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Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance? (Read 15137 times)

Offline jsen

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Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
« on: June 27, 2013, 10:02:06 PM »
Hello :)

I'm 17 and my question is about the Revolutionary Etude, Chopin. I have been studying this piece since a year ago.
One of the most big difficulties in this etude for me is the left hand (of course) but not the notes and velocity. My big problem is that in the middle of the piece, left hand and left arm starts to get very very tired and without strength, and the fingers start to block and sound and notes gets very dirty ... what's the problem?
I try to relax arm and wrist, my sitting and wrist position are good, so, how i can increase my resistance and my stamina? How I can relax more to play the entire piece with no tired arm?
I just watch Evgeny Kissin playing this and is never get tired (his interpretation is really amazing)!
just a note: I am thin, and my arm is thin, so this aspect decreases resistance? have strong pianists more resistance and stamina?

Thank you and sorry me bad english!

piano sheet music of Etude


Offline wnlqxod

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #1 on: June 27, 2013, 10:55:38 PM »
First off, wrong board, youngster.
Now, here are some checkpoints:
1. Are you playing the left hand too loudly? The left hand is ACCOMPANIMENTAL to the right hand. The only exception is when the right hand and the left hand are playing runs in unison.

2. Are your fingers excessively tense when you press the keys?

3. Is your wrist too low?

4. Do you have sufficient repertoire behind you? Have you studied works by JS Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn, Clementi, Mozart, Czerny, Beethoven (some early works will do), etc.? What have you studied?

5. Did you consult your teacher, or is he/she not that helpful to you at the moment?

6. Are you sitting too low or too high for your own good?

Good luck with the piece :D

Offline jsen

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 08:38:16 AM »
Sorry for the wrong board.

1. Yes i think I am playing it loud, but I think it should sound loud or not? In this etude, it is almost always "forte" and if I play it "piano" it loses the revolutionary spirit, or not?

2. Just when arm and wrist start to get tired, then fingers get tense too...

3. No, wrist is in a good position.

4. Yes!. I studied czerny studes, hanon, bach inventions, some bach prelude and fugues, 4 mozart sonatas, 3 beethoven sonatas, and already studied Chopin etudes


6. I think my sitting position is apropriatte, the forearm is parallel to the floor, and I only sit on the front half of the piano bench.

Thanks you! :)

Offline johnmar78

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 09:23:54 AM »
Hey Jesen, welcome to board,

To solve your issue is not a problem.
 Just follow the simple steps (at least); excessive tiredness and tension is casued by playing too fast and lacking in muscle fitness.
1) Try play 1/2 speed to see if you can achieve 4 laps. At end of 4 laps you should feel a slight tirdness on fingers ALONE only. In any due time, if you find tired in froearm , you are doing it too fast. In this case bring it down to 1/3 speed. Think each note clearly.

 During your lap training, try not too apply excessive downfroce to the key beds; do this for 1 week you be amazed how much improvement you have made.

I hope this helps, otherwise   Nayrihazi will give you some tips... ;D

Offline catherinezng

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #4 on: June 30, 2013, 03:36:49 AM »
When practicing, do lots of slow (but thoughtful) practice and make sure every note is clean and even to build the muscle technique. Make sure to practice in rhythms.

Thinking the left hand as groups of notes rather than thinking every note actually makes playing every note more easy. Remember that the audience doesn't hear every note played in the left hand runs, only the general sound outlining. If you simply your thinking, the piece physically becomes much easier too.

When performing, remember to relax your hand and let the knuckles do the work;that is where the power comes from. For me, focusing on the sound rather than thinking the notes physically makes the entire piece easier. I think the key to performing chopin etudes is to think of the etude on the whole as a piece of music rather than a tense technical exercise.

Offline johnnybarkshop

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #5 on: June 30, 2013, 04:00:57 PM »
Hi! Chopin etudier.

You have been given lots of really sound advice, but you say, yourself, that your trouble starts half way through the piece.  This suggests you should break up the etude into a few sections and never work on more than one section in each practice session.  Also, go really slowly then, a very few bars at a time. much quicker.  This is like a runner who alternates jogging with fifty metres of sprinting!  Just remember, the faster he notes the softer they should be.

