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#1925441 - 07/11/12 01:45 PM Chopin Major Works
Jorleyy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/12
Posts: 104
Which one of Chopin's Major Works are the most reasonable to start out with as your first one? The following are the ones I am talking about, how would you rank these from easiest to hardest?

Scherzo 1, 2, 3, 4
Ballade 1, 2, 3, 4
Fantasie Op 49
Polonaise Op 44, Op 53
Polonaise-Fantasie
Nocturne Op 48 1
Barcarolle

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#1925452 - 07/11/12 02:11 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
ScriabinAddict Offline
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Registered: 06/10/12
Posts: 335
For me (very subjective):

Least difficult to most difficult of each set listed:

Scherzi: 3, 2, 4, 1
Ballades: 3, 2, 1, 4 (4 and 1 are actually very comparable technically, provided you are proficient in double notes)
Polonaises: 44, 53, P-F
Other works listed: Op 48 no 1, Barcarolle, Fantasie

Again, it's very subjective. All of the Scherzi are of comparable difficulty, same goes for the Ballades. As for the polonaises, the P-F is on another planet in terms of technical difficulty.

Of all the works listed, P-F is certainly the hardest IMO.

I try to resist the tradition of learning numerous miscellaneous works of the same composer before tackling the harder ones. I would say go ahead and start with a scherzo, but I don't wish to dissuade you from tackling a harder work if you do have the technique for it.

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#1925463 - 07/11/12 02:53 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Franz Beebert Offline
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Registered: 12/14/11
Posts: 357
Easiest to hardest:
Nocturne op 48 1, Ballade 3, Scherzo 3, Scherzo 2, Scherzo 1, Polonaise Op 44, Barcarolle, Fantasie Op 49, Scherzo 4,
Polonaise Op 53,
Ballade 1, Fantasie Polonaise, Ballade 2, Ballade 4

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#1925472 - 07/11/12 03:24 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
JoelW Online   content
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4777
Loc: USA
The second question is kind of a ridiculous question BUT I will answer non-the-less. I am not going to rank all of these works together, but rather in groups. The difficulty will go from least difficult to most difficult. (all rankings are based off of my strengths, my weaknesses and my opinions)



SCHERZI:

1, 2, 4, 3

BALLADES:

3, 2, 1, 4

POLONAISES:

'heroic', op44, 'fantasy'

OTHER:

nocturne op48 no1, fantasy, barcarolle



Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'd like to help you pick your first grand work! What is your skill of level? And what is your favorite work? Those are really the only two deciding factors. My first grand work was the 2nd scherzo, and now I'm working on the 1st ballade. So, again.. skill level? Favorite piece?






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#1925484 - 07/11/12 03:47 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: JoelW]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
Least difficult to most difficult: Scherzi: 3, 2, 4, 1
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
from least difficult to most difficult: SCHERZI: 1, 2, 4, 3
I think that says it all. smile


There are three reasons why this kind of ranking has little meaning:

1. Everyone's technique has different strengths and weaknesses.

2. It's hard to separate out the purely mechanical difficulties (just hitting the right notes) from the interpretive difficulties. This is music, not exercises. Sometimes the right interpretive idea makes a passage much easier.

3. People don't talk about this point very much, but I think that everything depends on what speed you choose to play. I'm not talking about silly tempi like op.10/1 as an adagio. I mean that there's a range of "acceptable" performance speeds, and your choice of speed affects the difficulty of the piece, a lot. (For instance, I'm working on the 1st Scherzo. MM=80 is an acceptable tempo (for an amateur), and the piece is not that hard at that speed. MM=96 is what I'm shooting for, and it's a big challenge for me. The tempo as marked (MM=120) is beyond my technique.)

-Jason
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1925513 - 07/11/12 05:16 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Jorleyy Offline
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Registered: 07/11/12
Posts: 104
THank you guys! Well I can play quite advanced pieces. For example, I play Beethoven Op 13 and Op 26, Chopin Op 9 No 2, Op 10 No 3, Op 27 No 1, Op 28 No 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 18, 23, Op 37 No 2, Schubert Impromptus Op 90(all four), and Bach Italian Concerto and Well tempered Klavier book 1 number 10 and 12.

I wonder, is the Op 48 No 1 the easiest of the pieces I listed, is it accessible considering what I play, or is the Op 44 Polonaise or any of the Scherzos easier than the Op 48 no 1 and more accessible?

