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Question about Chopin`s etudes

Discussion of Chopin's life and works, only.
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Postby PJF on Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:49 am

johnmar78 wrote:Pete, your method is very interesting so as evry one else. we all different??

I never use the metronome in my playing -something wrong with me. but only few times as a guide line 24 years ago. I still got one at home but misplaced when I moved from South australia to sydney.

In my teaching, I dnt use it at all/?? I think Chopin uses as a GUIDE LINE ONLY. What you think???


About the metronome; I know through experience that the metronome is an indispensable practice tool! The human brain and body are incabable of creating a perfectly even beat. (Even though a perfectly even beat would not be desirable in performance, it must serve as framework to one's practice.)

To use the example of Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu, the metronome must be used during early practice to ensure that the left hand and right hand parts, which are practiced seperately early on, play at exactly the same speed. That way, when the two halves are combined, they will already be synchronized. In later practice of the F-I, the metronome will function as a guide to where the common rhythms fall. So, by using the metronome, you will enable yourself to concentrate on the downbeats instead of the minutia of three-against-fours. It does wonders for coordination!

Once you have an accurate perception of the rhythm, you can begin to move away from the met. Even after I have fully mastered a piece, I will refer to the met. every so often, about thrice a month, just to make sure that the piece is metrically stable.

So, in a nutshell, use the metronome regularly but not always. It's an excellent practice guide.

Another reason I use the met. is to mark milestones. When you're trying to increase the speed of a piece, the only way to do it in perfect increments is to use the met. Doing that also enables you to know where your tempo was yesterday and where you want it to be tommorow.

Don't be afraid of it, at first use it just once a week and you will see the difference in your performing ability.

Remember, never yield to the temptation to take the path of least resistance. Sometimes the correct way of practicing will feel very uncomfortable or even distressing. The trick is to ignore your predjudices and do what works.
Per Sapientiam Felicitas!

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Postby johnmar78 on Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:48 pm

wooh very good feed back indeed.

I learned my fi0p66 an dall others without metro. you must say NO NO( NO.......my teacher(long time ago) who is a well know concert pianist-philda Green...Taught me without using mi. She graduate from Juliard music school USA but she is an Aussie. I reckon, metronome is for people having rhymic problems???

No one is right I suppose, but I will check up my speed....sometimes I can play fast and /slow second time depends on my mood. Again, we should not over liberate the speed.rubato playing.

Have you had a thought down the tunnel when you are 10 years later and look back to your playing 10 years ago. You would have the same experience as I do. A more matured playing and -better interpretate the music-or breath the music.

Thanks for your advice. I should check it up ONCE a week as you said so.
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Postby PJF on Mon Jul 17, 2006 4:32 pm

Although I can play evenly without the M.M., without it, my tempos are too fast. I never feel quite as stable and confident in my performance. I use the metronome mainly as a way to control my practice, to reign me in. I never use it when giving a practice performance.
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Postby johnmar78 on Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:29 pm

thanks Pal.

Last night, I focused further tried use the "gravity or weight falling" method on the keys..glue to the key as we should all play this most beatuifal way..
after 2 loops of 1/2 speed playing on op10 no1. And guess what I get--whithout lossing music clarity( on my own ground). I did in 1min .58sec. I have to admit using Howize/Chopin, "lazy"/relaxed finger style playing(gravity feed) does me good and starts to comperhente the minium use of energy. Nothing to pround of, thats I have to ADMIT, my hands WERENT Even tired(30%) at all after 3 laps as compared to my previous practice(50%) that is more focused on finger action rather 100% gravity feed.

By the way, something just came up my mind yesterday, my time was based on my "weighted C3); so in theory, when I played on full grand(standard) or your one. since less effort is required.. I should drop that time even further......I am happy where I am now as I have proved something to my own findings.. By all means now I still play under 2.15 with much more RELAXED finger actions.
The old saying, "The "pianist "use energry efficiently, but the "virtuoso" feels nothing"....hummm this is the goal we all must go for.......but takes time.

What you think?
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Postby PJF on Sat Aug 19, 2006 6:39 am

johnmar78 wrote:thanks Pal.


Last night, I focused further tried use the "gravity or weight falling" method on the keys..glue to the key as we should all play this most beatuifal way..
after 2 loops of 1/2 speed playing on op10 no1. And guess what I get--whithout lossing music clarity( on my own ground). I did in 1min .58sec. I have to admit using Howize/Chopin, "lazy"/relaxed finger style playing(gravity feed) does me good and starts to comperhente the minium use of energy. Nothing to pround of, thats I have to ADMIT, my hands WERENT Even tired(30%) at all after 3 laps as compared to my previous practice(50%) that is more focused on finger action rather 100% gravity feed.

