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Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 #2522845
03/20/16 07:07 AM
03/20/16 07:07 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Tubbie0075  Offline OP
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Dear fellow forum members,

This piece has been a long time coming. Back in around 2002, I watched the movie The Pianist. In there was a scene where the pianist played Chopin's Ballade No. 1 to the German Officer. That was the first time I heard this piece and has since been captivated by it.

In 2004, a year after moving to Australia, I was learning the violin. I had a Kawai digital piano with me but my piano skills was a joke (at some level it still is now), but I bought the music book with Chopin's complete Ballades. I tried to learn the notes but it was just impossible. The book was put away for another 12 years.

Fast forward to today, after 6 years of piano lessons, my teacher is finally convinced that I am ready for it (I had to go through AMEB grade 8 and Liszt Waldesrauschen to convince him!). Today marks the first lesson I am officially learning this piece.

This journey will take me 6 to 12 months depending on how far I want to go (which is nothing since I waited 12 years to get here). So I am writing a journal of my learning process. At times, I will likely post some video clips of me practising passages, or playing longer excepts here and there when I feel I am a bit more fluent. For now, I am too scared to aim for recording the entire piece at the end of this journey. At the very least, I am aiming to at least record excepts as long as I can manage that makes up the entire piece.

Obviously I have other pieces to learn in conjunction. So at times I may be absent due to focusing on other pieces.

Let the journey begin!


[Linked Image]

Last edited by Tubbie0075; 03/20/16 07:13 AM.


Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2522856
03/20/16 07:52 AM
03/20/16 07:52 AM
Joined: Jun 2015
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Italy
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That's great Tubbie!

I also got to know this piece thanks to that movie but I don't remember when I watched it the first time.

I hope I won't have to wait as long as you had to.


Mark

[Linked Image]
Kawai CA97 | YouTube
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2522944
03/20/16 01:46 PM
03/20/16 01:46 PM
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That's wonderful to hear. I think you officially need to change your "I suck" tagline now that you're working on such an amazing piece that has haunted you for years.

I look forward to following along with your journey. Are you going to be posting here?

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2522945
03/20/16 01:50 PM
03/20/16 01:50 PM
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That's fantastic!
Congrats to you, my friend. Enjoy the process. We are here to cheer you on. I look forward to future posts.


Barbara
...without music, no life...
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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2523035
03/20/16 07:23 PM
03/20/16 07:23 PM
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This is very exciting, looking forward to reading about your journey with this piece.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

13x[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2523039
03/20/16 07:50 PM
03/20/16 07:50 PM
Joined: Feb 2013
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Queensland Australia
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As I've just finished reading Alan Rusbridger's ‘Play it again: an amateur against the impossible’, the amazing account of his struggles and triumphs learning that piece, I'm in awe!





[Linked Image] [Linked Image]XXXVIII-LI

My C3 - solace.
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: MarieJ] #2523065
03/20/16 10:09 PM
03/20/16 10:09 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Tubbie0075  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by MarieJ
As I've just finished reading Alan Rusbridger's ‘Play it again: an amateur against the impossible’, the amazing account of his struggles and triumphs learning that piece, I'm in awe!





Well, this will be my version of the same journey. My English is not good enough to write a book about it. So I'm sharing my journey here with much simpler journals plus videos/sound clips.




Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Coyotewoods] #2523067
03/20/16 10:21 PM
03/20/16 10:21 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Tubbie0075  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by MooseNotes


I look forward to following along with your journey. Are you going to be posting here?


Yes MooseNotes, I will keep posting on this thread, similar to my 2-week journals for the preparation of AMEB grade 8 exam last year :-)

Other members seem to enjoy reading/following an entire journey in one post last time. So I'm repeating it for Chopin's Ballade.



Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2523076
03/20/16 11:18 PM
03/20/16 11:18 PM
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Valencia Offline
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Tubbie!

I really look forward to your posts. And, you've got me wondering if maybe I should join you and also get back to this piece. This one has been on the back-burner for ages. I don't know if you saw my thread but I'm in a bit of a slump with piano and maybe the Ballade is something I can focus on while I'm waiting to see what happens with my hearing loss. (though tomorrow I might think this is a crazy idea so who knows...)

Have you decided how you will approach this? What sections will you start with? What do you think will be the hardest bits? For me, I've already worked on this piece off and on for quite some time (but still can't really play it!) I can play parts of it, but haven't worked on it musically that much. Portions are memorized (and some not), but it's been awhile since I've tried any of it, so I would have to go back and review everything. Mostly at the time I was just trying to get the piece into my fingers. Technically there are several stumbling blocks for me that need work (ex. evenness of fingers in the scale passages; of course, tempo). You are much more technically proficient at piano than I am, so probably won't have the same difficulties.

I look forward to your first update. I have no doubt that eventually you will record this whole piece.

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Valencia] #2523106
03/21/16 02:08 AM
03/21/16 02:08 AM
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Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Valencia


Have you decided how you will approach this? What sections will you start with? What do you think will be the hardest bits?


Thank you for asking those questions. I should be asking them myself and come up with some sort of plan before I begin.

I have spent a couple of days looking at the piece and going through some sections. My ex-Director once asked me how to eat an elephant. The answer is one bite at a time. So the first step is to break the piece into different bites (sections). To help breaking it up, I wrote down the bar numbers at the beginning of each line. There are 260 bars in the piece (I may have to recount that to be sure). I apologise that the following sections by bar numbers probably don't mean much unless you have the score:

Section 1: 1-65 (moderate)
Section 2a: 66-105 (easy)
Section 2b: 106-125 (hard)
Section 3a: 126-137 (moderate)
Section 3b: 138-161 (hard)
Section 4: 162-191 (moderate)
Section 5a: 192-202 (easy)
Section 5b: 203-260 (hard)

I had about 15 minutes in my previous lesson to go through the Ballade with my teacher. He has assigned me to learn up to bar 137. If you look at the bar numbers, that's half the piece, up to Section 3a. In the first half of the piece, the most difficult section in Section 2b. So I will spend most of my time learning this section while getting familiar with the rest of the first half before my next lesson. Luckily my teacher is on concert tour and won't be available for lesson until mid-April. So I have plenty of time.

Because I am so familiar with the piece as a listener, it is important for me not to listen to any recordings while I learn it. I must come to my own interpretation and avoid copying someone else unintentionally (sometimes intentionally).

First thing first, go though the notes and decide on the fingerings for bars 1-137. Resist the temptation to indulge myself by repeatedly playing my favourite passages within my fluency!

I plan to make a video recording this Easter long weekend. I want to see how poorly I play at the beginning of this journey then have something to compare with as I progress.

Stay tune!



Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524255
03/24/16 02:07 PM
03/24/16 02:07 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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I said earlier that I will avoid listening to anyone's performance this piece while I am learning it. But I like many who follows Valentina Lisitsa, I have been waiting for her to play i. When I woke up at 4:30am this morning and saw that she uploaded the video unexpectedly, I had to watch it!






Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524319
03/24/16 05:37 PM
03/24/16 05:37 PM
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I'm going to monitor this thread!

I've loved the piece for many years as well and cannot wait till I feel that I am ready to learn it.

My teacher said I can try now, but I don't feel nearly nearly ready mentally, especially not since my favourite version is one which Horowitz plays and it just sings and sings.

I'm so happy for you tubbie that you're at the point of learning it! Best of luck and keep us all posted!


Yamaha C3, Yamaha Avant Grand N1 (sold), Steingraeber 170 (family's)
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524637
03/25/16 07:18 PM
03/25/16 07:18 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Was going to make a video of my 1-week progress yesterday but got invited for lunch. Was going to make the video today then got calls from friends invited themselves. Then one of my dogs cut her paw cut and had to take her to the vet.

This video isn't going to happen is it?

Sigh...



Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524648
03/25/16 08:02 PM
03/25/16 08:02 PM
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Niagara Falls NY
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I LOVE THIS PIECE.


Currently working on Masterwork Classics Book 5
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524672
03/25/16 10:13 PM
03/25/16 10:13 PM
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Bowling Green, KY
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Forrest Halford Offline
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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Was going to make a video of my 1-week progress yesterday but got invited for lunch. Was going to make the video today then got calls from friends invited themselves. Then one of my dogs cut her paw cut and had to take her to the vet.

This video isn't going to happen is it?

Sigh...


The only video that can happen at this point is a video of your nine day progress, but only if you do it sometime tomorrow.

Forrest


PTG Associate Member
Haydn Hob. XVI: 23 in F major
Debussy Arabesque #1, Reverie
Bach BWV 874, 883
My beliefs are only that unless I can prove them.
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524680
03/25/16 11:06 PM
03/25/16 11:06 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
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Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Friends are late. So I squeezed in a quick practice. Friends aren't here yet, so I edited a video clip. They aren't here after that, so I uploaded the video to YouTube. Still not here. So I posted the video link here, as promised :-)

This is roughly one week progress. I just managed to practice for an hour or two a few days really.







Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524734
03/26/16 06:13 AM
03/26/16 06:13 AM
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Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Friends gone. Now I can write my journal.

