Chopin's Method – FAQ
Does the Chopin's Method produce good results even in studies on the other
Would it be reasonable to use this Method in teaching the children who just
start to play the piano?
Is the Chopin's Method dedicated for the very talented students only?
Which point differentiates the Chopin's system from other methods, known
across history of the piano?
Well, Chopin's Method truly connects the technique of playing the piano with the artistic aspects of this process, giving clear instructions related to qualities of the sounding object that must be watched when practicing and playing the piano.
This subtle element revolutionizes the whole thing - actually focusing the pianists' ATTENTION on very different details of playing the piano than it commonly is been suggested in so many other methods...
Technically seen - the Chopin's Method teaches, how could be possible to take advantage of the keyboard's mechanical resistance. In contrast to other systems yet, which prefer rather "to fight with" or "to beat" the keys - the Chopin's Method presents very different, fully ergonomic point of view. It shows how the proper control of emotional color, energy and dynamic values of the each one sound could be used as a perfect agent that maximizes the pianists' instrumental potentiality.
5. Why the Chopin's Method had not been adequately received by the teachers if it really represents so great worth in teaching and playing the piano?
- "That is the Question"! Though, let you have a look at answers No 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 15.
6. Does the Chopin's Method offer any concrete instructions and give practical guidance for fulfilling of its piano technical idea?
Yes, it does. Let you have a look at the links displayed in answers No 4 and No 7. Thank you!
7. Should it mean that the Method gives the very concrete instructions related to the manual aspects of practicing the piano?
- Yes. The Method gives the very precise information related to strictly mechanical relations between particular parts of the player’s hands, too.
8. Why the Chopin's Method has been so rarely used in the professional piano teaching?
- A troublesome question! Factually, in theory of the piano the Chopin's Method is being known very well. Unfortunately, only HISTORIANS, who for the clear reasons cannot adequately understand and interpret all the practical aspects of teaching and playing the piano, primarily were interested in this Method, and just historians have written majority of books and articles related to this method - not the pianists.
That is why not all the generous possibilities of this Method could be adequately described and made well known worldwide. Pedagogically seen, the most important content of the Chopin's Method, related to real mechanisms, which factually determine the technique of playing the piano, had been almost forgotten. That is why - again - the Chopin's Method, even nowadays, is being known and studied rather as the historically interesting, still practically about worthless issue.
Additionally, in my very personal opinion, the Chopin's piano idea drafted in his "Sketches for the Method", was of so modern character, that its misinterpreting is fully understandable. The truly unreasonable formulas, which primarily speak about purely MECHANICAL elements of the piano technique became more famous instead, however these mechanical elements they actually bring to the light - paradoxically - are truly useless in forming the pianists' abilities to playing the piano well.
Chopin's piano idea, in the last end - in more or less apparent way - had generously stimulated many luminous piano masters. Among others could been maintained here such piano giants as Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886) and Anton Rubinstein (1829 - 1894), Leopold Godowsky (1870 - 1938) and Joseph Hofmann (1876 - 1957) as well. Some additional explanations related to this topic could be found via this link.
9. Does here exist any other "failure" except of Chopin's innovatory, that could influence on his Method’s misunderstanding among the piano teachers in the XIX century and later, too?
- Chopin's Method has been described in a form of the short sketch only; though, herein could been found sufficiently many extensive sentences, which enlighten Chopin’s personal piano pedagogic strategy and give possibility to rightful reconstruction of the main idea of his method.
Across the whole XIX and XX Century, the strictly mechanical way of practicing the piano has been persistently maintained by majority of the piano teachers, who strongly believed in possibility to achieve the brilliant instrumental technique just via strengthening of the fingers and via endless repeating of scales, arpeggios, chords etc. The pianists' comprehension of the piano-instrumental schooling becomes heavily dominated by this obsessive, ill-mannered routine.
The Chopin's Method provokes to creativity; it changes specificity of the whole process - the pianist cannot evermore be passive. As well it changes specificity of teaching the piano: the teachers become more 'co-searchers' than 'speaking prophets'; teaching could not happened only FROM teacher TO the student, it should rather arise BETWEEN them...
These all attributes require more activity from both parts of the system. And because nothing other is as typical to our nature as particular love to 'do nothing', there is no wonder that the Chopin's Method could not achieve as great popularity as methods based on the 'repeat it once again, Darling!' base.
