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#2230642 - 02/12/14 09:07 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: zrtf90]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 253
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
I won't be going back to this piece until around April, Valencia, when the Tchaikovsky is out of the way.
I would allow the new material to settle in before going further. If you don't do this, there's a higher chance that weaknesses in the passage will be left unattended as you focus more on the newer areas. I tend to get each learned passage to a point where it no longer needs daily repetition and I can keep it simmering on Saturdays and Sundays before going on to the next one.
If your memory is slow to fire in places keep the sections short enough that it isn't a problem. You don't want to memorise the pauses. I wouldn't have all 65 bars as one section for some considerable time.
My feeling is that the hard work ahead will be easier if the current section is no longer draining your reserves but only you and your journal can verify if that's the best way forward for you.
Learning this piece is going to be an adventure. My instinct is to learn all the sections as individual passages and put them together when they're all done and you can run one onto the other without dropping the tempo.



Thanks Richard. I took your advice and am staying with the first 65 bars for awhile. I was worried about trying to get to bar 106 which you mentioned was probably where you would start in April after the Tchaikovsky recital. But I donít know if I can make it to there by that time. However I could always start there at that time and just leave 66-105 until later.

For bars 1-65, there are many things for me to work on. M36-43 are proving challenging to play fluently.

http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=36&end=43

Though just playing things over and over is not the best way to practice, I donít know how else to drill in a section like this.

Iím still trying to get 24 to 32 fluent, and to keep the melody in the RH sounding strong throughout, especially in the places where fingers 4 and 5 of the RH are responsible for the melody. My playing is weak in those places.

http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=24&end=32

The little notes in bar 33 are coming but still not near fast and light enough, and I stumble sometimes.

The tempo of 48-52 is of course still slow and I need to work on accuracy with the octave transition.

http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=48&end=52

And then the arpeggios from 56 to 65 need to be faster and lighter.

http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=56&end=65


I know this is something that could take time over months of practice, not just days or weeks, but even so like to feel a little more solid in these sections before I take on the next part of the piece.

So, lots to focus on in these first three pages. I am really enjoying my work on this piece so far. Frustration will come thoughÖit always doesÖ.haha.:)

The other part Iíve looked at is the scherzando, because my memory gives me trouble when I canít see a pattern or connection with the notes. So, Iíve been focusing on:

M130-137
http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=130&end=137

M146-149
http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=146&end=149

M150-153

http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=150&end=153

These sections are very tricky memory-wise for me, and so Iím getting them going now so that I have several months for them to sink into my brain before I actually really practice that particular section.

How is everyone else doing with their practicing?

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#2230897 - 02/13/14 10:56 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Valencia
However I could always start there at that time and just leave 66-105 until later.
Yep, that's what I'll be doing! smile

Originally Posted By: Valencia
...just playing things over and over is not the best way to practice...
It's among the worst. Drilling doesn't allow the brain to sort out the mess while you sleep. The technique in M36-39 is the same except the last figure in M39. So just do M39 two or three times carefully each day until it's easy. Then do it once each day and M38 two or three times. Keep going until you've got back to M36. If you work forwards it's easy to go too far and reach the straw that breaks the camel's back. You can more easily stop when you reach familiar territory instead of ploughing on trying to extend ever further.

Repeat for M43 to M40, once through each bar you know and three times through the one you're adding.

Originally Posted By: Valencia
Iím still trying to get 24 to 32 fluent
Two phrases of two and half bars and two of two bars. Work each phrase and the first note of the next two or three times each. Let sleep do the rest. Play the melody notes normally with a bit of wrist assistance and keep the arm weight on those notes while you play all the other notes whisper quiet without any arm weight.

Originally Posted By: Valencia
The little notes in bar 33...
Have you established the finger groups? Work each group on its own a couple of times, plus the first note of the next. Again, it's best to work backwards. Speed will come when your fingers know where to go or you can play each group while you're thinking about the next so don't think about speed until then. Rhythms might be good here.

The other passages are the same kind of work, needing speed AND accuracy AND memorising. You might find it difficult doing this amount of memorising each day. When the other passages are memorised and you just need to build speed then memorise these other bits. Use a little time for memorising work, then use some for memorised passages that need accuracy. Then spend a little time on accurate passages that need a bit more speed. The end result should come much faster this way.
_________________________
Richard

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#2230914 - 02/13/14 11:30 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Ataru074 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 385
Loc: Houston, TX
Took me months ( about 3 ) to get the Coda up to speed and memorized. than after working on a couple of more sections I decided to suspend the work because I was getting a little too fed up and I stopped enjoying the music.
I had to confess that I don't really love Chopin music, but I do strongly appreciate the leap in technique that his music facilitate.

that to say... if you can finish the coda, you can complete the ballade. not the other way around... and considering you'll get there quite "tired" it's better to start from the end and work it backwards in sections, so, while performing, the anxiety of encountering progressively difficult sections will be defeated by the fact that you have played it for a longer time... otherwise, IMHO, would be very frustrating to get to the last 3 pages after 6 month of works and have to spend another 3 months for 3 short ( actually, 1 and 1/5 ) hard page.