I spent most of my practice sessions learning the notes. In particular, the more difficult sections. In the video, they are:

2:20 the arpeggios notes are mostly repetitive so not difficult to read but tricky to get from notes to notes
3:26 the arpeggios are also repetitive here so it's easier to memorise it then practice
3:56 too many notes to memorise so had to practise separate hands to get some fluency then play hands together very slowly

After my friends are gone, I managed to start learning the notes for another page. So I am up to bar 147 out of bar 260, almost up to half of page 9 of total 15 pages.

I spend very little time on the more easier passages, like the 2 and a half page, page 5 and first half of page 6. There will be plenty of opportunities to play these and learning the notes won't take long.

Now I have 4 and a half pages of difficult passages to learn the notes. I hope I get to all of them by end of Easter Monday.

Back to the piano!


Last edited by Tubbie0075; 03/26/16 06:16 AM.


Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524735
03/26/16 06:30 AM
03/26/16 06:30 AM
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Posts: 325
Seminole, Florida, USA
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Early riser here!
Loving the progress, motivates me so much to keep practicing.
What a wonderful piece as well, even on par with my favorite piece Op 31 scherzo Chopin.

Kind Regards and Best of Luck,


-Kenan
Pearl River EU122 48"
I've been playing piano with a teacher
since January '15
Studying under Eunmi Ko of USF as of June '16

My Youtube Channel

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I also love Astronomy
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2524962
03/27/16 12:17 AM
03/27/16 12:17 AM
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Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Today I got some fluency from bars 130 to 163. I'll keep on practising this section for the rest of today. Tomorrow is to learn the notes from 203 to the very end, 260.

Then the plan is to keep practising the following 2 hardest sections over and over again until they are more fluent than the easy sections.

Hardest sections:
106-164
203-260 (presto con fuoco plus 2 bars before)

It is tempting to play the sections from start to finish repeatedly. I must resist! Instead, within these 2 sections, I must find the hardest bars and practice them separately. Once they becomes more fluent than the rest, then only I am allowed to practice bigger chunks until the fluency of the entire section is consistent.

Next will be to visit the "easy" sections and find the hardest bits to practice. Then I can start to learn the piece as a whole and be ready for my next lesson in mid April.


Last edited by Tubbie0075; 03/27/16 12:17 AM.


Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2525253
03/28/16 12:50 AM
03/28/16 12:50 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Here's some learning notes video of bars 106-164 and 203-260.

I've cramped so many notes in my head this weekend I need a break!






Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2525332
03/28/16 10:23 AM
03/28/16 10:23 AM
Joined: Oct 2012
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Hello Tubbie0075-

Thank you for doing this. You demonstrate just how much slow practice is vital to learning a piece. Your video is inspiring. It is Easter Monday and I will be heading home soon from visiting with my family in Philadelphia (I'm in New York). Soon as I unwind from my trip I will spend about two hours with the Bill Evans composition I am learning. No, it isn't Chopin, but it is just as beautiful, full of complicated rhythmic passages and it did for me what the Ballade does for you. And that's all that matters.

I will keep tuned! Enjoy the process!



Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Music Me] #2525460
03/28/16 04:24 PM
03/28/16 04:24 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
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Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Tubbie0075  Offline OP
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Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted by Music Me
Hello Tubbie0075-

Thank you for doing this. You demonstrate just how much slow practice is vital to learning a piece.



Hi Barbara,

Thank you for following my journals. I always thought that once you become a bit more advanced, the learning process become easier. But the old tricks still apply:

- practise hands separately
- practise notes in groups
- go slow, very very slow, for a very very long time

It is interesting that when I make myself accountable for my learning progress (through journals in this forum), I practise more properly.

Enjoy Bill Evans!



Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2525484
03/28/16 06:15 PM
03/28/16 06:15 PM
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Thank you, Tubbie -

I most certainly will. And, you far from "suck".

I also love that Ballade.


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2525555
03/29/16 02:25 AM
03/29/16 02:25 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
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Other than practise the difficult passages again, today I spent some time learning the notes from bars 164-191. There are some stretches in the left hand arpeggios I don't like. I am using my own fingerings for some of them and have my teacher go over them in my next lesson. The second half of bar 177 is the most tricky bit in this section. 3 voices, left hand has 6 notes, middle voice in the right hand has 4 notes and the top voice has 3 with a triplet at the end. I'll let the photo tell the story. This half of a bar is driving me nuts!

[Linked Image]



This reminds me of another bar in Rachmaninov prelude no. 4:

[Linked Image]


Anyway, I'm also starting to play both hands together in the "Presto con Fuoco" section at the end of the piece. If my translation is correct, it is "Very Fast with Fire"? At the moment it sounds like "Slowest Humanly Possible with Thick Fog"!



Last edited by Tubbie0075; 03/29/16 02:29 AM.


Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2525572
03/29/16 04:35 AM
03/29/16 04:35 AM
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Hi Tubbie,

That's amazing idea. I wish my teacher would say to take this piece very soon but I am completely aware I am still technically not ready.

I will be looking forward to reading this topic and see how you have approached the difficult parts. That will help me with this and other demanding pieces smile

Thanks.


Zbigniew

[Linked Image]
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2525575
03/29/16 05:01 AM
03/29/16 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Other than practise the difficult passages again, today I spent some time learning the notes from bars 164-191. There are some stretches in the left hand arpeggios I don't like. I am using my own fingerings for some of them and have my teacher go over them in my next lesson. The second half of bar 177 is the most tricky bit in this section. 3 voices, left hand has 6 notes, middle voice in the right hand has 4 notes and the top voice has 3 with a triplet at the end. I'll let the photo tell the story. This half of a bar is driving me nuts!

[Linked Image]



This reminds me of another bar in Rachmaninov prelude no. 4:

[Linked Image]


Anyway, I'm also starting to play both hands together in the "Presto con Fuoco" section at the end of the piece. If my translation is correct, it is "Very Fast with Fire"? At the moment it sounds like "Slowest Humanly Possible with Thick Fog"!



Also, the staccato indications for the RH in that half-bar has no audible effect since all the dampers are off the strings, if you follow the pedal indication.


Czerny's Piano School Vol. 1. Reviewing basics/ear training/analysis in interesting exercises.
Opus 599. Now at #77 and giving it a break.
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: RaggedKeyPresser] #2525589
03/29/16 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by RaggedKeyPresser


Also, the staccato indications for the RH in that half-bar has no audible effect since all the dampers are off the strings, if you follow the pedal indication.


Actually it does. A pedalled staccato has a more "bell-like" sound compared a pedalled legato and difference is caused by the different "attack" on the keys. The better the piano is, the more you can use different attacks to get different sound effects.

In this context, I think Chopin wanted the middle voice to be played softly and detache (more like playing in quavers rather than staccato) so that it doesn't overpower the top and bass voices.



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Celdor] #2525590
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Originally Posted by Celdor
Hi Tubbie,

That's amazing idea. I wish my teacher would say to take this piece very soon but I am completely aware I am still technically not ready.



Actually I didn't verbally ask my teacher to teach this piece, and my teacher wasn't planning to teach it. But last lesson I brought the music book with me and "casually" left it on the piano desk while I played Liszt, a piece he suggested and I have been learning for the last 3 months. He was rather pleased with my progress.

Once I finished playing Liszt, he said, "I see Chopin Ballades there. Shall we have a look?" He took the not-so-subtle hint :-)








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  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2525613
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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Originally Posted by Celdor
Hi Tubbie,

That's amazing idea. I wish my teacher would say to take this piece very soon but I am completely aware I am still technically not ready.


I brought the music book with me and "casually" left it on the piano desk ...

You have much greater experience than me. Whether intentionally or not, that thing worked smile I would also try it. However, our teacher is very strict about repertoire saying "We must learn to walk before we can run, otherwise we fall". I trust him so I'll wait smile


Zbigniew

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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Celdor] #2525781
03/29/16 04:55 PM
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Celdor,

I tried that trick before about 2 years ago. It didn't work the first time probably because he thought I wasn't ready then.

This is a "stretch" piece for me but so was Liszt. I will not be able to bring it to concert performance level, but I feel I have enough techniques to at least play it through at a slower tempo.

Hopefully this will also give me a boost in confidence for my diploma exam next year playing easier pieces.




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  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2526287
03/31/16 04:24 AM
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On a separate but somehow related topic, here is Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan performing his figure skating short program on this very piece by Chopin. This program has the honour of earning Yuzuru the highest short program score ever in Japan NHK trophy 2015 last year. Then he broke his own record 2 weeks later in Barcelona Grand Prix final. Now in World Championship in Boston, he has repeated this stunning performance pristine clean again!

In certain ways, figure skating is like piano the playing. There are so many difficult elements but you have overcome them and to somehow turn it into art. Don't be fooled by the ease in which Yuzuru skated. This is an extremely difficult program!

As a skater, when you can rise above all these difficult elements, link them together, make them look effortless, make the audience forget about scores and just enjoy the masterpiece performance, well, isn't that the same for pianists? Yuzuru inspires me!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this performance:






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2526291
03/31/16 05:48 AM
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Back to progress report. I attempted to play the piece from beginning until the end for the first time, and I made it! Sure it's terrible and for most part it sounded like a terrible attempt at sight-reading, but from start to finish... I wouldn't be able to do it 12 years ago.

