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#398659 - 06/27/05 08:29 PM So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
bach enthusiast Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 847
Loc: Tucson Arizona
(IF YOU CAN ALREADY PLAY THIS PIECE DON'T READ THIS)
Since I've become part of the forums here, I've noticed on tons of old threads that there are alot of people always asking about Chopin's opus10 no.12(revolutionary) etude. Everyone wants to know if they can start it even though they have minimal experience. By the way they write their questions, it is easy to see that many of them are most likely not technically capable of taking on such an endeavor. They want to know some kind of trick to learning it. While there is not a single trick to learning this, or any other piece of music, there are ways in which one can speed up the process. Anyway,(since I'm bored right now) I created this thread for these people in mind. I learned this piece after three years at the piano, and I must say in a humble manner that I play it well. here was my method:
Let me first say that you must have a good foundation and experience at the keyboard in order to take up this piece. I only played for three years before learning it, but I did practice incessantly.
The way I sum up this piece is there are three things that need to be understood and worked on. Mostly for the left hand. YOU MUST HAVE ENDURANCE TO PLAY THIS PIECE. It's just plain hard to play this piece all the way through without tiring. So you build up to it gradually. you've got to start putting your left hand under some rigorous conditionong. I would recommend arpeggios,all inversions ( in preperation for the rapid expansion and recoil of the hand in this piece). Also, do scale studies. Both of these things all the way up and down the keyboard with the left hand until your arm almost falls off, rest awhile and repeat. Get that sucker movin'. You don't run a marathon without building up endurance. I would also undertake Chopin's prelude no. 3 in g major in preperation. It also has that constant exersion of the left hand. You also have to get rid of all tension(EXREMELY IMPORTANT).
Second, KILL YOUR SUSTAINING PEDAL. This piece's purpose is, among other things, to enhance legato in the left hand. Do not ruin it's effectiveness by tying notes together with pedal. YOU ARE ONLY CHEATING YOURSELF. On top of that, there is nothing worse than hearing this piece muffled and distorted with big washes of pedal. If you have a digital keyboard unplug the pedal, and if you have an acoustic, cut a shoebox in half and cover it. You must resist the strong urge to pedal in this piece. Once you've perfected it, then you may add pedal to your liking.
Third, SLOW DOWN. Practice slowly and accurately. Speed will not come overnight. Accuracy is key here.
Personally, I learned the complete piece left hand only. I didn't even pay attention to the right hand until I knew the left like second nature. This really helped, and I highly recommend this method. It also helped when i bagan to learn the right hand parts with the triplets.
It's all about that left hand. ENDURANCE, NO PEDAL, and SLOW PRACTICE. also, do that third prelude and try to really bring it up to speed. I learned this piece in this exact manner. Once you have the great pleasure of being able to play this brilliant piece,you'll notice something extrodinary. You will realize Chopin's true purpose in creating it. Your left hand technique will be noticeably better than before you started. Thats what's great about the chopin studies. Your busy with their musicality and then, Viola, Chopin reveals his magic.
You realize that they are actually improving your abilities at the keyboard.
sorry if I bored anyone.
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#398660 - 06/27/05 08:49 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
paulie567 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 160
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Sounds like good advice! I haven't learned this one yet, but I might at some point, and these sound like good pointers. I had to use the "kill the pedal" method to learn the middle section of the B minor etude, there's no other way to get a good legato.

I can also vouch for the fact that slow practicing, I mean *real* slow, is immensely helpful in learning to properly play a piece. Gyorgy Sandor's rule of thumb seems to work pretty well: practice slow enough that you can control and perfect all the aspects of playing: right notes (of course), proper dynamics, touch, pedaling, etc. I went through my pieces maybe once per practice session in this way, and I'm convinced I did much better in my recent recital because of it.

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#398661 - 06/27/05 09:02 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by bach enthusiast:
(IF YOU CAN ALREADY PLAY THIS PIECE DON'T READ THIS)
[/b]
Well, I can play this one already, but if you've heard my recording, you know that I have some work to do with it!

Great advice. It's so tempting not only to play with sustain pedal, but even more so to play it fast. Especially because I can play it (not perfectly) at q=110-130, my hands just don't want me to play it slower! I really should, though.

The 28/3 suggestion is a good one, too.
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#398662 - 06/27/05 09:44 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
WCSMinorCircuit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/04
Posts: 1124
Loc: California
I disobeyed you, BE, 'cause I can already play this piece, but I liked how you emphasized the use of no pedal. That's really really important in this piece.

