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I was planning on tackling the Chopin Piano Sonata No.2 in B-Flat Minor, but I wanna make sure I never quit on practicing it. So I searched the web for tips to practice the piece. But then I came across an article which doesn't explain much but does say that we have to listen to a good recording of it, the perfect recording. I have tons of recordings but not sure why I have to really pick the perfect one. Is this a choice or..is it necessary?

  • A few months ago in this thread music.stackexchange.com/questions/45834/… you were asking about not being able to play Mozart K545 up to speed. If playing the whole Chopin sonata is a realistic ambition now, do you realize you have made as much progress in 4 months as most "good" students would make in about 7 or 8 years????? If you only want to play the funeral march from the sonata, that's a rather different situation of course. – user19146 Nov 21 '16 at 3:11
  • I was new to Mozart by that time, when I try different composers, it tends to have another level of difficulty for me. Like if I played Chopin and Beethoven but had never played Bach, it would take me a long time just to master one of his harpsichord preludes. – Isaac Yang Hao Tung Nov 21 '16 at 3:29
  • I play more Chopin than any other composers. Which makes me used to his style, but not really Mozart's. – Isaac Yang Hao Tung Nov 21 '16 at 3:29
  • This isn't worth a full answer, so I'll just leave a comment: If you're starting a new piece and are unsure if you can get through it without quitting, first read through the score (and maybe listen to a recording) and find the most technically demanding part. Spend a few practice sessions learning that section in isolation. If you can make reasonably process on hard section, you'll have a lot more confidence in tackling the rest. – Andy Nov 21 '16 at 8:16
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I would ignore that article!

There is no such thing as a "perfect recording". There are recordings that some people regard as wonderful and the same recordings leave other listeners unmoved.

I would certainly advise listening to a few different recordings of a piece when you are trying to master it, but I would no go overboard trying to listen to every possible recording. Ultimately, you have to make your playing of the piece "your own". Finally, the interpretation has to be yours, and yours alone - it may have been inspired by others, and in parts it may resemble other interpretations, but in the end it is yours and yours alone.

When I am learning a piece, I generally start by listening to 3-4 recordings by performers I like. Then I spend some days (maybe days or weeks) practicing the piece, but not listening to any recordings at all. When I have made enough progress with the piece, I might listen to 2-3 more recordings, to see if there are any parts where I might be missing some subtle point, but from this point onwards it is really down to me and the score, and what I think the composer is really trying to say.

If every performer simply tried to copy "the perfect recording" there would never be any more wonderfully new performances!

  • EXACTLY. No such thing as a perfect recording. Nailed it. Music is meant to be interpreted. For an orchestra piece, where there's a lot of moving parts, I find a recording, but on a solo piece, I avoid recordings at all costs until I've learned it and have played it for a while. I want it to be mine. Somebody had to interpret it at some point! – General Nuisance Dec 9 '16 at 16:32
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I was. Classically trained by a teacher who was trained by a teacher who was trained by a teacher who was ....Chopin. The way I was taught to learn a piece by him was to do the following: 1. Block the chords found in every measure with the right hand all the through the piece until it becomes easy to play. 2. Then do the same with the left hand.

This will teach you the chords you are playing, help you tackle any fingering problems with those long reaches, help you pick out the melody, and teach the hand the transitional movements it must learn in order to land on the next measure's chords without encountering problems. Problems with reach or fingering in Chopin always show up in the performance and sound like the performer is either forgetful, I clumsy, can't count, or is just talentless. 3. When the chords have been blocked successfully, you can then play the piece hands separately. (HS) This means learn to play it well HS. 4. Finally after ALL that work is done you can sit at the keyboard and start working on the Sonata. You will have it down in nothing flat and will be so pleased! All of this hard work you put it in will yield results! I remember practising a piece for a year, HS, before I was allowed to play with both hands together. When I did reach that point I was blown away. My teacher was Helen Ezell of Oklahoma City. She was an excellent teacher and gave me the self discipline and determination to succeed at anything in this life. And as we all know this life is full of challenges. Good Luck.

  • The musical great grandchild of Chopin. Chido. – General Nuisance Dec 9 '16 at 16:33

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