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Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes (Read 6343 times)

Offline brace77

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Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
« on: September 01, 2010, 07:01:33 AM »
Hello. I am an organist and I decided to dedicate some of my little time for improving my piano technique, since I feel that I reached a plateau.

My idea was to go through the Chopin Etudes, it is not clear to me what I want to accomplish, but I am posting here to have some feedback. What I mean is: I can dedicate 10 minutes per day to this. I don't have limits like "i must compete them all in 6 months" or "i must learn all those by memory".

One approach could also be "studying some of them", or "studying only a 'page' per etude".

Anyway may you redirect me to some place that gives some hints ont how to tackle the etudes.

I have been playing organ for 15 years now and I played piano for 10 before. I'd say my level is advanced in organ, intermediate+ in piano.

Thanks.

Sheet music to download and print: Etudes by Chopin



Offline gyzzzmo

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 09:11:52 AM »
general advice: take your time, buy a good sheetmusic edition, get a good teacher and accuracy before anything. Some more detailed advice:

http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=631

http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=632
1+1=11

Offline brace77

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 09:23:26 AM »
general advice: take your time, buy a good sheetmusic edition, get a good teacher. Some more detailed advice:

http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=631

http://www.pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=632

Thanks, this study guide is a good starting point. Exactly what I was looking for, I just wonder if some more detailed info exist out there. I mean this is excellent: a etude by etude comment, something more detailed is also very desired. Thanks.

Offline gyzzzmo

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 09:28:58 AM »
I never encountered a really good detailed one. But i think you need a good teacher anyway because people always make different mistakes they dont realise, whatever they use for readable guidance. You dont have to take a teacher like once a week. A long lesson once a month works fine as well.
1+1=11

Offline brace77

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #4 on: September 01, 2010, 09:57:50 AM »
yes sure, anyway I am myself a teacher (teaching is not my main job), even if I never tackled piano pieces more complex than averge Beethoven sonatas.

The reason is that I am an organist.

Anyway where I teach there are also very good pianists, I will ask them to give me an hand, after I learnt a cuople of studies.

Offline ilikepie

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #5 on: September 02, 2010, 08:55:10 AM »
IIRC, there's an edition with commentary by Cortot(translated to English) and published by Salabert. I think it costs somewhere between 20-30 dollars per opus and I believe it's a good introduction(but I myself gave my books a long time ago to a friend so I can't really look at them right now) to the technical and musical approaches. Look it up in a library or music store if you have time.
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Offline scottmcc

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 10:00:31 AM »
i'm not an organist, but I've dabbled a little, and my mom is pretty good on the organ, and clearly my thoughts below are based on a stereotypical assumption about your skills, as I have never heard you play.

 anyway, I think your biggest challenge will be the use of techniques/skills that are specific to the piano, most notably voicing, dynamics, and pedal use.  you've probably already got great legato fingering and the ability to play multiple voices at once.  as such, I would argue that your starting point in the etudes should be op 10 #3, as it will allow you to use the strengths listed above and work on the weaknesses at the same time.  the pianosociety articles listed above are a great guide by the way.  best of luck!

Offline pianist1976

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 10:09:26 AM »
My idea was to go through the Chopin Etudes, it is not clear to me what I want to accomplish, but I am posting here to have some feedback. What I mean is: I can dedicate 10 minutes per day to this. I don't have limits like "i must compete them all in 6 months" or "i must learn all those by memory".

I don't want to discourage you but with 10 minutes a day you will do nothing with the Chopin Etudes, not even with the easier ones. You are talking about one of the top musical and technical achievements in History of Music so this mustn't be taken lightly.  As Neuhaus wrote, studying piano is in some ways something like start to boil water in a casserole. You may turn on the fire on the stove but if in one minute later you turn it off, to back one hour after and do the same operation (turn on but after one minute turn off again), the water will never boil. No matter you use three years with 10 minutes a day to learn a Chopin Etude, the result will be always poor. You will need more constancy and time per day to play decently a Chopin Etude.

In the other hand, as you know, organ and piano are very, very different, so it is the technique used for each. So you can play the most difficult works for organ but the technique used to play the most difficult works for piano (among them are the Chopin Etudes) has nothing to do.

So, if you want to improve your piano technique and only have 10 minutes a day for this, If I'd was you, I'd rather do 10 minutes of scales and arpeggios and maybe some technical exercise (supervised by a teacher to avoid injuies). You may obtain better results than with chopets (in your case).

P.S. I also think, as another forum member said, that Cortot edition is a must have.

Offline stevebob

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #8 on: September 02, 2010, 11:36:13 AM »
I would respectfully disagree with unqualified endorsements of the Cortot edition.

Cortot offers countless preparatory exercises for each etude and variants for their musical figurations, but these will not be found to have equal practical value by all pianists.  He also provides exhaustive fingering possibilities in the preface to each piece, but the actual fingering suggestions printed in the score itself are often peculiarly idiosyncratic.

In my opinion Cortot's edition has historical significance to piano pedagogy, but its distinguishing features are hardly indispensable and possibly not useful at all.  For collectors of various editions who like to make comparisons among them, it's a nice addition—but I would never choose to use it as my study score.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #9 on: September 02, 2010, 04:25:25 PM »
10 minutes a day? Come on this is a joke.
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Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 12:51:54 AM »
I would respectfully disagree with unqualified endorsements of the Cortot edition.