I'll pick up the ballade later on, I want to work on the Scherzo in b flat minor first. :-)
_________________________
===============================================
working on:
Brahms: Op 118
Mozart: Kv330
Beethoven: Op 14 #2
===============================================

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#2235686 - 02/21/14 06:51 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: zrtf90]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 253
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: Valencia
Iím still trying to get 24 to 32 fluent
Two phrases of two and half bars and two of two bars. Work each phrase and the first note of the next two or three times each. Let sleep do the rest. Play the melody notes normally with a bit of wrist assistance and keep the arm weight on those notes while you play all the other notes whisper quiet without any arm weight.

Originally Posted By: Valencia
The little notes in bar 33...
Have you established the finger groups? Work each group on its own a couple of times, plus the first note of the next. Again, it's best to work backwards. Speed will come when your fingers know where to go or you can play each group while you're thinking about the next so don't think about speed until then. Rhythms might be good here.


Thanks Richard. What do you mean by finger groups for the little notes in bar 33? This week I tried to practice starting from the high G: 54321, then 23, then 54321, then 23123, then 54321. I can play it slowly but I know if I go faster I will make mistakes and end up derailed.

Working backwards through the phrases is hard! I tried that a little this week but should practice more of it. 36-43 is getting into my fingers slowly but it will be some time yet.

As for getting the melody to ring out through bars 26-30, I almost injured my RH hand this week trying to play it so I need to relax and be more careful. Maybe I will practice the RH with the proper fingering but without the bottom notes until I have the melody solid.

Ataru074, thanks for sharing your experiences with the coda! That you could play the coda at tempo within 3 mo is pretty amazing to me! I don't expect to ever be able to play it at tempo. I agree that it is a tough section to be left with at the end of all the other practicing. That's why I like to start tackling the hardest parts of a piece early on so that I can practice them alongside the rest of the piece. I've practiced some of the coda a little (no serious practicing yet...just getting a sense of what is to come). Of course the tempo aspect will be very challenging and I don't actually expect to get it. But so far I am not afraid of the notes of that section, *except* the scales, which I am terrible at generally (as in, I am terrible at all scales). At this point I am more afraid of the middle of the piece. But this might change when I get to the coda and have to try to learn it well. Well actually, maybe the scales in the coda are scaring me quite a bit too. The two ascending ones, and then prior to that, the chromatic up and then the descent...:\

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#2236092 - 02/22/14 05:45 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Valencia
What do you mean by finger groups...
The groups are how you divide the passage for practising. They may either be rhythmic groups or they make be groups between changes of hand position.

You have noted:
54321
23
54321
23123
54321

I have the measure broken up as three groups of four and three groups of six to coordinate the LH better and I'd also practise alternately as six groups of two and six groups of three to try and manage the speed change more reliably.

I use different fingering (I can't use yours fast enough) but my groups are:
(1)4321
5341
5432
123543
131212
354321

Originally Posted By: Valencia
Working backwards through the phrases is hard!
Thinking hard, not playing hard so it makes concentration easier and thus you learn faster. Plus, you can't get bored if you're concentrating!

Originally Posted By: Valencia
...I almost injured my RH hand this week...
Gasp! What are you doing that risks injuring your RH???

Play the melody gently with arm weight. No accompaniment. When you're ready brush the other RH fingers against the keys but don't play them. Then add soft LH. Then play the other RH fingers but keep concentrating on soft melody and eke it out gently from the shoulder.

Get the fingers to work properly. The speed will come when they know themselves what's wanted of them, so to speak.

Originally Posted By: Valencia
...scales, which I am terrible at generally...
If you don't practise them then maybe you could start. If you do practise then maybe you could stop and instead practise pieces with scale passages in them e.g. Bach - Invention No. 4, Mozart - K. 545 or Schubert - Scherzo No. 2 in D flat. I don't do scales as much as I used to but I work my socks off trying to get the second half of Mozart's Allegro smooth and even. smile
_________________________
Richard

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#2259930 - 04/10/14 07:09 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: zrtf90]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 253
Thanks for this helpful reply Richard. For some reason I thought I'd responded to you but I guess that was only in my head! Sorry about that!

How is everyone coming along with the Ballade? Anyone still working on it? Or about to start?