By the way, something just came up my mind yesterday, my time was based on my "weighted C3); so in theory, when I played on full grand(standard) or your one. since less effort is required.. I should drop that time even further......I am happy where I am now as I have proved something to my own findings.. By all means now I still play under 2.15 with much more RELAXED finger actions.
The old saying, "The "pianist "use energry efficiently, but the "virtuoso" feels nothing"....hummm this is the goal we all must go for.......but takes time.

What you think?



Time is, after all, the best teacher (and critic!) When your last message was posted, I was in the very early stages of practice of Chopin's e minor concerto. At the time it seemed impossible. But two months later...


...the fruits of my labor are coming to bear. I had a breakthrough. As I played the Rondo, (@M.M. 104, (with the recorded orchestra) nearly my goal tempo of 116) physically, I felt "nothing" and heard myself make music. In all honesty, I can't say I have this experience of "flow" regularly, but it is happening more often, (six times in the last four months), as compared to only twice in the ten years before that.) Patience is the best teacher, indeed!

I've been swimming like mad all summer, so I'm in fantastic physical shape. I notice, the leaner and more muscled I get, I connect with the piano much more completely. Swimming is the best exercise for a pianist, IMO, because it cross-trains all the muscles used in performance, without ever fixating to a certain point. Therefore, muscular strength is built and fluidity of motion is always maintained. I notice my forearms, wrists and hands get especially muscular, and (perhaps more importantly) flexible, from swimming. Bruce Lee once said, "be like water", he was right.

During the winter, there's a period of three months that are to cold for swimming (our climate is very warm, I was able to swim in an unheated outdoor pool in January! (global warming)). My playing is never as sharp in February, when I've been away from the pool , as in October, when I'm in the best shape of the year. I used to be able to afford to heat my pool through winter. Not anymore. Propane prices have nearly quadrupled in the last eight years! :x Maybe I should join a health club or invest in a wet suit!
:lol:
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Postby johnmar78 on Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:40 am

Pete, I just discovered this message....... Yes you are right.

As matter of fact, Do you know Anthony Holiday(concert pianest-55). He does lots of swimming too.

How many laps do you do? I do 10-14 laps at modrate speed its was intentional not too hard just litlle tired will do.. As I tried to save up 60% energy for my piano.
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Postby PJF on Mon Aug 21, 2006 3:16 am

johnmar78 wrote:Pete, I just discovered this message....... Yes you are right.

As matter of fact, Do you know Anthony Holiday(concert pianest-55). He does lots of swimming too.

How many laps do you do? I do 10-14 laps at modrate speed its was intentional not too hard just litlle tired will do.. As I tried to save up 60% energy for my piano.


I swim by time; each session about forty minutes, twice a day. It's too bad that here in Acadiana (a region of southern Louisiana, with a large population being of French-Canadian descent) there are no bodies of water suitable for swimming, too much farm runoff, silt and alligators. I swim about a mile (1.6K) a day. If the weather is bad for swimming, I run or bike.
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Postby johnmar78 on Mon Aug 21, 2006 3:32 am

cracky, you must be very fit and lean. Whats your weight now. I can only do 14 X50m at my hightst laps. These days only 14X25m. but fit enough for my need. I do all round year in indoor heated pool.
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Postby PJF on Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:23 am

I'm 6'3" and 175lbs (1.9m and 74.5kg). My bodyfat is around 8%, I think. I'm asthmatic, staying in top shape keeps it from flaring up. The leaner I am, the better I breathe, hence my diligence.

I've been an endurance athlete in one form or another for 15 years, before I started the piano. I credit my ability to concentrate while under duress at the piano, on speedwork for the 5K. Compared to speed training on the track,
where the head spins, legs scream, lungs searing from oxygen debt, playing the piano (even the really hard stuff) is physically and mentally on the easy side. If you ask me, racing a 10K, both mentally and athletically speaking, is more taxing than anything Chopin or Beethoven could dish out.
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Postby johnmar78 on Tue Aug 22, 2006 3:30 am

thanks Pete, so You are tall and skinning right thast great.. I am 1.8m weights 76-78 kg. When I was your age at uni. I do 3X 1.5 hour squash and 2X 1.5 hour martial arts per week plus 2X 20min session of weight trainning. At that time I was riding bike to uni(10 minutes). I was lean -65 kg. But not much help on my piano playing...X # @ ?.

Now days I think my life is more relaxing before...no more uni pressure or exams--sux....so I can focus on music more...


So You have an advantage of upperbody height for gravity playing...AM I RIGHT This time........ just like the crickters, the taller the faster they bowl(90%of case).

Anyway, you must have an apetide like me like a horse? In theory, the amount i eat should weight 200kg....
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Re: Question about Chopin`s etudes

Postby pianola on Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:49 am

playing Chopins etudes well is really......IMPRESSIVE.

i got kinda "scraped off" two layers of skin on my fingers when i played the Revolutionary Etude once. :lol:i was pressing too hard and conceentrating too hard on emotions and then my fingers slipping onto the edge of the piano keys, which for some reason, was quite sharp, and scraped off my skin........ouch.
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