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#2083841 - 05/16/13 10:01 PM Beginner Chopin?
Rollin shoulders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/11
Posts: 51
Loc: WNY
Alright, so since I've seen Chopin is a common topic here on the Adult Beginner threads, I figured this would be the best place to start.

A little back story:
I've auditioned to a local college for the B.A in Music Education degree, however I got accepted to their B.A in Music because apparently I "didn't make the cut" (I paraphrased a little there).

Anyways, I failed the audition, so I feel like it's time to "up my game" so to speak... So with no formal training (except a few teachers here and there for a couple months or so collectively) I figured it'd be time to take on some pieces by Bach or Chopin, or anyone really.

Why I choose Chopin is because I have a couple music books with his pieces, and I enjoy his music. However I've looked into them a little bit more earlier today, and looking at the music along to a recording made me realize that his Mazurkas or Waltzes are not cake. By any means.


So, where I'd like your opinion is:
- Does anyone here suggest a Chopin piece for a beginner/intermediate like me?

I played his Prelude in E minor for my audition, however I now realize not alot of his pieces are that slow...

Thanks for your time!
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#2083850 - 05/16/13 10:15 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
dynamobt Offline
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Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 646
Loc: NH
The first Chopin Nocturne I learned was the #11 Op 37 no 1

Other than a few what I call "cascades" that are easily learned if fingered correctly, the piece is not that hard. Have a look and see what you think.
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#2083857 - 05/16/13 10:40 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
Rollin shoulders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/11
Posts: 51
Loc: WNY
Giving it a listen now dynmobt

I like it, the ornamentation on the melody is wonderful. It's moments like these I wish I was actually classically trained ha.

also I don't hear alot of bass-chord-chord jumps like you normally would in his music. That gives me hope ha.

Did you learn all 6 + minutes of the piece?

Thanks for the suggestion ^-^
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#2083863 - 05/16/13 10:46 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
dynamobt Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 646
Loc: NH
Yes, I learned the whole thing. As I say, there are a few descending runs that require just the right fingering to make learning easier. I was overfaced at first looking at it. But, I did learn it. And what a great sense of accomplishmet when I did.
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#2083866 - 05/16/13 10:54 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
You might check out Chopin: An Introduction to His Piano Works edited by Willard Palmer for Alfred Publishing. It includes a selection of his easiest works along with introductory essays and performance notes designed to orient students to this repertoire.

Check out this link to see the included pieces. It is fair to point out that none of them are really "beginner" stuff. However, if you think of yourself as an intermediate player who just needs some guidance in starting out with Chopin's music, then this volume might be helpful.
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#2083952 - 05/17/13 02:23 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
Rollin shoulders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/11
Posts: 51
Loc: WNY
Packa- added that to my amazon wishlist, thanks for the suggestion!

I guess trying to learn some of the pieces from his book would help determine whether or not I'm an intermediate player or not.
I just get discouraged sometimes.. but I guess everyone does at some point, right?

Thanks for the responses, both of you
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#2083955 - 05/17/13 02:34 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7514
Loc: New York City
"Easy" Chopin - Preludes Opus 28 4, 6, 7, and 20, and maybe one or two of the waltzes.
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#2084041 - 05/17/13 07:53 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11439
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
"Easy" Chopin - Preludes Opus 28 4, 6, 7, and 20, and maybe one or two of the waltzes.
I second this. These are the easiest Chopin pieces. However, I would only give these to a late intermediate student, not someone self-taught who considers themselves a beginner/intermediate student.

Have you considered taking lessons from one of the faculty or grad students at the school so that you can reaudition next year to get into the program you want to be in?
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#2084176 - 05/17/13 01:29 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1048
I'm doing the Nocturne 21 C-Minor right now. It's pretty easy. There are only a few places with odd rhythms, but I dare say there isn't any Chopin without at least some of those flourishes. There are two descending arpeggios, but both are normal. The whole thing is verrrry slow, so if you have some nice expression, and can use rubato well, it's really beautiful.