I am pleased :-)

Ok back to practise.




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2528009
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Thank you for sharing your journey Tubbie0075! This is an extremely beautiful piece. I really enjoyed your progression videos. Can't wait for your next edit!!!

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2528311
04/06/16 04:56 PM
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Had too much of a good thing. Decided to park the Ballade aside for a week. Currently returned to my exam pieces, in particular, Ravel's La vallée des cloches and Mozart's Sonata K330.





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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2529221
04/09/16 08:21 PM
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My teacher resumes lessons next Sunday. So I better get back to the Ballade. I plan to concentrate on bars 1-138 for a week and hopefully get to play somewhat fluently (but slow) during lesson. I doubt I will get that far during lesson. I bet I will be stopped somewhere before bar 138 and we will be going though techniques, phrasings, fingerings, dynamics, etc.



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531079
04/16/16 01:52 AM
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Lesson is on tomorrow so I've been spending quite a lot of time to prepare my first "presentation" of the Ballade. Today I've made the 3rd video learning journal, playing most of all the other parts not appear in the first 2 videos. The Presto section is really a killer!

Compared to the first 2 videos I have got more fluency now. Now that I know all the notes, I notice that I haven't been practising the difficult parts slowly (it's slow but it needs to go slower) and in isolation as much as I should. This is a timely reminder for myself to resist "playing" the piece. I am still at the very early stage where I'm still in the "learning"phase.

Now I need to attend to another recent obsession of mine: play Ooqway Ascend (from King Fu Panda) on the violin. This tune is so addictive!





Last edited by Tubbie0075; 04/16/16 04:18 AM.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531098
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Distraction: Oogway Ascend






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531198
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Thank you so much for posting this. You are very inspiring. Every time I watch your progress, I run to my piano and continue to practice, even though its not my scheduled time. I admire your openness in showing the rest of us your progress.

On a side note, can you tell my what kind of video camera/program you are using? I eventually want to do the same - maybe not brave enough to post here, but for my own education.

Thank you - you sound amazing!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531218
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You're doing so well! It would be amazing if I was able to play this someday. How long have you played?


"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine." -Beethoven
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Music Me] #2531325
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Hi Barbara,

I use the Logitech HD Pro webcam C930e. You can see the quality is rather good for a webcam. It can record 1080p up to 30fps. This webcam is rather pricy at about A$140, but it makes recording so convenient for me because I record it directly into my computer. The sound is recorded using Zoom H4N. This is also a pricy recorder at about A$300, but it was a birthday gift :-) It also connects directly into my computer.

On the computer side, I use an iMac and I use QuickTime Player software that came with the computer. In the settings, rather than using the built-in webcam and microphone, I select to use the Logitech and Zoom connected to the iMac. All I do now is open QuickTime, select "New Movie Recording" and click the red button :-)

For editing (mostly trimming the videos), I use Final Cut Pro, a very popular video editing software developed by Apple. This software used to cost over A$1000, but the latest version was about A$300. They removed several modules so you can get the basic version at a cheaper price and buy additional modules if you need them. I wanted a good editing software because the one that came with the computer, iMovie, has too limited functions. Final Cut Pro allows you you make multiple videos that iMovie doesn't, like this one:



Ya, I'm a tech geek. I love my tech gadgets :-)





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Studying:
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  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: million$glasses] #2531326
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Hi million$glasses,

I studied for 3.5 years when I was a teenager. After almost 20 years, I resumed piano lessons about 6 years ago. So in total it's about 9.5 years I guess :-)






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531381
04/17/16 12:29 AM
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Lesson 1:

The first lesson covered up to bar 105. Nothing was said about techniques but my teacher spent the entire lesson on the musicality aspect of the piece. Let me write these down before I forget:

Largo (opening phrases): It's like struggling the steps up to a hill. When you get up there, it is not as you've hoped for. You feel disappointed, then come to accept the reality.

Moderato: Don't play it mechanical. Bar 26-32, the phrases should sing a bit more in the top voice but not so much as to feel "too trying". Bar 36, take as much time to get "the sound". Forget about counting. Bring out the middle voice. Bar 67-93: slower. The lefthand is not just arpeggios. The pattern is built from one of the initial motives. Bar 101-105, extreme physical struggles, like Chopin struggling with tuberculosis.

In General:
Chopin's music needs to play with a specific sound. It may be different between pianists but there is a specific sound that each pianist strives to achieve, the sound that draws the audience into the pain and struggle in the music. I have to find that sound. But the important thing for now is that I realise this and start looking for it as I learn the piece.

The sound is so important in Chopin's music that you have to stretch and compress the tempo throughout the piece to accommodate the sound you want to achieve. That sound depends a lot on the harmony. Rubato in Chopin's music is not really about the stretching or compressing the tempo. It is about maintaining the tension. Sometimes a phrase need to move forward to keep the tension going. Other times a phrase needs more time to maintain that tension. Don't loose that tension.

The first lesson got quite deep. I now realise that while the technical aspect will take a lot of time to master, the musicality aspect will take much longer. So it is important to start learning and exploring this aspect at the very beginning, not after all the notes have be mastered.

Now I've got some good directions on how to shape the first half of music and will start to explore it for the next 2 weeks before Lesson 2. In the meantime, there are still lots of notes to get more fluency. Plenty of homework!



Last edited by Tubbie0075; 04/17/16 12:31 AM.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531384
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Thanks for sharing this journal. It makes a nice example for the rest of us to follow.

Keep up the good work.

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: newer player] #2531814
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Originally Posted by newer player
Thanks for sharing this journal. It makes a nice example for the rest of us to follow.

Keep up the good work.


Thanks Newer Player. I tried to search for blogs and forums to read about the journey of someone learning a piece or preparing for an exam but there aren't a lot of it on the internet. So I started to do this and hopefully start a trend, so that and more people will do the same.




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  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531820
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This is an exciting project. If you have time, definitely read Alan Rusbridger's book, Play It Again (if you haven't already). I would love to tackle this piece, but I need to work on my technique before I dare touch it. Best of luck to you!

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2531823
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Also, I forgot to ask- why do you have sheets or a blanket on the piano? Is that to muffle or lower the sound?

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: StartwithBach] #2531860
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Originally Posted by StartwithBach
Also, I forgot to ask- why do you have sheets or a blanket on the piano? Is that to muffle or lower the sound?


The bedsheets is there to cover the piano from dust. I would have prefered a custom made leather piano cover but I spent that money on a new piano bench instead. Plus, a cheap bedsheets from Ikea is more than sufficient to do the job :-)

If I were to muffle the sound, I would have stuff some cushions between the "ribs" under the soundboard and/or place some sound absorbing panels on the wall. After 3 years of playing piano in this tiny room, I'm already used to it.




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: StartwithBach] #2531863
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Originally Posted by StartwithBach
This is an exciting project. If you have time, definitely read Alan Rusbridger's book, Play It Again (if you haven't already).


My teacher mentioned that book on Sunday during my lesson. I was tempted to read the book, but I prefer not to. If I do, I risk copying what he did or compare myself to him. I rather figure things out myself with my teacher and make my own journey. This is just too special to be spoilt!

He spent 1 year learning this piece within limited piano skills. I've studied music for the last 12 years to get to here (6 years on the violin and 6 years on the piano). Moreover, I don't have a 1-year time limit to learn it. I have the rest of my life. So my journey will be very different.



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2532025
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Hi Tubbie. I keep my piano covered with two separate blankets in order to prevent dust AND keep two cats away from the case! It is a pain when I have to remove the blankets each day, along with the key cover and the bench covers, but it is the price I pay for a well-maintained piano. :-)

I see your point about not reading Play It Again just yet. On a side note, I think Rusbridger underestimates his skill to make studying and performing the Ballade even more striking. In the book, he talks about being an amateur who kind of wandered back into playing after many years of not doing so. However, when you read about how he routinely plays piano with different groups and is really into piano for four hands or even piano for eight hands, I began to think he was perhaps not so limited in skills as he would have you believe. He seems to be very comfortable playing piano for four hands with professional musicians and goes to piano summer camp in France where other very serious amateurs congregate. He also already had a nice Fazioli in his house, so I am quite skeptical that he just kind of stumbled into the piano (and the Ballade!) after a decades-long hiatus. That's my take! Again, good luck- what a great adventure to study a piece like this.

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2532162
04/19/16 05:32 PM
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Yesterday I tried to play some passages close to tempo and realised that:

1) I have the capacity to do it with more work
2) I have to use proper techniques
3) Sometimes practising slow is not good for the hands, especially places where I have to stretch. To play them slow, I have to stretch for longer. That means that when I practise slow, I should not bother so much with legato. Otherwise, I would strain my fingers, hands or wrists.

I think it is a good thing to try playing faster so I know how I should be practising and what techniques to use (or not use, or use more, or use less). With just slow practise, I can get away with sloppier techniques. To play it fast, there is no room for any of that. So the next aim is to practise in a way that enables me to play in tempo.

Perhaps this long weekend I will make another video of playing short passages (or small sections of passages) faster, and compare that to the earlier videos when I was playing them very slow when I was learning the notes.