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#1925520 - 07/11/12 05:32 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4777
Loc: USA
They are just as accessible, but I would recommend a scherzo. If I were you I would mess around with various parts in each scherzo to see which one you would be most comfortable playing.

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#1925522 - 07/11/12 05:36 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Jorleyy Offline
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Registered: 07/11/12
Posts: 104
Okay! I will do so, although, if Op 44 or Op 48 No 1 is easier I think I will choose one of them? Which one would you recommend out of the Scherzi and those two?

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#1925523 - 07/11/12 05:38 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
JoelW Online   content
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4777
Loc: USA
If you are going to pick a scherzo first, which I recommend, I would need to know your strong points and weak points of technique. What are your strengths?

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#1925524 - 07/11/12 05:39 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18018
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Jorleyy
THank you guys! Well I can play quite advanced pieces. For example, I play Beethoven Op 13 and Op 26, Chopin Op 9 No 2, Op 10 No 3, Op 27 No 1, Op 28 No 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 18, 23, Op 37 No 2, Schubert Impromptus Op 90(all four), and Bach Italian Concerto and Well tempered Klavier book 1 number 10 and 12.

I wonder, is the Op 48 No 1 the easiest of the pieces I listed, is it accessible considering what I play, or is the Op 44 Polonaise or any of the Scherzos easier than the Op 48 no 1 and more accessible?


With the repertoire you have listed, I think that the most reasonable answer is : try; find out for yourself which of pieces are best for your current level of skill and abilities. A listing of repertoire can also be limited in its significance, because it doesn't tell anyone
- at what level of skill, competence or "artistry" you play these pieces,
- how long it has taken you to get these works to where they are
- what technical and artistic challenges you manage well and which are greater challenges for you.

You and someone who knows your playing would be a better judge of what might be the best place for you to begin your next assault on the works of Chopin.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1925528 - 07/11/12 05:51 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: JoelW]
Jorleyy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/12
Posts: 104
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
If you are going to pick a scherzo first, which I recommend, I would need to know your strong points and weak points of technique. What are your strengths?
I think I am quite good at octave playing actually, and and I have a pretty good rotation technique, my weakness is probably double notes.. I am quite good at chord playing, but when it comes to playing broken chords(like in the coda of the first ballade) it becomes a weakness..

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#1925530 - 07/11/12 05:55 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Franz Beebert Offline
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Registered: 12/14/11
Posts: 357
BruceD is right. We cannot answer really, because we don't now how you play, and also, many people will give you different answers, as they have different experiences of what is more difficult and so on.. But generally, I think most people would agree that the Op 48 No 1 is the easiest piece of the ones you listed, mainly because it's much shorter than the others. However that piece requires a maturity that few pieces does, and it's one of the harder Chopin pieces to interpret.. If you are weak at chord playing, this piece is a nightmare, as it's all about bringing out a top voice in thick chords...


Edited by Franz Beebert (07/11/12 05:55 PM)

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#1925536 - 07/11/12 06:24 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4777
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Jorleyy
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
If you are going to pick a scherzo first, which I recommend, I would need to know your strong points and weak points of technique. What are your strengths?
I think I am quite good at octave playing actually, and and I have a pretty good rotation technique, my weakness is probably double notes.. I am quite good at chord playing, but when it comes to playing broken chords(like in the coda of the first ballade) it becomes a weakness..


Instead of choosing not to answer your question, I'll just assume that you have an accurate assessment of your own technique. I would recommend experimenting with the 3rd scherzo. I LOVE this scherzo. Assuming you don't know this piece, it is the shortest of the four.. but by no means the easiest. It is octave-happy and the middle section is full of cascading parts. The coda starts off full of bliss then suddenly transforms into tragedy. Listen to the piece until you know it in your head backwards and front then take it to the piano. Bust out the score and experiment with all of the technical aspects. If you decide to learn this then I wish you luck - and get back to me!

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#1925596 - 07/11/12 10:20 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: JoelW]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18018
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
[...]I would recommend experimenting with the 3rd scherzo. [...]Listen to the piece until you know it in your head backwards and front then take it to the piano.[...]


