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Etude 10/4

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Etude 10/4

Postby Ethereal792 on Thu Jul 27, 2006 7:54 am

Well, I guess I'll kill two birds with one stone and introduce myself and ask for help at the same time.

I'm an avid pianist with about 10 years experience. I'm 16 (and a half :D) years old. Chopin is by far my favorite composer, and it was pretty awesome to discover a forum dedicated to the great Chopin. Since it's summer, I'm learning a whole new repertoire, one being the Etude 10/4. Does anyone here have any suggestions on how to learn this piece, or advice to conquer the technicality of the piece? Thanks! Also, what would be the "difficulty comparison" of the Etude 10/4 to the Ballade No. 2?

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Postby PJF on Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:57 pm

Practice it w/o ped. and HANDS SEPERATE! Use a metronome and practice it at precisely half tempo. The etude is technically harder, while the ballade is more artistically demanding. Which is more difficult? It depends much on the performer. For example, technique is not a problem to me, I always find creating art more difficult than simply hitting the right notes. So, to me, the ballade is harder. For a pianist with a developing technique, the etude may very well be much harder.
Last edited by PJF on Mon Jul 31, 2006 4:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby nathf on Sun Jul 30, 2006 9:50 am

Hey there. Youre in luck :DI've been learning both these pieces for a while now and they're in my current rep. The etude is definately harder than the ballad. The etude seems impossible at first but after some decent (and SLOW) practice, you can get it up to pace. There's a lot of hard work in it to master. The trickiest parts IMO are all in the middle section. Theres just so much variety in the motifs, look at bars: 24+25, 26+27, 28+29, 30+31, 32+33, each little group is tricky to memorise but so worth the time. Practice this one slowly for a long time before speeding it up. In bars 35+36, 39+40 realise the patterns played on the diminished scale with the left hand, and learn them thoroughly in all three diminished scales before begining to attempt bars 41+42+43, and especially 44. It'll make it less confusing to memorise (trust me this piece can mess with you lol). But once you have it, its really fun to play fast (and a great show off piece when you need it lmao). I gotta say, for a piece like this, do not look at it note by note, just try and realise the patterns being played, that will make it soo much easier. Hope all that helped some.
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Postby PJF on Mon Jul 31, 2006 4:25 am

I agree completely! A thorough understanding of theory would be indispensable. Otherwise you'll be doomed to a note-wise purgatory.
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Postby Ethereal792 on Mon Jul 31, 2006 6:15 am

Thanks for the advice. I've been practice at exactly half tempo, and (not surprisingly) it seems impossible to get up to tempo. I have a lesson with my teacher in 2 days, so she can probably enlighten me on some thoughts. Wow, and I thought I had to work hard last year >_> I've learned from the beginning to the first keychange. Feel free to post more suggestions, thanks.
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Postby johnmar78 on Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:38 am

i went home had a look of this etude. very nice piece, It seems you have played the piano more than 10 years,

work slowly and at your controlled speed. The speed will come eventually, but this depends how well your technique is?

Do you want to be a virturoso or musician? One requires talents, other requires more practice but not necessary speed. ;;.

Remeber, always relax when playing/practice as much as you can both metally and physically.....

Gavity playing is the winner......you will understand thru your progress.

I hope this helps...
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Postby PJF on Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:50 am

Ethereal792 wrote:Thanks for the advice. I've been practice at exactly half tempo, and (not surprisingly) it seems impossible to get up to tempo. I have a lesson with my teacher in 2 days, so she can probably enlighten me on some thoughts. Wow, and I thought I had to work hard last year >_> I've learned from the beginning to the first keychange. Feel free to post more suggestions, thanks.


Right now your top priority, your ONLY priority shoud be to get the whole piece learned @ half tempo (memorized and played musically). Under no circumstances should you try to increase the tempo until you have 100% accuracy of notes and the piece's basic dynamics.

