Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to play the Ballade in G minor by Chopin - Part 2

Second part about approaching Chopin's Ballade in G minor

In this second video of a 2-part series, Robert talks further about how to approach Chopin's Ballade Op. 23 in G minor.

Released on November 4, 2015

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi. I'm Robert Estrin and welcome to In part two we try to tackle some of the sections of the Chopin Ballade in G Minor. Boy, there's a whole lot of different techniques in this piece. And in the middle section as I mentioned earlier they come one right after the other so rapidly and you have instantly change the techniques you're using. So now we're up to the next section which I'll play slowly at first.

Of course, it goes a lot faster.

So one of the challenges here, of course, you have finger work in the right hand. You could work finger work just the way you always do starting slowly and delineating each note, articulating. And then as you go faster one notch at a time with a metronome strive for evenness and ease of playing. But it's the left hand that I'm going to talk about. The left hand has this rhythm.

So that snappy rhythm. What you want to do in slow practice is exaggerate the rhythm. Instead of making it as an 8th note make it as a 16th note. So I'm going to go very slowly first playing it rhythmically the way it is written.

But instead wait longer and play the 8th notes as 16th later like this.

Now, "Why would you want to play the rhythm wrong" you may be asking? Well, when the piece goes faster it's very easy for those 8th notes to sound kind of limp. You don't want it to end up sounding like this.

That's why you practice playing them quicker than they even go so when it goes up to speed they'll be fast enough. So again in the slower practice.

Now that time I was actually playing fast enough that it's hard to tell whether they're 8th notes or they're shorter 16th notes. So that's a great tip for being able to tackle this section. Now, the next section once again you can practice playing two-note groups in the right hand. This is how it's actually written.

Playing it slowly, this is what's going on.

So play two-note groups together like this.

So in the right hand you're playing two-note groups together. Eventually then you could play rhythms just like I showed you earlier with the another section.

And the opposite rhythms also.

All these rhythms help the hand to delineate the notes and to hear the lines and to have independent control of them. Why practice in chords first? Because you'll be over the keys you need to be over before you need to play them. Plus you'll find the best fingering to play groups of notes instead of single notes. That's the only way to get the speed out of this. I hope this has been helpful. There'll be more tips coming up in the Chopin G Minor Ballade and other pieces. Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Carol Ebert * VSM MEMBER * on November 4, 2015 @12:40 pm PST
Thank you. Super help!!
Jim Curtis on November 4, 2015 @7:52 am PST
30 years ago I went to my first organ concert and never touched the piano again,until 12 month ago when I went back to difficulty now is hitting the right notes in the left hand without looking down,any advise please
Robert - host, on November 4, 2015 @12:18 pm PST
It is advisable to look at your hands when playing the piano from memory. When playing music as complex as a Chopin Ballade with large leaps, playing from memory gives you tremendous advantages in playing with security.

When playing chamber music which is usually done with the score, you must gain confidence in playing while looking at the score. Listen carefully to the notes you hit in the left hand and make adjustments to get over the right keys. If there are particularly difficult sections, try practicing small note groups so you can master challenging leaps.
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