I'm working away at it and am having a lot of fun. There are many aspects of the first three pages to bar 65 that will need time and continued practice. 52 to 65 are especially tricky for me. http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=52&end=65

That said, those octaves from 106 to 123 will need lots of work so I'm thinking to at least start on those and get them going. Was thinking to leave the transition section that comes right before it until later.

http://www.notablescores.com/pieces/1?start=106&end=106

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#2260109 - 04/11/14 07:01 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Valencia
For some reason I thought I'd responded to you but I guess that was only in my head!
I can't count the number of times I've hit 'Preview Reply', proofread the post and, satisfied it was OK, moved on without hitting 'Submit'.

Originally Posted By: Valencia
...52 to 65 are especially tricky for me
How well have you got 48/49 - the first four groups of three before the pattern repeats? I think this is key to the whole passage to M55.

My method of sorting this passage out is to work this basic pattern as four groups of three, then as four groups of four including the first (double) note of the next group, then two groups of six (the two inner groups, Bb+F#-A-D, with the octave descent cycled a few times and the outer groups, C+G-Bb-D, with the turn upwards cycled a few times) and finally as one group of twelve notes cycled a few times.

Each group of three would have to be played really fast a few times. It's only playing fast that the mechanics can be understood and the movement minimised. As the number of notes increase so the speed must come down and the final group of twelve will be quite slow by comparison but will increase over time toward the initial group-of-three burst speed.

The tricky bit here, for me, is the change from white-black-white in the outer groups to black-white-black for the inner groups. My middle finger wants to hit Ab instead of A natural. Getting the angle of the hand just right fixes it for me.

I wouldn't plan on extending to M55 or adding the LH until this basic operation was fast and fluent with just RH.
___________________________

As I mentioned earlier, my current plan is to start on the Presto in a couple of weeks (April 20). I'll see you there!
_________________________
Richard

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#2262649 - 04/16/14 03:15 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
chopinoholic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/13
Posts: 185
Loc: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Started! laugh

Last night I started practicing the ballade. I'm planning to start with M122-M206.
Beginning really slow to give most attention to the fingering, Which is in my opinion extremely important to put the notes in the 'muscle memory'. This will help increasing the speed in the (hopefully) near future.

I'm really excited. I try and give progress comments every now and then.

How is it going with you guys?


Edited by chopinoholic (04/16/14 03:18 PM)
_________________________
Paul


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#2262660 - 04/16/14 03:55 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: chopinoholic
Last night I started practising the ballade. I'm planning to start with...
Hmm?

Originally Posted By: chopinoholic
How is it going with you guys?
Starting next week at M208-216!

What prep. work have you done, Paul?

This is one of the last pieces my teacher gave me before I relocated back in '84. We went through it sequentially to around M105 and I had a few cursory attempts at it since then but nothing serious. (I played it once from sight when drink got the better of me in my youth in front a suitably and equally inebriated audience at an after-play-party following a successful amateur dramatic performance!) laugh

Valencia stirred my current passion for it and in the intervening years I've memorised the piece in my head and analysed it a good deal. I have some ideas about how I want it to sound.

There are various ways of dividing this up into manageable sections and we've examined some earlier in the thread but none of my mine would be as large as M122-206.

Do you have a more detailed plan and would you care to share it?
_________________________
Richard

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#2262945 - 04/17/14 07:22 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: zrtf90]
chopinoholic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/13
Posts: 185
Loc: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Hi Richard,

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: chopinoholic
Last night I started practising the ballade. I'm planning to start with...
Hmm?

Weird sentence, I agree... crazy

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: chopinoholic
How is it going with you guys?
Starting next week at M208-216!

That's some progression! Have you gone through everything up to this?

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
What prep. work have you done, Paul?


I know the piece pretty well. The prep work includes basically the same you guys have already done here. Divide the piece up in sections and identify technical difficulties before hand.

Originally Posted By: zrtf90

This is one of the last pieces my teacher gave me before I relocated back in '84. We went through it sequentially to around M105 and I had a few cursory attempts at it since then but nothing serious. (I played it once from sight when drink got the better of me in my youth in front a suitably and equally inebriated audience at an after-play-party following a successful amateur dramatic performance!) laugh

Valencia stirred my current passion for it and in the intervening years I've memorised the piece in my head and analysed it a good deal. I have some ideas about how I want it to sound.

There are various ways of dividing this up into manageable sections and we've examined some earlier in the thread but none of my mine would be as large as M122-206.

Do you have a more detailed plan and would you care to share it?


The plan is, learn the notes and the fingering. Usually when beginning a piece, I start at the beginning, but in this case I want to start with the part before the coda. Once I'm able to play this part at about two thirds of the pace, I'm going for the coda.