Here it is on youtube. I recorded myself on the first half yesterday but I'm way too embarrassed to put it up. I really have some work to do. So here's someone who can play it better:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIqx0MOsNfo

I sat down and tried an old easier waltz I used to play, and it was still doable. It's not fast but it moves along pretty well in places, but it's all pretty much repeating the same idea each time, so again, doable. I can't remember which one it was. B minor? There are two versions of it in my edition, and one I played was the longer one.

Here it is!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQVngbDTAZ0

Really pretty and easy to learn. No unusual rhythms. And you can slow it down or speed it up if you like. It's one of those pieces lends itself to a variety of interpretations.

As for me, I can't shake out 25 years of tension in my hands that apparently built up nice and securely from not playing any piano at all. So nothing is flowing for me, but if I keep making myself hit the Chopin, I'll have no choice. The Mozart sonatas are keeping me nice and tense, haha.

Another idea might be the Mazurkas? The Op 30 No 2 looks fairly approachable. I skimmed over it yesterday and there's nothing terribly unusual about it. Besides, the whole thing is really short, so to the extent you have to put some effort into the middle part, there's not much of it. It sounds pretty showy without being exactly a finger twister. I've heard it performed pretty complicatedly, but here's Arthur Rubinstein playing it very straightforward:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjYV7lJezvc

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#2084333 - 05/17/13 05:34 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: packa]
outo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 529
Loc: Finland
I think it says a lot about him that most of the easier Chopin pieces are posthumous...he didn't work them ready for publication by making them harder to play grin

Anyway, the preludes 4, 6, 7, 20 are not too difficult (but I agree that Chopin simply did not write anything that a beginner could handle). And even some of them are really tough for someone with a small span. Tension is very difficult to avoid at first. Number 4 is the most accessible and well worth working towards a musically good level.

I did prelude 4 first, the waltz in A minor (posth.)next and then Nocturne 72-1 in E minor. It took a lot of work and I don't think I could have learned them at all without my teacher. I think I'll use the summer break to try to really polish the nocturne because I really like it. I also worked a bit on the cantabile, but I had too many pieces back then and dropped it, maybe I will try again later.

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#2084336 - 05/17/13 05:41 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
Steven Y. A. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/13
Posts: 291
Loc: Toronto
Alfred crotot has an commentary introduction to Chopin,s "not too difficult" piece, mazurka op 67 no.2 and polonaise op 40 and few other pieces.
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#2084820 - 05/18/13 03:43 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Steven Y. A.]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 451
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.
Alfred crotot has an commentary introduction to Chopin,s "not too difficult" piece, mazurka op 67 no.2 and polonaise op 40 and few other pieces.


Could you give us some more details, what publication of Crotot are you refering to?
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#2086367 - 05/21/13 04:47 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Marco M]
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
Originally Posted By: Marco M
Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.
Alfred crotot has an commentary introduction to Chopin,s "not too difficult" piece, mazurka op 67 no.2 and polonaise op 40 and few other pieces.


Could you give us some more details, what publication of Crotot are you refering to?


In case Steven Y. A. is not following the thread any longer and others find some information on the Cortot editions helpful, here's a brief summary.

Alfred Cortot (1877-1962) was a noted French pianist at the beginning of the 20th century. He was recognized in his day as a leading interpreter of the Romantic repertorie, especially Chopin. He also produced a series of well-known performance editions for much of this music, and his editions of Chopin are still in print through Salabert, his French publisher. The Cortot editions include detailed commentaries on the interpretive and technical aspects of the works and often include technical exercises intended to deal with specific problems.

For students just beginning with Chopin, the Cortot edition of the preludes might be the most helpful, but he also edited the etudes, mazurkas, ballades, nocturnes, waltzes, and other pieces in separate volumes. There is a single volume from Salabert titled Introduction to the Cortot Editions of Chopin that gives a good sense of Cortot's approach but may or may not contain specific pieces of interest.