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  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2532248
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Thanks for creating and keeping this journal active Tubbie. I'm just a beginner that is 1 year into learning this wonderful instrument but I do know that it will take many years to become proficient. I'm thoroughly enjoying my little journey and this thread is a wonderful example of how commitment, practice and perseverance can take one far into creating beautiful music!


Started Learning: March 2015 | Current Level: Adult Beginner | Instrument: Yamaha U1
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: TheKing] #2532293
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Welcome to the piano world and it's my pleasure to share my journey of this piece here.

My teacher always says, "3 steps forward, 1 step backward". When you feel like you are going backward with your progress at times, don't get discouraged. It's normal. Sometimes it's necessary to go backward in order to go forward. Just keep at it no matter what :-)




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2533686
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I've spent so much time on this Ballade I think I can start to play those difficult bits from memory. I think it makes sense to memorise them because there's no time for the eyes to switch between the sheet music and the keyboard.

Let's test that tomorrow in a video!



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2533923
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Fabulous!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2534035
04/26/16 03:16 AM
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Recorded video clips on same passages just to find out that the camera weren't set up properly. Argh! Anyway, did a retake and made a video to compare my progress between week 1 and week 5. Even though it's still slow, at the very least, I've memorised the Presto passage at the end of the piece. Some other parts, while not memorised, has got a lot more fluent and I can play longer passages without stopping.


Last edited by Tubbie0075; 04/26/16 03:34 AM.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2534614
04/27/16 09:44 PM
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Week 6:

The next stepping stone is to memorise the passages in bars 106-137. I am struggling to memorise bars 110-113, the octave scales in bars 119-123, and the chromatic ascending passage in bars 130-137. After that, it will be memorising bars 148-151 and 168-170. Thats a total of 24 bars.

Once those are memorised, I should be able to play the whole piece somewhat fluently for my 2nd lesson.

It looks like I may not need a whole year for this piece. If I keep up the practising, maybe I can play the entire piece in another 3-4 months? Things are looking rather hopeful :-)



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2535258
04/29/16 06:26 PM
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Week 7:

Played through the entire piece 3-4 times this morning (with lots of slips and mistakes). The 15-page piece no long seem so long. Now I can spend more time experimenting with sound, phrasings, tempo, dynamics, pedals, and less time worrying about notes and fingerings.

I am happy :-)



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2535719
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What better way to spend your time than learning something that has captivated you for years! Enjoy the journey. Keep us posted too.


Always working to improve "Chopsticks". I'll never give up on it.
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2535974
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Lesson No. 2:

Had a rather long discussion with teacher about performing and body movements, in my case, lack of. There are pianists that moves a lot and those that hardly do. In my case, it's important that my non-movement doesn't result to "freezing" inside.

Got some compliments and got some criticisms. Got some tips on how to practise some of the difficult passages. Got some better fingerings than those suggested in the book.

2 weeks to work on them before the next lesson. I think in the next lesson, I'll split it with one of my exam pieces to go over with my teacher.



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2536093
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I just wanted to comment to let you know that I'll be watching your progress on this beautiful piece. Your deliberate practice is genuinely inspiring. I wouldn't have created an account JUST to post a reply if I wasn't motivated by you.

Thank you!

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: AccidentalDavid] #2536247
05/03/16 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by AccidentalDavid
I just wanted to comment to let you know that I'll be watching your progress on this beautiful piece. Your deliberate practice is genuinely inspiring. I wouldn't have created an account JUST to post a reply if I wasn't motivated by you.

Thank you!


Thank you for following my journals. It gives me motivation to push on with this piece, which at times, can feel like a monster from a technical difficulty perspective.

Now that you've joined the forum, do roam around. There are some interesting topics waiting for your participation :-)



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2536279
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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Lesson No. 2:

Had a rather long discussion with teacher about performing and body movements, in my case, lack of. There are pianists that moves a lot and those that hardly do. In my case, it's important that my non-movement doesn't result to "freezing" inside.

Got some compliments and got some criticisms. Got some tips on how to practise some of the difficult passages. Got some better fingerings than those suggested in the book.

2 weeks to work on them before the next lesson. I think in the next lesson, I'll split it with one of my exam pieces to go over with my teacher.


Tubbie0075 we can tell you truly love this music. You comment on non-body movements. I used to move some to the music as I played and was struck down by my teacher. He was ugly about it. I know you can feel this music. Who can't feel the music of Chopin? That person would have to be dead inside. Let this music flow through every cell of your body, let it take you somewhere, go with it. Move with the passion you feel through this music. You can do it, just let go!!!

Looking forward to your music.


Always working to improve "Chopsticks". I'll never give up on it.
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2536411
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Watched "The Pianist" last night. It was on right before I went to sleep. I couldn't stay up to watch the part where he plays the Ballade. I thought of you watching it for the first time. Music is everything!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2537381
05/06/16 08:22 PM
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Week 8 (or is it week 9?): slacking on the Ballade the entire week. Practised Mozart K330 first and second movements instead. It is so difficult to play Mozart. In several aspects, it's more difficult than playing Chopin: even tone, articulation, left and right hand balance, phrasing etc. Several times I had to go back to practising scales before returning to the piece. All of the fingers have to be so alive to make it work.






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2537446
05/07/16 05:59 AM
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Took my violin out of its dusty case and 2 hours later I felt like I've never left it. Completely drown myself with vibrato, something I missed and not able to do on the piano. The feel of the arm in a bow change... oh I really miss that. Sustaining a note for as long as I want...

My piano teacher told me I should keep up with my violin playing. I'm glad I'm listening to him :-)

Perhaps tomorrow I will be ready to go back to the Ballade and pick up where I left off last week.



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2539834
05/14/16 11:51 PM
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Week 9:

Last week I said I was going back to the Ballade but I didn't. I got distracted with recording wedding music for my sister. Today's lesson spent mostly on Mozart Sonata K330 second movement (expression, tension, release and pulse), and about 10 minutes on the first movement (articulation and pedalling). At the end of the lesson, teacher asked what I plan for the next lesson. I felt obliged and answered "Chopin's Ballade?".

So I guess I better get back to it!



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2540603
05/17/16 09:44 AM
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Hi Tubbie,
Thank you for posting this. It is very inspiring indeed. I'll keep an eye on your progress as well. Keep it up!

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Took my violin out of its dusty case and 2 hours later I felt like I've never left it. Completely drown myself with vibrato, something I missed and not able to do on the piano. The feel of the arm in a bow change... oh I really miss that. Sustaining a note for as long as I want...

Unfortunately, whenever I take my violin out of its dusty case I can never really make it to 2 hours because my intonation has become a joke and vibrato is slow and awkward. Sustaining a note forever does feel very good though smile


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: PikaPianist] #2540738
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Originally Posted by PikaPianist

Unfortunately, whenever I take my violin out of its dusty case I can never really make it to 2 hours because my intonation has become a joke and vibrato is slow and awkward. Sustaining a note forever does feel very good though smile


I was recording Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod) on the violin for my sister's wedding yesterday and I injured my 2nd finger (violin) on the left hand. I got too carried away with the vibrato! My bow change and string crossing was terrible. In hindsight, I should have spent some time warming up first.





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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2541790
05/20/16 07:26 PM
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Week 10:

Ok, I'm finally back to it. There are a couple of new fingerings I need to learn before the next lesson. I'm playing faster than I should and it sounds messy. I need to hold it back a little and try to play it clean and musical.

At the same time, I'm also relearning Rachmaninov G# minor prelude for a possible exam piece. It's been a while since I practise Bach's prelude & fugue in E. I should also explore what my teacher taught me on Mozart's K330 second movement during the previous lesson.

There's so much to do!



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2542131
05/22/16 01:02 AM
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Sore hands. Sore right hand in particular :-(



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2542424
05/23/16 06:19 AM
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I have less than 2 months before my 1-month Europe trip. So here's my short term goals for the next 5-6 weeks before the trip:

Target for this Sunday's lesson (Week 11):
- Play through fluently and musically for bars 1-105 (play under tempo where needed)
- Record a video for 1-105.

Target for the following lesson (Week 13):
- Play through fluently and musically for bars 1-202 (play under tempo where needed)
- Record a video, if not 1-202, then 106-202.

Target for the following lesson (Week 15):
- Play through fluently and musically for bars 1-260 (entire piece) (definitely play under tempo at Presto section)
- Record a video, if non 1-260, then 203-260.

So from now on it is practise for reliability, or as they, say practise until I cannot get it wrong (as opposed to practise until I get it right). I'm already feeling the pressure!




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2542746
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Practising until I cannot get it wrong is very difficult!

Last edited by Tubbie0075; 05/24/16 04:19 AM.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2542862
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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Practising until I cannot get it wrong is very difficult!


You probably have heard this before but you have to practice it "right" from the start. I would worry that if you're practicing until it is not "wrong" means you are playing it wrong more times than you are getting it right.

If you can't get it at a faster tempo then you need to go back to a slower one. You can maybe try an occasional sprint at a faster speed but you may consider then playing the section a few times slower again so you don't ingrain mistakes.

Just my $0.02 .. good luck!


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2543664
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Tonight I was practising the Ballade as usual but just a moment ago, I played from Presto until the end of the piece, by memory, without mistakes! Of course I was playing quite slower, but I was playing as fast as my hands, my eyes and my memory could manage.