Every now and then I will go through the whole piece.

I have respect for you guys working the way you do, but that's not how I practice. I first want to play a large chunk, and picking out the hard parts as I go along.
Reading the notes has never been a major issue for me. Memorizing though, has been difficult always. Usually when I play a piece from the top of my head I rely on muscle memory mostly.
_________________________
Paul


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#2263480 - 04/18/14 11:29 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Hi Paul,

Originally Posted By: chopinoholic
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Starting next week at M208-216!

That's some progression! Have you gone through everything up to this?
No, I've done nothing worth the mention since 1984. I was going to start with M125, as I noted earlier in the thread, but in the interim I've reconsidered and will now start with the coda.

Originally Posted By: chopinoholic
Every now and then I will go through the whole piece.
That requires for me that I can play the whole piece. Simply reading the whole score away from the piano does more for me.

Originally Posted By: chopinoholic
Usually when I play a piece from the top of my head I rely on muscle memory mostly.
I'm learning not to trust muscle memory. I maintain very slow play to prevent reliance on it.

_____________________________

I'm off work today so I'm just preparing my sheets for Sunday. Here are some notes for the start of the coda.

M208-216
We move into cut time here but the accents occur on the back beat and have to be watched quite carefully up to M242 where they start to fall again in the more usual places.

I'm planning to use the four RH and three LH exercises recommended by Alfred Cortot here and also filling the rests in the actual score with the previous notes. The passage thus has no rests and it should be easy enough once the notes and chords are learnt to add the rests back and give the hand time to move quickly to the next chord. That should help build some speed.

I'll refrain from joining the hands here until I've got a good tempo going without struggling. Presto con fuoco will demand a relaxed and confident hand that knows what notes it's going to before it needs to get there. That'll need a few slow and accurate repetitions each day with a good deal of thinking through between them.

This is essentially four bars repeated and the repeat starts with a contrary octave leap in each hand. That'll take some careful preparation on its own. I'd better get the low C and Ab octave of M216 in as well if not the whole measure.
_________________________
Richard

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#2264227 - 04/19/14 06:17 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Bigvalbio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 11
Hi Valencia. I too have set myself the goal of learning this piece over the course of 2014. My aim is to be able to perform it to family and friends during the Christmas break. I don't get much time for practice but I have an ability to memorise quite easily. Even still, this piece is going to stretch the memory particularly through the waltz section.

I have been reading quite a bit about the study of this piece and stumbled across your thread here. Fantastic that I have found a few here on the same journey. I have played and memorised Ballade 3 a few years back and the Scherzo. Have tackled most of the nocturnes and etudes, a few of the waltzes and preludes. Got my Associate diploma before turning 17 but then stopped having lessons for 8 years before resuming again for a few years with a new teacher. Then kids came along (two little girls) and so my time at the piano is limited. I have also stopped having lessons again about 2 years ago.

Nevertheless, I am in love with this work and progress is coming along nicely. I have it playing in my head most of the time and get quite emotionally invested in it. My wife thinks I have become very broody since taking up practice on it.

Basically, I am also treating the exercise as training for a marathon. I'll get there and whilst it might not be a very fast time, no one can take from me that I completed it. Hahahaha.

I started in ray March and with a bit of weekend practice I've now got the first 5 pages memorised. I've tackled and fingered over parts of the coda to satisfy myself that this section will not be insurmountable. I'm looking forward to the challenge and there are some really worthwhile commentaries on this section of the piece online - most of which have already been referred to in your thread.

Anyway, it's nice to have a training buddy!! I get to practice on a G2 Yamaha here at home. But lucky for me, when visiting the family home, I get the choice of four full concert grands!

Best of luck and thanks for the thread!

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#2264293 - 04/19/14 08:23 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 253
Finally some company!! smile This will make working on the piece even more fun than it already is!

Thanks Richard! I can sometimes get through 48-52 without mistakes (and at a slow tempo), sometimes I hit a wrong note though. So far Iíve been focusing on making sure my hand can find where it needs to be so even if I make a mistake I can get back on track. As for where I usually make the mistakes I havenít been able to identify. I havenít much tried increasing the tempo of just the RH on its own for practice with the mechanics at higher speed. That is a good idea.

How is the coda coming along? I play it very slowly and still hesitate in places due to memory. How to ever get it going faster? I recorded myself playing it and it was even slower than I thought! Good grief. I need to work on expression, increasing the tempo, and those darn scales!

