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Chopin etudes and developing technique
#2839258 04/15/19 12:06 AM
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Hi guys, i've been playing for 3 years now, i have learnt a lot of pieces like Clair de lune, two little preludes and two inventions from bach, a study from burgmuller, and a lot more. My question is when will i be ready for chopin etudes, i'm learning now a prelude and fugue in c minor from book 1, but i want to learn more about technique and developing fastness. What path to take for getting into the chopin etudes?

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839264 04/15/19 12:24 AM
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This won't be the advice that you'll get from most people on the forum, but just pick your favorite etude and spend a few hrs per day with it for a week to gauge your level. If you're making more progress than you expected, then keep going. However, if it feels clearly out of your range then re-evaluate, or put it aside for the future. If your motivation is there, and your work ethic is there, then let it rip. Life is too short to be scared.

Last edited by TwelfthRoot2; 04/15/19 12:24 AM.
Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839270 04/15/19 12:51 AM
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I love chopin music, i've played some of his works before but ive heard that his music should have a peculiar way of playing, cause it can be ruined. I think my problem with the chopin etudes will be to get it up to speed, but thanks for the advice.

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839274 04/15/19 01:26 AM
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TW2 is right; this isn't the advice you'll get from many people here:

The conventional point of view is that the Chopin Etudes are extremely advanced material that should only be worked on seriously by those who have the technique that will enable them to approach and eventually play them successfully and who understand what the music is about.

No one can stop you from fooling around with them, but I seriously doubt that anyone who has played the piano for three years will achieve anything barely resembling what Chopin wrote. The bigger problem is that if you attempt them without really knowing how they should be practiced you could do yourself injury - although applies to almost any repertoire.

Your time would be best spent on building up technique by working on repertoire more appropriate for your level. The Etudes will always be there when you are really ready for them. It's your choice, however.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839275 04/15/19 01:50 AM
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Thanks for your input, i was checking here the op.10 n.9 and doesn't seem very hard, i was sight reading it just fine. I guess i will talk with my teacher about it tomorrow.

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839297 04/15/19 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by alu1
Thanks for your input, i was checking here the op.10 n.9 and doesn't seem very hard, i was sight reading it just fine. I guess i will talk with my teacher about it tomorrow.


Hi Alu, from the repertoire that you've covered so far, it will be a number of years before you're ready for the Chopin etudes. Unless you're a genius, I would estimate at least 7 years. This depends on how talented you are, how hard you work and possibly your hand morphology. Although you can already sightread Op10 No9, attempting to play at the correct tempo at your current level will lead to many bad habits which will return to you at the most inconvenient times. You'll spend years undoing habits such as stiff wrists, and it'll hinder your legato playing, your tone colour and also tone production.

ps. Starting with Op10 No9 is not advised. Op10 No3 is generally considered much easier to play.

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839300 04/15/19 04:11 AM
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IMO it is better that you wait at least for another 3-4 years.
If you really want to try now, you might want to check Trois nouvelles Etudes.

https://youtu.be/wbbNlb3B-ss

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839358 04/15/19 07:07 AM
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The Chopin studies are delightful pieces and it is hard to resist having a go at them. But worth remembering that even Rubinstein and Horowitz refrained from playing some of them in public.

It is common for people, particularly those who are teaching themselves, to get hold of them and imagine that if they bang away long enough they will emerge with a developed technique. The sad truth is that you need the developed technique first! But if you are someone that enjoys developing technical skills using repertoire (rather than rubbish like Czerny) then they are a treasure trove of passages to work on. But that is a hundred miles from playing them.

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839389 04/15/19 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Hatchestron


It is common for people, particularly those who are teaching themselves, to get hold of them and imagine that if they bang away long enough they will emerge with a developed technique. The sad truth is that you need the developed technique first!.


That is basically how I learned how to play piano. Of course, I'm being simplistic - I did so under the supervision of teachers and was not self taught. But I honestly think people make developing technique some mystical, over complicated project that requires czerny and endless scales.

It my opinion it's fairly simple. Choose a piece above your current abilities, work on it as slowly as necessary to play with zero tension, and slowly up the speed until your technique has developed. Go through this process under the supervision of a teacher to avoid bad habits and risk of injury.

Should the OP play a Chopin etude? Based on his rep I agree it is a rather large stretch. I would recommend he check out some Scarlatti sonatas if he wishes to get into rapid passagework. But if he approaches it with the mindset and understanding that it might take him a year straight of working on it to learn it, and that he is doing it for the benefit of technical development, if done right I would bet money his technique would improve.

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839390 04/15/19 08:31 AM
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There's a difference between working on a Chopin Etude with the goal of playing it in a recital and working on it just to improve technique or for enjoyment. I think it's quite common for teachers to have students study these etudes even though they will not play them at professional level tempo.

I think many of the Etudes sound terrific at less than professional speed and thus provide great music that can also advance one's technique. And many of the Etudes become much easier when played at just somewhat less than professional speed. I'm not sure if the OP is ready at this point but I don't think he has to wait 7 more years either. The Trois Nouvelles Etudes are a good suggestion.