If you have been on this piece for a year it must get frustrating to have so many problems.  Why not give it three months off because, at the moment, you might  just be getting tired of the piece, physically and mentally.  Good luck.

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #6 on: June 30, 2013, 07:08:04 PM »
While, I intend no disrespect to any of the extremely good advice about going slow, the problem with working from that idea alone is that it leaves the crux of the matter as an elusive mystery- unless you have a clear concept you're actually looking for in that slow practise. Specifically, that needs to be comfortable balance- where fingers are neither droopy nor stiffly compressed against the piano by excess arm weight. Serious tension is obviously bad, but merely aiming for relaxation will not necessarily get the specific quality of balance that makes effortless speed possible. If you don't know what to look for in slow practise, it won't get any better. This post is all about the state of balance in which hand and arm are linked, without any burden on either. Start from there, and you'll soon be playing with more ease.

http://pianoscience.blogspot.co.uk/2013_01_01_archive.html

PS. I agree that it needs to be put into big groups in the final product. HOWEVER- trying to force groups to occur without first checking for a quality of poise on literally every finger (via slow exploratory practise that is preferably done in free time- in order to eliminate any pressure to get to the next note without first having observed the quality of connection to the last one played) can actually cause way more tension than starting off note by note. Before integrating notes into big gestures, you have to check for poise in every single transfer between two notes. If you can do that without stiffening, pressing from the arm or collapsing in the finger, then you're ready to make bigger gestures. If you can't, trying to make bigger gestures can actively cause a position where you have no choice but to compensate for instability with stiffness. It's almost literally a matter of learning to "walk" (pianistically) before running. You have to check that you're either not digging in or using the arm as an emergency safety harness to compensate for poor connection between a lazy finger and key. Only then can you breeze through a series of steps in one flow.

Offline wnlqxod

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #7 on: July 01, 2013, 12:58:29 AM »
Quote
Yes i think I am playing it loud, but I think it should sound loud or not? In this etude, it is almost always "forte" and if I play it "piano" it loses the revolutionary spirit, or not?

So, sorry for getting back to you a bit late.
Here is what you're gonna do:

At forte, you're gonna play the left hand softly with the damper pedal down. You will CRANK UP THE RIGHT HAND- Chopin was an opera lover, and he was always inspired by the SOPRANO voice. Most of his works feature the upper register as melody- REVOLUTIONARY INCLUDED.
Trust me, when you get the "C - D- Eb Eb" motif in your face, it sounds LOUD.

At piano, you're gonna play the left thand softly with the damper pedal down.

HOWEVER, you will perhaps experiment with different depths of the pedal- by reducing sustain, there is less sound lingering around, which helps things sound softer.

You will play the right hand softly- barely enough juice to be heard over the left hand; something that isn't terribly hard because of the register difference. (Someone like Rachmaninoff likes to embed the melody in the same register as the accompanimental notes, and it requires musical knowledge and CAREFUL balancing to pull off; not really the case with most of Chopin, this work included)

Now, to help emphasize the contrast, you're gonna use the UNA CORDA PEDAL- the leftmost pedal on the instrument.

So, in summary:
1. Always play the left hand softly.
2. Dynamic contrast is done primarily with the right hand and the una corda pedal (i.e. use the pedal to play softer at piano).
3. Experiement with different depths of the damper pedal at softer sections; remember, less sustain = less sound lingering around. (On this note, when you listen to Wagner's Tannhauser overture, do you know why the trombones sound so damn loud? It's partially because the trombone players are sustaining every note to the full value. Here, we're using an opposite idea of that approach to help things sound softer).

Offline j_menz

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #8 on: July 01, 2013, 01:09:36 AM »
Now, to help emphasize the contrast, you're gonna use the UNA CORDA PEDAL- the leftmost pedal on the instrument.

So, in summary:
1. Always play the left hand softly.
2. Dynamic contrast is done primarily with the right hand and the una corda pedal (i.e. use the pedal to play softer at piano).
3. Experiement with different depths of the damper pedal at softer sections; remember, less sustain = less sound lingering around. (On this note, when you listen to Wagner's Tannhauser overture, do you know why the trombones sound so damn loud? It's partially because the trombone players are sustaining every note to the full value. Here, we're using an opposite idea of that approach to help things sound softer).