ChopinoholicóIíve had a preliminary look at some of the material you are working on. The scherzando or waltz is challenging memory wise for me and I donít know that Iíll ever be able to play it as quickly as it should be played. For memorizing it Iíve carried the score around with me and tried to visualize the notes of the trickiest sections while walking from here to there etcÖgoing about my day. Itís taking a lot of pounding it into my head to get any of it to stick. The other section Iíve looked at are the polyrhythms in 170, 171, and 172 and then 179.

Bigvalbio-Itís great to have you on board! You have a lot more experience than I do at piano so I look forward to some of your insights. Iíve memorized the first Ömaybe 4 pages. The fifth and the big octaves section in the middle of the piece I have yet to do. I like the marathon analogyóthat is a great way to think about it! It will be an achievement just to successfully get through it. Lucky you to have the chance to play on the Yamaha and concert grands!

One thing Iíve started doing is recording my playing. Immediately I realized that I have to tone down the heartbeat that follows each repetition of the theme at the beginning of the piece.

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#2264391 - 04/19/14 11:52 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Bigvalbio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 11
I've been doing the same thing re: heart beat on main theme. Just got to keep them to a weak pulse!

Spent 3hrs this morning on the coda. It's no walk in the park!! But now have M238 to finish all done and committed to memory.

M208 to 235 is going to be a challenge but has some similarities to the closing in the 3rd ballade.

My brain goes limp for the Gminor melodic scale in thirds at M255. Just cannot play it at speed so that will take some practice.

But going well from 1to 126. Just got to tackle the middle waltz which I've been putting off. What an amazing piece.

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#2264911 - 04/21/14 10:59 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Bigvalbio
Spent 3hrs this morning on the coda.
Three hours on one piece? If you got three hours of progress out of that I tip my hat to you. That would be two and a half hours wasted for me!

M208-216
The Cortot exercises haven't lasted the distance. I've changed the first one to include the lower note as a ninth to get used to the hand shape for the first four chords. I'm including the LH chords to cover the rests but not including the bass notes (except when doing LH alone, of course). The end of the phrase is played as printed (but with just the LH chords, not the bass notes).

I've also stopped playing the first chord in M208 and starting the pattern on beat two.

It seems to be working. I'm not going any slower than I would with any other unfamiliar passage and don't foresee an issue. I'm going fast enough playing just four notes/chords at a time. In fact I may be able to start on M216 - 224 this week, too.

Notes/chords. Is there a technical term for a sound unit of one or more notes at a time? I'm playing chord, note, chord, chord in quick succession. Is that four notes as well as ten (if each chord has three notes in it)?

M216-224
Lots of subtle differences in LH here make the measures less repetitive than the RH alone might suggest. Not harder to play, of course, but tricky to remember correctly. The accents change a bit here and bring out the subtle melodies. It might be worth playing just the accented RH notes along with the LH to make these subtleties clear in the head before getting lost in the technical difficulties of the arpeggiation. In the repeat, the accents aren't all carried into the measures just before the crescendo, M228-229. I wonder if they're implied?

The final page is not too difficult and the last half page I've had for some time as perfect material (and famous enough) to hammer out when someone else answers the front door laugh

I've allowed myself the whole quarter for getting this presto but having played each bar a few times now I don't see that it's going to take so much after all. There are passages of similar difficulty in the Moonlight that I can now play faster than I can think of the notes so I don't see much more than careful practise required here. I did have a teacher for the Moonlight but I've developed more discipline now.
_________________________
Richard

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#2265423 - 04/22/14 05:44 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Bigvalbio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 11
I have to fit as much practice in when I can so large blocks of time are not unusual for me at all. At the moment I am on holidays and kid free for some days. Yesterday I spent another 3 hours on the ballade and now have the first 6 pages and last 2 committed to memory and nearly at tempo.

A lot of hands separate practice yesterday and time spent memorising the LH from 106 to 124 (grandiose restatement of second theme). This has really improved the flow of this section as even at slow tempo I was searching for LH placement all the time. Memorising from 125 throughout the middle section is going to be difficult - it is quite chromatic.

Things will change soon once back at work. Then I will be lucky to get more than 30mins to myself and even then, an interruption every 10mins to play chopsticks with the kids.

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#2267710 - 04/27/14 11:57 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 253
Hi Everyone,

Wow Bigvalbio, that is amazing that you are through the coda already! Iím afraid it will take me a long time to get it up to tempo.

Richard, do you think you will be able to get the coda up to presto in less than 3 months? Iím pretty sure I wonít be able to do that.

Iíve injured my right thumb somehow, perhaps overpracticing the coda? Itís frustrating and I had to not use my thumb at the piano yesterday at all (and may have to do the same today. frown ). So, what I did was to practice the LH of the coda. One trouble spot is moving my hand accurately from the low G, Bb, and D up to the Bb-D-G chord. Seems my RH will have to take care of itself so I can keep my eyes on the LH during those jumps. But even LH only, itís a challenge to move my LH quickly from the lower notes up to that chord with accuracy.