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839403 04/15/19 08:54 AM
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Computerpro3, I certainly used to believe that but I now think it is a mistake. If you feel tension, it is the result of incorrect movement and unless you tackle that, no amount of slow playing with the aim of speeding up will ever give you the security and ease that would have come from proper movement.

Pianoloverus, I agree very much about tempo. Op 10 no. 2 can be performed at a much slower speed than many we usually hear it which gives it a rather spooky and eerie quality that feels entirely valid.

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alu1 #2839409 04/15/19 09:08 AM
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It is probably the case that there are different causes of tension for everyone, which require individually tailored solutions. But the fact remains that you can't play well or fast with debilitating tension, which was kind of what I was getting at. Whether your tension is caused by playing too fast, stress at work, or incorrect movement, fix the problem and then increase tempo.

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alu1 #2839412 04/15/19 09:19 AM
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Computerpro3, I can give you an example of my own stupidity! Take op 10 no 9, in particular the left hand figure. I did what most people with large-ish hands do, I stretched open my hand so that my fingers pretty much reached the notes and then off I went. With time, I told myself there was no tension and after all, I was getting my fingers on the notes. But I would still find it feeling uncomfortable and tense if I went too fast or hard.... And that is a text book example of tension created by bad movement. The trick is to move with a closed hand, rather than stretch and the difference is like night and day ... in terms of ease, speed and reliability. And the insidious thing is that it is very easy to fool yourself that you aren't tense. But it took me decades for the penny to drop, and although I could play this etude, I now know that actually I couldn't!

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alu1 #2839415 04/15/19 09:22 AM
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I did the same thing with the same etude; it was the first etude I ever learned and I auditioned for conservatory with it.

The thing was, I didn't realize I was tense just as you did. That is why I preach so much on here to be more mindful of what tension actually feels like, and how much we carry during normal daily life. This is where a good teacher can help.

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Hatchestron #2839425 04/15/19 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Hatchestron

Pianoloverus, I agree very much about tempo. Op 10 no. 2 can be performed at a much slower speed than many we usually hear it which gives it a rather spooky and eerie quality that feels entirely valid.

That chromatic line in the right hand is positively evil!

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alu1 #2839443 04/15/19 10:34 AM
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Steve Chandler, it is evil if you play it with isolated fingers. The moment you are able to put your hand and arm behind each finger and know how to move from one to the other, it is entirely manageable and benign. Admittedly, it has taken me about 3 decades before I realised it is actually difficult because I was making it so!

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alu1 #2839530 04/15/19 01:28 PM
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Just two inventions and 1 Prelude and Fugue? Even Chopin himself played all of them daily as exercises. That should tell you something.
-chris


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Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
pianoloverus #2839546 04/15/19 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
There's a difference between working on a Chopin Etude with the goal of playing it in a recital and working on it just to improve technique or for enjoyment. I think it's quite common for teachers to have students study these etudes even though they will not play them at professional level tempo.


Yes, I've been doing this. My teacher has me playing the black key etude as a technique piece. I play it quite slowly and focus on evenness and preciseness. My teacher was very clear this is not a recital piece for me, but it's definitely a nice departure from Hanon and scales (though we are also doing some Czerny now and I don't mind that, at least it's not just up and down...)


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO
Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2839623 04/15/19 05:39 PM
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My teacher gave to me a haydn sonata to practice, and also to still improving on the prelude and fugue. The chopin etudes are probably very far from my reach yet, like Chris said, Chopin used to practice daily the WTC. Maybe i will start another prelude and fugue too, especially the c-sharp one.

Re: Chopin etudes and developing technique
alu1 #2840548 04/19/19 01:45 AM
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Originally Posted by alu1
Thanks for your input, i was checking here the op.10 n.9 and doesn't seem very hard, i was sight reading it just fine. I guess i will talk with my teacher about it tomorrow.

Hats off to you for your goal of tackling the Chopin studies! Op. 10 No. 9 is a good choice to get your feet wet, assuming you can identify and execute the complexities of the counterpoint and voicing required to render the piece properly. I would simply caution that playing Chopin is not just playing notes and his etudes are NOT technical exercises. To put this in perspective, I would say that there are possibly a half dozen pianists in this group who could play more than a small sample of the etudes really well and of those I suspect there are only one of two who could play them up to the professional standard that they require for public performance. That's the mountain you're looking at.

I'd suggest you tackle the foothills first. Bach WTC is great prep for Chopin. Cramer etudes, Clementi Gradus ad Parnassum, maybe some Czerny Op. 299: There is some really good music in these collections. As for Burgmuller, you need to go cold turkey on that dude before your aesthetic faculties are destroyed.

As an afterthought, if you are really good at playing Bach, try learning Chopin Op. 10 No. 6 using lots of finger legato. IMO it is one of Chopin's greatest etudes. You should practice it with no sustaining pedal at all in the outer sections (like Bach) and just touches of pedal in the E major section. Listen to some YouTube performances. And if you ever perform it, you have to absolutely nail the Picardy third at the end. Not too loud, yet with enough "ring" to break the audience's hearts.

Good luck!


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