If I were to recommend this scherzo or any other piece - which I patently refuse to do - I would say : Get the score, study it, start reading/playing through it until you begin to understand - for yourself - what it's about. Forget about listening to recordings so much that "you know it in your head backwards and front..." You won't know it until you start studying it.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1925600 - 07/11/12 10:27 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2140
Loc: Canada
The 3rd scherzo is pretty hellish to start with...the only benefit of starting with a Scherzo is that they're pretty repetitive, and so there's less work to do compared to another large work from Chopin.
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#1925613 - 07/11/12 11:14 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
ScriabinAddict Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/12
Posts: 335
The 3rd isn't too bad, provided you can do the octaves. The cascading textures fit the hands quite well, but the coda is indeed hellish.

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#1925618 - 07/11/12 11:21 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Jorleyy
....how would you rank these from easiest to hardest?

I hate doing stuff like this because in most cases we're splitting hairs, and all the pieces are very hard.

But I was gonna do it anyway -- and couldn't. It pained me too much. smile

All I can do is put them in 2 categories: Those that someone can maybe take a try at without being extremely advanced (let's call it category 1), and ones that you really better not (2).

"Category 1"
Scherzo 1, 2, 3
Ballade 3
Nocturne Op 48 1
Polonaise Op. 53 (maybe)
Barcarolle

"Category 2"
Scherzo 4
Ballades 1, 2, 4
Fantaisie Op. 49
Polonaise Op 44
Polonaise-Fantasie

I consider Scherzo 4 the most untouchable. I think we could make an argument for picking any of the others to tackle first.... heck, someone could make an argument for Scherzo 4 too. ha
But IMO that's the only one for which we should say "absolutely not," even more so than the 4th Ballade, Polonaise-Fantaisie or any of the others.

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#1925620 - 07/11/12 11:22 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: ScriabinAddict]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Interesting! But I think you hugely underestimate Scherzo 4.

edit: I think just about everyone is hugely underestimating the difficulty of the piece.

Although....maybe it's because of what Beet314 said -- how fast people are thinking of playing it. And I'd suggest also it's because maybe not everyone assumes we're talking about playing it real well. grin

If we're talking about playing at a credible tempo (and I don't even necessarily mean the same tempo as pros), and evenly, and with some semblance of the right feel, it's hard for me to see how this piece wouldn't be put at the highest level of difficulty, not just among these pieces but among anything.

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#1925630 - 07/11/12 11:49 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Mark_C]
ScriabinAddict Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/12
Posts: 335
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Interesting! But I think you hugely underestimate Scherzo 4.


That could very well be the case. I will have to withhold judgement until I actually attempt it. Marvelous piece nonetheless.

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#1925635 - 07/11/12 11:54 PM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
I'm interested and surprised, by the way, at how people are ranking the Polonaise-Fantaisie so highly. It's very hard to pull off successfully, no doubt. And it's technically not easy. But I don't think there's anything in there in the same league as the first Ballade's scherzo and coda, or the second and fourth Ballades's codas, or op.53's middle section octaves, or large stretches of the F minor Fantasie.

When I play it now, I feel at ease and untaxed. In contrast, the first Scherzo feels like running a marathon uphill. That one's a monster.

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1925638 - 07/12/12 12:02 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: beet31425]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6145
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I'm interested and surprised, by the way, at how people are ranking the Polonaise-Fantaisie so highly. It's very hard to pull off successfully, no doubt. And it's technically not easy. But I don't think there's anything in there in the same league as the first Ballade's scherzo and coda, or the second and fourth Ballades's codas, or op.53's middle section octaves, or large stretches of the F minor Fantasie.


I agree. I hate to add this caveat because I get annoyed when others do it, but I think it's the hardest to hold together musically of all things listed.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1925639 - 07/12/12 12:03 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I'm interested and surprised, by the way, at how people are ranking the Polonaise-Fantaisie so highly. It's very hard to pull off successfully, no doubt. And it's technically not easy. But I don't think there's anything in there in the same league as the first Ballade's scherzo and coda, or the second and fourth Ballades's codas, or op.53's middle section octaves, or large stretches of the F minor Fantasie....

Maybe I think everybody's underestimating everything ha because I think you're way underestimating the Polonaise-Fantaisie. I could point out individual measures which IMO are as hard as anything in those other pieces, plus, not unlike late Scriabin (which it points toward!), it's off-the-charts in its conceptual difficulty, involving not just the structure but also just getting it in your head how some of the things are supposed to sound, and making them sound that way.

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#1925641 - 07/12/12 12:08 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Mark_C]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I could point out individual measures which IMO are as hard as anything in those other pieces, plus, not unlike late Scriabin (which it points toward!), it's off-the-charts in its conceptual difficulty...