I'm assuming this has to be a joke, but I'm missing the punchline.  :-\
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #9 on: July 01, 2013, 01:24:53 AM »

In this etude, it is almost always "forte" and if I play it "piano" it loses the revolutionary spirit, or not?


Revolution -

Noun
A forcible overthrow of a government or social order for a new system.

Yeh, loud.. generally.. But, its not 2:30 straight of the final battle. There's a whole story in there..

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 11:40:23 PM »
This piece is meant to tax the left hand so you shouldn't be surprised that the left hand gets tired.  One of the purposes of this etude is to increase the ability of the left hand to withstand this sort of stress.  Your left hand is not used to working this hard, and this etude will help remedy that if you keep at it. 

Excellent advice above about the left hand being accompaniment so that it is not necessary to use so much force with the left hand.  That I think is one of the keys to not tiring in this piece. 

Like most things with the piano:  Keep at it and in time it will be easier.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #11 on: July 03, 2013, 05:55:46 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #12 on: July 03, 2013, 05:55:41 PM »


Pianists for some reason always have an aversion to admitting that there is a physical aspect to playing the piano.  They will always tell you that if something tires your hand it must be because you're doing it wrong rather than that the passage is difficult and physically taxing.  But pianists are a sort of finger acrobats.  The muscles of their hands and arms get in shape just like those of athletes.  This etude is meant to help get your left hand in shape, so to speak.  I can tell you from experience that your left hand will find this piece easier with time, if you continue to work at it.  It has probably never had to work this hard, but the muscles will learn how to cope.  This is the purpose of the etude after all.
 

Online brogers70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #13 on: July 04, 2013, 02:34:44 AM »

Pianists for some reason always have an aversion to admitting that there is a physical aspect to playing the piano.  They will always tell you that if something tires your hand it must be because you're doing it wrong rather than that the passage is difficult and physically taxing.  But pianists are a sort of finger acrobats.  The muscles of their hands and arms get in shape just like those of athletes.  This etude is meant to help get your left hand in shape, so to speak.  I can tell you from experience that your left hand will find this piece easier with time, if you continue to work at it.  It has probably never had to work this hard, but the muscles will learn how to cope.  This is the purpose of the etude after all.
 

Sure, lack of strength can sometimes be a problem. But reading the original post, I agree with Dima that in this case the problem sounds like it is not a strength problem, but a problem of tension or inefficient movements. N and Dima both gave good advice for this situation.

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #14 on: July 04, 2013, 02:50:53 AM »

Pianists for some reason always have an aversion to admitting that there is a physical aspect to playing the piano.  They will always tell you that if something tires your hand it must be because you're doing it wrong rather than that the passage is difficult and physically taxing. But pianists are a sort of finger acrobats.  The muscles of their hands and arms get in shape just like those of athletes.  This etude is meant to help get your left hand in shape, so to speak.


Not surprisingly, this would be the opinion of someone with a relatively limited 4 years of experience, where at least the first 3 of which were self taught..

I can play this study over and over for an hour or more, no strain. You think my arm/fingers are 60+ times stronger than the OPs? I bet he can open jars that I can't. Quality of movement is INFINITELY more important at the piano, especially for someone who already has enough experience to tackle a chopin etude.

A lack of 'strength' being the cause of the problem would be indicative of an ongoing fundamental issue with technique that has left certain muscles undeveloped for YEARS. And if that is the case, its only solved once again by moving differently, not just playing more the same way.. and even then, its perhaps more about learning to control those muscles than it is buff them up like you're some kind of sporting athlete.

If you want to take some useless maths into account alongside discussion about each individual fingers strengths you can figure out that at full tempo you need to play around 10 notes per second in the LH. Ofcourse, most of the figures are 4 different fingers one after another, so any individual finger need only strike say, 2-3 times per second. I'd bet that the OP can do that on a desk with any given finger, for 3 minutes without stopping, and without tiring..  not that that really helps at all in understanding or quantifying the technical skills required to play the etude..

