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Rubato-Why do some piano teachers stay away from them?

Discussion in 'Technique' started by Bubbles, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. Bubbles

    Bubbles New Member

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    My Piano teacher never lets me play anything from Chopin, Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninov and so on. According to her, these works need a lot of tempo rubato and she generally avoids giving me any romantic pieces that needs a lot of rubato interpretation.

    Why? Are my hands too small? Is tempo rubato too difficult to interpret?

    To me Rubato, as Liszt puts it, is like a tree branch being swayed by the wind. The Trunk of the tree is Solid. Its just like taking some time too breathe and lower your heart rate, after running very fast when your heart rate speeds up.

    I have always wanted to play Chopin - either for fun or for exams. There is a lot of feeling, emotional depth and expressive feelings and I can play musically -I can capture the mood in his music in my very soul.

    But when it comes to technique- like tempo rubato- why do some people generally avoid them?
     
  2. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I can't go against anything your piano teacher says...but if I had taken a wait-and-see attitude about playing romantic era music I might have never gotten the hang of it. It's not an easy thing to convey with words. Just listen, a lot, to great recordings. Imitate the average of what you hear (this is terrible advice :lol: ) and play it.

    You'll have to be bold and willing to make egregious errors (and have the patience to be corrected and then work toward a better solution).

    Hopefully, you have a patient teacher, too.
     
  3. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    None of my teachers ever avoided the Romantics. And those words of Liszt were specifically about the "Chopin rubato" (that is, a strict tempo in the accompaniment hand, with tempo rubato in the melodic hand - if there is no melody, it's best to go with strict tempo unless otherwise indicated).

    One reason I can think of for your teacher avoiding the Romantics is that it's best to have a good grasp of technique before attempting to start breaking rules. Remember that Chopin locked himself in a room with the WTC before performing. :D
     
  4. Nicole

    Nicole New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I remember your post from a few weeks ago -- that you have been with the same teacher for 10 years. Rubato should have been not only introduced to you a few years ago, but be on the way to being mastered. You'd be wise to start the switch to somebody new. She's doing you no favours with what you describe. It's fine, and even ideal, if a teacher insists that you be able to play Romantic pieces from time to time with the metronome on, for that matter, to prove that you understand the note values. But to avoid pieces with rubato? She's either lazy or she's underestimating you. My opinion is that you really ought to be going to someone who is ambitious and believes in you more than even you can, Bubbles.
     
  5. Adam

    Adam New Member

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    Hehe, I always play everything with lots of rubato and I don't always pay attention to (de)crescendo's and such, and I think my piano teacher doesn't really like it. I simply prefer my own interpretations of a piece over how others play it. Rubato plays a part in it.

    Sometimes others hate my interpretations, but I honestly don't care. I believe it was Liszt who said that sheet music should only be used as a guideline in finding your own interpretation of a piece.

    The Chopin Rubato is special. For example, Chopin thought you should really stick to the sheet music for the left-hand bar in his polonaises, and that you apply rubato with the right hand. I've heard a couple of performances where pianists would apply rubato all over the piece and those sounded awefully, so be careful.

    Anyway, your teacher is holding you back. So many years without Romantic pieces....
     
  6. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    And it was Chopin that told him, as he was playing Chopin's music, to please play only what was on the page. :lol:

    Not just the polonaises - everything! Except the mazurkas, which had such an accent on the second beat that it lasted nearly two beats (this caused Chopin's contemporaries no small amount of frustration).

    I agree that it tends to sound awful when the tempo is much abused in Chopin - the rhythm and particularly the syncopation loses all its meaning (except to those who know how the piece is written) when the tempo is not kept. But at the same time, it is extremely difficult to keep tempo and express oneself in the melodic hand at the same time - very few can pull it off. So the rubato that abuses the tempo has become accepted in Chopin's music, because it is preferable to a mechanical interpretation.
     
  7. mixah

    mixah New Member

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    My first piece that I performed was five years ago, Mozart's K.397, fantasie in d minor...

    the following semester, my teacher told me I need to learn Baroque technique and Romantic artistry... So he had me play Bach 2pt inventions in d minor and a minor, and the third movement of Beethoven's Pathetique... Then for the summer, he gave me Chopin's Etude in E, Op.10 n.3... So I was very quickly pushed into the Romantics. Only a year after I started was my first performance of the Romantics, and my teacher gave me seventeen recordings of the Tristesse etude that he told me to study and then interpret the piece on my own.
     

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