Piano Forum



Chopin Competition Aftermath: Breakfast with Tony Yang
Many have enjoyed the Chopin Competition performances live and via streaming and the “now factor” has been very well provided for. But what about after-Warsaw? During his visit to Warsaw, Patrick Jovell had a breakfast talk with laureate 2015 Tony Yang, the youngest prize winner ever – in the history of the competition. Read more >>

Topic: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4  (Read 12377 times)

Offline jlee963

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
on: January 01, 2016, 10:00:50 AM
Hello, so I took piano lessons for about 5 years when I was younger, but never really took it too seriously and rarely practiced. I got to the level of being able to play the first half of Chopin's Nocturne op. 9 no. 2, but it was a complete wreck and I pretty much stopped playing all together after a while. Just this past October, I started to take up the piano again and decided to tackle the Chopin piece and do it correctly this time. I play about 2-3 hours a day and start each practice session with scales, arpeggios, chords, etc... and a few Hanon exercises(I've recently read many opinions on Hanon so I might reconsider doing them at all now) At this point in time, I've studied and am able to play the Nocturne and Claire de Lune by Debussy although I still have some ways to go before I'm satisfied with my musical interpretation of them.

This is where my problem starts. I have numerous pieces that I want to be able to play, but the one I want to try to tackle the most is Chopin's Etude op. 10 no. 4. I am determined to learn this, but after trying to play it for a few hours, it seemed to me that it was a bit out of my skill level.
Should I keep practicing this or should I find some new repertoire to help me get to the level I need to be at to play this Chopin piece? I've heard the merits of how practicing a piece is the overall most efficient way to practice but would it be hindering my progress by trying to tackle something that's way too hard for me? Or should I find something in between like some Cramer etudes and then build myself up? I'm currently practicing Chopin Waltz Op.69 No.2 as a way to look at a different form of music.

Some additional info: A teacher is out of question. Will be starting my co-op semester this spring so I'd rather not enlist the help of someone I won't be able to work with over a long period.
I can play sixteenth notes comfortably up to 140 bpm. From there, I severely struggle to keep my notes even and synchronized.

Any opinions are greatly appreciated. I'm just really lost as to where to go from here.

Offline jlee963

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
Reply #1 on: January 01, 2016, 10:07:56 AM
Also, if anyone has any suggestions to pieces of easier difficulty that could maybe help me understand some harder compositions more, I'm more than open to them. I hear that Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, and a few others are essential as a gateway to harder music, but I'm not familiar with which pieces exactly should be a good learning tool.

Offline pianoville

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 203
Re: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
Reply #2 on: January 01, 2016, 09:02:22 PM
I would say that if you have only played those piaces mentioned, you are faaaaar away from that piece. But if you really want to play a Chopin etude, try and play op 10 no 3 also called "Tristesse"
it is absolutely gorgeus and it is a great start to playing the etudes by Chopin, but it could be good playing some Mozart/Haydn before tackling op 10 no 4 it is veeeery demanding and you have to practice, practice, practice and practice thid piece for hours. But if you are very determined to play op 10 no 4 I would say go for it! If you love a piece it will be much easier to learn!

/ville
"Perfection itself is imperfection." - Vladimir Horowitz

Offline jlee963

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
Reply #3 on: January 01, 2016, 11:55:51 PM
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm going to take a look at the score for that Chopin piece.

If we were to put these pieces on a scale from 1-10 in difficulty, where would they fall on the scale? I want to be able to gauge where I am and how I should approach my learning for the next few months.

Offline chopinlover01

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2117
Re: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
Reply #4 on: January 02, 2016, 01:42:06 AM
Define your scale, please. 1= ___ piece by ____, 10=?
On the ABRSM scale, all Chopin etudes are grade 8 and above (that etude is also one of the hardest of the entire 27 etudes).
If you must play an etude, play one of the Trois Nouvelles etudes. They're far easier.

Offline xdjuicebox

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 281
Re: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
Reply #5 on: January 02, 2016, 05:51:48 AM
First and foremost, memorize it. Musically, at least. You want to be looking at your hands when you practice this one. I recommend doing phrase by phrase or measure by measure. Or beat by beat if necessary, but whatever unit you decide to play, play the bit of the next one to ensure continuity