Cortot offers countless preparatory exercises for each etude and variants for their musical figurations, but these will not be found to have equal practical value by all pianists.  He also provides exhaustive fingering possibilities in the preface to each piece, but the actual fingering suggestions printed in the score itself are often peculiarly idiosyncratic.
I have the Cortot editions and I completely agree with stevebob's assessment.  Each etude is preceded by an exhaustive collection of exercises, some of which he wants you to transpose to all keys.  By the time you're done with the preparatory exercises you're too exhausted to give your best to the etude proper.  I find it really odd because an "etude", as the name implies, is a study that teaches you some particular aspect of piano technique.  For example, op.10 #3 is mostly about a legato touch and bringing out a top melody.  What better way to learn that than by studying the etude itself?  The more difficult bits can be turned into exercises of one's own devising, practicing them in different rhythms and with shifting accents, for example.

I also found the fingering and editing in the Cortot volumes not to my taste so I never used them. 
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Offline brace77

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 12:48:18 PM »
The reason why I decided to study the chopin etudes is that it is a suggestion made by Marcel Dupré in his Organ improvisation book.

He says: "it is important that an organist masters octave scales, even if in organ music they are very rare".


By the way all great french organists were (and are) also amazing pianists. So the idea is to study the etudes even if the techniques will not be used "as they are" at the piano.

Offline brace77

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #12 on: September 03, 2010, 12:54:22 PM »
10 minutes a day? Come on this is a joke.
I have 30-60 minutes per day to play, when everyone goes to bed.

So I decided to try to dedicate a small part of that time to techinque, trying to use something more musical than scales and arpeggios only.

I am not a beginner, and at the same time I am not interested in partecipating in a recital were I will perform the 24 etudes.

So the idea is to try to be constant in this small time and see what happens. I will let you know if I make some progress. For now what I did is memorizing the first 16 bars of first etude and I am now trying to work on some simgle arpeggios.

Offline stevebob

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #13 on: September 03, 2010, 01:45:48 PM »
Going back to your original inquiry, I don't know of any book or study guide that offers a comprehensive treatment to approaching Chopin's etudes.  (There's a classic title by Abby Whiteside called Mastering the Chopin Etudes, but it's more of a broad treatment of piano technique; she examines only a few of the etudes in detail.)

Owing to the popularity, importance and enduring stature of the etudes, though, there's a lot of discussion of them in forums like this one.  If you do a search, you'll find quite a bit of information that may interest you.

There are a couple of things that you should probably consider (in case you're not already aware).

The pieces comprising Opp. 10 and 24 don't build upon one another's technical challenges in a way that would suggest a specific progression, pattern or order of approaching them; the relative difficulties of various techniques are experienced differently by different individuals in any case.

Nevertheless, it's common to classify or categorize the etudes in rankings of general difficulty (i.e., based on an all-things-being equal, common denominator, level playing field assessment).  Not everyone agrees on specific grade levels, of course, but there is strong consensus that Op. 10 No. 1 (and Op. 10 No. 2 as well) are among the most advanced in their technical demands.

That could be a rude shock for anyone who might plan to start at the beginning and work through the book in a linear fashion.  I'm not saying that's an impossible tactic, but I do think it's impractical and would cause many people to give up on the project entirely.

Best wishes as you proceed with your endeavor.  Although I couldn't predict the outcome (and feel that there are other vehicles for the technical improvement you seek that might be more efficient), there are unquestionably far worse ways to spend your time and energy than on Chopin's masterpieces.  :)

p.s.  I would repeat and reemphasize what was already said about the value of a "good" edition, which to me means clear and spacious layout as well as sensible and congenial (and abundant) fingerings.  I doubt there's any more agreement on what's the best edition than there is on what's the "easiest" or "hardest" etude, but my own favorite is the Friedheim edition published by G. Schirmer.
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Offline brace77

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #14 on: September 06, 2010, 09:05:29 AM »
Thanks stevebob for your constructive reply.

I agree with you that there are may be more efficient ways for technique, anyway as you point out it is not bad to spend time with CHopin masterpieces, and this is exactly what I am trying to do. I am not a professional player, I play for fun, I do 2-3 organ recitals per year but this doesn't change my life.

Moreover I can say that even if I play 10 minutes per day, I am trying to memorize, so I recall in my mind the music even at coffee break at work, or while driving, so somehow this makes me play the etudes more than 10 minutes per day.

I started with op. 10 No. 1. At least form memorization point of view it is easier than the others... I will not attempt fiull speed for now...

I have the Dover edition, probably not the best, but fingering info is very good (for the small part I covered).

Offline cmg

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Re: Guideline for studying Chopin Etudes
«Reply #15 on: September 06, 2010, 05:44:46 PM »
I agree with others that there really is no full-service stop study guide for the Etudes.  The one listed at the top of this thread is little help technically (in fact, its admonition that Op. 10 No. 12 should never be played with pedal is downright laughable!) but it does outline the character of each Etude and its technical and musical demands.

I know, brace77, that you are an organist and a proficient one, but the Etudes really need the guidance of an excellent, experienced teacher.  Most are enormously difficult to master and if you learn them incorrectly, you're doomed as doomed can be.  What can be done at a slow practice tempo is very, very deceptive and this is the point where bad habits can creep in.  Worse, it is the point where you can subvert the aims of the Etude, rendering it useless and actually injurious.  It took me three months of work with a fine teacher to correct my technical misunderstanding of Opus 10, No. 1.  It's the one you're playing and, trust me, the technical solution to it is far from obvious.  But, once a good teacher sets you on the right path, the work blooms for you and strength and suppleness is greatly increased in your right hand.

In short, please check in with a teacher on these pieces.  They are too difficult and important to learn incorrectly.
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