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That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
#2723487 03/22/18 12:07 PM
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I am a fan of John Field and find that playing his nocturnes is very satisfying. Similarly with Chopin's nocturnes.

This week I thought a would try to play from first sight Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor op23. I did this as I have a book somewhere with an greatly abridged version and so I remember the soft melody part.

However it did not take me long into the unabridged version to realise that I was way out of my depth! Apart from my frustration at progressing through it my wife was suffering listening to endless mistakes and going over and over them without improvement and that was me playing it at quarter speed!

It was only after I gave up that I Googled the piece to reads that it is considered a most advanced concert piece of significant difficulty. I'm glad that I attempted it but after my subsequent listening to Rubinstein playing it I will not be attempting it again.

Apart from the soft melody I don't think the majority of this great ballade could be further from a nocturne in genre!

Ian


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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723516 03/22/18 01:40 PM
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I've had a few occasions where I've found a piece that I think I should be able to play, (Hey, this looks interesting!) and two or ten minutes later I determine that there's just absolutely no way I'll be able to do it. Just a few days ago I discovered one that requires me to play a 3 or 4 note chord across a ninth. Nope, not this cat. I can't reach a ninth at all, let alone a three or four note chord.


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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723540 03/22/18 03:16 PM
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LOL! That's quite a leap indeed. No wonder you're finding it hard. laugh

I have tried pieces way out of my league. Usually I'm fully aware that they are way above my skill level but do it anyway just for fun. I have a habit of checking grade levels of any pieces I encounter just to get an idea of difficulty so I'm rarely surprised that something is (much) harder than I thought.

Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723558 03/22/18 03:58 PM
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Join the club. I think all of us have tried something beyond our capabilities.

Put the Ballade into the "I'll work on this eventually, before I die" pile. I hadn't thought of specifying that some difficult music be added to my coffin (for practice in the afterlife), but it's not a bad idea.<G>


. Charles
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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
FrankCox #2723563 03/22/18 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by FrankCox
I've had a few occasions where I've found a piece that I think I should be able to play, (Hey, this looks interesting!) and two or ten minutes later I determine that there's just absolutely no way I'll be able to do it. Just a few days ago I discovered one that requires me to play a 3 or 4 note chord across a ninth. Nope, not this cat. I can't reach a ninth at all, let alone a three or four note chord.


I encounter things that are out of my technical reach all the time--lots of things I can't do! But, if it's just a matter of big unreachable chords, you can often compromise in ways that still give a good musical result. Depending on the context, you can roll them, or break them, or drop a note, or redistribute between the hands. My teacher has shown me how I can play some things that looked impossible at first. I wouldn't give up on a whole piece over just one chord, if it was something I could play otherwise.


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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723569 03/22/18 05:05 PM
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The ballade is gorgeous but, yeah, it is HARD. I like the idea of putting the score for it in my coffin. Eternity just might be enough time to get my hands around it.


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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723571 03/22/18 05:08 PM
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I tried to play this Ballade too and it was going great until around the 2nd page. Then I fast-forwarded to the next manageable section and kept leap frogging over the tricky sections until it became painfully obvious that this piece was out of my league.

You may have heard the story about Alan Rusbridger who decides to learn the same Chopin Ballade in a year, starting as a complete novice. He documented his piainistic journey in a book entitled Play It Again. It has been mentioned in this forum before. At the end of the year where he struggled constantly trying to make sense of this piece he puts on a small concert for his friends and family. I found the recording somewhere, guess on YouTube, and it was pretty terrible. If he had chosen a piece that is not in the very advanced repertoire he might have had better results.

I bet most of us have started pieces that had too many technical challenges or a string of semi-difficult parts that have led us to shelve the piece for a later date or forget about entirely. Some of Chopin’s most difficult pieces have a lovely adagio section that is less technically difficult. I have played through a few of those and found them to be rewarding.



Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723584 03/22/18 05:49 PM
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IMHO (here meaning, in my humble but also heretical opinion), the virtuoso antics toward the end of Chopin's 1st Ballade do not enhance its musical appeal. Really, this has nothing to do with the fact that I can't play them! They just seem bombastic and over-extended to me, overbalancing the beautiful theme.

