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Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11 (Read 1350 times)

Offline keenan333

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Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
« on: November 08, 2016, 04:49:05 PM »
Hi all,

I'm new to this forum but writing about a common topic: the way-to-hard-for-me "aspiration" piece.

I've fallen in love with a difficult Chopin Etude: Op 24 No 11. I've played classical piano since I was little (I'm in the final year of my physics degree at university now) but never really enjoyed it and quit around sophomore year of high school, when I had gotten through about 70-80% of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu and Grand Valse Brillante. I never finished them, and to be honest, my playing of the Impromptu was quite lacking: I could play what I did know with a moderate amount of clarity and musicality, but at tempo I could never get the hang of voicing the upper melody in bars 17-23 (and repeats/variations thereof). I'm aware that the Etude I'm attempting is head and shoulders above these two pieces in difficulty.

Since I quit, I've mainly being doing casual jazz improvisation and pop song arranging, but heard this Etude recently and have had my interest in playing classical music renewed. After about 3 weeks of hour-a-day (on average) practice I can play the first page hands together at about 70% of the performance tempo I hear in most recordings, but that's it (I'm using the Cortot study edition, following the fingerings almost to the letter). I can go a bit faster, but not without sacrificing clarity/technique. While I feel like I'm doing an okay job with the legato on the right hand chromatics and arpeggios, I haven't added any dynamics or voicings.

I'm okay continuing at this pace, and by my appraisal, each page seems to be relatively similar in difficulty (there are several left hand runs I'm not looking forward to) so I feel that I will be able to eventually get the whole piece. However, the past few days I've really been getting into it and practicing 3+ hours a day, and have been starting to notice a little bit of fatigue in my right forearm. Nothing hurts at all, but my fingers feel tired and less dexterous so today I'm taking the day off.

This leads me to my question -- I've read that the main concern in learning a piece like this before you're ready is self-injury. I have been going slow and making sure my technique is at the very least decent (I'm teacher-less at the moment so I'm sure I don't have most efficient hand/wrist movements but I am at least making sure that I have the tennis-ball-holding-wrist-up-fingers-down hand position at all times. I'm also in general making sure that my knuckles aren't buckling, although on my fifth finger sometimes this is very hard for me to control.) I know this piece is long, fast, and unforgiving and have read stamina is an issue for this piece even for concert pianists with impeccable technique. In this sense, I feel that some amount of fatigue is reasonable for me to feel after practicing several hours a day for several days in a row. But, how do I know if the fatigue is being caused by bad technique, and if it isn't, how do I build my stamina in a healthy fashion?

One last remark: the response to this kind of post is typically that the OP learn something easier first. While this may be good advice, Winter Wind has touched me in a special way and I really feel motivated to learn only this piece (the only other piece I have a similar amount of interest in the the Op 10 No 4 Etude and that one is fiendishly difficult also -- I figured at this point I might as well learn the one I like a tad more). I personally find that the piece still sounds good at a slower tempo and am perfectly satisfied learning it more slowly and being able to bring up to tempo over time -- I feel that this piece should be manageable for me if done carefully and at a slow tempo as described, but let me know if this is not the case.

Sorry for the long post, but looking forward to your enlightened responses.


Keenan


EDIT: I've realized I've posted this in the wrong place but cannot figure out how to move this to Student's Corner...   :'( :'(

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #1 on: November 08, 2016, 07:05:42 PM »
Too much to go through here, you're new to the forum i'll just hit you with a couple points.

Unless every publisher got the OP's mixed I'm assuming you mean OP.25 No.11 rather than Op.24 No.11 ;)

Slow practice means slow practice in the style you would like the end product I.E dynamic and voicings. If you aren't bringing them out slowly, you aren't going to magically bring them out quickly.

Fatigue - You're going from 1 hour to 3 hours, that's an increase workload of 200% there is obviously going to be some muscle fatigue, topped by the fact you're attempting a piece more difficult than you've ever attempted.

RE Technique A piano teacher or somebody that can play this piece can better identify if you are playing it correctly or incorrectly, however ultimately, it is often very difficult to notice this because we are all built different, and all put our personal touch to the things we do.

Lastly I too will hit you with the "learn easier pieces" because very often people that are attempting these pieces
A - know how to tackle the piece i.e fundamentally
B - spend WAY more than 3 weeks before worrying about how they are progressing.

These pieces are not done justice at just how difficult they are - The reason why we are hearing these pieces so much is because it's such a huge accomplishment to be able to perform them as indicated. They are Etudes, studies, designed to test everything we think we have learnt and know about the piano.


The problem with your approach is you don't (I only have your post as a guide) have the skills in the first place to refine and so you are questioning this from the beginning. You need to be able to easily identify what is being required of you, so that you can work on that - e.g. are your arpeggios good? Are your chromatic scales good?

I could go on but this is not an ear bashing, humans are fantastic at knowing the logical route but still choosing the illogical one.

Just think about this - If learning all pieces was simply a case of starting really slow and slowly speeding up whatever we're doing - then we would all be professional pianists.



"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline mjames

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #2 on: November 08, 2016, 07:09:04 PM »
"Perfectly fine with playing it slow." haha

Some concert pianist once said something along the lines, "it doesn't matter how fast and agile your fingers are, this etude isn't for faint-hearted." As in, you should be expecting to put a great deal amount of time and effort into learning this properly. Your comment about playing it slow already displays a defeatist attitude tbh, and if you have a hard time finishing pieces like the impromptu and his valses, I can just imagine how much time you will waste "learning" this.

Firstly, I suggest learning several etudes before learning the winter-wind and also getting used to playing pieces with extensive and quick passage works. Paul Barton (look him up) mentioned something about op. 10 no.2 being a nice precursor to the winter wind. I also think Op. 10 no. 8, Op. 10 no. 5, Op. 10 no. 1, op. 10 no. 12 and op. 10 no. 4 might do a great deal in preparing you for it as well.

