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#589765 - 02/25/09 11:37 AM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 173
Wise Idiot Offline
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Wise Idiot  Offline
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BTB, I don't know what you mean by pretentious beginner. There is no pretense in my desire to learn the etude, even if I can't play it a tempo. I have been playing piano for 10 years, but developing my finger dexterity has only been a priority for the past 1 year. Accordingly, I have continuously been doing Hanon and recently started doing it in other keys.

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#589766 - 02/25/09 11:52 AM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Dec 2007
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keystring Offline
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keystring  Offline
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Canada
Wise Idiot, if this study is so important to you, what about asking your teacher what skills you need to have before tackling it in accordance to her standards for you, and then what you have to do in order to reach those skills? If she creates a kind of 'program' for you which has the goals of being able to eventually tackling that study, would you be willing to go for it? Just a wild thought.

#589767 - 02/25/09 01:54 PM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Apr 2006
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pianobuff Offline
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pianobuff  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,595
Pacific Northwest
Quote
Originally posted by carey:
Per Steven - "I've read a number of opinions that if one cannot read through an entire piece slowly, it's a sign that it's too hard to learn. I'm not sure precisely what that means (e.g., How slowly? HS or HT? "Correct" fingering or anything goes?), but I disagree in principle."

Hi Steven -

I'm not surprised that someone questioned my statement that the student should at least be able to read through the etude slowly before beginning to study it in earnest. The student who started this thread apparently had been looking at the score of the etude for a few months - but could still (by his own admission) barely play through the first line. This tells me that 1) the etude may be too difficult for him at this stage of his development, 2) his music reading skills are weak, or 3) both. With persistence and weeks of hard work he may be able to learn and play the piece slowly by memory. More power to him. But perhaps he would be better off learning other less challenging pieces by Chopin and continuing to develop his reading skills. Thus when he ultimately tackles the etude it will hopefully be easier for him to learn.

In general - I would tend to agree with you - that being able to read through a piece should not necessarily be a prerequisite for learning it. I've found, however, that reading through a new piece a few times helps me gain an overview of the composition and the sections that are going to require the most work. And yes, I sometimes stop dead in my tracks during the initial read-through and simply skip ahead to the next section. Reading through the composition also helps me decide whether I really want to invest the time and energy required to learn it.
It also depends on the piece. I have to agree we Steven that some parts of masterworks are (at least for me) unreadable, where one needs to dissect a measure, for example, and practice it to have it flow and make sense. This particular etude, which is the one we are talking about, can be read with not great difficulty, for me at least, at a very slow tempo, all the way through, HS. WI should, imo, be able to do this with this particular etude, without too much stumbling, to see if it is a feasable task for him to take on this piece.

This is not to say that a piece where you cannot read all the way through is unlearnable. Like what Carey says, reading a piece through will help to determine what is within ones means or not, even if it means skippng some sections or stumbling through some measures. But not with the "Black Key" Etude neccessarily. It is a more straightforward, linear piece, again JMHO.


Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation
#589768 - 02/25/09 02:42 PM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 4,264
btb Offline
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btb  Offline
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Pretoria South Africa
Forgive the bold pronouncements ... but, by your own admission you have cheapened yourself with the modest name of Wise Idiot ... but I would respectfully question the Wise in view of your unrealistic flights of fancy over the Chopin Black Key Etude 10-5 ... largely, it would appear, because of an inability after 10 years, to get up to speed (thus the Hanon exercises ... which are taboo in my school).

You’ve put a picture of your "Everest" on the wall (Etude 10-5) ... no harm in providing a focus ... but it is pretentious to give the
impression that you’ve already bought your mountain boots ... and to underline your serious intentions, are already up to Camp I.

Questioning your piano teacher for wanting to steer you off the Black Key Etude should not be allowed to fester into mud-slinging ... please don’t see a seeming harsh call as a lack of
confidence in your potential ... teachers necessarily have to maintain the motivation of their students by finding progressive "carrot" music within their scope ... making sure that unrealistic expectations don’t "break the camel’s back".

IMHO this is why your piano teacher balked at the Black Key Etude. But let everybody check their skills by tackling the
FIRST 2 MEASURES including both hand roles ...
can anybody toss off the 24 RH notes and 6 LH chords in

2 seconds (Richter) ?
4 seconds ... anyone?
8 seconds ... someone, surely!! ?

first 2 measures of Black Key Etude

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#589769 - 02/25/09 02:53 PM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: May 2008
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etcetra Offline
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One of the biggest problem with learning a piece too early is that you will not be able to master the piece no matter how much you work on it... it may be years until you have the proper technique to actually play the piece right, and you just have to put up with your imperfection until then.

I learned the 3rd movement of moonlight sonata in my 3rd year. i insisted on the piece against the teacher's advice.. I did play it okay, just not great, but I was frustrated about how I couldn't play it well consistenly.

Also about those dream pieces.. I am starting to play those pieces i used to dream of playing.. its funny back then those pieces seems like a big goal, a monument, but now that I am close to it, it feels more like an another passing point.. its best not to get obsessed over those pieces..because like so many things in like, its not going to be anything like what you expect it to be.

I don't know how much of this applies to you.. again it really helps to know what kind of repritore you've been working on.

Also instead of complaining about it, there's probably a more constructive way to deal with this.. like talking to your teacher about it and what you're lacking, as others has mentioned. Has the teacher been helpful up to this point? if he/she was, then why would you want to destroy your relationship with your teacher over one piece??, if not why are you still studying with that teacher?