I'll grant you the conceptual difficulty.

I'll challenge you on the other. Find individual measures or a passage or section of the P-F which is as hard, mechanically, as the coda of the 4th Ballade, at speed. The statement of the theme towards the end with the chords is hard, but not that hard.

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1925650 - 07/12/12 12:25 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I'll challenge you on the other. Find individual measures or a passage or section of the P-F which is as hard, mechanically, as the coda of the 4th Ballade, at speed.....

You're on! grin

I'm gonna start with something that might be a surprise, and which few people might think of in such a way but which I think is a gimme (and there's plenty more where this comes from!)....

The fast B major scale in that "statement of the theme toward the end."

IMO being able to play that at tempo (any semblance of a reasonable tempo) and with some proper sweep and being able to land reasonably fluently on the chord at the beginning of the next measure, requires that somebody be as excellent a pianist and musician as just about anything.

And, while we're looking right there, those two sets of octaves-sixths sextuplets that follow.

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#1925652 - 07/12/12 12:37 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2140
Loc: Canada
I can't say that the 1st Ballade's scherzo, nor the Heroic's octaves are all that difficult (to me at least), but I do agree that the 4th Scherzo is ridiculous. I worked on it for a while, learned it, performed it, then decided that I'd better put it away for now, because I wasn't doing it any justice.
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#1925653 - 07/12/12 12:38 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Mark_C]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3787
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I'll challenge you on the other. Find individual measures or a passage or section of the P-F which is as hard, mechanically, as the coda of the 4th Ballade, at speed.....

You're on! grin

I'm gonna start with something that might be a surprise, and which few people might think of in such a way but which I think is a gimme (and there's plenty more where this comes from!)....

The fast B major scale in that "statement of the theme toward the end."

IMO being able to play that at tempo (any semblance of a reasonable tempo) and with some proper sweep and being able to land reasonably fluently on the chord at the beginning of the next measure, requires that somebody be as excellent a pianist and musician as just about anything.

And, while we're looking right there, those two sets of octaves-sixths sextuplets that follow.


Good example-- that is one of the harder parts!

One thing that helps with the scale is to take the first two notes before the chord, and then the rest works out perfectly as six scale notes per chord. I find myself slowing down a bit, but still bringing off the "proper sweep", I think.

The octaves/sixths that follow also give me trouble, especially the first set.

I can't imagine any of this is as hard as the 4th Ballade's coda, but... maybe we're each just afraid of the piece we don't play. smile

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1925660 - 07/12/12 12:53 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Kuanpiano]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
....the 4th Scherzo is ridiculous. I worked on it for a while, learned it, performed it, then decided that I'd better put it away for now, because I wasn't doing it any justice.

+1 grin

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#1925664 - 07/12/12 01:03 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: BruceD]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4777
Loc: USA
There's nothing wrong listening to a piece before you learn it. In fact I think it's a disadvantage not to do so. When you get to know the piece by listening to great players play them, you are setting a general expectation for how well particular passages within the piece should be played, helping you understand whether or not you are ready for the piece. Not to mention, listening to a piece can be the sole reason for wanting to learn that particular piece. When I listen to piece and am struck with an original idea about it, that greatly influences me to learn it.. All this being said, I can't think of one negative aspect of listening to a piece before cracking open the score.

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#1925686 - 07/12/12 03:23 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: Jorleyy]
Jorleyy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/11/12
Posts: 104
I wonder, is the Op 48 No 1 harder than any of the other major works by Chopin that I listed, or is it the easiest?

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#1925699 - 07/12/12 04:19 AM Re: Chopin Major Works [Re: JoelW]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
When I listen to piece and am struck with an original idea about it, that greatly influences me to learn it.. All this being said, I can't think of one negative aspect of listening to a piece before cracking open the score.


Read the second sentence first and then go back and read the first sentence. Now think about that for a second, joey. The point is... YOU are being struck by someone ELSES "original" idea and as long as you continue filling up your head with the ideas that others have then you'll continue to wallow in mediocrity, because you'll not have any original ideas of your own, nor will you know how to express them, because your concept of whatever it is that you're working on has been so influenced by what someone else has already done. I challenge you to open your score and "learn it from scratch"... leave the recordings on the shelf... do not hit "play". Learn something new for YOURSELF. Discovering it on your own is the way to make it personal.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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