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 Post subject: Revolutionary Etude - stamina question
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:58 pm
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Location: Stroudsburg, PA
Hello. I'm new to these forums, as you can probably tell.

I've been working on the revolutionary etude for about six months now (I graduated college, and since, I haven't had a teacher to help me along), and I can play through it at speed, but not at once.

Around measure 33 (right hand is on a G#7 chord), I start getting cramps in my forearm, and I can't focus until around measure 45 or so. This is fine, until I get further into it with the polyrhythms on the main theme and my forearm just says, "no!"

As I said, I can play through each section individually, but keeping up with it, my arm just gives way.

Any tips would be wonderful. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:25 am 
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I used to have the same problem. I gave up practicing this étude and moved onto some other pieces. After less than a year I was able to play the étude without getting any cramps. I suggest you practice some other pieces other than the Revolutionary Étude to increase your stamina, and after a few months you'll notice that you'll have no trouble playing it.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:22 pm 
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Location: Stroudsburg, PA
That could possibly help it I suppose... Any pieces you'd recommend? I studied the Pathetique Sonata which requires a lot of stamina from the left arm in the first movement, and slightly less in the third, but as far as left-arm pieces, that's about the extent that I've gone.

Readily available to me are all the Beethoven sonatas, all of Chopin's music, all of Brahms' piano music, the Debussy Preludes, WTC1&2, and the Liszt etudes. The rest of my own stuff I need to go digging for, and I could always purchase or call my old piano teacher to get it.

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Good morning, my name's AJ. I've been playing piano since January of 2004, as a sophomore in college, and I changed my major to music. It's all I love now.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:31 pm 
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Hi mixah, since you asked for "any" tips, I can offer you something I heard once a long time ago.
The first time I ever heard this etude was when I was hanging out with a friend who had a friend in
music school that was studying that piece. We listened to an audio tape recording of the guy
practicing it and I remember the guy saying on the tape that there were some places in which the
right hand could take over for the left so that it could rest for a second. Maybe you could watch
a video of it being played to see if this is true or not. Dang, I just checked on youtube. Last week
there were some videos of Yefim Bronfman playing it as an encore after the 3rd Rach concerto
but now they are gone.

I own that video but I don't know how to make copies of DVDs. If you are interested in purchasing it I can get you in touch with the right people.

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"I am glad that you wish to study the art of tones from its roots up, and it depends only on you to learn for yourself so much of it as has become known to me." -- J.S. Bach


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 2:09 am 
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Location: Stroudsburg, PA
I'll look into it. I'll le tyou know another time though if I want the DVD.

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Good morning, my name's AJ. I've been playing piano since January of 2004, as a sophomore in college, and I changed my major to music. It's all I love now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:02 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:34 am
Posts: 83
Location: Philadelphia, Pa, USA
I played this etude when I was 8th grade. I'm sure my performance of it was a little on the slow side and immature etc etc, but my point in bringing it up is to opine that the left hand part doesn't really require great stamina. Without knowing anything about how you play it, I'd guess that when you try to play it at a fast tempo, you are somehow tensing up. I'm willing to bet that you can play through the entire left-hand part at half tempo without much struggle. If that's the case, try to let your slow-moving left hand teach your fast-moving left hand. Play through at a slow speed being REALLY perceptive of every motion that your left hand goes through. Then try again at speed and try to perceive every change that is caused by the speed. There are going to be some slightly different movements caused by the speed, but I bet you'll also feel changes that cause extra tension in some of your hand muscles.

Excuse me if you already know and practice this way, but I'll share the details of the best way I've found to work such kinks out. Pick a metronome tempo that you can easily play a section of the LH part to. When things are really steady after a few minutes, kick it up a notch until you have just the slightest bit of trouble keeping up. Practice at that speed for a few minutes until it starts to be easy, and then kick it up a notch again. At each increase, make sure you are keeping your hand/hands as relaxed as possible, while still fully sounding every note. I usually observe that right when I increase the speed, I'm tense, but then I accommodate, and sometimes even space out for a minute or so, and when I focus again, I realize that my hand is much more relaxed and easily keeping up. If you ever increase the metronome speed and find after 5-10 minutes that you haven't learned to relax and play it at the new speed, back it down a notch and try more at that slower speed. Eventually each day you'll reach a limit past which you can't get faster, but if you do this regularly, that limit will increase until you can play the left hand of the Revolutionary at the speed you desire without excess tension, thus saving your forearm muscles.