BY MEMORY!

WITHOUT MISTAKES!


YAY!!!!



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2543926
05/27/16 07:23 PM
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That's wonderful. I know that amazing feeling when it comes together.
Happy for you!


Barbara
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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2544395
05/29/16 03:51 AM
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Week 11:

I arrived to lesson and heard my teacher playing Bach. We spent about 5-10 minutes talking and admiring about his music, and I get to hear him play a prelude and fugue. I think it's C# major from book 1. He asked if I like Bach, and I reminded him that Bach is my number 1 favourite!

In today's lesson, I get to play from bar 82 to bar 177, which is quite a lot compared to previous lessons. During the lesson, my teacher focused on shapes and grouping in the passages in bars 130-133, 138-142, 144-146, 148-151. For bars 110 and 111, he spent some time on how to use less hand and more arm for the right hand octaves, and also use a bit of rotation towards the thumb for each of the octave while trying to play legato on the top notes with the 4th and 5th fingers.

Then he realised the edition I have has an error as I played it. Bar 168 last quaver note is print C-flat but he checked with another edition and confirmed it's a C. He also pointed out that I played all the A notes wrongly as A# in bars 152-153 (oops!), and the G note wrongly as F in the chord in the 2nd half of bar 172. That said, he has used the word "beautiful" several times during the lesson while I played. Near the end of the lesson, we get to go over the Presto section briefly on how to not stretch and collect the hands wherever possible.

I didn't get to make a video this weekend because I got distracted with shopping. Sorry. I loose all senses when I am surrounded with Boss Orange products.






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2550381
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This must be week 13?

Today I'm preparing to play from bar 192 - 260, when the piece return to Meno Mosso all the way to the end. I've not had a chance to go through this section in my lessons. Hopefully today I will.

While I couldn't reach the fluency to make video recordings, just targeting for it made me practise more and improved. There is now now section in the entire piece that I fear, but there are still many sections where my playing isn't very reliable.

I would like to record the entire piece, even with mistakes, pauses, retakes, before I leave for Europe in mid-July. It's just very difficult to present something that is so imperfect to the public...



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2553788
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Week 15:

Today was the last piano lesson before my 1-month trip to Europe. That makes it 1.5 month before my next piano lesson.

I am thoroughly happy to have played the entire Ballade in the lesson for the first time! There were numerous slips and several retakes of passages, but I managed to play the entire piece from start to end! I was also confident enough to play many of the difficult passages by memory, include the Presto section at the end. Frankly, there were so many notes it was the only way for me to get through it, by memory. The other reason I managed to get through it was that I didn't rush and took my time, especially in difficult passages. Even if it was just a fraction of a second here and there, it made a big difference.

My teacher was very pleased with my progress. With that in mind, he started to take me to the "next level" both technically and musically, which in some cases mean going back to the basics.

I have one more goal before I leave for Europe, that is to record my progress of the entire Ballade in a video and share it here. It's been difficult lately because there were so many things to plan and prepare for the trip. Next weekend is my last chance. I'll do my best.

And yes, I'll be bringing my music with me and will try find pianos to practice in Madrid, Brussels, Edinburgh, Prague, Rome and Barcelona. Anyone knows where I can rent piano practice studio by the hour in these cities?




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2554491
07/06/16 05:03 AM
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Week 15.5:

I tried to record some passages today but my hands felt really stiff. Today must be the 1 step backward of the 3 steps forward 1 step backward moment my teacher keeps saying.

Anywho, at the very least I managed to record the 2 most technically difficult sections of the entire piece, for me at least. I'm pleased to now be able to play them from memory so my eyes are free to be busy looking at the keyboard.

There's a chance I have some time this Sunday to have another go at other sections. At this rate, I don't think I can manage to record the entire piece at one go, nor breaking it up into 3 sections. So much for my short term goal before my trip *sigh*. I just hope I won't loose too much being away from the piano for a month.








Last edited by Tubbie0075; 07/06/16 05:14 AM.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2555334
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Week 16 (4 months):

Did a bit of practise today. Went slow on difficult sections as if I was re-learning the notes, fingerings, hand/arm positions, rotations etc. I think it's important to do that once in a while even after getting some proficiency. It's so convenient to practise without having to relying on music sheets all the time.

Unfortunately there's no time to make another video before my trip. There are so many things to organise and I'm meeting my high school teacher tomorrow. Apologies to those anticipating a video this weekend.

I wasn't sure if anyone was still following this journal. So since my last post, I noted down the number of views. I'm surprised to see that in 3 days there has been almost 200 views! Thank you for your invisible support :-)

I will miss my piano :-(




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2555392
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Hello Tubbie smile

You are going to be very busy and won't have time for piano! laugh In Spain it is very hot now so it would probably better for you to find a swimming pool and not a piano, but I once tried to find pianos to rent in Madrid, and posted about it in this thread:

Madrid

I did now the same search for Barcelona and can see as one of the first entries this: Barcelona

But Madrid and Barcelona are quite big. Just getting to those places could take very long, so probably you'd only want to find somewhere close to your hotel. In Barcelona you can go to the sea. smile

I hope you have a great time in your trip, and with your family. When you are back you'll have now to tell us about it and not just your Chopin adventure. wink

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2555449
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After all of your hard work, you deserve to take a break and enjoy all other aspects of life. Wether you post a video or not, I have been and will continue to follow your thread. It is very helpful to me and I am so very happy for your progress. Enjoy our time away!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Albunea] #2555520
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Thanks Albunea. This piano studio rental is very close to where I'll be staying and if my very limited Spanish is correct, it has a grand piano for rent for 10 euro per hour. That's very reasonable.

Alquiler De Aulas

Madrid is probably the only place I have time to practise piano. So that's fantastic news :-)





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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Music Me] #2555524
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Thanks Music Me.

As much as I'd like to leave the piano practise behind, I know I won't be able to. Several years ago when I was still learning the violin, I went on a holiday and left my violin at home. After a few days, my urge to play/practise was so bad I went and bought a $2000 violin!

Luckily this time, piano is not something I can just buy (due to size and $$$). I know I won't be able to enjoy my holiday fully if I am not able to touch a piano for an hour a day. Such is the joy and "curse" of music :-)




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2555554
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Indeed!


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2555598
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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Thanks Albunea. This piano studio rental is very close to where I'll be staying and if my very limited Spanish is correct, it has a grand piano for rent for 10 euro per hour. That's very reasonable.

Alquiler De Aulas

Madrid is probably the only place I have time to practise piano. So that's fantastic news :-)




Yes, that's what it says there.

Great you could find one close to your place. smile

In Madrid and other cities you might like to visit some piano shops (tienda) in the city center. Those at least will have air conditioning for sure. laugh smile

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2556727
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Week 17:

Bye bye piano. See you in a month. frown






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2562981
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I'm back from Europe!

I didn't manage to practise piano much while in Europe except for:

Melbourne Airport:
There was a grand piano near the boarding gates. After waiting for a dad and his little girl tinkling on the keys, I braved up and started practising Chopin Ballade (from memory). I used the soft pedal throughout as I was very shy. Luckily there weren't many people sitting in front of the piano because it was 1 am in the morning. When I finished and walked past a young adult girl, she thanked me. :-)

Edinburgh
At Varsity Music Shop, The shopkeeper was very kind to let me practise on this piano at the back of the shop for 5 pounds per hour. I was in Edinburgh for 3 days but only discovered this shop on the 2nd day. So I only managed to practise an hour for 2 days. At the end of the 2nd day, after hearing that I was practising Chopin, the shopkeeper tried to sell me the complete Chopin music book of over 700 pages. As much as I'd like to buy it (at a very reasonable price of 35 pounds), I really have no space in my tiny suitcase. So I bought a used Chopin Sonata No. 2 instead.


[Linked Image]


Prague
The only music shop I found was the Petrof piano shop. When I got there, a young pianist was testing out on a concert grand with several Chopin pieces. He was so impressive I just stood there listening to him. The piano shop was too small to accommodate me playing also.

On the next day, I went to a musical instrument museum. As everyone was busy visiting the castle and selfie-ing at Charles Bridge, no one was at the museum. There, I touch a piano played by Mozart!

[Linked Image]


At the end of the visit, we were still the only visitor there. So I braved up to play for half an hour at the upright piano in the main hall (using the soft pedal throughout). Did some Chopin Ballade passages then ended up with the first half of first movement from Mozart Sonata K330 (the only bit I could play from memory) as a tribute to Mozart.

[Linked Image]


Rome
There was a really good piano shop called Alfonzi Pianoforti near where we were staying. I went there and asked if they have a piano studio for rent. They didn't but allowed me to play on any one of the pianos at the basement for half an hour. They said it would be too noisy if I were to play at the ground floor, but I think part of the reason was that they didn't want me to touch any of their Steinways! Fair enough. At the basement, I chose this one:

[Linked Image]


Madrid
During my last leg of the trip, I was determined to practise piano on a daily basis. So I went to 3 music schools that rented piano studios by the hour. All of them were closed for the entire August!


Now that I am home, I really should uncover my piano and start practising.