#589770 - 02/25/09 07:06 PM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,618
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
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PoStTeNeBrAsLuX  Offline
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Posts: 2,618
Geneva, Switzerland
Just to know what is possible, here's Marc-André Hamelin playing all three Chopin Etudes in A minor at the same time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhgOh8mmefQ

n.b. It is an amateur video, and he starts playing at around 1:30, after a bit of barely audible banter with the audience... but it's definitely worth the wait smile

Michael B.


There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.
#589771 - 02/26/09 02:24 AM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: May 2005
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Carey Offline
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Carey  Offline
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Dear Wise Idiot -

If you are really motivated, why don't you just learn the etude on your own? Why do you need "permission" from your teacher?? And why did you feel the need to ask other forum members their opinion about this issue?? Playing the Black Key Etude will NOT put undue stress on your fingers - but it may tax you in other ways. The sooner you give it a shot, the sooner you'll know if you are capable of learning it. If you can't hack it, you can still develop your finger dexterity through intermediate level Czerny studies (which are easy to learn and fun to play). Just get to it.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai CA-65
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
#589772 - 02/26/09 02:52 AM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 387
computerpro3 Offline
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computerpro3  Offline
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Posts: 387
Connecticut/Cincinnati
Quote
Originally posted by btb:
But let everybody check their skills by tackling the
FIRST 2 MEASURES including both hand roles ...
can anybody toss off the 24 RH notes and 6 LH chords in

2 seconds (Richter) ?
4 seconds ... anyone?
8 seconds ... someone, surely!! ?
There are multiple pianists on this forum that could do so. Off the top of my head, Brendan, Thracozaag, Kriesler definitely can. I would also go so far as to say that nearly all conservatory students can, including me.

In fact, the Czerny etude from Op.740 that I'm playing right now is considerably faster in terms of notes per second.

Here's just one of many examples of the first two measures in under 2 seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0V1rr-t48w

#589773 - 02/26/09 07:01 AM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Jan 2004
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btb Offline
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btb  Offline
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Pretoria South Africa
The big question Pro is ... do you have the skills to dash off the first 2 measures in 2 seconds? Forgive me if some of us are not so gullible as to credit the reported skills of the likes on Brendan and Kreisler (with due respect).

#589774 - 02/26/09 08:42 AM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 387
computerpro3 Offline
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computerpro3  Offline
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Posts: 387
Connecticut/Cincinnati
Quote
Originally posted by btb:
The big question Pro is ... do you have the skills to dash off the first 2 measures in 2 seconds? Forgive me if some of us are not so gullible as to credit the reported skills of the likes on Brendan and Kreisler (with due respect).
Yes, I do. And I'm nothing special - there are plenty of better pianists than me on this forum who could do so. Honestly, if you're talking about just the first two measures (which I think is silly, btw), it might take an hour of practice at the most for any piano major. Note that I'm not saying I could play the entire thing as well as Pollini (I can't). But the first two measures in under 2 seconds? No problem.

As for Brendan and Kreisler, they are both faculty at universities (and extremely good pianists), and Koji is an active concert pianist. All three of them have played far more difficult repertoire than that etude.

#589775 - 02/26/09 09:10 AM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes  
Joined: Aug 2006
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sotto voce Offline
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sotto voce  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,163
Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Quote
Originally posted by carey:
Dear Wise Idiot -

If you are really motivated, why don't you just learn the etude on your own? Why do you need "permission" from your teacher?? And why did you feel the need to ask other forum members their opinion about this issue?? Playing the Black Key Etude will NOT put undue stress on your fingers - but it may tax you in other ways. The sooner you give it a shot, the sooner you'll know if you are capable of learning it. If you can't hack it, you can still develop your finger dexterity through intermediate level Czerny studies (which are easy to learn and fun to play). Just get to it.
+1 thumb

This is exactly what I meant when I questioned earlier why, if you feel you can do it based on your experience with the first line, you stopped there?

Steven

#1154188 - 02/27/09 08:41 PM Re: Disagreement with my teacher about the Chopin etudes [Re: sotto voce]  
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 212
rrb Offline
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rrb  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 212
Bend, USA
@ OP
The issue of 'when one is ready' for a piece depends a lot on what one's intentions are. If you have ambitions to develop the technique of a professional pianist, then there is sound advice in this thread. Summarized, find a teacher you respect and trust him/her.

If you just want to play for fun, on the other hand, then go for whatever grabs you. In another thread, someone commented that when he first worked on the opening movement of the moonlight, the performance was imperfect, but he cried. By the time he'd got it up to concert standard, the piece left him unmoved. He took some stick for this, but I know exactly what he meant.

I learned the black study as a teen, and well before my technique was 'adequate'. I had a blast. However, once I'd more or less got the hang of it -- perhaps a bit less than more -- it came to seem shallow, at least out of the context of the set. The experience may not have advanced my technique, but I surely learned much musically.

I had a piano teacher, very briefly, and a violin teacher, equally briefly. Brief, because each kept landing pieces on me that I had not the slightest motivation to play. No doubt their intentions were laudable, but my 'teachers' obviously did not think it was part of their job to 'motivate' me.

Before Steven loads all over me for encouraging young pianists to play stuff they can't, my own experience is a warning. When you try to play pieces that are too hard for you, you very quickly acquire bad habits. For example, adroit use of the pedal as 'cover'. If this goes on for long, it's extremely hard to discipline oneself, and get back on track. There is a story I once heard about Rubinstein, according to which the child prodigy recognized one day that he had acquired bad habits, and went back and corrected them. (I'm sure I'll get called out if this story is apocryphal.)

So in some sense, the decision you make now could have a far-reaching influence on your pianistic career.





Rob
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