I personally think this piece is a study on dynamics and left and right hand independence than on technicality. Anyone else with me one this?
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#398663 - 06/27/05 09:51 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
bach enthusiast Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 847
Loc: Tucson Arizona
Yeah, 28/3 is a perfect lead in to 10/12.It's the exact same principle.
As you said it's also hard to resist pedaling when trying to get up speed on this one. Isn't it funny how your foot gravitates towards it even though your making a conscious effort to not use it. I developed the shoebox technique out of my frustration of this occurance.
This study has done wonders for my left hand endurance and technique. It's amazing how many doors the Chopin studies can open. I was thinking about doing a ballade but I think it might be jumping ahead to quickly. I'm gonna do another etude.
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JOHN

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#398664 - 06/27/05 11:32 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
 Quote:
Originally posted by bach enthusiast:
I was thinking about doing a ballade but I think it might be jumping ahead to quickly. I'm gonna do another etude. [/b]
I'm a big proponent of Etudes and Scherzi before Ballades-- arguably the most demanding pieces in the Chopin catalogue (along with the Sonatas) in terms of interpretation.
My professors and I are in agreement that one must work gradually and cautiously toward mastering Chopin interpretation.
Something like: Preludes to Etudes, Etudes to Scherzi, Scherzi to Ballades/Sonatas, with assorted Mazurkas, Waltzes, etc. thrown in along the way to help balance technical development with lyricism.
When I start teaching, I plan to use the Chopin Etudes and WTC I & II exhaustively-- in fact, I think there is a great deal one can get out of working them simultaneously (for instance, the C major Prelude from WTC Bk I and the Opus 10 C Major Etude)

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#398665 - 06/28/05 04:24 AM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Ballyhoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/03
Posts: 408
Loc: Australia
For me, the key to endurance in the left hand is making sure that the left hand is always relaxed. Once I learned to play with my left hand relaxed, it didn't get tired at all in this piece.

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#398666 - 06/28/05 10:23 AM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Skriabin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/05
Posts: 551
Loc: li, new york
I agree with JosephS. This is a Study in Dynamics. The pedal is pretty important in this piece.

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#398667 - 06/28/05 12:08 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
bach enthusiast Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 847
Loc: Tucson Arizona
NO! NO! NO! Skriabin. The pedal must be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS when learning this piece! When you master it, then you can add tiny amounts of pedal to your liking. Even then the sustaining pedal should have a minimal existence in this composition. Why is this so hard to understand for some people? If I were a teacher i'd chop the feet off of my students who had this compulsive pedal fixation! \:D
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#398668 - 06/28/05 02:24 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
10/12 is all about legato. Nothing else. Touch and tone, not dynamics. You should stay away from the pedal while you learn it so you learn the correct technique (this goes for a lot of them actually)

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#398669 - 06/28/05 02:56 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13825
Loc: Iowa City, IA
10/12, 10/1, 10/2, 10/3, 10/4, 10/5, 10/6, 10/7, 10/8, 10/9, 10/10, and 10/11 are about music.

That is the beauty of the Chopin etudes. They do not simply train an element of music, they train the hands, ears, and heart to make music together. The sweeping legato lines of the LH, the tragic melody, the kaleidoscopic shifts of harmony in the middle section, the excitement of the opening and closing cascades, etc...
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#398670 - 06/28/05 03:32 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
It's never about only one technique. Yes, LH legato is the main technique to focus on. But how boring it would be if this was all one focused on!

The left hand must dynamically rise and fall like waves. The RH octaves must be sharp and powerful. Overall, there must be a feeling of omniscience and fear.

Of course, when one is learning the notes, it is very important to avoid the pedal and really focus on simply getting the right notes - just getting the notes is hard enough. Once one can play all of the notes smoothly and legato, then the really tough work starts - learning to bring out the music.
_________________________
Sam

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#398671 - 06/28/05 07:09 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
john the hand Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/04
Posts: 156
Loc: Orange County, California
The left hand is definitely the hardest part of the piece. I would say practicing slowly with accuracy is crucial, especially for the middle sectino. Since the double sharps and other odd notes sound awkward at times, it is essential that you play it clearly just to make sure that you're not making any note slip-ups. Personally, the hardest part was the the dynamics, not the technique. Making that left hand oscillate throughout the piece without overpowering the right hand melody was extremely difficult, especially with the numerous pedal changes I had to adjust to. After the left hand, it's all smooth sailing from there. I'm just retouching the piece, and I'm working on the dynamics and better ways to play the right hand so that it's not too obvious, but not too hidden. I really enjoyed playing this etude and it definitely helped me with my technique ;\)