Last edited by Tubbie0075; 08/13/16 08:26 PM.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2563200
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I am not surprised, Tubbie smile I didn't think of it, but being schools it is really normal they are closed the whole August (maybe July too).

Yeah! Playing time now! smile

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2566294
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Week-1 (after lost count):

Resume lesson last Sunday. Played half of the ballade and got stopped by teacher. Teacher is liking the sound but not so much at some of the phrasings. Lesson focused on musicality and some technical aspects, especially the octave scales. Learning new techniques to lift it to the next level.

Planning to play the other half for tomorrow's lesson. Then it's teacher's turn to be away for a couple of weeks.




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2566610
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Week-2 (after lost count):

Got mucked up. Teacher isn't teaching this week and will be away. No lesson until after mid-September. An opportunity to catch up with my practise for Chopin, Mozart and Bach, and attempt to record for the Russian Recital, Rachmaninov prelude no. 12 in G# minor.




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2567761
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Tubbie - just read through your whole odyssey with the Ballade. Thanks so much for sharing, and you're making terrific progress! Thanks too for the videos, and the lovely photos of your visited pianos in Europe.

Curious - do you normally practice an hour a day? And what is your process for memorizing (or does it simply happen after so much slow repetition)?

I am inspired by and grateful for you!

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2567773
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Hi Inna,

Thank you for your kind words.

When I'm learning a new piece or preparing for an exam, I would practice 1.5 to 2 hours most evenings, and 3 to 6 hours over the weekends. When I am polishing pieces and the exam isn't near, I would practice 30 minutes to an hour instead.

I don't deliberately memorise a piece. For difficult passages, I usually memorise them so that I can play them more fluently and can focus on the techniques rather than reading the notes. So, after learning a piece for a while, say 2 to 3 months, most of the difficult parts are memorised. Then I just learn the bits that I cannot yet memorise (the technically easier bits) and "link" those memorised bits together. This is especially the case for long pieces like the Ballade.

There are times where I have played a passage many times from memory but just couldn't do it anymore for some reasons. Sometimes forgetting even 1 note would throw me off. That's when I know I relied too much on muscle memories and forgot the actual notes. In those instances, I would "relearn" the passage again slowly using the scores. It's important to play with the scores once in a while even if I have memorised a piece. I don't fully trust my memory, not anymore. At this juncture, I can say that I have memorised the entire Ballade. Though, I still practise the piece using the score.

I cannot yet play the Ballade through without too many slips and mistakes. There are still several unreliable spots that I need to work on. On top of that, my teacher have only started to focus more on the musicality of the piece. So there's still much to learn. 5 months have gone. I have about 7 more months to go.

In the mean time, I try to keep practising my planned exam pieces for next year, which doesn't include the Ballade. Since my teacher is away, I can take a week or 2 off from the Ballade to relearn and polish Rachmaninov's G# minor prelude as much as possible for the upcoming Russian Recital. At this time, I'm not sure I can make it, but I will try.






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2567842
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Tubbie - that makes sense, after that much practice things would start to be in muscle memory. Good for you!

I was thinking through the night about a comment in one of your earlier posts in this thread, I think from your first lesson on the Ballade, about what your teacher said - that Chopin is about keeping the tension going, whether through slowing down or speeding up. What a terrific way to think about it! Can't wait to try some of my Chopin favorites with that in mind.

I was also thinking about what you said about Mozart being hard. It's funny, growing up playing I always considered Mozart to be "easy"; but I totally see what you mean! To play him well, you need a crispness and uniformity/evenness in the runs.

As I'm now trying to get back to piano with a chronic tendinitis injury in my hands, I'm feeling out what things I can do, and what's off limits. It's certainly a good time to reconsider "easy" in a different context, as I may not be physically/pain-wise able to tackle some of the technically more difficult repertoire. So thanks for that perspective change! smile

Oh, and I totally blame you for my lack of sleep last night - not only did I stay up riveted reading your Ballade journal, I also had a hard time falling asleep thinking about all this... haha! wink I think my version of your Ballade (i.e. "would be amazing if I could ever play it but it's just way too out of my league") is Chopin's concerto #1. Like you, I had bought the sheet music years ago, thinking it may at least be fun to follow along while listening to a recording. Alas, perhaps some day, if the hands allow.

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2568091
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I have written so much I forgotten what I wrote months ago. Thank you for reminding me about "tension". 2 weeks ago when I resumed my lesson after the trip, I managed to play through the first half of the Ballade. After I played the opening passage my teacher said, "too easy". Play it with more "struggle". That alone has completely changed the way I feel and play the opening passage.

We then talked about how after learning a piece for too long, we no longer "feel" the music. And when that happens, it calls for us to exaggerate what we feel and play. I tend not not fill myself with emotion when I play, especially when all I'm thinking are the notes, and the fingering, and my arms, and my fingers, and a tricky bit is coming up, and wondering if I could get though that difficult passage without slips like I did at home etc. When my mind is preoccupied with all those thoughts, not only I still make mistakes, the music becomes emotionless. When I remember to convict myself to feeling the music before I begin the first note (usually just take a few seconds), despite the slips, I don't care so much about them and the music becomes somewhat more alive. There's also this barrier for me to open up my emotions to someone, even for my teacher of 6 years. But occasionally when I manage, when I convict myself to make him feel my music, magic happens, despite slips and mistakes.

When I practise at home, I rarely practise with my emotion. That's why it doesn't come naturally to me. In rare occasions when I do, the music and the playing is so much more enjoyable. But having to repeat the Ballade so many times, imagine each time having to play with full emotion, that would be mentally exhausting!

When I was in Edinburgh I visited my English friend who is a great music lover. Even though he doesn't play any musical instruments, he probably appreciates music more than I do. I told him that years ago I was playing Bach's Allemanda from Partita No. 2 for solo violin. I had at that point practised that piece to death. But on one occasion, it was a quite night, and I turned off all the lights. I played the piece in complete darkness and with my eyes closed. I felt every body movements, my fingers, my bow arm, I heard ever note. I felt every note. That piece of music took over my body. But my mind was not with my fingers or bow or strings or the notes. My mind was with my ears and the sound I was hearing. I was an audience and I felt the music from start to end. That was one heck of an experience! I never managed to achieve that since, not with that piece, not with any other violin pieces, not with any other piano pieces. My friend said how lucky for me to have felt music that way, and that he could listen to music forever but will never feel it like that in his lifetime. Even though it only happened to me once and so long ago, I still remember how it felt! He's right, I am so lucky! What my playing actually sounded like I don't know. It doesn't matter. I heard it with my heart.

I'm sorry about your tendinitis injury. Chopin's concerto no. 1 is not out of the question. Don't give up, be patient, don't take shortcuts, and eventually you'll get there. As I always say, there's no "impossible". It all comes down to how bad you want it. If you want it bad enough, you'll find ways, you'll persevere and you'll get it eventually. I hope you'll find your ways.

Thanks for following my journals and all the best with your journey.






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: InnaGrace] #2568097
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Originally Posted by InnaGrace

I think my version of your Ballade (i.e. "would be amazing if I could ever play it but it's just way too out of my league") is Chopin's concerto #1. Like you, I had bought the sheet music years ago, thinking it may at least be fun to follow along while listening to a recording. Alas, perhaps some day, if the hands allow.

You could start by playing Balakirev's transcription for solo piano of the beautiful Romance (Marc-André Hamelin among others have recorded it), which is well-known, and shouldn't cause too much stress to your tendons as long as you keep relaxed.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: bennevis] #2568127
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Originally Posted by bennevis
You could start by playing Balakirev's transcription for solo piano of the beautiful Romanze (Marc-Andre Hamelin among others have recorded it), which is well-known, and shouldn't cause too much stress to your tendons as long as you keep relaxed.


Oh my goodness! That is fantastic - going to get the music stat! smile
Thank you so much for the pointer.

Last edited by InnaGrace; 09/02/16 10:13 AM.
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2568623
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(I don't mean to hijack this thread! Just want to say - Balakirev's transcription is no "walk in the park" in terms of difficulty either! But - have the music now; it's on the "would love to learn ... step by step" pile!)

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2569217
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After several days of rigorous practise of the first movement of Mozart's Piano Sonata no. 10 in C, K330, Allegro Moderato, I found the problem... right hand 4th finger + lack of inward arm rotation.

Sorry you've been neglected but welcome back, Mr. 4th!

Tried out the resurrected 4th finger on the Ballade and a few problematic spots solved.

Best thing about playing Mozart is you cannot get sloppy and get away with it!



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577238
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Octave scales!






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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577244
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Amazing! It is really coming along! I'm hoping to learn this one in the new year! I hope I can do as well as you are!


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Michiyo-Fir] #2577248
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Do join the learning-Chopin-Ballade-No.1 club! It's rather lonely learning this piece by myself :-(




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577256
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I did try the first page and looked through the score but was slightly turned off by the difficulty haha.

I think it would take me quite a while to just get the notes down, plus I can foresee many pedaling challenges. I'm thinking of officially taking it up with my teacher after my current serious piece which is Liszt Schubert's Erlkonig. I've just been spending a tiny bit of time fiddling with Ballade 1...hopefully I can get on it soon.

I'm excited to hear you play the entire thing though!


