“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

To Czerny Or Not to Czerny

On Czerny Vs Chopin Etudes

A student asks which Czerny studies he should select in preparation for Chopin Etudes. This student has already played all movements of the Moonlight sonata.

My Response: The Chopin etudes are concert pieces, and in that regard somewhat misnamed. Chopin, I'm quite sure, wasn't thinking pedagogically, about building a technique. Having said that, however, one can learn a great deal studying them, just as we learn technique studying any piece. 

I think Czerny and studies of that ilk are largely a waste of time. They have in their genesis the notion that repetition builds strength and endurance, a notion long since discredited by pianists who've given it any thought. We don't build strength in larger muscles so much as we train muscles for refined coordination. So, I'd rather he use his time working out technique in the Chopin, even if he doesn't get them up to top tempo first time around. Revolutionary is a good place to start. I also like F major from Op. 10 for the right hand. 

For an "etude" on the two-note slur, have a look at the Tempest sonata of Beethoven.

For more on the value of exercises, please see my previous post.

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