Richard, Bigvalbio and anyone else, in RH measures 216 and 217, do you accent the first Ab and then the G in the octave lower, or do you accent the second Ab-Eb and then the F? Iíve been accenting the Ab, then the G and F in the lower register, but that is not how the score is marked. I started doing this based on Josh Wrightís tutorial on the coda but am not sure if I understood it correctly. Richard, Iíve been keeping the accents the same in the repeat even though they arenít marked in the score.

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#2267899 - 04/27/14 06:21 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Valencia
Richard, do you think you will be able to get the coda up to presto in less than 3 months?
I doubt I'll get it up to presto in my lifetime. I'm up to a brisk allegro, one handed, faster in RH than LH, and a leisurely but very rhythmic moderato hands together. Very Gershwin like. M217 - 238 look a little harder but I'm not going to be trying for speed, just accuracy and facility. The tempo can fall where it will.

FWIW, I never hit presto for the Moonlight, 3rd movement either. I'm at about 146 for the whole thing though I can go a little faster in some sections. The presto in the ballade is quite short. We live in hope.

I'm doing the LH slow enough that I can get the notes by feel rather than having to look. The recent Joplin bash has helped. I had to do the LH there without looking too but I've been doing that for years. I look ahead of time, when it's convenient, then just go.

Regarding injury and overpractising, there's no point doing more than will stick overnight. I don't improve much at the time so any obvious progress at the piano is enough to go to sleep on. More will not add much progress and may actually diminish it. Injury means there's something wrong with what you're doing. The piano can be played for hours without injury or overuse if your technique is correct. It's not like Greco-Roman wrestling. It may be worth saving up for one or two consultations with a teacher before you need a more expensive one with a surgeon.

Take it easy.
_________________________
Richard

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#2268293 - 04/28/14 05:52 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
M216-224
The accents fall on the melody, Valencia, and are all on single notes. The Chopin Institute edition has it right. The Mikuli edition is wrong. I am playing just the melody notes and whispering everything else for the first two runs in RH and HT. The whispering keeps everything light which will help when I'm ready to build speed.

M216: Ab G F# G'
M218: Ab G F# G'
M220: F Eb D C

I'm stopping here, M224, this week and will only be doing a couple of repeats each day of M208-224 the following week. I'll do M224 - 242 from May 11.
_________________________
Richard

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#2268312 - 04/28/14 06:27 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Bigvalbio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 11
That's very helpful, Richard - thank you. I was also intending to accent as per Josh Wright's tutorial.

Valencia take it easy - as said above, if you are injuring yourself then something is wrong.

3rd movt of the moonlight is something I still play regularly and Presto is not a problem but I have a feeling already with the coda that I won't get there (presto) without sacrificing accuracy. I really want to do more with this piece than just showmanship and pyrotechnics which is always so tempting to do. Very easy to get caught up in the moment and get faster and louder and build in mistakes. There are a lot of subtleties to explore and colours to bring out. Think I'd rather be accused of playing it safe but have all the notes there than attacking at speed and fudging it to a degree.

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#2268977 - 04/30/14 04:50 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
lolatu Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 528
Loc: UK
I'm still working on this. Sorry I didn't see these updates earlier. Is there a trick to seeing promptly when this thread has been updated? I only check this forum rarely.

Currently have the first 3 pages, sections 1-5 up to bar 66 memorized and can play them decently well by my standards. Sections 6 and 7, the meno mosso up to bar 93 don't seem too difficult, so working on memorizing those. Likewise, section 8, the theme 1 reprise, won't be a problem.

Section 9 (106-125) is more challenging. Currently working on it hands separately with the metronome. Have started analyzing the chords to help memorization (seems easier when it doesn't just look like random notes; also handy if you want to strum along on guitar smile ), which are, as far as I can fathom:

Code:
Bar  Chord
106  E7
107  A
108  B7
109  E
110  D   Bm7
111  E6  Amaj7
112  Bm  C#7
113  F#m B7
114  E7  (theme repeats) 
115  A
116  B7
117  E
118  Edim A#dim
119  Edim A#dim
120  Eaug G#7
121  Eaug G#7
122  C#m  G#m
123  C#m  G#m
124  E#dim (?)
125  E#dim

I do wish that this was written with an A major key signature. It seems daft keeping the Bb signature and having accidentals on every other note.