The problem he faces is in not building up undue tension over the duration of many transitions between strikes, transitions that cause the arm to be displaced, and the fingers and/or arm to exert more than would be necessary if his technique were more effective. It is a failure to move the right way that forces another muscle in compensate and become tired. The reason extensive and on going practice helps is because these factors do gradually improve even without genuine thought, that's just instinctual learning where the body adapts to put up with the tension and perform better despite it, and/or settles into marginally better technique bit by bit. However, the level of proficiency required is so high in advanced repertoire that pianists at that level and teachers alike will always tout understanding and developing the quality of movements alongside their sounds, and the way you think about such things as being the primary factor.

You can try and learn it by just playing it over and over as if increasing stamina will help, but unless you are INCREDIBLY fortunate and stumble onto better technique unknowingly and without really understanding (this is what prodigies do) you will probably take some 15+ years to perfect a single chopin etude..

Alternatively you can listen to a piano teacher that tells you that how you move, and think about movement and sound matters.

Offline bachtorachmaninoff

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #15 on: July 04, 2013, 06:51:31 AM »
You can try the Taubman Approach. It helps quite a lot in relaxation.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #16 on: July 04, 2013, 05:37:53 PM »
Sorry, ajspiano, to have angered you.  I was just trying to be helpful.  The OP sounded to me as if he/she was similar to me and at about the same level, doubtless far your inferior.  I just thought that if I related my own experience with the piece it might be helpful.  Perhaps I was mistaken.  Anyway, when I learned this etude a little while back, I too at first experienced fatigue with the left hand, but it gradually went away as I continued to work on it.  When I played it for my teacher she didn't say anything about my left hand being technically deficient - if anything she had more to say about my right hand.  I assume my teacher (master's Juilliard) would be looking for the same sort of technical problems you're suggesting OP has.  If she saw any, she didn't mention them.

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #17 on: July 04, 2013, 10:49:08 PM »
Sorry, ajspiano, to have angered you.  I was just trying to be helpful.  The OP sounded to me as if he/she was similar to me and at about the same level, doubtless far your inferior.  I just thought that if I related my own experience with the piece it might be helpful.  Perhaps I was mistaken.  Anyway, when I learned this etude a little while back, I too at first experienced fatigue with the left hand, but it gradually went away as I continued to work on it.  When I played it for my teacher she didn't say anything about my left hand being technically deficient - if anything she had more to say about my right hand.  I assume my teacher (master's Juilliard) would be looking for the same sort of technical problems you're suggesting OP has.  If she saw any, she didn't mention them.

in an earlier thread you mentioned beginning lessons and having the teacher tell you that you needed a complete technical overhaul?  have you since done this and learnt how to approach certain things to learn adequate technique through playing the material? ..so that given a shorter amount of practice you may usually resolve your problems?

do you think the way you approached the study and learnt the left hand was physically and mentally identical to the OPs?

did you play/study the etude for a full year and still experience problems as the OP mentioned?

what makes you think that this etude is primarily to 'get the left hand in shape'? do you think chopins intention was that? or is that the impact it had on you and so you feel that must be its purpose.. did chopin take a student with a poor left hand and assign them that etude?

chopins pedagogy was not one of developing each fingers strength equally. He respecting each fingers innante strengths and adapted fingerings to suit. He taught a technique only with a musical purpose, not mechanically.  Suppleness and ease came first, this would then be maintained from the beginning as material became harder and the etudes were only given to the most advanced students, wish his permission to study them.. for a musical purpose.

I was not angered by the way. I apologise if my post(s) seem to be attacking you personally.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #18 on: July 05, 2013, 12:24:49 AM »
ajspiano, clearly these are intended as personal attacks on me to try to keep me from contributing to this discussion, although I think what I have to say may be relevant and helpful for this individual.  After all my experience is likely to be closer to his/hers than yours since I would guess I'm about OP's level whereas you've made it quite plain that you inhabit a much more rarefied air.  Let me tell you something else I've learned from experience:  People like you who think you have all the answers and a monopoly on wisdom rarely do.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #19 on: July 05, 2013, 12:58:00 AM »
In my experience, when looking for solutions to problems I find it much more useful to ask people who have actually solved them and know the answers than to seek solutions from people who are "in the same position" as me and don't have a clue either.