There are some places where you could cheat and play a bit with the right hand as well, but IMO that doesn't solve the problem, as there are some extended parts in the middle where you can't cheat like that, and besides, Chopin clearly designed this etude to be a study in left-hand speed and efficiency:)

Hope this helps:)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:00 pm 
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Hah... playing the Revolutionary on piano is peanuts.
Watch this young whippersnapper playing it on organ, his feet doing the LH part :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQxyQktNFwc

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:58 pm
Posts: 42
Location: Stroudsburg, PA
Mark wrote:
I played this etude when I was 8th grade. I'm sure my performance of it was a little on the slow side and immature etc etc, but my point in bringing it up is to opine that the left hand part doesn't really require great stamina. Without knowing anything about how you play it, I'd guess that when you try to play it at a fast tempo, you are somehow tensing up. I'm willing to bet that you can play through the entire left-hand part at half tempo without much struggle. If that's the case, try to let your slow-moving left hand teach your fast-moving left hand. Play through at a slow speed being REALLY perceptive of every motion that your left hand goes through. Then try again at speed and try to perceive every change that is caused by the speed. There are going to be some slightly different movements caused by the speed, but I bet you'll also feel changes that cause extra tension in some of your hand muscles.

Excuse me if you already know and practice this way, but I'll share the details of the best way I've found to work such kinks out. Pick a metronome tempo that you can easily play a section of the LH part to. When things are really steady after a few minutes, kick it up a notch until you have just the slightest bit of trouble keeping up. Practice at that speed for a few minutes until it starts to be easy, and then kick it up a notch again. At each increase, make sure you are keeping your hand/hands as relaxed as possible, while still fully sounding every note. I usually observe that right when I increase the speed, I'm tense, but then I accommodate, and sometimes even space out for a minute or so, and when I focus again, I realize that my hand is much more relaxed and easily keeping up. If you ever increase the metronome speed and find after 5-10 minutes that you haven't learned to relax and play it at the new speed, back it down a notch and try more at that slower speed. Eventually each day you'll reach a limit past which you can't get faster, but if you do this regularly, that limit will increase until you can play the left hand of the Revolutionary at the speed you desire without excess tension, thus saving your forearm muscles.

There are some places where you could cheat and play a bit with the right hand as well, but IMO that doesn't solve the problem, as there are some extended parts in the middle where you can't cheat like that, and besides, Chopin clearly designed this etude to be a study in left-hand speed and efficiency:)

Hope this helps:)


Exactly, playing it with the right hand is cheating (the same way my teacher told me I can do stuff with the left hand to replace the right in some passages of the Pathetique by Beethoven. I never did any of these things.

You're right though. I tense up a lot with the D, Bb, Cb, Bb section that begins with the Bb sus chord in the right hand. I can't help but. I do practice the piece at 110bpm or so, which is obviously slower than where it should be. I'm not trying to get to the Richter speed (which, I think, is about 160-180) but I'd like to get to about 140 and play it clean. I'll add rubato in after I can play it exactly as written.

I think you hit it on the head though. You just confirmed what my subconscious mind keeps fighting against doing.

Now, when you performed this in 8th grade, how many years were you playing? i wish I had started at a much younger age, but I didn't qualify for piano lessons through my Catholic school growing up, because they told me my hands were too small for my age (I didn't actually grow much until 9th grade, where I sprout up a foot in a year). Stupid school.... I have a five year old student now that I'm going over Bach's invention in Dm as individual hand exercises, and he'll be performing Mozart's Fantasy in d minor in the spring. The major part needs a lot of work... haha!

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Good morning, my name's AJ. I've been playing piano since January of 2004, as a sophomore in college, and I changed my major to music. It's all I love now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:40 pm 
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Posts: 83
Location: Philadelphia, Pa, USA
When I played it as an 8th-grader, I'd been playing for about 4 years, so it looks like I had about the same amount of experience as you do now. That's too bad about you having the desire, but not being allowed to learn piano earlier. Silly teachers.

I had a growth spurt like that too. From 5'6" spring of 8th grad to 6'1" fall of 9th:)

What are you a graduate student in? Apparently not piano.

Quote:
Hah... playing the Revolutionary on piano is peanuts.
Watch this young whippersnapper playing it on organ, his feet doing the LH part :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQxyQktNFwc

I came across this video a couple weeks ago. LOL, he's crazy. While I'm prejudiced towards piano versions of essentially everything, I must admit that that performance is impressive.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:58 pm
Posts: 42
Location: Stroudsburg, PA
Cool. It wasn't my teacher... It was the principal. She wouldn't let me do anything because I wasn't a confirmed Catholic. I didn't get into piano until college.

I'm going to grad school for Instructional Technology with a minor in Sound Design for the classroom and theater. I found out that I can squeeze in piano lessons though with my undergraduate teacher at no extra cost to me, so I'm looking forward to having a teacher again.

