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 Post subject: Chopin Op.25 No.12 Tips
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 6:15 pm 
Can anyone give me any tips on playing this Etude? Ive been practising this for solid 3 weeks and can play it all quite well at a moderate speed but it gets a bit messy when I play at full speed. Im not sure what tempo marking should be but my book says minim=60 which is generally much slower than the recordings ive herd.

Ive been playing for 2 years and started quite late (12 yrs old), so this is my first Chopin Etude. Many pianists have said that this is the most difficult etude to play, but im not finding it yet so difficult. In fact from lookin at the others Id say this is the easiest one. I cant really see the use of the etude but i like the melody lines in it. ;)

Any tips or anything concerning this etude would do, and be greatly appreciated. :) Oh and btw my piano teacher doesnt know im practisin this, cuz im just learning it over the summer holidays.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:08 pm 
Yes i've tried this for a recital possibility! And i loved it but i did,t stick to it! Why because while others might say that it is easy i say it's difficult! Because of the constant motion of your hands all over the piano... Practice it slowly and practice double notes, unfortunately that's all i can offer there's nothing much to it really, just get the hang of it!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:32 am 
The key to this type of music is constant constant repetition at SLOW speeds. It is very tempting to rush. An effective way to tidy up the passages is to ignore the semiquavers and play the notes using rhythms. i.e. play the notes using the rhythm: | | | | , | | | | (crotchet crotchet quaver quaver)...... and then inverse it. | | | |, | | | | in 8 bar lengths or something.

Looking at the music, i would assume that it is very tiresome towards the hands/arms. May i recommend weights to improve arm muscles?


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 Post subject: Chopin Etude 12/25 OCEAN
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 4:18 am 
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I suggest a goal of half tempo. After you've given several successful "recitals" , whether for family, friends or colleagues, at half tempo, you may be ready to start increasing tempo. Be patient! Coordination must be allowed time to fully develop before any amount of speed can be expected.

Just think of it this way. If you stupidly crash through "The Ocean Etude" at full tempo, but with disregard for the sound, your audience will be dissapointed, at best. If however, you bring a finely tuned musical performance of this piece @ half tempo, you'll recieve warm laudations.
Speed is like salt, they're necessary in measured doses, but too much of either will ruin your recipe for success!


p.s. In all my life, I've been told hundreds of times to slow down. I've never once been told to speed up. I suppose the only person that feels the need for speed, is the pianist.
:D


Pete


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:45 am 
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Quote:
Looking at the music, i would assume that it is very tiresome towards the hands/arms. May i recommend weights to improve arm muscles?

I don't think this particular etude is particularly muscle tiring. It is not actually as hard as it sounds.

But generally I think this is a good recommendation. I have recently taken up fitness, which is partly weight training, and it seems to help. With piano playing, but especially on the organ where arms are usually more stretched than on the piano, and body posture is more taxed.

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Chris Breemer


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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Etude 12/25 OCEAN
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:37 pm 
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PJF wrote:
p.s. In all my life, I've been told hundreds of times to slow down. I've never once been told to speed up. I suppose the only person that feels the need for speed, is the pianist.


Same situation in my case!

timothysan wrote:
Im not sure what tempo marking should be but my book says minim=60 which is generally much slower than the recordings ive herd.


Tempo = 60 for a half note? That is already pretty much, considering that you play only since two years. I could imagine, this is too much. Don't care how fast the best players in the world play that etude. Better take care for playing it well and musically.

In addition to all the tips here I would practise mostly hand separated, and memorize the piece hand separated. This way you listen more closely to every note and eveness in both hands, and, in my experience, you memorize faster at the end.

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Olaf Schmidt


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:32 pm 
furthermore, you've only been playing this etude for 3 weeks. That's not a lot at all. I've spent >6 months playing some etudes (op. 10 #2 - which I think is even more difficult than 25/12.)

I agree with all of the other suggestions. Play slow. Since it is nicknamed "ocean", I would say that you may want to practice each "wave" up and down separately. That way, you can grasp the essential motion needed to play each wave, and when you put it together, you can play smoothly.