I have acquired a Kawai CA95 digital piano, which is what I'm practicing on. If anyone needs convincing of the merits of digitals, they should give one of these a try. My acoustic upright sounds and feels unplayably awful in comparison!
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Pianoteq Stage / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22
In the loft: Roland FP3 / Tannoy Reveal Active / K&M 18810

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#2271036 - 05/04/14 04:20 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Congratulations on picking the Kawai CA95, lolatu! I also find this a step up from most acoustic uprights and the versatility for practising is matchless. I have been overwhelmed by the difference so many of my pieces have gained since adopting the Bach/Lehman 1722 tuning that I might otherwise have passed over. Every so often I hit a harmony that just jumps out at me. It has become the default temperament for me. Chopin isn't the same in ET. I can't really hear the difference between these temperaments back to back but I can pick up a mood when I first turn on the piano. I now find equal temperament quite dull and won't be going back to it.

M216-219
I started the week going as far as M224 but finished just working on these four bars. The accent on the first Ab is at a different point on the repeat and it has thrown me. But as the week ended I had got much smoother and know where I am now with the music. This was a bit of a breakthrough for me and although I still haven't got the hands together here I don't foresee a problem now that I have my head round the melody. Laying the thumb over the C and D in M217 and 219 has eased the LH work.

I've continued to work on M208-216 and after overcoming a couple of hurdles I can feel it starting to really pick up now. My fingers were going to the C min of M210 instead of the G min, 2nd inv, of M209 and jumping at the repeat to the octave instead of the ninth (thumb on Bb instead of Ab) for the repeat in M212. Now I've got that sorted it's really picking up HT now and getting quite easy HS and the hands getting very loose.

I'll take it up M224 this coming week and get the hands together. I'll leave the repeat until I've hammered this lot home a bit more.
_________________________
Richard

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#2271279 - 05/05/14 06:04 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Sam Rose Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 673
Loc: Los Angeles
I'm still struggling with the coda, the scales at the end, and the scherzando section. I'm due for another recording of the piece, since the last one I made was well over a year ago, but I don't think I should bother until I can do the whole piece at least an A- level of justice frown


Edited by Sam Rose (05/05/14 06:04 AM)
_________________________
Playing since age 21 (September 2010) and loving it more every day.
"You can play better than BachMach2." - Mark_C
Currently Butchering:
Chopin Ballade no 1 in G minor Op.23
My Piano Diary: http://www.youtube.com/sirsardonic
‚ô™ > $

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#2271389 - 05/05/14 11:07 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: zrtf90]
lolatu Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 528
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Congratulations on picking the Kawai CA95, lolatu! I also find this a step up from most acoustic uprights and the versatility for practising is matchless.

Thanks! Didn't know you had one too. It's a fine instrument. My main problem is that the soundboard has rather bad resonance issues playing F3 (the one just below middle C), if you hold down the pedal and play the key fairly loud, and especially if repeated. This occurs in the Ballade from bar 63 and through the menno mosso. Do you find this as well? I don't think there's a solution except using headphones!

Quote:
I have been overwhelmed by the difference so many of my pieces have gained since adopting the Bach/Lehman 1722 tuning that I might otherwise have passed over. Every so often I hit a harmony that just jumps out at me. It has become the default temperament for me. Chopin isn't the same in ET. I can't really hear the difference between these temperaments back to back but I can pick up a mood when I first turn on the piano. I now find equal temperament quite dull and won't be going back to it.

I haven't played with the temperaments. I searched around and there was a discussion on another site about someone playing Chopin's Preludes in "unequal temperament", but the consensus was that you couldn't really tell much of a difference, and if you could, it just sounded like a normal piano slightly out of tune! However, I do prefer the Jazz Grand sound to the Concert Grand, since it seems to have a less "perfect" sound and creates some dissonances that are pleasing to the ear. Maybe that's a similar thing.

@Sam Yes, do another recording. No-one expects perfection, especially in a "beginners" forum!
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Pianoteq Stage / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22
In the loft: Roland FP3 / Tannoy Reveal Active / K&M 18810

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#2272492 - 05/07/14 06:31 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I have no resonance issues other than when I leave some of my acoustic guitars uncased and propped against the mixer desk and playing in my "loud" setting (Concert Grand with one of the others in Dual mode and a Light touch curve).

I don't find the other three compete with the Concert Grand so I only use them in Dual mode with the Concert Grand though for the recent Joplin bash I used the Studio Grand with a bit of the Upright.
_________________________

There isn't much difference in the temperaments but only with a digital do I feel confident in the tuning. Meantone definitely sounds off (works okay with early music) but Werckmeister and Kirnberger are very playable. I occasionally pick up a nuance that, yes, on a strung instrument would pass by but on a digital, especially on headphones, is more noticeable and won't be a tuning issue. I get more of those 'glorious harmonies' with the Bach/Lehman than any of the others that I've tried.
__________________________

Sam, without trying to slight your talents, we're not going to be listening to enjoy the Ballade per se when we have Rubinstein and Zimmerman et al out there.

