Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to play the Ocean Etude Op. 25 No. 12 by Chopin

What is the best repertoire to approach first every day?

In this video, Robert shows you how to play the famous Ocean Etude by Chopin.

Released on April 3, 2013

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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

So as my students know, I took a year off from Juilliard, when I was a student there, much to the chagrin of my teacher, Miss DeLay. She was not happy about it. During that year I practiced Yost, the key to the mastery of the fingerboard, from 6:30 until eight in the morning. And then Schradieck, School of Violin Techniques, book one. Practiced that from eight until 9:15. This was followed by a quartet rehearsal, which lasted from 9:30 until 12:30, then lunch until 1:30 and at that point I practiced until four, then taught till six or 6:30. After that was dinner, and then from eight to 10 more practice until about 10 o'clock.

So essentially I practiced over seven hours a day that year. So why would I do this? Well, you see at Juilliard, I was surrounded in orchestra by so many talented violinists that had won so many famous competitions already, i felt completely overwhelmed, completely inadequate. Because of this i felt that I needed to get away and catch up or I would be left, totally left behind. Well, that was a long time ago and the things that I learned from doing this were truly invaluable. But, that said, what do I do now? I mean, as I don't have the competitive stress of school or 70 or 80 concerts to prepare for, to prepare repertory for, what are the first things I do now when starting to play my violin? As a teacher, what do I do before that first student arrives?

Well then, here, let me show you what I do when I start my day with the fiddle. So, the first thing I do is touch the violin. I touch it like this, run my fingers on the strings. I want to feel the grooves. I want to feel what that string feels like underneath my finger, my fingers. That's the first thing, I want to ... Oh, I almost forgot. I want to feel that neck with my thumb, with my bow. I want to feel what everything feels like, what my fingers feel like touching the bow.

After a little bit of doing that, I then want to reestablish my ping. I usually start with a D. Here, a D. I don't press very hard. I'm trying to get that ping, all the while keeping my body so that I don't tense up. I establish my left hand pits as well, so I've got to go into the string, to and from the string. I do it there, do it all over. Very hard on the G string. When I do it there, that. And then roll my finger. Finger rolls just to get the speed element happening. Again, all the while, I am not ... I am not simply just lightly touching.

Then, it's with vibrato, always from the note above, and I don't force it at all. And that continuous vibrato is to reestablish a natural continuity with my finger motions, sort of remind me of the reflexes that I hopefully have done the day before.

So that's about it. Those are pretty much the things I do. With the right hand, it's simply very light and then I pull my point of contact as I get more and more into it, and that produces sound. But, when you do it, don't change what you feel in your right hand. So this is what I do to find the violin again, and yes, I do do Yost and a bit of Schradieck every now and then as well. Just as a reminder.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Tony Finch on April 5, 2018 @8:33 pm PST
Dear Mr Estrin, The penultimate semiquavers in bars 16 and 72 of the etude op 25 no 12 appear in some editions as G and in others as F. Which is authentic? I find F easier to play!
Robert Estrin - host, on April 7, 2018 @12:12 pm PST
If you are referring to the second to last notes of the measures in the right hand, the Henle Urtext edition has "G's" in both places. That is the way I have always played it.
Tony Finch on April 9, 2018 @8:39 am PST
Thank you. Some versions on YouTube have F in both cases so I was puzzled.
paul.plak * VSM MEMBER * on February 22, 2017 @1:54 pm PST
if you want to eat an elephant, you have to cut him in small pieces. Just the right approach.
Denis Gogin on June 24, 2015 @2:34 am PST
Hello, Robert,
I have a question about transitions from one octave to another in this etude , could you suggest some preparatory exercises to improve this skill?
Robert - host, on June 24, 2015 @2:50 pm PST
As I show in the video, practice going to the repeated note that changes fingers in each hand without going further. Practice arriving on that note with the other fingers of the hand over the octave (and middle note). You should practice very slowly at first until you can make the change to the higher octave instantaneously.
Iretnal on August 11, 2014 @11:52 pm PST
Thank you, that was very instructive!
robertfields * VSM MEMBER * on April 14, 2013 @8:21 am PST
This was very informative
Thank you very much
henry morris * VSM MEMBER * on April 6, 2013 @6:23 am PST
thanks for this, Robert! appreciated.
J. Shaw on April 5, 2013 @6:39 am PST
Thank you. Nice to see someone else who uses the same approach in teaching. My students will have another reference.
Judith Stijnis * VSM MEMBER * on April 4, 2013 @12:52 pm PST
Thank you . It is very interesting
Ross * VSM MEMBER * on April 4, 2013 @9:32 am PST
Exquisite! Before watching your video I regarded this Etude as the Mount Everest never to be tackled by me; now it looks more like a piece that I may actually dare attempt!! Your simple explanation and analysis of the Etude makes all the difference. Thank you Robert.
BJ on April 4, 2013 @8:27 am PST
Have been playing and teaching for years and always avoided the etudes as I have small hands. However you've prompted me to get my book open and have a go. Thanks
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