I suggest an ultra-conservative approach to all of Chopin's Etudes. Keep in mind, the fastest way to screw up is to practice too fast, too loud or with the slightest bit of impatience The etudes are lifetime pieces. Don't expect to master them right away. It took me three months to get the piece accurate to half tempo. Two years later I'm still showing weekly improvement on this etude.

The late, great pedagogue Abby Whiteside, spent TWENTY years mastering etude op25 no10. Patience, patience, patience........


p.s. Why half tempo? By practicing at 1/2 tempo, you are, in effect, practicing the timing of the downbeats of the full tempo. For example, let's just say that the final tempo is to be 160. If you set your metronome to 80, you are able to play the piece half speed, where a quarter note equals 80. Keeping the same metronome setting of 80, you're also able to play at full speed, where a half note equals 80. Creating metric stability is the "Philosopher's Stone" of technique and cannot be stressed enough! Coordination begets speed. Haste begets ruin. :)

p.s. p.s Don't use unnatural weight, (johnmar may disagree :lol:) Know this, there is a correct amount of weight to maximize coordination. Find that weight and use it. Too little weight will lead to forearm tension and overall instability. Too much weight will cause freezing, muscle imbalances of the shoulders and arms, and sometimes, permanent injury. Pay very close attention to what works for YOU, and then do it.
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Postby MindenBlues on Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:49 am

PJF wrote:Right now your top priority, your ONLY priority shoud be to get the whole piece learned @ half tempo (memorized and played musically). Under no circumstances should you try to increase the tempo until you have 100% accuracy of notes and the piece's basic dynamics.

I suggest an ultra-conservative approach to all of Chopin's Etudes. Keep in mind, the fastest way to screw up is to practice too fast, too loud or with the slightest bit of impatience The etudes are lifetime pieces. Don't expect to master them right away. It took me three months to get the piece accurate to half tempo. Two years later I'm still showing weekly improvement on this etude.

The late, great pedagogue Abby Whiteside, spent TWENTY years mastering etude op25 no10. Patience, patience, patience........


Very wise words. There is a quotation from Chopin:
"Time is still the best critiques and patience is the best teacher"

PJF wrote:p.s. Why half tempo? By practicing at 1/2 tempo, you are, in effect, practicing the timing of the downbeats of the full tempo. For example, let's just say that the final tempo is to be 160. If you set your metronome to 80, you are able to play the piece half speed, where a quarter note equals 80. Keeping the same metronome setting of 80, you're also able to play at full speed, where a half note equals 80. Creating metric stability is the "Philosopher's Stone" of technique and cannot be stressed enough! Coordination begets speed. Haste begets ruin.


Hmmm, I see your point in using exact half target tempo - metric stability. However, even at low speed one should look for correct accents on the half notes. E.g. through setting the metronome to 80, but with another metronome sound on every second click so to remind even on the low speed on the correct accents needed on double speed.
With this approach one can gradually speed up, not only half and full tempo. One should be able to play at all speeds, not only half and full speed!

PJF wrote:p.s. p.s Don't use unnatural weight, (johnmar may disagree :lol:) Know this, there is a correct amount of weight to maximize coordination. Find that weight and use it. Too little weight will lead to forearm tension and overall instability. Too much weight will cause freezing, muscle imbalances of the shoulders and arms, and sometimes, permanent injury. Pay very close attention to what works for YOU, and then do it.


The most natural weight is to use the gravity force, isn't it? I agree with Johnmar on that. Using gravity force - I interpret this as letting shoulders, arms relaxed so that the finger weight is on the keys. This way, there is only a small additional force needed to press a key, and only a small muscle release needed to release a key. That leads to the "souplesse" and soft playing Chopin demanded from his students. Or am I wrong here?
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Postby johnmar78 on Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:52 pm

good on you. you are dead right. look at Horowize playing. He is "still "as a giant when playing. very little body movement. or Alred Bremdle,,,

Peter and Olsaf...Gravity playing takes time to master--took me almost 25 years. dnt expect right straight away. Some concert pianist may not use this techique fully and still made to the top level player. But if you sit down and just pressing the note slowly or deprees the key 10% then sound it will give you a much mellower sound.