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Michiyo-Fir] #2577282
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I think it took me about 3 months to get the notes down. It's now roughly 6 months since I started this piece. I have 6 more months to go.

Lately I'm finding myself spending a lot less time in this piece and concentrating in other pieces instead. I'm trying not to let me passion for this piece diminish, but it's hard when you've played something so many times for so many months...




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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577447
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I hope that you are feeling elated with all of your progress. It is a wonderful feeling!

I am grateful that you are sharing this with us!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577450
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Well done, Tubbie! It sounds good, and I like your practice of breaking it up into small passages.

(In case you haven't seen it, your journal here has inspired me to start a journal entry as well, to track my injury recovery and re-training... So far so good, if slow, and thanks for the inspiration! smile

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Music Me] #2577457
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Hi Barbara,

The progress has really slowed in the past 2-3 months: being away for a month and then my teacher was away for a few weeks. I missed a lot of lessons. Last weekend I came down with hay fever and had to skip another lesson. Sigh..

I'm now working on improving the speed and reliability of the Presto section. To do that, I have to re-examine what is slowing me down and figure out what techniques to adjust. This section is very frustrating. So far I'm practising to let go of my thumb and rotate inward further so that my 2nd finger doesn't stretch when playing 6th with 2&5 fingers. I'm also going slow to re-examining my rotations: is it single rotation or double rotation and is it rotating inward or outward. The jumping left hand doesn't make this passage any easier either!

Anyway, I'm progressing, but so ever slowly! Thanks for your encouragement.




Be your ♮ self
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Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: InnaGrace] #2577460
10/09/16 09:05 PM
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Hi InnaGrace,

I've been following your journal too and I wish you speedy recovery.

I have to say if I didn't take sufficient lessons and attempted this piece, I'd surely injure my hands and wrists many times over by now. I have my teacher to thank for the many techniques he has taught me. While I struggle to learn and this piece, I have yet to have any injuries (touch wood!). That should be an accomplishment in itself.

I've commented in other posts before. There is no point in playing the entire piece from start to end over and over again during practise sessions. That's a waste of time. The most I'd do that is once in a practise session (ok, sometimes twice). Most of the time I don't even do it, especially now that I know all the notes and fingerings. I'd only do it to see which sections I may have forgotten some notes and then relearn those sections briefly. Most of the practise time is spent on examining and experimenting how to push the difficult sections to the next level or finding out what ways I can play with more reliability. Then there are times spent on adjusting the left and right hand dynamics, adjusting the touch and weight to get a better sound.

There's still a lot to do for the next 6 months. That said, 1 year ago I wouldn't be able to imagine playing this piece and reaching this far. I'm very grateful!




Be your ♮ self
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Studying:
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  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577509
10/10/16 04:21 AM
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A March vs October progress video...




Be your ♮ self
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Studying:
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  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577532
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I really liked your March vs. October video!
The tempo is different, obviously, but to me the important differences are phrasing and rhythm. The March clips have a lot of notes played at more or less equal volume. In the October clips everything is shaped much better so the phrases and rhythms stand out more beautifully. You (and your teacher) are doing a great job.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
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Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577539
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What a fantastic tool, seeing your progress like this back to back! Very motivating to see so much progress. And it truly points to how much hard work goes into the satisfaction of playing something this beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577553
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Tubbie, Your progress on the Ballade is very inspirational. The piece has so many difficult sections and you now play them fluidly and with wonderful expression. It also seems like you have memorized the piece? Congratulations on your hard work and thanks for sharing your journey.



Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577686
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Your March Vs. October video is amazing! Great editing. It most certainly has to be motivating to see how far you have come. Maybe when I retire in a few months and settle into my home I will take a page from your book and video record myself while I learn apiece. Thanks again!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577750
10/11/16 03:57 AM
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Thanks everyone for your compliments. The progress difference in the first 6 months does seem significant. I suspect the progress in the next 6 months will be very minimal because it's getting rather difficult to raise the bar even by just a little from where I am now.

The first 6 months was practising to get it right. I'd say that in most of the difficult passages I get about 30%-40% success rate, and 70%-80% for less difficult passages. So one of the improvement aspects I will aim for from now is try to raise that reliability rate as high as I possibly can, i.e. practise to never get it wrong.

In terms of playing from memory, I've memorised the piece around June/July. I have played the entire piece from memory a number of times. Lately, I've been forgetting some notes here and there, possibly due to focusing more on other pieces I am learning. So I'll go back to practising with the score.

As for videos, I suppose there's not much point in making more progress videos if the progression will be minimal. Rather, I should aim to record large sections, perhaps divide the piece into 3 large sections and aim to record them. I'm nearly there for the first section, and not too far for the last section. The middle section needs more work. The final goal for video recording, of course, is to record playing the entire piece from start to end!

The journey continues...





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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2577794
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You're doing well, Tubbie, and I don't want to downplay your achievements but I want to offer an alternative view from one old enough to have learnt many things to one young enough to benefit from such knowledge.

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
The first 6 months was practising to get it right. I'd say that in most of the difficult passages I get about 30%-40% success rate, and 70%-80% for less difficult passages. So one of the improvement aspects I will aim for from now is try to raise that reliability rate as high as I possibly can, i.e. practise to never get it wrong.
I understand that being at a suitable level to begin studying this piece your reading should be at a high level but reading fast enough for a high error rate is not how I would approach a repertory piece - and this is definitely a repertory piece. Practising to never get it wrong is a fundamental principle in approaching a precision instrument and should be the attitude from the very first reading at the keyboard.

BTW, I seriously doubt your error rate. If you were considering the number of phrases played without error then two thirds of the phrases played wrong seems probable but two thirds of the piece played wrong is a gross overstatement, I'm sure.

Errors made in the preparatory readings are among the hardest errors to eradicate, especially when performance nerves kick in. I get the feeling you may have shot yourself in the foot with this approach. I have studied this piece myself, it's one of the last pieces my teacher gave me, and continue to work at it but I doubt that my error rate was more than 2% at any time - or I'd have curtailed the practice session. As a piece set for the long haul, the practise tempo was never of any concern so was always subordinate to accuracy.

Going forward I'd aim for getting it right, then start practising.

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
In terms of playing from memory, I've memorised the piece around June/July. I have played the entire piece from memory a number of times. Lately, I've been forgetting some notes here and there, possibly due to focusing more on other pieces I am learning. So I'll go back to practising with the score.
Going back to the score for memory issues will weaken the memory. Forcing the memory to recover will strengthen it. This is not a piece I would countenance performing with the score and as such I only practise what I can memorise.

I work on this piece in twenty minor sections, five main sections. Joining the minor sections, for me, would mean going slower but not compromising accuracy. I have to be at 98% accuracy at worst and reduce the tempo with each amalgamation so the initial tempo would have to be very high to warrant only three main sections. At what level of accuracy is it worth getting the melody right and vamping the chords, moving Chopin from the salon to the cocktail lounge?

I'd return to smaller sections while the memory recovers - I only practise in the smaller sections anyway. Joining well oiled sections is a separate part of my practise session.



Richard
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: zrtf90] #2577914
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zrtf90,

Thank you for your feedback.

The other day, my teacher explained what it is meant by technical difficulty. He said that a piece being more difficult means the room for "getting away with it" is smaller. So to me it means that the techniques have to be very precise, i.e. just the right amount of the right techniques to use.

When one starts to learn a piece slowly, one would use different amount of different techniques and one would learn the different techniques separately before putting them together, then slowly adjust those amounts and techniques as one speed up.

That said, I do agree to strive for accuracy right from the start, but allowing room for error when one is experimenting and exploring techniques. Sometimes, trying too hard to play right restrict the freedom of learning and exploring the right techniques, at least to me that is.

You misread me about sectioning the piece. My next aim for recording videos is 3 large sections, that doesn't mean I am going to practise in 3 large sections.

As for memory, I'd say each to their own approach. How my brain works differ to yours in memorising something. At this point, I don't need to force myself to memorise it. I already have it memorised more or less. Also, my ex-violin teacher gave me good but different advice to yours.

Each has their own objectives of what they want to do with the piece. If one is practising to perform the piece publicly or to perform for an exam, playing this piece, or any other pieces from memory is crucial. That is not my aim. I never learn the piano to aim for performing publicly one day. I may play something for someone in rare social occasions, but that's it. My goal may change, but playing the piano is a very personal and private thing that I enjoy doing for myself.

For the pieces I am preparing for my exam next year, I have different approach of preparing them compared to this Ballade. It is after all my stretch piece for now.




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Studying:
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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2703593
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Rather than starting a new thread, I thought I'd just piggy bag on this thread to journal my journey on Ballade No. 4.

I started listening to this piece frequently since early 2017. Initially I was listening to Nikolai Luganski (The Poor, Sad Angel - A Chopin Recital 2007 album). Later in the year, I started listening to Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the International Chopin Competition 2015 (Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 and Ballades 2016 album). Then I was listening to Nikolak Luganski again but this time on a more recent live performance on YouTube. Lately, I've been listening to Kate Liu on YouTube, 3rd place at the same competition.

I started learning this piece around mid-December 2017 and had 1 lesson on the piece so far. Since then, my teacher has been away until February 2018. So I've been pretty much on my own.

