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Starting again - Chopin Etudes
#2671463 08/30/17 04:38 AM
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Hi. smile

I'm 35, and after many years of "no-piano-at-all" (since I moved and I physically had no piano to play) I started again 3 weeks ago.

I actually don't know my "grade", in US-UK terms, because I used to study in Italy, and they had different levels and exams... but I was able to play the 1st and 2nd movement of Beethoven's sonata no. 8 in Cm (Pathéthique), Bach's English Suites no. 2 and 3 (in Am and Gm) and WTC Preludes and Fugues no. 1 and 2 (C and Cm), Schubert's Improptus no. 2 and 3 (Eb and Gb), Mozart's Fantasy k475 in C, etc.

To my surprise, even after many years, I am still able to play many of the pieces in my previous repertoire. I just get tired earlier than before, but my stamina is improving.

------

That said (sorry for being verbose :P), I wanted to start studying some of Chopin's Etudes. I already worked on other works before, especially waltzes and easy nocturnes, but I know that Etudes are on a different level.

My plan was to tackle op. 10 no. 6 and 9 and op. 25 no. 5 first, as after a first reading they seem the most accessible to me (my objective is to be able to play op. 10 no. 4 and op. 25 no. 11, in the future).

I started with op. 10 no. 9, and I wanted to ask for advices, especially from a technical point of view.
I have small hands (I can reach an octave quite easily but I barely reach a 9th on the edge of the keyboard), so this Etude is challenging for me. I'm trying to stick to the original fingering but it's still hard. I noticed also that in order to keep the "legato" on the LH I need to move the wrist horizontally with very wide movements, and I wanted to ask if that's correct or if I'm doing something wrong (this is the first piece I've studied where I noticed such a wide movement seems to be necessary).

-------

TL;DR
Any technical suggestions on how to study (and play) Chopin's Etude op. 10 no. 9?

Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2671472 08/30/17 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by midgardsormr
I started with op. 10 no. 9, and I wanted to ask for advices, especially from a technical point of view.
I have small hands (I can reach an octave quite easily but I barely reach a 9th on the edge of the keyboard), so this Etude is challenging for me. I'm trying to stick to the original fingering but it's still hard. I noticed also that in order to keep the "legato" on the LH I need to move the wrist horizontally with very wide movements, and I wanted to ask if that's correct or if I'm doing something wrong (this is the first piece I've studied where I noticed such a wide movement seems to be necessary).

I'd use any fingering that suit your hands, and don't be afraid to let go of notes and rely on the pedal to cover the 'break'.

I don't know what fingering you have in your score, but I use 5-3 for the first bar for F - C, not the 5-4 printed in my score. (The only way I can connect those notes with 5-4 is by breaking a finger.....). And use 3 (or 2 later on) as a pivot for my wrist rotation to play each group of six notes. Never 4. (My hands barely stretch to 10ths, and only with preparation.)

BTW, Op.25/1 is easier on the LH, and also gives your RH an equal workout. And it's nicer...... wink


"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: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
bennevis #2671504 08/30/17 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

I'd use any fingering that suit your hands, and don't be afraid to let go of notes and rely on the pedal to cover the 'break'.

I don't know what fingering you have in your score, but I use 5-3 for the first bar for F - C, not the 5-4 printed in my score. (The only way I can connect those notes with 5-4 is by breaking a finger.....). And use 3 (or 2 later on) as a pivot for my wrist rotation to play each group of six notes. Never 4. (My hands barely stretch to 10ths, and only with preparation.)

BTW, Op.25/1 is easier on the LH, and also gives your RH an equal workout. And it's nicer...... wink


Thanks for the reply. smile

25/1 is one of the few I have discarded preemptively... but I might reconsider choosing that one.
It seems very demanding from a musical point of view, more than technically. And while I am not completely bad, technically speaking, I... kinda suck, if we talk about musicality and such. smirk 25/1 always seemed to me like a wonderful pearl necklace, with each note being round and perfect... and I'm pretty sure that if I'll ever be able to "play" it, I'll make it sound like some gross stone trinket instead. :P

As for 10/9, I'm using the original (I suppose) fingering: 5-4-1-4-1-4 in the first 8 measures, that becomes 5-3-etc. and even 5-2-etc. later on.
I also tried a 5-3-1-4-1-4, but I end up being less accurate and I sometimes hit C and D together with 4... it's only a matter of practice, maybe?

5-4-1-4-etc. is not too difficult, to me... only, it requires a really WIDE rotation of the wrist, and some elbow movement. And I'm not sure if this is OK, it's the first time that a piece requires me so much wrist/elbow movement. With such a wide movement, will I ever be able to play the Etude at the right, fast paced, tempo?

