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Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384462 06/29/04 09:33 AM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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(Note: I'm posting this question with the huge obvious caveat that the Chopin etudes differ from one another in terms of difficulty and specific required technique.)

Does anyone have a more or less standard process for learning these pieces? I'm interested in knowing how people approach these pieces, and how teachers approach teaching them. Are there methods approaching any of the etudes that might be more or less universally applied to all of them?
Not to limit the question to any one etude, but I'm learning Op10#10 now (the left hand is actually giving me more trouble than the right hand).

Anyway, interested in your thoughts.

Thanks

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Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384463 06/29/04 12:07 PM
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Mikester Offline
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Yes. As with all etudes, there will be several specific "trouble spots". Practice the trouble spots one or two measures at a time, repeatedly, until you can play the measure 8 to 10 times in a row without a single mistake. It doesn't have to be at tempo, it could be slower, but the key is no mistakes. Then, stop and move on to the next trouble spot.

Your brain doesn't discern between right and wrong, if you play a measure wrong 10 times and then right 1 time, your brain will mostly likely latch on to the 10 wrong times rather than the 1 right time. If you play the measure right 10 times in a row, your brain will remember that and the next time, you will see improvements.

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384464 06/29/04 12:58 PM
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I tend to play them in short measures, then put everything together very slowly and gradually speed it all up using the metrenome

Dave

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384465 06/29/04 01:17 PM
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I have a particular approach to the Etudes, yes. And that is to have paranoid fantasies where I hear Chopin behind me whispering, 'Souplesse! Souplesse avant tout!'

Phlebas - are you really having more trouble with the LH than the right in 10-10? Remember don't reach! Just get there. smile


"See?! The Cliffs of Insanity!"
Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384466 06/29/04 01:18 PM
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I really have to practice them hard.

After the slow to fast progression, and separate hands, I get creative with the practicing process, turning arpeggios into truncated chords, changing times or rhythms. I'll add an extra bass note to every measure, or play the right hand as a backwards arpeggios..I have both hands play the right hand part, then both hands play the left hand. I turn them from major to minor and minor to major. I put the emphasis on down beats, or try to reverse the hands in a way. anything really... I love that type of mindlessly incorporating the music into what I know practicing.

I know they are not, but often imagine that Chopin wrote the etudes just for my private entertainment.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384467 06/29/04 03:08 PM
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Mikester Offline
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A short history of Chopin etudes as submitted by a guy named "Bernard" at another forum:

"[Chopin] did what Czerny did in relation to Beethoven sonatas: He created a series of technical studies that could only be played if you had the correct technique. You see, the Chopin studies are only difficult if you play them the wrong way. If you play the way Chopin played, they become a breeze (well, not a breeze perhaps, but it becomes possible). And there was one pianist who understood that straightaway and that was Franz Lizst (to whom Op. 10 in dedicated)."

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384468 06/30/04 02:53 AM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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Thank you all for your responses so far.

In addition to some of the valuable comments above, I;m hoping some of the teachers who hang out here will chime in.

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384469 06/30/04 05:25 AM
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I am hoping too. I practiced the etudes decades ago and have just started again.. I'd love to just play 1/2 of them..

I am currently reworking opus 25 #2. I sure wish I could watch someone play the left hand. It would be so much easier if I were a little bigger.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384470 06/30/04 01:46 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Phlebas:
Does anyone have a more or less standard process for learning these pieces? I'm interested in knowing how people approach these pieces, and how teachers approach teaching them. Are there methods approaching any of the etudes that might be more or less universally applied to all of them?
I'm going to just add my own 2 cents in addition to what everyone else said.

One thing I think is good to remember is that these etudes target certain aspects of technique. For instance, in 10/12 the left hand, in 10/4 overall speed for both hands and use of the 4th and 5th fingers, 25/1 circular motion with both wrists with a light touch, and so on.

So before I began an etude I first try and find out what part of technique is the particular etude targeting. Once you know that, you might want to pick out a few measures that focus on that technique and then work on it.

The "Revolutionary" etude is quite easy once you have a well developed left hand, BUT the hard part is developing it in the first place.

I'm currently working my way through all of them and they are exceptional for developing technique and not bad music to boot!

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384471 06/30/04 02:51 PM
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Quote
So before I began an etude I first try and find out what part of technique is the particular etude targeting. Once you know that, you might want to pick out a few measures that focus on that technique and then work on it.
That can be related to distinguishing the Etudes as technique studies from their being fine musical pieces in their own right.

As studies, arguably, one can get the bulk of the benefit by just playing a representative portion of the Etude rather than the entire piece. As a result, you can derive the study benefits of all (!!! ... gasp) the Etudes that much sooner. (That is, in only three rather than twelve lifetimes.)

Meanwhile, you will have established a base for subsequent mastering of any complete Etudes intended for your repetoire.


(watch this space)
Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384472 07/02/04 07:12 AM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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Jeffylube, and MusicMagellan:

Thanks for your responses. I have been busy, and just had time to read them.

Quote
As studies, arguably, one can get the bulk of the benefit by just playing a representative portion of the Etude rather than the entire piece.
I agree with this up to a point. However, Chopin modulates to a lot of different keys in the etudes. As a result, you are working on the same technique but often a totally different feel. For example Op10#10, the left hand is pretty comfortable in the first page, but the second page it modulates to E major (I think - -don't have the score in front of me, and I just started working on this one), and the left hand feels totally different.

Also, one of the technical demands of the etudes is applying the same technique - double thirds, thirds and sixths, etc. - for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, and learning how to do that without tiring. It gives you a lot of confidence to know you can do this when you encounter similar technique, but of much shorter duration, in his other works.

[quote]

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384473 07/02/04 07:52 AM
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Phlebas,

I agree with the points you made. That's why I covered myself by saying "arguably." laugh

But, seriously, you make excellent points. In fact, on further reflection, although my comments might apply to some Etudes by other composers, I would, in fact, expect a composer of Chopin's stature and genius to have had a purpose in composing the pieces exactly as long as he made them.


(watch this space)
Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384474 07/02/04 11:16 AM
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Phlebas,

Have you looked at "Mastering the Chopin Etudes" by Abby Whiteside?


pianodevo
Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384475 07/02/04 11:32 AM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by pianodevo:
Phlebas,

Have you looked at "Mastering the Chopin Etudes" by Abby Whiteside?
Yup. Some good ideas there.
We discussed it a lot in another thread a while back.
Thanks

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384476 07/03/04 01:57 AM
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Try to work out what the "trick" is, for each one, because each one has a different "keycode"

Your practise will then be geared towards mastering the trick.

Deconstruct the moves first. Lift, drop, rotate, lateral shift- hand, wrist, arm, upper body, spine,balance and body weight shift, foot support.

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384477 07/03/04 09:55 PM
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Practise Hanon everyday diligently and WISELY. Choose the technique you need and pratise.

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384478 07/04/04 05:08 AM
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Phlebas Offline OP
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Quote
Originally posted by starmender:
Try to work out what the "trick" is, for each one, because each one has a different "keycode"

Your practise will then be geared towards mastering the trick.

Deconstruct the moves first. Lift, drop, rotate, lateral shift- hand, wrist, arm, upper body, spine,balance and body weight shift, foot support.
Thank you Starmender,

I tjhink I know what you mean by "keycode," but could you give me an example?

Re: Learning and teaching Chopin etudes. #384479 07/04/04 06:36 AM
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Starmender.

Add me to the list of those highly interested in an example. (I would be especially interested in the "keycodes" for 10-3, 10-12 and 25-1, but will be more than happy for any example.)


(watch this space)

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