What we do want to know is how well someone without professional training and experience (i.e., someone like us) can improve in a year (despite your high starting point) and what are the least improved spots (and thus likely to be the hardest ones).
_________________________
Richard

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#2285064 - 06/03/14 08:04 AM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Bigvalbio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 11
How's everyone going with their practice??

I have become literally obsessed. Sneaking in practice wherever I can. I've had some time off work lately too and the house to myself. Getting at least 30mins every night when the kids are having a bath as well. I've been using this time to dedicate to certain areas (mainly the coda of late) and progress is really coming along nicely. I'm going to return to my teacher for some guidance soon and have a lesson every fortnight.

Basically, I've got everything hands together save and except from bars 138 to 163 where I remain hands separate. The coda is quite strong and secure now at slow speed and the final g min scale in 3rds (which much to my chagrin, was alluding me before) is now fine using some old scale techniques I learned from my old flute teacher haha.

Very happy with progress. I really feel as though this piece is going to come within my grasp. Couldn't be happier at the moment. How's everyone se doing?

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#2285869 - 06/04/14 09:32 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
lolatu Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 528
Loc: UK
I've made pretty good progress over the past month... have it all hands together and memorized up to bar 129. Still a few sections need to be brought up to speed. Haven't gone any further yet, but it looks like I'll be practicing the waltz section next.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Pianoteq Stage / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22
In the loft: Roland FP3 / Tannoy Reveal Active / K&M 18810

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#2287435 - 06/08/14 05:50 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I'm up to M242 now but having some issues. I've become familiar with the last page over the years and won't be doing much of it this time around. I'll just add it on when the tempo for the current two pages is more commensurate with it.

I'm sticking with this passage until the end of the month. Thereafter I'll just practise weekends often enough to keep it in memory and spend a week every so often building some tempo.

From July to September I'll be working on M106-166.

My issues include spanning the ninths at speed, not remembering the change from A to G in M228 vs M220 (also at speed) and the LH octaves so I have to remind myself I'm going into the crescendo when I'm without the score instead of looping from M216 again. Also accuracy is lost with the inner finger in the second half of measures 216 and 218 and similar. I've a nice steady tempo going HT from M208-242 and getting quite quick in four separate groups RH only but it's going to be a while before this is going to be as quick HT as I don't want to lose precision. It took a while for the accents to make themselves felt but once the passage came together in the head I could drop the score and it started moving forward at the keyboard. I would like to have done more but I've had other things taking my time of late and am glad to have done this much.

My main practise exercises, though I'm not yet managing all of these each day, are
(i) four block chords per bar from M216-M238 in two bar sections RH and HT, exaggerating the accents,
(ii) playing just the first note and touching the two chord notes without them sounding, RH and HT, also exaggerating the accents, and
(iii) working each half bar as fast as possible RH and HT, note-chord-note-chord-note.

It's tough but I can feel it coming together and there are hints as to how well I'll be able to do this in the distant future.
_________________________
Richard

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#2298386 - 07/03/14 09:07 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Valencia]
Bigvalbio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 11

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#2313055 - 08/08/14 03:57 PM Re: Studying Chopinís Ballade 1 [Re: Bigvalbio]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 253
BigValBio this was great! Thanks for sharing! Wow, your fingers move with ease. I will view your first video in particular a few more times to get some ideas for practicing that section as itís coming along very slowly for me.

Sorry I havenít checked in on this thread for awhile. My mother is not well again and I travelled to stay with her for almost a month. Iím just back but will likely have to go and stay with her again soon as she is possibly facing a risky surgery! I did get in some practicing though while staying with her, however not much. I am still working on the ballade.

How is everyones practicing going? Iím not sure what to focus on at this point. The whole piece needs focusing, but how to go about it? Iíve pretty much memorized the whole piece now, however Iím a little shaky memory-wise right on the transition section before the coda. Other than that, I can play through the notes now!

Regarding flow, I donít play the restatement of the second theme well yet and that is probably the part that still needs the most work just from a Ďgetting the notes under the fingers and being able to play it throughí perspective. And I still have troubles accuracy-wise with the arpeggios right before the first statement of the second theme. (sorry donít have my score here to look at the bar numbers!). There are probably a few more places where I tend to stumble as well. Tempo is of course an issue but Iím not worrying about it now.

After that, the whole piece needs work. Iím just not quite sure what to do. The last few days I havenít practiced because I hurt my thumb so am letting my hands rest. Tomorrow I may get back to it again.

Hope everyone is doing well!

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