The Cortot Chopin editions are commonly available from sources like Sheet Music Plus and Amazon. They were originally published in French but English translations are now available for many of them. Take care if you order one to get the right language for your use.
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#2086577 - 05/22/13 04:13 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 451
Loc: Europe
Packa, thanks a lot for this information, very helpful to come closer to a decision which Chopin Introduction might be the one for me to start with! Although I have a very good teacher, I like to additionally have some piano literature which I besides can study for best possible making up my mind about a topic. So, a kind of introduction to the easier pieces of a composer, with comments on the recommended expression to put into the music, and accompanying excercises for getting the pieces presented also as study literature and not only repertoire, is exactly what I am at the moment searching for.
In the Alfred Masterworks publications there are also alike introductions available. Any experience with them? Any recommendation where I most likely would have my money best invested?
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#2086630 - 05/22/13 07:54 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Warning, Cortot is not particularly user friendly. His editions are not really aimed at those seeking an introduction. He expects you to already be a competent musician. His idea of exercises is to write out a single measure and tell you to do it all over the keyboard and in all keys. At least that's what his edition of the etudes is like, which is the only one I own.
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#2086651 - 05/22/13 08:40 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: -Frycek]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11439
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Warning, Cortot is not particularly user friendly. His editions are not really aimed at those seeking an introduction. He expects you to already be a competent musician. His idea of exercises is to write out a single measure and tell you to do it all over the keyboard and in all keys. At least that's what his edition of the etudes is like, which is the only one I own.
Is that effective? Practicing a particular passage in all different keys?
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#2086652 - 05/22/13 08:43 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Morodiene]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2375
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Warning, Cortot is not particularly user friendly. His editions are not really aimed at those seeking an introduction. He expects you to already be a competent musician. His idea of exercises is to write out a single measure and tell you to do it all over the keyboard and in all keys. At least that's what his edition of the etudes is like, which is the only one I own.
Is that effective? Practicing a particular passage in all different keys?


It must be, since so many piano books recommend it! wink

My teacher agrees with you ... scales and arpeggios in all keys, other exercises in the one they are written in unless there's a good reason (usually to use different fingering) to try another scale.
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#2086732 - 05/22/13 11:31 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Andy Platt]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11439
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Warning, Cortot is not particularly user friendly. His editions are not really aimed at those seeking an introduction. He expects you to already be a competent musician. His idea of exercises is to write out a single measure and tell you to do it all over the keyboard and in all keys. At least that's what his edition of the etudes is like, which is the only one I own.
Is that effective? Practicing a particular passage in all different keys?


It must be, since so many piano books recommend it! wink

My teacher agrees with you ... scales and arpeggios in all keys, other exercises in the one they are written in unless there's a good reason (usually to use different fingering) to try another scale.
I have no problem with scales and arpeggios in all keys. My understanding of what was written by Frycek is that they had you do a single measure in all keys, and I wondered if this was a common practice technique for a difficult measure within repertoire, and if so, if it helped.
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#2086742 - 05/22/13 11:43 AM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: -Frycek]
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1397
Loc: Dallas, TX
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Warning, Cortot is not particularly user friendly. His editions are not really aimed at those seeking an introduction.

I think this is a very fair comment. The Cortot editions are not really "introductions" in the same sense as the Alfred editions. They have great historical interest. But they also come from a different era of performance practice, and some might find them dated in style and approach. For a modern student seeking an initial orientation to Chopin's music, the Alfred performance edition (or something similar) seems better suited to me.
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#2086909 - 05/22/13 04:10 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Morodiene]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I have no problem with scales and arpeggios in all keys. My understanding of what was written by Frycek is that they had you do a single measure in all keys, and I wondered if this was a common practice technique for a difficult measure within repertoire, and if so, if it helped.


I think it's a somewhat common pedagogic technique; I've read about it a few places, especially in regards to Chopin's op. 10.

Here are a few articles:

Transposing the Difficult Spot

Originally Posted By: Graham Fitch
How it Works

A distinguished colleague once told me a story of how in the middle of his career as an international concert pianist he suddenly became aware of a fact about the piano that he was unaware of before. I was intrigued as to what this might be. In a flash of insight, he told me he realised that the black keys were higher up and further away! When we play, we are constantly making micro adjustments within the hand and arm to accommodate the topography of the keyboard, the black-white terrain. Using our kinesthetic sense, we adapt our hand position by curving the long fingers (2, 3 and 4) very slightly more when playing white keys, slightly less so when playing black keys. When the short fingers (thumb and 5) play black keys, our position is shifted to the back of the keys, with a tiny wrist and forearm adjustment to accommodate this. So when we transpose, we actually learn versions of the same passage that are essentially the same and yet subtly different. We end up by knowing twelve versions of the passage. This is like looking at a statue from many different angles rather than just viewing it from one vantage point. We build up a more complete picture.