Given a choice between empathy and actual help, empathy is on a hiding to nothing.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #20 on: July 05, 2013, 01:12:03 AM »
that was definitely an accurate assessment of my character and approach to piano teaching in general.

you be surprised perhaps that as someone who did in the past learn the work (among many others ofcourse) as a largely self taught pianist I know exactly where both of you are coming from.

I'm also far enough down the track to have actively helped many others fix the same problems in this and other pieces. Which also in no way implies that I know everything especially given my general approach is one of guided self discovery in a student.

my previous questions were not attacks they were meant for you to genuinely ask yourself to better develop your understand of both learning process and technical development at the piano. I apologise if ive upset you.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #21 on: July 05, 2013, 01:44:17 AM »
Et tu, j_menz.  Ok, ok, I can see that the consensus is that I'm being of no help and should just go away.  You may well be right about that.  In parting just let me say that I asked some of my other student friends who've played this etude about their experiences with it.  Most agreed that it made their left wrist/hand burn at first but that it got better or went away with practice.  They also agreed that their lefts had never had to work so hard before and weren't used to it at first. It's quite possible that this experience is relevant for OP and why I should shut up about it and not pass along this bit of student lore I don't understand.  It seems you've all already decided that OP just must, must have some serious technical issue.  Maybe OP does, but I just thought he/she might like to know that there are a lot of us out here at a similar level of playing experience who've gone through the same thing with this piece, and I'm pretty sure not all of us had to do an overhaul of their technique.  Oh, but you've all already decided that this is a point of view that has no credibility and shouldn't even be passed on.

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #22 on: July 05, 2013, 02:08:25 AM »
the burn goes away when your technique gets better, more so than when you get stronger.

the most effective way to fix it and get better faster is to assess the quality of movement and conciously adjust to a more comfortable execution.

that in no way invalidates your experience or any other persons - or mine, which was indeed similar with this work an numerous others. The only problem is in the assessment that you should just keep practicing and wait for it to go away without any real thought.. as if time/repetition is only ingredient.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #23 on: July 05, 2013, 02:24:14 AM »
See that's where you and I differ.  I'm open to the possibility that time/repetition will suffice since I and many others have had similar experiences at first with this piece and in time the burn has gone away.  Maybe we all had serious technical deficiencies, but I kind of doubt it.  Maybe OP has serious technical deficiencies too.  I really don't know for sure.  I was just telling him/her that his/her experience is pretty common.  It might go away with practice as it has for many others.  For a left hand not used to this much activity this piece can be a bit of a shock at first.  On the other hand you seem to think you know the answer for OP for sure.  Maybe you do, but maybe you don't.

Online brogers70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #24 on: July 05, 2013, 02:48:20 AM »
My purely amateur impression from having worked on Op. 10/1, 10/2, and 10/12 is that these etudes are not designed to build strength and endurance. They are designed to be virtually impossible to play until you find the right technique. And once you find the right technique, they are designed to be pretty comfortable, not to torture you, not to be easy, but not to make you miserable, either.  For example, the opening LH bit in 10/12 uses the alternation of white and black keys, and the choice of intervals, so that a slight up and down movement of your upper arm and a small opening and closing of the hand makes it flow without any stress at all. Again for the LH, the bit where the theme goes into Bb major in measures 25 and 26 is designed so that with the right lateral arm motion and a flexible wrist it will feel relaxed and comfortable. 10/2 is, I think, designed to force you to relax and close your RH after each of the chords in the first and second fingers - unless you do that the tension builds up really fast if you do the chromatic scales in 3,4,5 without relaxing the other fingers quickly. But in none of these cases is just powering through with determination and repetition likely to help. That doesn't mean that the OP's technique is deeply flawed, it just means he may need a teacher to show him the trick. And multiple repetitions might help, if by chance you stumble on the right motions, but then it might take a long time.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #25 on: July 05, 2013, 02:53:06 AM »
So when you first played this piece up to speed your wrist did not burn at all?

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #26 on: July 05, 2013, 03:38:46 AM »
So when you first played this piece up to speed your wrist did not burn at all?

it does nothing to support your argument, either way. If the wrist burns, the technique is wrong. Most people get it wrong at first, so the wrist usually will burn if you force a playthrough prematurely.