I don't expect anybody else to agree--just my own reaction on hearing it played very well.


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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723590 03/22/18 06:12 PM
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Chopin is playable, I think this is why he’s popular, but very difficult to play well.

I do think Chopin ballade is reachable but I’d wait til u have at least experience of 10 years.

Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
pianoloverus #2723599 03/22/18 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by PianogrlNW

You may have heard the story about Alan Rusbridger who decides to learn the same Chopin Ballade in a year, starting as a complete novice.
I read that book and I'm virtually certain he wasn't a complete beginner. He was reasonably skilled but nowhere near the level where the Ballade would have been really appropriate.


I agree about his piano skill as being somewhere in the intermediate player range .... I just don’t see my copy right now.
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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
PianogrlNW #2723601 03/22/18 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by PianogrlNW

You may have heard the story about Alan Rusbridger who decides to learn the same Chopin Ballade in a year, starting as a complete novice.
I read that book and I'm virtually certain he wasn't as a complete beginner. He was reasonably skilled but nowhere near the level where the Ballade would have been really appropriate.

I think he learned a lot about piano technique and about music from his study of the Ballade. OTOH devoting so many hours of practice and so many lessons(often more than one/week) to a single piece seems to me to be a poor use of his time and energy.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/22/18 06:54 PM.
Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723605 03/22/18 06:58 PM
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I read the book a while ago and I seem to recall his going to piano camps/gatherings and playing 4 hand or 2 piano symphonic transcription with friends. He definitely was not a beginner.

Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723606 03/22/18 07:03 PM
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For anyone who would like to play a decent (and lovely) section of a Chopin Ballade which isn't too difficult and which sounds complete in itself, try No.2:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-IwWJ2ZACw

....up to the double barline and repeated A (1:40). Obviously, you just stop at the last A of the upward arpeggio if you're not going on.

Chopin himself used to play just this section too (especially when he felt weak), so you're in good company thumb.


"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: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723607 03/22/18 07:04 PM
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That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth... I have that feeling every single day grin



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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723621 03/22/18 08:00 PM
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There's a bit here about Alan Rusbridger's effort to play this piece. Yes it's hard. I've given up trying to learn stuff that's too hard for me and the coda in this balade is way out of my comfort zone (and his).

Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723624 03/22/18 08:12 PM
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I found this description about Rusbridger’s piano experience, and no he was not a complete beginner. The Ballade was a huge reach piece, though.

Rusbridger confesses to having “mucked around on the piano” from the age of eight, replete with a mother’s ritual exhortations to practice more. Instead he became a competent clarinetist, playing in local amateur orchestras. Between his teens and his mid-forties he was no more than a keyboard dabbler. His path to the passionate pursuit of the piano began, as is so often the case, with an epiphany. At an annual week-long gathering of amateur pianists in central France, an unassuming fellow amateur (Gary, no surname) ambushes Rusbridger and his fellow participants with a stunningly assured performance of the Chopin G-minor Ballade. Although he did not know it at the time, the astounded author was hooked.



Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Beemer #2723659 03/23/18 03:27 AM
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I was in similar situation in late 2004 when I bought the Ballade music book. I went through some of the easier pages and then tried the difficult passages and thought it was insane and not humanly possible.

I finally get to attempt the entire piece in 2016.

Just keep playing.





Last edited by Tubbie0075; 03/23/18 03:33 AM.

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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
bennevis #2723741 03/23/18 12:11 PM
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Yes what a great piece (#2) to bring out the dynamics of a good piano and player. Simple to play for me except for the fast runs.

thanks,

Ian


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Re: That feeling when you realise you are out of your depth
Tubbie0075 #2723844 03/23/18 08:10 PM
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Tubbie,

Great video! I habitually delete my older recordings--but I can see it's a good idea to see how far a piece comes in a few months or more. Thanks for sharing.

re: being out of your depth

When I restarted piano lessons a few years ago I decided I was going to work hard on pieces at my level--easy to "stretch." I find this so much more rewarding than clumsily hacking my way through something too difficult. It's fun to try to read harder pieces but I'll never put much time and effort into something I can not play musically within a year.

There is so much accessible piano music out there, I'll not even make a dent before I'm gone so I'll stick with what I can do half-way decently.


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