As with all big and difficult pieces, I always spend the first 2-3 months learning notes and fingerings. So far I have reached the half way mark, the easier half. My teacher said that Ballade No. 4 is easier than Ballade No. 1. I beg to differ. In my case, for someone with terrible sight-reading skills, pieces with lots of notes are more challenging to learn, especially in the beginning.

My plan is to spend the next 6 months learning this piece, then briefly revisit Racmaninov's prelude No. 5 for 2 months, then revisiting Ballade No. 1 again for 4 months. That's my piano goals for this year, 3 pieces.

I haven't made a single YouTube video since the last one I posted on Ballade No. 1 in October 2016. Perhaps Ballade No. 4 will inspire me to post some practise videos again on YouTube.

I welcome anyone who has attempted this piece to share their learning/performing experience.



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2719283
03/06/18 05:24 AM
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After 3 months, tonight I finally got to bar 210!

29 more bars to go, but this will be the hardest part of the entire piece. This 29 bars will probably take 1.5 months to learn. I'm almost there. Soldier on!

I have a bit less than 4 months left allocated for Ballade No. 4. That means I only have about 2.5 months of actually learning the piece (rather than learning notes, fingerings and techniques).

I already miss the piece even though I'm not departing it until July :-(



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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2721017
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I have to say, it took much longer to learn the notes for this Ballade compared to the first one... just because there are so many more notes, and flats, and double flats... and sometimes a sharp here and there among the flats just in case you're not confused enough. My brain is so fried reading the music! I've just started learning the coda this week so I'm playing like terrible sight reading at the moment.

Technically it is less difficult than Ballade No. 1 but this Ballade contains many of my nemesis: double notes, polyrhythm, wide left hand arpeggios, one-handed contrapuntal melodic lines in chords just to name a few.

I only have 3.5 more months left for this piece. I wonder how far I will get by the end of June. Hopefully will make another video to compare.




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  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2721094
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You are so very inspiring to me! Thank you for posting your journey. I have been looking to see when you would post another video and you did. It would be great to see one of your playing Ballade #1. If, you are so inclined. Your piano has a beautiful tone.

I would like to know what video camera you use and what editing you use. It is very smooth. DO you use external microphones on your piano? How many? I am looking to record myself in the same manner - I believe that it will help me in my practice.

Thank you so much for your video. I would wish you luck, but, young man, you don't need it!


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2721114
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Tubbie-

I actually looked back at previous posts I made to your thread and found your response to this same inquiry, so, I know what you use for video/audio recording and editing. If you have changed equipment, I would be interested in knowing what you are now using.

Thanks, again


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Music Me] #2721144
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Originally Posted by Music Me
Tubbie-

I actually looked back at previous posts I made to your thread and found your response to this same inquiry, so, I know what you use for video/audio recording and editing. If you have changed equipment, I would be interested in knowing what you are now using.

Thanks, again


Hi Barbara,

Thank you for your continuing interest in my journey. I used exactly the same recording devices. The only thing that has changed since my last video was that the Logitect camcorder has had a software update. I'm wondering if that's the reason you see the quality difference in the videos.



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  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Music Me] #2721145
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Originally Posted by Music Me
You are so very inspiring to me! Thank you for posting your journey. I have been looking to see when you would post another video and you did. It would be great to see one of your playing Ballade #1. If, you are so inclined. Your piano has a beautiful tone.



I will return to relearning Ballade No. 1 later this year or early next year. Until then I won't be making any videos of it. Not because I don't want to, it's because I've forgotten all the notes. I'm hoping it will take me much shorter time when I am ready to relearn it.

Credit goes to the new piano tuner I hired for my piano sound. He spent over 3 hours tuning my piano a few months ago. He was obsessed with getting it absolutely right and wouldn't charge me any more than what he quoted. I insisted on paying him extra. That said, it's time for another tuning.

It's hard to imagine that it's been almost 9 years since I bought this piano, and almost 8 years since I resumed piano lessons.


Last edited by Tubbie0075; 03/14/18 02:26 PM.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2721149
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No my friend, not hard to imagine. Your hard work shows! I will agree that the piano tuner makes all the difference in the world. I use two tuners - one comes only when my preferred favorite is unavailable. Like yours, he will spend hours working on my piano until it is just right.

Thank you for responding. I am looking into the Logitect camcorder. I use a MacBook Pro, so I imagine I can have a similar set up to yours. I can only hope it will look as professional.


Barbara
...without music, no life...
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2721178
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It's very good, Tubbie! Coming along nicely. Btw what's the significance of your username? Just wondering.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: cmb13] #2721183
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Originally Posted by cmb13
It's very good, Tubbie! Coming along nicely. Btw what's the significance of your username? Just wondering.


It's the name I used when deciding on a YouTube account name back in 2008 or 9. It has no significance. I arrived at that name by accident and have used it since.

I initially wanted to use the name "Tubie", as in someone that uses YouTube but that name was taken. So I didn't think twice before adding another "b" to Tubie. After uploading a few videos I told my then violin teacher about it. She asked why I would use a name that suggest I was a chubby. I said I didn't realise that's what Tubbie meant. But I've never bothered to change that name (I'm not sure if you can on YouTube).

I'd like to make up a story to say that I used to be very chubby but through hardcore diet and exercise and wallah! I'm a stick now. But no, I've always been a stick. Some people asked me what I eat to "maintain" in a stick figure. I said chips, ice-cream, cakes, instant noodles, rice, eggs, bread, chocolates, biscuits, chicken, pork, green tea frappucino, more ice-cream, black coffee, nuts, butter, bacon, pancakes etc. For most days, those are my main meals. I know, I'm terrible!



Be your ♮ self
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  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2721304
03/15/18 03:26 AM
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Thanks for sharing your progress with these amazing and incredibly difficult pieces.

I particularly like the 4th Ballade. At the last music exhibition in Cremona I attended a masterclass demonstration by Benedetto Lupo (he teaches at Accademia di Santa Cecilia and taught Beatrice Rana, among others), and a very talented student of his played this ballade. It was so good that I wondered what faults he could find in it, but he had plenty to say. Very interesting even if I will never even get near this kind of pieces.


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Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: sinophilia] #2721305
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Originally Posted by sinophilia
Very interesting even if I will never even get near this kind of pieces.


Play the piano long enough and you'll get to a point when you feel it's time. Never say never :-)



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  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2721321
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Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Originally Posted by cmb13
It's very good, Tubbie! Coming along nicely. Btw what's the significance of your username? Just wondering.


It's the name I used when deciding on a YouTube account name back in 2008 or 9. It has no significance. I arrived at that name by accident and have used it since.

I initially wanted to use the name "Tubie", as in someone that uses YouTube but that name was taken. So I didn't think twice before adding another "b" to Tubie. After uploading a few videos I told my then violin teacher about it. She asked why I would use a name that suggest I was a chubby. I said I didn't realise that's what Tubbie meant. But I've never bothered to change that name (I'm not sure if you can on YouTube).

I'd like to make up a story to say that I used to be very chubby but through hardcore diet and exercise and wallah! I'm a stick now. But no, I've always been a stick. Some people asked me what I eat to "maintain" in a stick figure. I said chips, ice-cream, cakes, instant noodles, rice, eggs, bread, chocolates, biscuits, chicken, pork, green tea frappucino, more ice-cream, black coffee, nuts, butter, bacon, pancakes etc. For most days, those are my main meals. I know, I'm terrible!




Well if you stick with the that diet the name will eventually begin to fit wink. I found as I've gotten older I can no longer eat whatever I want, as I used to in my 20-30s, without it going right to my waist. Now I'm still fit but I have to watch everything.

Sorry to get off topic. Keep up the ballads! I'm with sinophilia - not sure I'll ever get to this level but you're right, as time goes by I'm finding complicated pieces closer to my reach.


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Consolidating My Repertoire
Mozart K545
Chopin Sonata 20, Posthumous, in C-Sharp Minor
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: cmb13] #2721332
03/15/18 07:26 AM
03/15/18 07:26 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
Tubbie0075  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted by cmb13

Well if you stick with the that diet the name will eventually begin to fit wink. I found as I've gotten older I can no longer eat whatever I want, as I used to in my 20-30s, without it going right to my waist. Now I'm still fit but I have to watch everything.


I'm starting to feel it. I'm no longer in my 20s or 30s either...



Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
Re: Learning Journal: Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 [Re: Tubbie0075] #2723801
03/23/18 05:18 PM
03/23/18 05:18 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
Tubbie0075 Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
Tubbie0075  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 1,264
Melbourne, Australia
After spending another week practising the Coda section, it has now progressed to as bad as the rest of the difficult bits of the piece. So this morning I attempted to play through the entire piece for the first time! There where mistakes, several blackouts, and fast sections played at Andante, but it's nonetheless a milestone for me. Next goal is to practise to remove mistakes and blackouts but not to worry about tempo for now.

The CD arrived in the post yesterday. I'm gonna ask my teacher for autograph tomorrow! It's a bit weird but I'm gonna anyway :-)

[Linked Image]



Be your ♮ self
YouTube channel

Studying:
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4
  • Rachmaninov: Prelude No. 5 (Gm)
  • Ravel: Pavane for Dead Princess
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