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#398672 - 06/28/05 07:13 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
WCSMinorCircuit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/04
Posts: 1124
Loc: California
When I learned this pieces, my teacher taught it to me because I was having a hard time with hand independence. Both hands would be doing the same dynamic, that or the right hand would be louder. The way Sam said the left hand rises and falls like waves is a good analogy. When I learned this etude I had the technicality to play the notes and play it with decent legato, but it really helped with playing with both hands doing two seperate dynamics.
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#398673 - 06/28/05 07:16 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
On a side note, one practice which greatly helped my hand independence was to play Bach's Invention No. 8 in F. First the RH is Stacatto; then, the LH is Stacatto and the RH is Legato; then, the RH is Stacatto and the LH is Legato.... learning to play simultaneously one hand legato and the other hand stacatto (and switching back and forth) was quite challenging for me, but now I have no problem with it, and the new independence has carried over to dynamics as well as touch.
_________________________
Sam

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#398674 - 06/28/05 07:20 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
WCSMinorCircuit Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/04
Posts: 1124
Loc: California
That's my favorite Bach Invention, on another side note.
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#398675 - 03/19/07 11:15 AM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
10/12, 10/1, 10/2, 10/3, 10/4, 10/5, 10/6, 10/7, 10/8, 10/9, 10/10, and 10/11 are about music.

That is the beauty of the Chopin etudes. They do not simply train an element of music, they train the hands, ears, and heart to make music together. The sweeping legato lines of the LH, the tragic melody, the kaleidoscopic shifts of harmony in the middle section, the excitement of the opening and closing cascades, etc... [/b]
well, since you so nicely articulated it's purpose i am not so aghast at reliving, becoming or experiencing the passion and angst everytime i practice this loverly piece
_________________________
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#398676 - 03/19/07 12:03 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
isn't that all Chopin etudes need endurance anyway? even op.10.9 i played is tiresome with LH, although i have pretty good movement to go about it (which my teacher agrees). now, i'm learning op.10.2 (on 1st page now), and have to see how it would go when i could speed it up.

my teacher says that Chopin etudes are good for one thing: each having a specific technique throughout of the piece, while Liszt's or Rach's etudes usually contain several different techniques within one piece thus you could relax between changes, but with Chopin's you cannot, and you have to keep going with one type of techniques until the end. thus, it makes Chopin's etudes good training, on endurance especially.

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#398677 - 03/19/07 12:28 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
JBiegel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 851
OK--now my turn--how would you like to hear the Revolutionary Etude and "O Come O Come, Emanuel" at the same time? You will--next holiday season--I am going into the studio to record a variety of nearly 20 'Classical Carols' which combine classics with holiday carols--ingenious creations that were presented to me by the PianoDisc folk--recording them for Koch. If you want to see this score, it is through Lillenas publishers--and the arrangements are in two volumes titled, 'Classical Carols'. Clever inventions!

Oh--remember that one need not play the LH so loudly in the etude--Chopin's piano was not a 9' Steinway. I generally like to ractice each arpeggio set one note at a time, adding another note each time until I have the fluidity of the passage--tedious, but takes but a few times to get it and feel mentally at ease.
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#398678 - 04/11/07 12:41 AM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Tenuto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 552
Loc: U.S.A.
 Quote:
Originally posted by JBiegel:


Oh--remember that one need not play the LH so loudly in the etude--Chopin's piano was not a 9' Steinway. I generally like to ractice each arpeggio set one note at a time, adding another note each time until I have the fluidity of the passage--tedious, but takes but a few times to get it and feel mentally at ease. [/b]
I'm also learning Op 10 No 12 because one of my students expressed an interest. I will insist on slow practice. He always learns everything too fast too soon and has a tendency to get very sloppy.

I'm trying to pick up my speed right now but since I feel some tension I will take it slowly once again and use Jeff's "add one note at a time" technique. Good luck, Jeff, on your new CD.

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#398679 - 04/11/07 01:39 AM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by JBiegel:
Chopin's piano was not a 9' Steinway. [/b]
Yes, but we're not playing Chopin's piano -- we're playing 9' Steinways.

Of course, I agree with you -- it's not necessary to play the left hand any differently than Chopin himself might have played it. But, on the other hand, why not, if it sounds good?
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Sam

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#398680 - 04/11/07 11:27 AM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18744
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by JBiegel:
OK--now my turn--how would you like to hear the Revolutionary Etude and "O Come O Come, Emanuel" at the same time? You will--next holiday season--I am going into the studio to record a variety of nearly 20 'Classical Carols' which combine classics with holiday carols--ingenious creations that were presented to me by the PianoDisc folk--recording them for Koch. If you want to see this score, it is through Lillenas publishers--and the arrangements are in two volumes titled, 'Classical Carols'. Clever inventions!