There is no question that pros are simply better equipped to endure tightness. They learn a better quality. 99 percent of people who think repetition  plus time equals good technique fail miserably. It's a woeful method. At best, it gives false hope of progress that may never come and at worst it encourages a person to delude themself that they don't need to engage their brain or explore avenues for genuine progress. I'm sure you mean well, but no good comes from such poor advice as the myth that significant tension magically cures itself with time- and it's more important for posters to call that up than to worry if you'll take honest appraisal of a poor approach as an attack on you yourself.

Online brogers70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #27 on: July 05, 2013, 03:44:29 AM »
So when you first played this piece up to speed your wrist did not burn at all?

No, it didn't burn at all. But I didn't try to play it up to speed until I had had my teacher verify that my movements were correct. I doubt my experience is that unusual.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #28 on: July 05, 2013, 04:07:55 AM »
I give.  It seems that I'm the only one open to the possibility that there might, just might be nothing wrong with OP's technique and that he/she is experiencing what is pretty common to students beginning work on this piece:  At first the left hand is a little shell-shocked by having to do so much more than it's used to.  It will get used to it with practice.  It doesn't mean your technique has to be totally revised.  This seemed a reasonable possibility to me, but apparently I'm alone in this.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #29 on: July 05, 2013, 04:09:52 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #30 on: July 05, 2013, 04:11:52 AM »
Et tu, j_menz. 

Not really. I think it is important, however, that anyone who posts here considers what they have to offer.

Experience is always valuable, but the experience of someone who has solved a problem is moreso than that of someone who is still struggling with a problem. By all means relate your experience and difficulties, but recognise that that is what you are doing.

If you are suggesting a solution to any problem here, however, you need to be prepared to back it up with proof, your own experience, that it works and argue your case. There may well be people who disagree with you. There may be people who think that what you are suggesting is not just wrong, but positively dangerous. They need to argue their case, too. That is true of anyone offering advice here, and it is right that it should be. This is, after all, a forum for everyone - not a pulpit, or pedestal for anyone.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #31 on: July 05, 2013, 06:08:44 AM »
The OP has been studying the Chopin for a year (first post). If the approach were correct and this were simply a question of endurance, his/her "fatigue" problems would have been gone a long time already.

This is exactly the point.

There are examples seen in the past by this forum where chopin etudes have seen some 5, or even 10+ years practice to still remain poorly executed and still cause tension and fatigue.

Cas70, I fully believe that you're experience was that the discomfort was relieved in a reasonable amount of time without the requirement to dig deeper. OP is not in that position, he/she has invested a full year and still can't play it.

And as Dima also pointed out was his experience, I see no reason that a well guided student should experience fatigue at all. However, students tend to either not get the right advice, or they get it and don't follow it. If the OP was genuinely prepared for 10/12 a year is way too long. Something is wrong, be it small (and requiring only a minor adjustment) or monumental (and requiring a major re-think of the entire approach), there is something that time and repetition has failed to fix. He needs a different answer. Simply being here asking the question is a pretty big clue that for this individual in this circumstance, time and repetition is not doing the trick.

............................

The "burn" which grows in intensity over time as you play through the work is the result of an ongoing technical concern that started at the VERY first note, and where the demands of the piece are significant enough to expose the flaw and lead to fatigue. This flaw will almost certainly exist as much in any piece that you can play comfortably as it does in the ones that leave you tired or strained, it just takes something hard to expose the problem.

At the beginning of the piece it is not significant, So much so that you are totally unaware of it. By the time you reach half way through the piece it has grown into something bit by bit that is now totally unmanageable.

You fix is at the base, individual key strokes and transitions. You develop an extreme sensitivity to the feeling of both correct playing and incorrect playing and can detect it within only 1 or 2 notes.

It is caused by a failure of one or more parts in the entire playing mechanism. The pieces all support each other. There is a sense of stability in correct technique caused by all parts working correctly as per their physiologically determined functions and no undue forces being applied to anatomy that wasn't built for it.

Such an example is burning in the forearm as a result of overuse of the flexors and extensors to move the fingers, rather than having the added support from the intrinsic hand muscles. As well as perhaps utilising a lessening of downward pressure by allowing the forearm to "float" over the keys instead of bearing down heavily and requiring the finger to over exert to hold the extra weight..   