There might be conflicting opinions about what I'm about to say, but I feel like practicing slowly in the beginning is an inefficient way to learn virtousic pieces. I should say that, practicing them so slowly that the actual piece is unrecognizable. It's a waste of time, particularly because what you do in terms of technique vary depending on your tempo. So that is why I suggest you get used to learning 'easier' virtousic' pieces before you tackle this. Take my advice with a grain of salt, I'm not a professional. :P

Also, it's not fatigue that's an indicator of bad technique but tension, the kind of tension that hurts, prevents you from playing things the way you want them too. If this fatigue of yours prevents you from playing passages the way you want to, then it likely has something to do with your technique. Ideally piano playing should physically effortless, the fatigue should be mental not physical.


Fatigue - You're going from 1 hour to 3 hours, that's an increase workload of 200% there is obviously going to be some muscle fatigue, topped by the fact you're attempting a piece more difficult than you've ever attempted.

Also, performing and practicing are two different things. Performing for 40 minutes is physically and mentally exhausting (for me, at least). Practicing for 40 minutes isn't, neither is practicing for several hours in a day. What you do when you're practicing passages and what you do when you're performing the piece with those same passages are two different things. Experiencing muscle fatigue from practicing for several hours is still a red flag.

Offline vaniii

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #3 on: November 08, 2016, 08:22:29 PM »
You have already stated the most obvious criticism, however I want to draw you attention to another issue that you might not have considered.  That is deterioration in quality as the piece is played through.

Week 1-3: Page 1

By the end of week 3 you have one page that sounds 'good'.

Week 4-6: Page 2

By the end of week 6 you have a near perfect page 1, and page 2 that is less so 'good'.

Week 7-9: Page 3

By the end of week 9 you might have perhaps a concert worthy page 1, a near perfect page 2 and a less so 'good' page 3.

By the time you reach the final page, despite arriving at the end, the quality of performance is not uniform and will ultimately suffer towards the final bars in a downward trend. This is not because of lack of effort or ability (if you can play it good for you), but rather a lack of attention for the wholeness of the music.

You will most likely encounter areas in the music that are substantially weaker than other areas; these are most likely the joins where the sections you have learned connect.

This is not mentioning the deficit in stamina training that occurs by simply playing it through from start to finish even slowly.  Stamina is not always referring to muscle memory or physical action, but also mental concentration; something that is most definitely not considered if practicing pages or sections (or at least in isolation without thought for the study as a whole).

Something to consider.

Good luck with your endeavor.

Offline debussychopin

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #4 on: November 08, 2016, 08:42:11 PM »
Key is to learn it slow but w focus on musicality and analyzing your bodily movements during them. I have had learned exactly those three chopin pieces to a point myself as well and have learned much about technique and about musicality. Contact me if you want/interested any specific advice or experiences I can share w you regarding this piece.
L'Isle Joyeuse

Offline stevensk

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #5 on: November 08, 2016, 09:10:40 PM »
 I deeply disagree whith the stupid idea of "I can now play Fur Elise, please help me with La Camapnella road"  :(
 -Whats wrong with Chopins nocturnes? Have you learned Bach WTC? Beethoven Sonatas? Scarlatti?
-Sometimes I wonder if this forum is a Chopin op 10 no 1 stupid kind of forum? OMG :P


Offline dogperson

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #6 on: November 08, 2016, 09:14:36 PM »
Key is to learn it slow but w focus on musicality and analyzing your bodily movements during them. I have had learned exactly those three chopin pieces to a point myself as well and have learned much about technique and about musicality. Contact me if you want/interested any specific advice or experiences I can share w you regarding this piece.


Yes, you have learned them--- but these were not 'your first rodeo' at the piano.  Just curious if you are concerned about the OP jumping right into a Chopin etude teacherless?   I am concerned about proper hand position, possible injury.  Your thoughts based on your experience with these etudes, and how that would translate into a returning pianist learning them alone?    Yes, he played previously but, not only was that a long time ago, there was not real mastery of the repertoire he played.

Offline debussychopin

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #7 on: November 08, 2016, 11:06:43 PM »
I understand your point dogperson but I am considering basing my advice around that context you mention (ie, more of a philosophical advice). Not just pointers on how to execute playing practicing of this piece per se. I just didnt take the time to express that in my post.
L'Isle Joyeuse

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #8 on: November 09, 2016, 09:18:36 AM »


Yes, you have learned them--- but these were not 'your first rodeo' at the piano.  Just curious if you are concerned about the OP jumping right into a Chopin etude teacherless?   I am concerned about proper hand position, possible injury.  Your thoughts based on your experience with these etudes, and how that would translate into a returning pianist learning them alone?    Yes, he played previously but, not only was that a long time ago, there was not real mastery of the repertoire he played.


All good points. No offence to the OP, but it would not be sensible to take this post seriously until some substantial amount of repertoire heading to that difficulty has been mastered. We've all gone through the those pieces that we loved and almost wished we could learn by investing time alone, but that always ends in tears.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline vaniii

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Re: Chopin Etude Op 24 No 11
«Reply #9 on: November 09, 2016, 03:29:31 PM »
All good points. No offence to the OP, but it would not be sensible to take this post seriously until some substantial amount of repertoire heading to that difficulty has been mastered. We've all gone through the those pieces that we loved and almost wished we could learn by investing time alone, but that always ends in tears.

I agree, but it is not the pieces alone that paves the way to virtuosic repertoire, it is how the person is thinking and approaching music.

Hence the terms "a mature pianist who plays intelligently", rather than "a young pianist with a point to prove".