[/b]
JB:

I have so much respect for your experience and musicianship from the many of your posts that I have read here that I hate to say this: However, my initial impression is that the idea presented here sounds positively ghastly and gimmicky! So, with thanks for the invitation, I will decline and return to my traditional, conformist versions of Chopin or [/b] Carols - both of which I like very much.

No disrespect is intended, just a dissenting point of view expressed. I know I haven't even heard the arrangments, but ... no, thank you!

Regards,
_________________________
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#398681 - 04/11/07 11:45 AM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
argerichfan Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 9036
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
I will decline and return to my traditional, conformist versions of Chopin or [/b] Carols - both of which I like very much.
I think it could be a bit of fun, especially at a holiday party with people who know classical music. I'll drink to that...

But look at it this way, Bruce: you have heard carols done by barking dogs and meowing cats? (And another way which I cannot mention in this polite forum.) Those get old really fast. humbug
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#398682 - 04/11/07 01:21 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18744
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by argerichfan:

But look at it this way, Bruce: you have heard carols done by barking dogs and meowing cats? (And another way which I cannot mention in this polite forum.) Those get old really fast. humbug [/b]
No, thank you very much, I have not! The mind boggles! Give me King's College or Saint John's College; then, I'm a happy (Christmas time) man!

Humbug!? That's my[/b] line!

Cheers! \:D
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#398683 - 04/11/07 05:52 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Kisch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 144
Loc: Bristol
 Quote:
isn't that all Chopin etudes need endurance anyway?
I'm not sure they do - I've always thought that if you use the natual combination of arm, wrist and finger movements, stamina will not be a problem.

The challenge is actually finding these natural combinations, hard enough in most Chopin if you were not taught that way, especially hard in the etudes.

I treat practice as a problem-solving exercise - somewhere, somehow, there's a way of moving the shoulder or rotating the wrist that makes a hard passage easy.

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#398684 - 04/11/07 10:27 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Tenuto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 552
Loc: U.S.A.
Originally posted by Kisch:
 Quote:
don't all Chopin etudes need endurance anyway?
 Quote:
I'm not sure they do - I've always thought that if you use the natural combination of arm, wrist and finger movements, stamina will not be a problem.

The challenge is actually finding these natural combinations, hard enough in most Chopin if you were not taught that way, especially hard in the etudes.

I treat practice as a problem-solving exercise - somewhere, somehow, there's a way of moving the shoulder or rotating the wrist that makes a hard passage easy. [/b]
I heartily agree, Kisch. I was not taught this way in my early training but I had the good fortune of discovering these things later on. Nonetheless, I am still learning and I must be vigilante, lest I regress.

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#398685 - 04/12/07 06:38 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Kisch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 144
Loc: Bristol
I consider myself a 'self-untaught' pianist..

One thing I found helpful in mastering this Etude (OK, not mastering, but playing at all..) was to divide each LH passage into the necessary hand positions.

I practised first the changes of hand position (for example playing them as block chords and jumping from one to the next), and then executing all the notes within a given hand position as cleanly as possible, finding just the right wrist angle and arm movement to do that comfortably.

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#398686 - 04/12/07 07:15 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Tenuto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 552
Loc: U.S.A.
A "self-untaught" - that's funny.

Lately I've been taking the advice of Jeff Biegel, from Brooklyn College. He recommends playing slowly, forte, with arm and wrist movements, relaxed and feeling the beats. It sounds like a lot but I find it really works. Have you tried that method?

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#398687 - 04/12/07 07:29 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
JBiegel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 851
Not too forte here--it's the seamless flow that we're after. It's also an interesting idea to work on Moszkowski's Etude in g minor at the same time.
_________________________
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#398688 - 04/12/07 07:31 PM Re: So You Want to Learn Chopin's Revolutionary Etude?
Kisch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/07
Posts: 144
Loc: Bristol
Yes, definitely - feeling the rhythm, even in slow practise, is incredibly important. To just see a group of notes as being disembodied pitches is disastrous - it's always about rhythm and context.

The other thing about slow practice is to make sure you're practising the things you need to play it faster, always bearing in mind the eventual whole movements of the body you'll need. Things that are easy just with the fingers at half-tempo might cause your wrist to seize up at full tempo.

I learnt a lot from Abby Whiteside's books, though I don't necessary agree with all of it.

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