The only problem is, if you dnt ultralise your energy point efficient as much AS YOU CAN. If not, It will make you work harder and harder with no reason----rather waste of talent and resource. When you are older -70 plus you will relailse why gravity playing is important. Petr has the point too.

Thank to you all.
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Postby PJF on Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:12 am

Hmmm, I see your point in using exact half target tempo - metric stability. However, even at low speed one should look for correct accents on the half notes. E.g. through setting the metronome to 80, but with another metronome sound on every second click so to remind even on the low speed on the correct accents needed on double speed.
With this approach one can gradually speed up, not only half and full tempo. One should be able to play at all speeds, not only half and full speed!



This is true, but metric stability MUST come first. (A metronome setting of 40 might be better. Early practice could be done at 1/4 speed, until the notes are learned) As soon as the piece is solid, you will be able to play it at any speed. I didn't mean to say, "never play anything but 1/2 or full tempo." I did mean to say, "maintain metric rigor in the piece's formative stages."
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Postby PJF on Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:20 am

The most natural weight is to use the gravity force, isn't it? I agree with Johnmar on that. Using gravity force - I interpret this as letting shoulders, arms relaxed so that the finger weight is on the keys. This way, there is only a small additional force needed to press a key, and only a small muscle release needed to release a key. That leads to the "souplesse" and soft playing Chopin demanded from his students. Or am I wrong here?[/quote]


Coordination is the name of the game. Flawless technique is derived from the combination of five basic motions. These motions are:

1 Free fall. First, the whole arm is lifted. In the second stage, the arm, hand and fingers fall at the same time, using gravity. This stage is completely passive, the arm is totally relaxed. The third and final stage is the landing and rebound. At the instant of landing, all the arm joints are instantaneously fixed and relaxed. It is essential that this fixation is instantaneous, not prolonged.

2 Scale and arpeggios, "finger technique." It is important that we regard the fingers as an extention of the forearm. Speed can best be generated by increasing leverage, while avoiding excess tension. The hand must never be fixed into one position. The fingers need continuous adjusting motions by the wrist, forearm, and the upper arm to enable free movement, without forcing.

3 Rotation. Rotary motion of the forearm can add speed and power to the fingers. If properly done, there will be no strain at all.

4 Staccato. Staccato technique involves an active and coordinated arm, wrist, hand and finger motion in which all components participate simultaneously. By sharing the motion, extreme speed and volume can be attained with ease. Generate speed and volume by using a longer lever, not weight.

5 Thrust. Thrust is the opposite of free fall, in that the energy is generated is purely created by active muscles. Neither gravity nor weight are used.
We place the fingers as lightly as possible on the surface of the keys and push with a lightning fast pulse of thrust from the arms, shoulders, pectorals, and abdominals. This instantaneous (never prolonged) action generates incredible speed and power. The fingers should not lose contact with the keys, but rest ever so gently on the surface of the keys, before the motion is initiated. If we were to create a space in between the fingers and the key surface, the sound would be very harsh. By gently resting the fingers on the key before playing, there is no impact between finger and key. Therefore, no extraneous noise is generated.

These five basic patterns comprise the totality of movements possible on the piano*. When properly combined and coordinated, technical difficulty is a non-issue. :idea: :D

I could add a sixth "motion". That is, the activation of the brain. For when the aforementioned physical patterns are succesfully fused with the psyche, your potential is truly limitless. Kinda scary, isn't it?


*(Exceptions being glissando and other exotic movements, like playing with the fist or elbows, etc.)
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Postby johnmar78 on Sun Aug 06, 2006 8:11 pm

thanks pete...very technical feed back indeed..from you. thank you

Dnt you think. it doesnot matter how you do it as long as it sounds musical......HUMMMMMM..
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Postby PJF on Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:03 am

To paraphrase Anton Rubenstein, "Play it with your nose, but play it well." :lol:
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