5-3-1-3-etc. requires less movement, but my hand ends up hurting after 10-15 minutes of practice, so I discarded it.

The "compromise" fingering (5-3-1-4-1-4) might be a good solution, as it seems more natural and less demanding... if only I could find a way to solve my accuracy issue.

Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2671519 08/30/17 10:44 AM
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Op.25 No.1 is a beautiful piece of music and one of my favourites of all the Chopin studies, and generally not one of the more difficult studies to put in an okay performance, but I think the difficulty of playing it really well, consistently, is generally understated. And for someone with not quite a 9th stretch, I think the difficulty is going to be potentially increased, but I might be wrong about that (I suppose it could actually lead to better technique in the piece).


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Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2671541 08/30/17 12:02 PM
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I actually learned and played Op. 10 No. 9 a while ago, it's a pretty good one, and one of the easiest ones in my opinion. Although I was saved a lot of trouble because my hands can reach a 10th comfortably(11th if i try a little and 12th if i just go full hand span). Nevertheless, the technique being taught here is left hand flexibility.

Chopin himself had small hands, so this is really great as a learning experience for people with your hand size so you definitely made the right choice. To reach some of the notes, it isn't all about just fingering. Most of the times, our hands are already over the notes we want to play. But in the case of this etude, we need a way to actually reach those higher notes. What I, as well as many others, used, was a technique where I would use the 3 finger to "pivot" my hand across the keyboard. It's hard to explain, but basically with the left hand, I would play the first note of each group of 16th notes with a 5, then the next one with a 3. I would then let go of the 5 finger from the keyboard, and use the 3 finger to rotate my hand up the keyboard so that my 1 finger can hit the highest note. It's kind of like wrist rotation, but with the whole hand.

Sorry if it's an obscure explanation, but make sure none of your fingers are just sitting there. You have to be flexible and rotate your hand to reach the higher note. Personally, using 4 is a really bad idea, because it limits how high up the keyboard you can go. If you need better explanation, there should be videos on how to play this, as well as other articles. And if you want a similar piece, you can check out tutorials for his Prelude Op. 28 No .24. It's the same idea in the left hand, but the right hand actually does more than just simple melody, hence why the etude is a good piece to play before that prelude.

Good luck with your playing, and I hope I helped, even a little.

Last edited by AviChak; 08/30/17 04:44 PM.
Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
RmntcPianoLvr #2671552 08/30/17 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AviChak
I actually learned and played that one a while ago, it's a pretty good one, and one of the easiest ones in my opinion.[...]


Which one? Several have been referred to.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
RmntcPianoLvr #2671562 08/30/17 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by AviChak
As for people saying to play the Etude Op. 10 No. 1, that's also a bad idea.

Who said that?

Quote
From what you can play, and from the amount of time you took off, I would say that the waterfall etude is out of your league for now.

What waterfall?


"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: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2671567 08/30/17 02:04 PM
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I've found that it can be very useful to work on this etude (and no, I can't perform it anywhere near the indicated tempo) with the caveat that you have been shown the "right" way to practice it. It has improved my technique a lot and transformed my approach in several ways. If you don't have a teacher that knows the secrets then it may be best to stay away from it. Approaching it without the right physical motions could be harmful.

Yeah, 'waterfall' is a terrible nickname for this one.


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Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2671766 08/31/17 08:51 AM
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Thank you everyone. smile

You've been of great help. I actually have watched quite a lot of video-lessons, and I think I have grasped the basic movement I need to play this Etude properly (and it's more or less what I figured out by myself).

Again, thanks for all the advice! laugh

Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2671782 08/31/17 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by midgardsormr
my objective is to be able to play op. 10 no. 4 and op. 25 no. 11, in the future


Excellent pieces to pour all your rage on aha. I personally can play Op.10 No.4, and every time I feel like I'm unleashing my wrath upon the world, the violence is extremely arousing.

So I can only encourage you to reach your this goal as well! You'll love it.

Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
Farawen #2671793 08/31/17 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Farawen

Excellent pieces to pour all your rage on aha. I personally can play Op.10 No.4, and every time I feel like I'm unleashing my wrath upon the world, the violence is extremely arousing.

So I can only encourage you to reach your this goal as well! You'll love it.


Hehe, 10/4 is my favourite Etude, together with Winter Wind and Revolutionary. smile

Problem is, at the moment the only rage I could unleash is the one I accumulate for not being able to play those pieces properly! XD

Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2671803 08/31/17 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by midgardsormr
[...] I actually have watched quite a lot of video-lessons, and I think I have grasped the basic movement I need to play this Etude properly (and it's more or less what I figured out by myself).
[...]


