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I am having a hard time to play this etude quietly when I increase the speed to full tempo. I play it fast and relaxed but still my right hand seems too loud at that speed. Especially the first two bars, particularly when I play the black keys with finger 3 and 4 of my right hand. What are useful ways to practice the right hand to play quietly at speed? Trying to play trills but quietly? Staccato? Both hands or hands separated?

I watched the Paul Barton tutorial on this etude on Youtube where he introduces some exercises (from Cortot) like staccato playing. But I still have a hard time to reduce my volume in the right hand at full speed, even though I did practice the exercises. So I am not even sure, if these exercises are useful to reduce loudness or if they are just for finger dexterity and endurance.

Even though the notes are not that hard to play in this etude, it seems like one of the fastest etudes of Chopin (check for example Pollini's version) which makes it for me very hard to keep quiet dynamics (It is also easy to overpedal). Thank you for help.

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What I can advise to you (I have the same problem every time when I learn a new piece) is to make sure you listen to how you're playing, try and relax your wrists and don't hit the keys. I had this problem when I was younger and my teacher always used to tell me to relax my wrists. If you're playing from you're wrists, then you have no control over the notes. I hope this helps you and best wishes with your piece P.S. when I say relax your wrists, I mean to loosen your wrist an make it go floppy (not too floppy so it literally flops off the piano) but to make your wrist a bit more flexible

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If the Cortot-Barton video is helpful for you, great. If not -- here's a different approach:

You can work with the piece directly, grouping the written notes in a variety of ways, repeating a given grouping several times, until fluidity is achieved. When you've gotten comfortable with the pattern of notes in the group, your brain will be able to send one signal for each group, rather than one signal per note. This allows one to play with gentle fluidity and no unnecessary tension.

I found the score here.

The natural grouping for these twelve notes per measure would be, initially, as follows: play the first six notes of the measure quickly, and then the next one as a half note. This allows your hand and brain to rest. Then play the last six notes of the measure, followed by the first note of Measure two, played as a half note. And so on.

Note that the note you'd be playing as a half note will be repeated, as the first note in the next group of six quick notes.

After a few days with the above grouping, the next step is to play twelve notes, followed by the next note played as a half note; then the twelve notes of Measure two, in tempo, followed by the next note, as a half note; etc. As above, the long note where you allow yourself to rest will be played again as the first note of the group of six triplets.

Proceeding in this way, you give your hand and brain a chance to rest and recover. Also, you're training your hand to respond to one signal from the brain to produce a slew of notes.

If the above gets you to where you want to be, great. If not, you can alter the rhythm of the original piece, to come up with different groupings. For example, you could play four notes and the fifth note as a long note. For the next group, begin, of course, with the fifth note; play four notes quickly and fluidly, and then the next note is your long note where you allow yourself to rest and recover. After a couple of days practicing this way, you can make a larger grouping, and play eight quick notes and then a long, restful note; etc.

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  • Thanks for the answer, though I am not sure how this helps me to reduce loudness. I am playing it fluently and without tension but I can not play it "piano" at full speed. – Matriz Jan 28 at 16:40
  • @Matriz - Okay, glad to hear you've got the desired fluency at tempo. I'll try to explain the approach I described better. It will be easier if I speak first about my main instrument, cello. In earlier times, teachers and etude books told one to develop "hammer fingers." Turns out that's actually counter-productive. One can get better results by using arm weight, rather than trying to be forceful. Now, back to the piano: when I was practice coach for my son, I noticed that grouping, allowing a beat for recovery, was also helpful for the piano. Whatever goal you have, whatever... – aparente001 Jan 28 at 19:00
  • ... change you're trying to effect, is easier to re-imprint (e.g. playing certain notes softer) if you allow yourself that recovery time, and if you group notes to send one instruction from the brain to get a group of notes, rather than one message for each note. (Often one isn't of sending so many instructions! But by practicing as I outlined, you'll enable a whole group of notes to emanate from one instruction. Side benefit of this: it frees your brain up to do other things. I can't guarantee this will help you. (If you decide to give it a try, I hope you'll keep us posted.) – aparente001 Jan 28 at 19:09

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