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#1927223 - 07/15/12 06:47 PM Problems with Chopin's Revolutionary Etude
evilpacman18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/12
Posts: 152
Loc: Glendora, CA
Hi everyone,
I've been working on the Revolutionary Etude off and on since January. More off than on because, since the beginning, it's been a really daunting piece, exposing egregious flaws in my technique and just being a wall I can't get seem to get over. At this point, I'm getting annoyed at myself for avoiding it for so long just because I'm scared of it, and I'm not allowing myself to learn the Liszt etudes I want to learn or any new music until I can play this well. I was hoping I could get some ideas on how to first deal with it, and then actually play it well.

Just for reference, I took a quick capture of it and uploaded it. I know I'm playing it faster than I can currently handle, but I just wanted to give an idea of the shape it's in and my technique, I hope it helps. If anybody wants to see something more specific (view from a different angle, etc.) that might help, I can capture and upload another video really easily.

Anyway, as far as the problems I'm aware of, my pinky seems to curl up a lot, and I've seen even the greatest pianists' hands make similar movements, I'm not sure how intentionally. For me, it's not intentional to have my pinky curled, and I feel like it restricts the movement of the 4th finger so that the arpeggio becomes uneven, as well as causing that whole side of my hand to tighten up. I can hardly get through the first page of the piece once at the tempo in the video before my arm starts to hurt, and I think the locked pinky might be part of the issue but not the only thing causing it. I can't figure out exactly what makes it so difficult for me, besides the pinky, I and my teacher don't really see anything especially wrong with how I'm playing it, but there must be because it hurts.

I've been working with symmetrical inversion (see below) a lot because my right hand does the same movements a lot easier, of course, and doesn't seem to get tired but even with that I still haven't been able to isolate what, besides the tight 5th finger, is causing the pain.

I can continue to provide details, I'm not sure what else to say about it but ask me anything about how I'm playing it and I'll try to answer quickly.
Thanks for any help, looking forward to starting to participate in these forums pretty regularly.

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#1927277 - 07/15/12 09:53 PM Re: Problems with Chopin's Revolutionary Etude [Re: evilpacman18]
allegro_concerto Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/10/08
Posts: 181
Maybe have a look at this video:


Notice how his left hand is very efficient, it goes down like a neat straight line and he only move up towards the black keys when he needs to and he more or less stayed there before coming back to the white ones again. His left hand also has a fairly natural pose.

For practicing, you could also try the exercises described by Alfred Cortot for this etude and try the ones set by Godowsky in his Chopin studies. The idea is to play some of them each day. Also some Moszkowski etudes for left hand only could be useful also.

For most people, playing Chopin etude is a life long journey. They are pieces that require tremendous amount of patience and work over the years to get right. I first played Chopin etudes when I was 16/17, and I am 33 now and there are still things I can work on to make it better.

#1927304 - 07/15/12 11:16 PM Re: Problems with Chopin's Revolutionary Etude [Re: evilpacman18]
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 325
I'm having the same problem with the left pinky curling up, though on a different piece of music. My teacher pointed it out last lesson, and it has been bugging me since. Yes I do noticed that famous concert pianists are doing it too but anyway, I just want to get rid of this pinky business regardless...

It has gotten A BIT better now (been practicing my butt off for a few days). Firstly, you are doing the right thing by mirroring your good (right) hand.
I think it is a combination of tension and weakness of your left pinky (and possibily ring) fingers. I ended up just doing a simple five finger exercise for pinky/ring/middle finger independence. After a bit of that, and completely relaxing my hand while playing the passages, I noticed my pinky doesn't curl up as much. They are still slightly curled but better, which means I must be doing something right. If anyone can shed any light on the pinky business I'll be happy to listen.

edit- from watching the video I think you can benefit from slow practice. Does you pinky still curls when you play the piece at slow tempo? Is your wrist tense?

Edited by albynism (07/16/12 01:22 AM)


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