I don't know what your resources are, but my reaction to this is that you would get much more benefit from one-on-one instruction with a good teacher than from on-line videos. Videos may show "basic movement[s]",but nothing equals the immediate feed-back to tell you and show you "how" to accomplish those movements and whether your approach to them is right.

I think this is particularly important with repertoire as challenging as Chopin Etudes.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
BruceD #2671980 09/01/17 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD

I don't know what your resources are, but my reaction to this is that you would get much more benefit from one-on-one instruction with a good teacher than from on-line videos. Videos may show "basic movement[s]",but nothing equals the immediate feed-back to tell you and show you "how" to accomplish those movements and whether your approach to them is right.

I think this is particularly important with repertoire as challenging as Chopin Etudes.

Regards,


I had had a lot of regular lessons, like, 10-12 years ago. Unfortunately I have little to no way to get a "real" teacher, at the moment. smile
I work in IT, and my working hours are quite "crazy". I manage to get some spare time for myself only around 9-10PM, and it's quite hard to find someone available, at that time of the day.
I could try and see if any teacher is available on weekends, hoping that I could afford the "weekend fares". :P

Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2672047 09/01/17 10:44 AM
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About fingering: I use this original one with 4th finger. I've very small hands - I can barely reach 9. So, it's a matter of dexterity there, not the hand size. And I think that it's easier to reach the desired effect with that fingering. At first I also thought that it is impossible to play it like this, but my teacher insisted.


The other thing is that I think this etude is not a good start for Chopin Etudes, especially with small hands - it requires some dexterity you don't have yet. It can be harmful. I would recommend op. 25 no 2, op. 25 no 12, op. 10 no 12, op. 10 no 5, op. 10 no 4 and nouvelle etudes.

Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
vevurka #2672050 09/01/17 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by vevurka
About fingering: I use this original one with 4th finger. I've very small hands - I can barely reach 9. So, it's a matter of dexterity there, not the hand size.

The other thing is that I think this etude is not a good start for Chopin Etudes, especially with small hands - it requires some dexterity you don't have yet. It can be harmful.

I think you're misunderstanding the term.

If you can't physically span those notes with 5-4 because of the webbing between your fingers, it's nothing to do with dexterity. It's to do with how far you can stretch, and your anatomy. Sure, I can play F-C with 5-4 but only by lifting my pinky off the key first. Chopin's fingers are long and slender and have very little webbing between them. (There is a cast of his hands in the Chopin Museum in Warsaw.) He could easily span those notes with 5-4.


"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: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
bennevis #2672054 09/01/17 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by vevurka
About fingering: I use this original one with 4th finger. I've very small hands - I can barely reach 9. So, it's a matter of dexterity there, not the hand size.

The other thing is that I think this etude is not a good start for Chopin Etudes, especially with small hands - it requires some dexterity you don't have yet. It can be harmful.

I think you're misunderstanding the term.

If you can't physically span those notes with 5-4 because of the webbing between your fingers, it's nothing to do with dexterity. It's to do with how far you can stretch, and your anatomy. Sure, I can play F-C with 5-4 but only by lifting my pinky off the key first. Chopin's fingers are long and slender and have very little webbing between them. (There is a cast of his hands in the Chopin Museum in Warsaw.) He could easily span those notes with 5-4.


I'm glad you mentioned that Chopin's hands had little webbing between the fingers, because what I see mentioned often is that his hands were not large without any mention of the lack of webbing. His students described his hands as being like a snake's jaw that can open wide to reach a large span.

Last edited by dogperson; 09/01/17 11:05 AM. Reason: Typo
Re: Starting again - Chopin Etudes
midgardsormr #2672060 09/01/17 11:24 AM
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Unfortunately my hands are small and have quite a lot of webbing between them, especially between 4 and 5. frown

I will probably stick to this Etude nonetheless. My primary goal here is to play it smoothly at least around 70-80% of the specified tempo. It doesn't matter if I couldn't perform it for an exam because it's too slow... I have no exams to prepare, in any case. :P
But it needs to be clean, and performed with no pain or too much effort.

If I manage to "build" it into my hands the proper way, I can always put it aside and come later to refine it.

After a few practice sessions, I'm inclined to maintain the original 5-4-1-etc. fingering, letting the pinkie go from the key while reaching the next key with 4, and "covering up" this slight gap with the pedal. This way I manage to keep a good accuracy without overstretching my hand, while making natural movements with my hand, wrist and elbow. I managed to practice this way for 1 hr straight without pain or fatigue, so I suppose it can be fine. smile


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