“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.”
Plato

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chopin Etude op. 10, No. 3: Stretching

     A student working on Chopin's etude Op. 10, No. 3, asks—more than once—about stretching the hand in order to accommodate the cadenza of slurred chords. 

Chopin Etude Op.10, No. 3.
Click on example to enlarge.

     "About stretching exercises: At the risk of belaboring the point, and one last time, what if you've done all you can to to optimize hand position and you still feel strained. Wouldn't it be, under those circumstances, beneficial to have a longer stretch ability?"
     Well, I hate to sound like a broken record, but the truth of the matter is, if your hand feels stretched—strained—then something is wrong, that is, you haven't yet found the right movements. To be clear, the hand can be open without feeling stretched to an extreme. It is very important, though, to avoid extremes of motion. It's always more efficient to move than to stretch, even though it may sometimes seem counter intuitive. Once you feel the difference, moving rather than stretching will become the intuition.
     Try this: Play each chord individually with the fingering you've decided on. How does that feel? If each chord feels fine, then the issue is not the chord itself, but how you are moving from one to the next. You should consider where you are on the keys, probably a little more out for white keys and, of course, in for black (thumb and fifth finger). Notice if when moving from one chord on white to the next you bump up against a black key, for example. Is your fifth finger too in among the black keys? The problem with this passage is that pianists keep the hand too open in order to accommodate a series of chords without moving appropriately. The moving is the crux of the issue.
     Having said all of that, I use the following fingering, which allows the hand to feel more closed:

Click on example to enlarge.
Post a Comment