Painting the Forth Bridge: Learning The Goldberg Variations (in this article, he talks explicitly about his experience with the exact same copy of the Alfred Cortot Chopin etudes again in the context of transposing passages of works)


The Study Editions of Alfred Cortot


Cortot, his pupil my teacher, and me


Inventing Exercises From Pieces


Chopin 12 Studies op. 10 - Alfred Cortot Edition .pdf


Overpracticers Hanonymous


also, don't forget the time-honored tale of Liszt meeting Beethoven (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beethoven_and_his_contemporaries#Beethoven_and_Franz_Liszt)

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#2086915 - 05/22/13 04:14 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Bobpickle]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11439
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I have no problem with scales and arpeggios in all keys. My understanding of what was written by Frycek is that they had you do a single measure in all keys, and I wondered if this was a common practice technique for a difficult measure within repertoire, and if so, if it helped.


I think it's a somewhat common pedagogic technique; I've read about it a few places, especially in regards to Chopin's op. 10.

Here are a few articles:

Transposing the Difficult Spot

Originally Posted By: Graham Fitch
How it Works

A distinguished colleague once told me a story of how in the middle of his career as an international concert pianist he suddenly became aware of a fact about the piano that he was unaware of before. I was intrigued as to what this might be. In a flash of insight, he told me he realised that the black keys were higher up and further away! When we play, we are constantly making micro adjustments within the hand and arm to accommodate the topography of the keyboard, the black-white terrain. Using our kinesthetic sense, we adapt our hand position by curving the long fingers (2, 3 and 4) very slightly more when playing white keys, slightly less so when playing black keys. When the short fingers (thumb and 5) play black keys, our position is shifted to the back of the keys, with a tiny wrist and forearm adjustment to accommodate this. So when we transpose, we actually learn versions of the same passage that are essentially the same and yet subtly different. We end up by knowing twelve versions of the passage. This is like looking at a statue from many different angles rather than just viewing it from one vantage point. We build up a more complete picture.



Painting the Forth Bridge: Learning The Goldberg Variations (in this article, he talks explicitly about his experience with the exact same copy of the Alfred Cortot Chopin etudes again in the context of transposing passages of works)


The Study Editions of Alfred Cortot


Cortot, his pupil my teacher, and me


Inventing Exercises From Pieces


Chopin 12 Studies op. 10 - Alfred Cortot Edition .pdf


Overpracticers Hanonymous


also, don't forget the time-honored tale of Liszt meeting Beethoven (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beethoven_and_his_contemporaries#Beethoven_and_Franz_Liszt)
Thank you Bobpickle! No one has ever talked to me about this in my lessons, nor have I ever heard this technique on this thread forum or in master classes. That seems really odd! But I will definitely try this out and see if it helps. Always good to have more tricks in my arsenal. laugh


Edited by Morodiene (05/22/13 04:21 PM)
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#2086945 - 05/22/13 05:19 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: Rollin shoulders]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
The point I was trying to make is Cortot's exercises aren't written out as a less experienced player might need or expect. Cortot takes a certain level of expertise, ability to transpose easily etc. as given. He might give you only a single measure and expect you to run with it. It can be quite daunting. The exercises themselves are probably excellent but only if you can figure them out well enough to derive the benefit.
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#2086992 - 05/22/13 07:11 PM Re: Beginner Chopin? [Re: -Frycek]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
The point I was trying to make is Cortot's exercises aren't written out as a less experienced player might need or expect. Cortot takes a certain level of expertise, ability to transpose easily etc. as given. He might give you only a single measure and expect you to run with it. It can be quite daunting. The exercises themselves are probably excellent but only if you can figure them out well enough to derive the benefit.


Yeah, I'm a good example of this when I was browsing through the pdf of his Chopin etudes ed. earlier, even having some of your earlier comments in mind.

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