I am currently learning the Chopin Ballade No.1, and my teacher told me that my left hand sometimes sounds really notey. Especially with octaves. Is there any way to prevent the choppy sound? I am working on putting my weight down when I play the octaves but are there any other ways to improve? the left hand octaves from sempre piu mosso

2 Answers 2


You can improve most things in music by isolation and practice. The specific thing in this case is the noteyness of the left hand. You can practice as follows. Play the left hand passage and think of the general phrasing that it suggests by itself. Chopin's music often has both hands do different things phrasing wise so see what it suggests by it self.

For example: The second and third bars by themselves suggest a rise and fall. So try increasing in volume and decreasing right there. Be sure to use your pedal to connect as much as possible.
Once you feel the rise and fall and can clearly hear it taking place for your self, try adding the right had and see how the phrasing in both connects. Do it as slowly as you must while focusing on your phrasing. Gradually increase your tempo. Practice the phrasing in the context of the two bars around it. And go about like that. 2 bars at a time while looking for patterns in phrasing.

Music is feeling, yes, but playing the piano is a mechanical process. When in doubt, isolate and practice thinking about what you want to accomplish. Takes a while but you will improve a lot.

  • Dynamic level - this is still marked "p" - no change from the start of the piece (After the first couple of bars introduction)
  • Pedalling - don't be afraid to add some legato pedalling that is not marked.
  • Separate the dynamics of the top and bottom notes of the octaves. The LH thumb has a counter-melody in the snippet you attached. The LH little finger doesn't, so make the little finger quieter. (I'm not sure what you mean by "putting your weight down.")
  • Tempo - it's not a race! Slow down!

Those things should help smooth it out a bit, but without hearing your current performance, it's hard to be more specific.

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