Until now though, I had no desire to really focus on classical, until I heard more of Chopin's work and read a few books about his life.. Same with Beethoven, and that happened last summer... Last summer, the most difficult piece I was able to play was the first movement of the Pathetique, and I struggled with it. I'm glad I'm not there anymore. I studied mostly 20th century weird stuff and rock music.... Oh do I regret that :(

Thanks for the tips though. Much appreciated.

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Good morning, my name's AJ. I've been playing piano since January of 2004, as a sophomore in college, and I changed my major to music. It's all I love now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:51 am 
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Location: Stroudsburg, PA
OK, new question, same piece. (including pictures rather than just measures numbers alone)

I'm touching a few things up before I start taking lessons again (which are starting in January with the same teacher)

(A)
after the first reiteration of the main theme (around measure 27 or 28) the measure begins with a Bb minor chord, and the left hand moves to Db and has a small chromatic progression down before the G# chord in the next measure.

Now, fingering. My score (the Mikuli edition) tells me 123 4123 4123 4123 for each of the segments of 16th notes. I find that Db, C, Cb, Bb is very awkward fingering for this. Is there a reason for this fingering, other than it's what Mikuli decided to write? Are there better fingerings? I've been using 212 3123 4123 4234

The problem with this is that when I play it up to speed, I lose track of where I am, whereas I don't with the original fingering. with the original fingering, however, the first Bb and a the A natural with the third sound like crap.
Image


(B)
Next is the transition into the measure before the segment that begins in F minor.
My score tells me to go from 1 on the C, 4 on the B, and then 3 again on the C... there HAS to be a better fingering for this... Just has to be...

Image

(C)
in the 2 against 3 part, how important is it that the Eb (and other such times) is played slightly after the left hand's note, or can I play them together and generally be fine? Playing it as a true 2 against 3 is really screwing with me because of the tempo, and I find that the recordings that I listen to, it's almost indistinguishable. (Richter, Watts, and Horowitz's recordings)... Although, that could be my ear as well, untrained to hear it properly.

Image

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Good morning, my name's AJ. I've been playing piano since January of 2004, as a sophomore in college, and I changed my major to music. It's all I love now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:10 pm 
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Location: Stroudsburg, PA
no tips?

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Good morning, my name's AJ. I've been playing piano since January of 2004, as a sophomore in college, and I changed my major to music. It's all I love now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:38 am
Posts: 647
Location: Sydney, Australia
Mixah, if you found sore arms or cramps, it just simply saying that the way you approach the piano--"touch" is too hard and so as your mental relaxzation. YOU need to relax more inconjuction with your touch, and therefore the speed WILL BE increased at no tension at all-no cramps.....I think, that todays cramp is due to your previous build up from a wrong approach-10 years??? Once you know the physics of momentum -weight vs touch....you will start to understand what I am trying to say. I wish I can give you a tip in real life. I am located in australia.

You need to change your approach...or you will never do it...all tones should sound airly and lightening fast..........

Cheers


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:04 pm 
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Location: Stroudsburg, PA
WEll, I've been playing for five years, and I've neglected a lot of things with left hand (eg. scales and arpeggios...) to be perfectly clear, I can play the ocean etude completely with my right hand up to speed... if I put my left hand only, I put the metronome on 45, and it's still too fast... Working on this has really helped my left hand, but I now only occassionally get cramped up. I can work through until the fifth page (last page) now without getting cramps... I'm mostly concerned about bad fingering though, because my wrist has to do some funky things. Those finger problems are mostly addressed in the previous post that I made with pictures of the score.

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Good morning, my name's AJ. I've been playing piano since January of 2004, as a sophomore in college, and I changed my major to music. It's all I love now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:38 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Ok Mixah or AJ, you have played for 5 years...ONLY. i dnt want to discourage you or not. You will make it eventually (1 year time)but with your approach it seemed you are more focus on muscle power than the mementum, thereofre the tone is HARSH and tiring....

To get the right approach, you sholud find a good piano teacher from the conservatory and ask them for PURE weight method and touch. To play these etudes up to speed with full relaxzation(like myself--sorry not to praise myself or not.) I do 4 to 5 laps without any sign or cramps or excessive tension on forearm in full speed. ; anotherwords, its a piece of cake-in a simple explanation. Your mental state will mature with your correct approach to piano touch and it will acheive in no time. I played more than 35 years....the these etudes just came to later stage of my life. 3 months to memeorize....6 months to play well and 1-10 years to MASTER. I only do 3- 10 hours a week-part timer.

You really have to think, how to approach the piano rather than WHAT YOU WANTED TO PLAY first.

Cheers


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