As a side note, in terms of Hanon, I dislike them because most people play it unmusically. HOWEVER, if you manage to make Hanon sound really interesting without changing any of it or doing anything stupid [good luck], then you must be really good at music haha
Another huge thing about technique is people think that they can do the same motions that they do when they play slow really fast, but that's simply not true. That's how you get hurt. You need new motions for playing fast, and these motions are generally easy. You need different motions to play evenly, and those are generally really easy too, but you have to know them. [Good teachers help] I guess the litmus test, particularly with the Chopin etudes, is that IF IT DOES NOT FEEL EFFORTLESS AND EASY AND SOUND SUPER MUSICAL, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Also, 10-4 is one of the hardest ones to play well, in my opinion. But I will propose a question that will drive you mad, but if you solve it, everything will be easy:

How do you play piano in such a way that:
1. You are using the smallest motions possible (therefore this allows greater speed)
2. You are not excessively using your muscles
3. You are distributing the work amongst your muscles in such a way that all of them are doing almost nothing (unlike what I used to do, which was mainly move the fingers and burn out my forearms whereas my shoulder/chest/back muscles were just tense and this caused all sorts of problems)
4. You can control the exact time and speed at which the hammer strikes the strings
5. You are taking advantage of the weight of your hand

Good luck! XD

Some things to keep in mind:
-Piano topography! The piano has high and low notes, your fingers get long and short. Instead of trying to do some stupid weird twisty motion with your fingers (which makes them slower) and get hurt, just move your entire forearm so that the finger can rest comfortably on the key. You might have to lift your forearm and go into the keys to play a thumb on a black key (you'll be doing that a lot), since the thumb is short and the black keys are higher, and you need to come out and drop your forearm (NOT the wrist) a bit when playing a middle finger on a white key, etc
-Evenness doesn't come from playing a ton of exercises (though it can), it comes from uniformity of attack on the key. This can be achieved a myriad of ways (one of them being a ton of exercises), but try this: get a cylindrical object, and roll it up and down your piano. That sounds quite even doesn't it? Now do the same thing with your hands!
-Don't stretch, that's how you hurt yourself; just move your whole hand. (The downward arpeggiated diminished chords in the middle of the piece come to mind)
-Please make the staccato chords interesting lol
I am trying to become Franz Liszt. Trying. And failing.

Offline briansaddleback

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 705
Re: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
Reply #6 on: January 04, 2016, 07:24:24 PM
For 10-4 one of the things I had to work on for awhile was evenness of chromatics at faster tempo.  It was not as difficult while learning the notes at a solid key pressing but when you have to up the tempo you have to start practicing the chromatics w a lightness of fingers , which , by the way, is the rub because to do so lightly on an acoustic or heavier regulated keyboard the unevenness of finger technique (especially between 3 and 4 finger ) really becomes exposed.  You have to work on studied movement of the fingers through every deviation in the piece as there are a lot of awkward and cramped passages of the chromatics and awkward jumps to continue chromatics at tempo.  Due to this reason I find this etude pretty taxing and can potentially injure your hands/ fingers if practiced improperly.
However it is one of the most exhilarating etudes by Chopin to play. I never get sick of running through it. Emotionally it is tumultuous and exhausting and a devil musically and winds down with a bang just love it you can do all sorts of slight modifications to the expression of it when you get to that more refined level of technical expertise on it. Opens up new doors to other playing potential as well.
Work in progress:

Rondo Alla Turca

Offline briansaddleback

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 705
Re: Tackling Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 4
Reply #7 on: January 05, 2016, 09:51:20 PM
Also, if anyone has any suggestions to pieces of easier difficulty that could maybe help me understand some harder compositions more, I'm more than open to them. I hear that Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, and a few others are essential as a gateway to harder music, but I'm not familiar with which pieces exactly should be a good learning tool.

You're on the right track in this mind frame.
Always important to realize rather than you try going backwards from painting to replicate Mona Lisa or Van Gogh without learning to sketch and paint properly first (basically, you'll be reinventing the wheel each time you set out to paint a master piece)
properly learn basic foundations to allow you to do the master pieces replication more efficiently.


I suggest not tackling chopin etudes now (even in the music dept that I am in the professors strongly do not recommend at all any of these advanced repertoire to any intermediate student, and usually will pat them on the head and scoff behind their backs when a brash intermediate student tries to whip one out that is not technically sound (you can notice immediately, ah, he does not know the technique required for this piece..pass).

But I do suggest going through Czerny 299 it has some wonderful pieces in there and exposes you to a plethora of a sorts of technical situations you will find in classical and romantic music. Lot of Czerny is dry, but the opus 299 (and 740 especially, but that is more advanced) is musically fun and great to play.
I still play from it/practice from it. I learned tons from it and can say that most of my skill I have whatever it is , lot of it is from my proper learning of czerny with my Russian teacher at the school .
Work in progress:

Rondo Alla Turca
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert