanor Bailie and John Rink.

Of course, Abby Whiteside's Mastering the Chopin Etudes comes to mind, too, but with a big caveat. While her pedagogical principles are excellent and valuable, her writing style is can be hard to follow and to digest. Also, the treatise is applicable to Chopin and repertoire post-Chopin generally; she only addresses a few of the Etudes individually.

Steven

#1243321 - 08/04/09 02:01 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: chihuahua]  
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Originally Posted by chihuahua
Originally Posted by Phlebas
Originally Posted by chihuahua
I'm waiting for...


Please don't engage in ad hominems. If you have a disagreement with the content of what someone posts, address the specific content of the specific posts. Ad hominems - especially where the subject is not even commenting in the thread - are not really appropriate.


Phlebas,

I respectfully disagree with your verdict.

My post isn’t an ad hominem attack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

I am simply reiterating what that person usually writes as replies to similar questions. If what I wrote misrepresents what that person truly had written in previous posts, then it’s a lie/prevarication/caricature (I didn't think it was).

I didn’t attack that “person” in particular, nor had I attacked his “beliefs.”

What in my post, pray tell, was particularly an ad hominem fallacy?


I agree with Phlebas. Any argument about definitions only distracts from the matter at hand. It's not good to hold others up as bad examples. If they wish to post information you know to be incorrect, then reply to their posts and state what you want to correct. If they don't get it, it's not our duty to meld minds with them until they see the light - or to bring up their names in other posts in order to make fun of their opinions.

Ken

Last edited by Ken Knapp; 08/04/09 02:01 PM.

Ken

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#1243597 - 08/04/09 07:49 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Ken Knapp]  
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Well, moderators, your disagreement is likewise perceived as an ad hominem against me ... after all, "definitions only distracts from the matter at hand" - if I think it is ad hominem I say it must be! smile

Who can argue with that?

But really, I would avoid specific mention of THAT person for the benefit of those without a sense of humor. :P


Nepotism: We promote family values here - almost as often as we promote family members.
#1243674 - 08/04/09 10:11 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: chihuahua]  
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Originally Posted by chihuahua

But really, I would avoid specific mention of THAT person for the benefit of those without a sense of humor. :P


A sense of humor at the expense of someone else is not much to brag about, and wouldn't be missed, but your avoiding it would be appreciated.

#1243678 - 08/04/09 10:15 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Phlebas]  
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Depends upon the forum you are in. I post at a guitar forum where having fun at the expense of others (regular posters, of course. Usually not n00bs.) is the way we do business. I must say it is a friendly forum because we all enjoy a good joke at our expense. laugh


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1243679 - 08/04/09 10:15 PM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: Phlebas]  
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Originally Posted by Phlebas
Originally Posted by chihuahua

But really, I would avoid specific mention of THAT person for the benefit of those without a sense of humor. :P


A sense of humor at the expense of someone else is not much to brag about, and wouldn't be missed, but your avoiding it would be appreciated.


That's an ad hominem. It wouldn't be missed either.

smile

Last edited by chihuahua; 08/04/09 10:17 PM. Reason: Forgotten my smiley; it makes a whole world of difference, doesn't it? :P

Nepotism: We promote family values here - almost as often as we promote family members.
#1243852 - 08/05/09 09:43 AM Re: Am I ready to take on a Chopin Etude ? [Re: dmc092657]  
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Originally Posted by dmc092657

But others are less obvious (to an amateur like me anyway). I assume each one was written to address a specific technique challenge wasn't it ? Is there anything available that talks about these individually ?


Once you get more technique into your fingers, you'll see what Chopin was doing with each etude. Often it's more than one thing, but he'll focus on two or three rather than five. More than five issues will pop up in the course of studying, but that's the etudes. For example, 10/7 deals with the hand opening between sixths and smaller intervals while using 2-1 on the repeated double note while emphasizing a melody (and countermelody) between the LH and RH. Take a good look at the scores. The difficulties will reveal themselves to you. Even 10/3 has its share of issues. In part one, you need to voice the top while keeping the rest quiet, play the top line with a warm, singing tone, and use rubato. Part two has a lot of hallmark Chopin technique in it, like arcing, slurred sixths that have to be played with good lateral motion in both hands (thank you Chopin for at least giving it us in contrary motion), broken seconds that open out into octaves, etc.

I will heartily second the Cortot edition of the etudes. Even if you're not playing them, it's a must-read.


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

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