10. Which element should be noticed as that one of the key importance for the whole Method?
- The most important element hereby is the particular manner of forming and developing the technical habits. The MANUAL side of playing becomes truly dependent on the ARTISTIC - mental and emotional backgrounds, working in the pianist's fantasy. A Will-to-express-myself, The Idea, The Sound, The Control of Sound’s Color & Energetic Intensity, Editing of the Action, The real Expression - forms this particular model of pedagogical work that must be completed by factual usage of the anticipative hearing. Even if 'Idea-Image-Technique' is not the intellectually most attractive structure, maybe – it still surely represents a real essence of the matter.
Chopin's Method offers the solution, which is likely near to that that actually proposes the modern NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) formula. Therefore its misunderstanding seems to be very natural among these piano teachers who habitually prefer the purely mechanic solutions in the "so-called" piano schooling.
11. Did Chopin teach the aristocratic ladies and rich young men belonged to the Europeans highest financial circles only?
- No, that is not right. However doubtlessly Chopin was the most expensive European piano teacher in Paris, the World's artistic capital of his times, he had strongly and fully disinterestedly worked with not rich, still highly talented piano youth, too.
Many brilliant pianists and coming famous teachers studied by him in Paris: A. Gutmann, G. Mathias, F. H. Péru, Th. Tellefsen, E. Peruzzi. Among others were Karol Filtsch, who died as 15 years old boy - being known as the pianist of genius dimension and Karol Mikuli, who became the very famous piano teacher and a respected musical editor.
At last, it is reasonable to remind, that Chopin (1810-1849) due to his illness taught within relatively short course of time...
12. Did any famous piano teacher use the Chopin's Method in his own practice?
- Yes. Prof. Harry Neuhaus (1888-1964) was the greatest one of them, who used the Chopin's Method in possibly large extend and achieved incredibly great results. His position in history of the piano is nearly incomparable to position of any other Master. However he died quite long time ago, the Idea that he realized, as well as manners he completed it practically in, are more famous nowadays as it happened in time he actually lived and worked.
Information about him and his work could be found using the links displayed on many pages of this WebSite. Still especially profitable would probably be the lecture of his main opus: "The Art of Piano Playing". This book could give very beneficial help to every musician and hobbyist as well.
Another teachers who have used the Chopin's formula were his own students and their students, and students of his students of course. I suggest reading any of the famous Prof. J-J. Eigeldinger's books related to the Chopin's pedagogy.
13. Did any of Prof. Neuhaus' former students achieve the worldwide success?
- Yes, at least the two of his pupils became the pianists of the highest range - Svjatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. They both were NOT the genuine and/or typical 'Chopin-players'. This fact, again, highlights greatness and universality of the Prof. Neuhaus'teaching.
As well many nowadays worldwide known piano teachers are his former students: Lev Naumov, Evgenyi Malinin, Radu Lupu, Vera Gornostaeva and Svetlana Ivanova are the very luminous examples here.
14. Is it possible to prove that Prof. Neuhaus' factually continued the Chopin's line in teaching the piano?
- Yes, it has been proved in the paper that had been presented in the University in Köln (Germany) at October 1998. This text could be achieved via this link. For the best result one should obviously read the Prof. Neuhaus' famous work (The Art of Piano Playing) yet. Many interesting data could be found, too, in the book Heinrich Neuhaus (1888-1964) zum 110. Geburtstag (STUDIO-Verlag, Germany, 2000, ISBN 3-89564-067-0).
15. Does anybody may honestly say, that the Chopin's Method, in the last end, is so enigmatic, shady and complicated that it could be recognized as object of admiration of the Chopin's enthusiasts only, being less of the real practical worth to piano professionals?
- No, such valuation would surely NOT be fair. Not only Prof. Neuhaus' pedagogic practice and texts, and not only the truly great results achieved by teachers continuing his tradition, but JUST LOGICAL THINKING about the whole matter firmly confirmed incomparable great worth of the Chopin's Method.
Apart from these highlights above, I would like to say additionally that testing this Method in my personal pedagogic work I noticed the very concrete and measurable changes as well in playing quality of my students here in Finland, as in the quality of playing the piano by international students, who have taken part in my courses and piano-pedagogic seminars I have given since 1997 in Finland, Holland, Germany, France, and Poland.
Here was no one person who would like to say - "IT doesn't work...! " - because it just amazingly WORKS! Among above maintained young pianists were (and are) the college, conservatory and music academy students and teachers from Finland, Holland, UK, Germany, Belgium, France, USA, Australia, Singapore, Canada, Sweden, Poland, Vietnam, Russia and Philippines - including winners of national and international piano-competitions, whom I have helped in that or other way using many different Internet based possibilities. The Chopin & Neuhaus Method's help had supported truly many teachers of the piano and the piano students from around the World.