^which is a rough description of one possible variant of whats going wrong for the OP. Unfortunately though, OP has given no more information that "my hand and arm get tired". This is very non specific so the best possible advice is more or less just experiment with variations of movement until you find one that works better, breaking up the piece into fragments of 2 or 3 notes if necessary.

Correctly identifying what is wrong and changing it will remove the burn or tension immediately - no time/repetition, immediately. The time and repetition will be used to make sure that the movement that works can be done at tempo and without thinking about it.

Your experience of a gradual dissipation of the sensation is most likely a result of a sub-conscious gradual changing of the movement patterns used until you settle in to a pattern that is sufficient for the demands of the given piece.

You're lucky you are able to find an adequate motion without too much thought, it doesn't work that way for everyone. Even so, you may be doing yourself a great disservice by assuming that you wouldn't improve faster by considering a different approach to resolving uncomfortable playing.

Offline cas70

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #32 on: July 05, 2013, 10:53:52 AM »
You're right.  I hadn't noticed that right up front he says he's been at it a year already.  That blows my hypothesis out of the water.  He certainly shouldn't be still having trouble after that long.  I spent too much time reading the answers rather than carefully reading the OP's first post.  I assumed he'd just started.  Ooops, sorry!

Offline nyiregyhazi

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #33 on: July 05, 2013, 12:36:20 PM »
I give.  It seems that I'm the only one open to the possibility that there might, just might be nothing wrong with OP's technique and that he/she is experiencing what is pretty common to students beginning work on this piece:  At first the left hand is a little shell-shocked by having to do so much more than it's used to.  It will get used to it with practice.  It doesn't mean your technique has to be totally revised.  This seemed a reasonable possibility to me, but apparently I'm alone in this.


You seem to be coming from the default assumption that technique is probably impeccable? That's plain bizarre. Those who stumble on truly perfect form are an exception, not a rule. There's probably not a pianist on this forum who's not loaded with areas that can be singled out for attention.

such beliefs are probably a kind of bizarre optimism. But surely it's better to know that there's something to be fixed that will cause improvement, than to pretend that technique is fine but have problems of execution? The latter amounts more to resignation to failure, even if it stems from blind optimism.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: Revolutionary Etude - How to increase resistance?
«Reply #34 on: July 05, 2013, 02:04:08 PM »
My purely amateur impression from having worked on Op. 10/1, 10/2, and 10/12 is that these etudes are not designed to build strength and endurance. They are designed to be virtually impossible to play until you find the right technique. And once you find the right technique, they are designed to be pretty comfortable, not to torture you, not to be easy, but not to make you miserable, either.  For example, the opening LH bit in 10/12 uses the alternation of white and black keys, and the choice of intervals, so that a slight up and down movement of your upper arm and a small opening and closing of the hand makes it flow without any stress at all. Again for the LH, the bit where the theme goes into Bb major in measures 25 and 26 is designed so that with the right lateral arm motion and a flexible wrist it will feel relaxed and comfortable. 10/2 is, I think, designed to force you to relax and close your RH after each of the chords in the first and second fingers - unless you do that the tension builds up really fast if you do the chromatic scales in 3,4,5 without relaxing the other fingers quickly. But in none of these cases is just powering through with determination and repetition likely to help. That doesn't mean that the OP's technique is deeply flawed, it just means he may need a teacher to show him the trick. And multiple repetitions might help, if by chance you stumble on the right motions, but then it might take a long time.

This person has the right idea.
Chopin did NOT write these studies in order to teach technique to his many amateur pupils.
When I began learning op. 25, I had already performed op. 10 many times publicly in concert. I could already play both the 2nd and 3rd Sonatas, all four Ballades, and numerous smaller pieces by Chopin.  I had already played Islamey, Rachaninoff 3rd Concerto and several Etudes-Tableaux, Liszt TE no. 5, Horowitz-Carmen Variations, etc.

In short, I already possessed a highly-developed technique and had considerable experience on stage playing big works in front of a paying audience.


Which is great, because playing op. 25 is like fighting the Loch Ness Monster with your bare hands. Everything before felt like child's play compared to op. 25/3, 25/4, 25/5, 25/6, 25/8, 25/9, 25/10, 25/11, and 25/12.