And regarding recordings - be wary of bad performers. I have several versions, like Perahia, Cortot, and Lortie. They do play quite fast, which I believe is together with the spirit of the piece.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:22 pm 
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Hello!
I'm new to the forum as of today, but just happen to be working on this etude too. I hope you are still playing it, even though summer is over. I took a break from it during summer, and now am back at it.
My advice is: In addition to hands separate and slow practice, also practice without pedal so you don't cheat on legato and can really hear that each of the notes is equal length. I've found the most beneficial thing for this etude is solid chord practice, in order to quickly acquire muscle memory of the shape of each hand position for the varying arpeggios. Each day, I'll do LH solid once (jumping by octaves up and then down, just like the arpeggios do in broken form), then RH once solid, then hands together solid. After spending 10 minutes on this solid stuff, I'll play it broken as it is written, and a miracle of progress occurs each time. The hand naturally takes shape for the next arpeggio without hesitation, and there is no tension. Solid chord practice also has aided me in the quick memorization of this piece, which is pretty much required because your eyes need to go left to right to watch your hands as they go up and down (hint: If you are right-handed, keep your eyes focused on your LH since it is more likely to fumble). Remember that, unlike the bad teaching of the olden days which caused such tension because students were told to move only fingers and not wrists, arms or upper body, good teachers now know that the fingers are extensions of the arms, which are an extension of the torso. Plant your torso solidly in middle of bench and then be a swaying willow from left to right so that your chest is directly in front of the keys you are playing. The energy for this kind of etude will come from the strong upper body and not the relatively weak forearms and fingers. The pianist on this forum who said that he is now exercising his body and has found it to help his piano-playing is correct -- strong back, torso and abdominal muscles will allow you to play effortlessly for hours. And remember, keep those fingers and wrists relaxed.
Nicole Muller


Last edited by Nicole on Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:26 pm 
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Great tips, Nicole. I really like your ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: Chopin Etude 12/25 OCEAN
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:58 am 
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MindenBlues wrote:
PJF wrote:
p.s. In all my life, I've been told hundreds of times to slow down. I've never once been told to speed up. I suppose the only person that feels the need for speed, is the pianist.


Same situation in my case!

timothysan wrote:
Im not sure what tempo marking should be but my book says minim=60 which is generally much slower than the recordings ive herd.


Tempo = 60 for a half note? That is already pretty much, considering that you play only since two years. I could imagine, this is too much. Don't care how fast the best players in the world play that etude. Better take care for playing it well and musically.

In addition to all the tips here I would practise mostly hand separated, and memorize the piece hand separated. This way you listen more closely to every note and eveness in both hands, and, in my experience, you memorize faster at the end.



Food for thought: How differently our playing would go, if only our hands were tuned to the listener's ear, all pride forsook!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:50 am 
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Nicole, thanks from my side too, great hints!


Quote:
How differently our playing would go, if only our hands were tuned to the listener's ear, all pride forsook!


PJF: well, and we should be our own closest listener while playing. So the goal is to tune our hands to our own ears (the expectation value of what we like to hear). Practical tips like those from Nicole are really very helpful to come closer to that!

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Olaf Schmidt


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:48 pm 
Make sure you get the rhythms secure before you speed it up. I've heard people play it and it sounds quite messy, because the only rhythm in their playing are on the lowest and highest notes, the notes inbetween don't have any set note values (well, not consistantly). So slow practise and exaggurate.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:30 pm 
Play it slow. That's all. If you find you can't play it at full speed then that means you need to play slower! It can get tedious, but its the only way to learn to play fast stuff.

That etude really does sound much harder than it actually is. In my opinion is among the easier of the etudes (though that doesn't mean its easy!). Op. 10 No. 2 is next to impossible, and the Etude "In thirds" as well. Don't be too anxious to play such demanding repertoire. I started at around 12 as well and it took lots and lots of careful practice to get where I am now. Perhaps you could put the piece away for a little while and learn some other pieces, and then you could return to it and old difficulties will seem like trivialities to you. Sometimes that's all you can do when you've hit a wall with a piece.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:09 am 
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Yes Nicole, your technical approach is solid. Excellent advice!

Even at... especially at full tempo, a chord attack is used to maximize legato. (Abby Whiteside also hit the technical bullseye with this one.) The fingers are mostly passive, as in the r.h. of Chopin Etude 10/1, et al. Their only function (at least in my mind) is to direct the coordinated motions of the whole body into the keyboard. All the motions are initiated by the large muscles. No motions are initiated by the muscles that move the fingers, those muscles are active only for the instant they are needed to carry the larger muscles' energy into the keys. It's a tiny, super-rapid motion (like the snap of a whip) that cannot be done consciously at a fast tempo, ergo, we must practice at the tempo that enables these motions to be done consciously until they are well learned, at which time, the coordination becomes unconscious.

Starting work on this etude in 2004, I found it most productive to first thoroughly learn this etude front to back at precisely half tempo, with the metronome set to the downbeats. The more notes I can play in a single beat, the faster my final tempo will be. In the etude 10/1, I try to play sixteen notes to a single beat of 44, (not four notes to 176 or eight to 88.) I do the same with the 25/12.

Things didn't always go smoothly, however. When I began the task of upping the tempo, I ran into trouble. I noticed that if I increased the speed incrementally, I would reach a point of diminishing returns at about 3/4 tempo, where the legato would break down and I would lose the feeling of "flow".

As soon as I stopped paying attention to the minutia of notes and started thinking of each bar as a single entity to be played in one thought, with the same ease as one reads the newspaper, the issue of tempo became moot.

In every aspect, taking a chordal approach is far and away better than, as Abby Whiteside put it, a 'note-wise procedure'.

Pete


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