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Why I am a horrible pianist (Chopin 25/6)

Discussion in 'Technique' started by Terez, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    So I have been playing with this étude* on and off for about ten years. I have to play it for a jury of my school's piano faculty a week from tomorrow, and I've been having trouble with some bits of it. In particular, the upward chromatic thingies for each individual variation of the theme have had me confused. I know the fingerings, but I've been viewing them as separate things to learn, and though in some ways they are, they're essentially the same thing in the parts that have been screwing me up (the middles of the runs).

    So, I just realized tonight that it's all the same fingering. I know the differences between them, and have no problem playing them, but I didn't realize before that it's all the same conventional chromatic thirds fingering in the middle. The thumb skips from E to F and from B to C (or backwards on the way down), and once you get the hang of the chromatic thirds, that's the only thing you need to pay attention to - that skipping thumb.

    I feel like an idiot now for not realizing this before. I had only paid special attention to the skipping thumb in the final descending chromatic thirds before, perhaps because it was descending and therefore more evident to me? I don't know. I'm just happy that 90% of my technique difficulties with this piece have finally gone away.

    *In case anyone was wondering: yes, using "special characters" makes me feel special.
     
  2. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    This may come off as stupid (just like all my other posts): You should be happy on the progress you have made from day one of piano playing, and the current abilites you possess. There will always be someone who can play it better or there will always be a piece that is slightly out of our abilities.

    I've come to accept that I cannot obtain perfection. So why cut myself down over the small stuff?I should accept the imperfections and find joy in them.

    So how does this garble pertain to you?

    You'll have moments of difficulty in playing this piece. Don't stress out about it. Breath, relax, and have fun. It's all about having fun. If you are not having fun playing a piece, then either you're a professional pianist whose only means of putting the bread on the table is to play everything or this hobby is not for you :wink:

    Anywho, I know I will get reemed from the serious ones in this forum. But, hey, I shouldn't stress over it :lol:

    This advice was more theory than technical...I hope you understand.
     
  3. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    hmmm, I'm not cutting myself down. Just explaining why I'm a horrible pianist. ;)
     
  4. bclever

    bclever New Member

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    You wanna hear horrible? Come to my house. After 5 minutes you will start thinking
    you're a genius.
     
  5. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    No, no! Come to my house and you will see that i cannot even play the simpliest of pieces without making mistakes!
     
  6. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Oh, and by the way...piano is really not just a hobby at this point. My goal is to teach music theory (and perhaps also music history) but these departments do not offer scholarships for undergraduates at my school, so I have no choice but to major in piano performance so that I can get a scholarship. Though I suspect that the piano faculty allows me to pursue this major because they know I am a good student otherwise, it is essential to my scholarship that I practice, because I cannot afford school without that scholarship. It is also essential that I pick at least moderately difficult repertoire.
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I really like the 25/6! It's probably more than 'moderately' difficult for me, though. Oh well, in my dreams....

    Good luck with it, Terez.
     
  8. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Monica, you learn music much more quickly than I do. Trust me, it's only moderately difficult at the tempo I use. :wink: (Mikuli has it marked at half note = 69 BPM, but I play it at about quarter note = 80 or 90 - it's a very modest tempo, but not so slow that it sounds like I'm practicing on stage.)

    I think that the 25/6 sounds/looks a lot harder than it really is. I think the hardest part is learning the fingerings. They seem VERY awkward at first, but after a while they seem very natural (as is often the case with inventive or counterintuitive fingerings.)
     
  9. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is probably a stupid question, but the fingerings you are using - are they Chopin's? We all know how he invented some fingering techniques that we use today and so did Liszt. I don't know enough about the etudes to know if there is only one way of fingering them as per Chopin's instructions, or if like everything else it depends on the editor of the edition you are using.
     
  10. Jennifer

    Jennifer New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I am doing Chopin 25/7. It may be the first chopin etude I can actually play but even that is a challange for me.

    So if you think you're terrible, think again. If you heard me, you would never guess I have been studying since 1990!
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Now let us do a contest who is the most terrible pianist.
    Ah no, this is not fair..... I'll win that hands down :lol:
     
  12. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Ha...just like the 25/6 is not as hard as it looks, the 25/7 is not as easy as it looks! The runs on the second page are tricky! Beautiful piece, though.

    And Chris, no one who has recorded the entire WTC is allowed to participate in the contest for most terrible pianist. :lol:
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Not even if these are terrible recordings ? :?
     
  14. alf

    alf New Member Piano Society Artist

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    You're not a terrible pianist, you're a compulsive one. :lol:
    You know I am used to expressing my opinion openly. When I see how easily you learn new stuff, I think "Chris is lucky, but why doesn't spend half of that time drilling what he's learnt and working on the small details?". It's something I've already told you, I believe, so forgive me, but in a way I feel you miss an important occasion to play better. We learn to do what we constantly do, so if you go on and on learning new pieces, you'll be able to learn new pieces quicker and quicker, not necessarily to play them better. Sorry to sound probably harsh, but I care very much since you make music with integrity, a quality I prize most highly.
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    All this I know. It's a precarious balancing act. I am very slowly nudging the scale towards the right side but time is dear and old habits die hard. There is just too much I want to do. Ah well, integrity above technique :wink:
     
  16. alf

    alf New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Technique you may have, sincere you are (Yoda would have said).

    By the way, I've just realized that my signature is all the way wrong, now it should be "Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try." :lol:
     
  17. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I think Chris just gets bored easily when he practices, and therefore feels the need to move on to new stuff before he's perhaps ready. So, "compulsive pianist" is a rather good description. I'm probably better described as an "obsessive pianist", since I play the same repertoire for years, trying to improve it over time by small increments. I can't even bring myself to familiarize myself with the entire WTC by listening, much less by playing. I get obsessed with certain pieces and neglect the rest. But I've done that with Chopin as well, and eventually familiarized myself with pretty much his entire repertoire (I've spent longer listening to Chopin than to Bach).
     
  18. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Monica, I somehow missed this post:

    In the Mikuli edition, the fingerings are almost always Chopin's - especially the tricky ones. But, there are a few places in the 25/6 where you will find different fingerings for different tricky spots, and for stuff like that, Mikuli is reputed to have invented his own in a couple of places (I'm not a scholar on it so I can't tell you which places). I've often used different fingerings just because everyone's hand is different and sometimes it just doesn't work for me the way it's written.

    But most of the fingerings in the 25/6 simply cannot be done any other way. Just read through it, and try to imagine doing it a different way. :lol: But I think that this etude is a lot easier for people with smaller hands - the less finger you have to get in the way of the other fingers in that complicated fingering, the better. It makes it difficult to reach a few things in it, but I think overall, the smaller hand is an advantage. I had a discussion with Pete about that once.
     
  19. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Actually, recently, I rather enjoy practicing and polishing, and I do believe it shows. Of recent recordings, it can't be said I was not ready for them as has happened in the past. Of course, one could always do better yet - but is diamond perfection all there is to music ? And yes, I do need to move on as well. I can't get obsessed by one piece and neglect another.
     
  20. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Yeah, I suppose I was talking in the context of the WTC recordings, of which I have only listened to a few (and perhaps the wrong ones). But we've had this conversation before, about your approach to practicing, so you could say I was quoting you.

    And I remember your polish of the b minor sinfonia. You sacrificed a tad of tempo and maybe a few hours more of your time (probably less), and made a huge difference. :D
     

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