Cortot: Rational Principles... Please Advise

I have a few questions.

Sorry if there are multiple threads on this topic-I tried using search but didn’t find anything.
I am interested in this book-I got it a few months ago and have dabbled with a few of them but done nothing serious.
Is it worthwhile going through the whole book according to the instructions?
My teacher says it’s best to do a few here and there and not so much point in doing them all in order.

Perhaps I should tell you a bit about my technique and what direction I want to go in. Please comment on my technique if you’ve listened to my recordings. Does anything sound technically weak or uncontrolled?

I feel certain aspects of my tech are quite strong while others are somewhat underdeveloped. I feel my fingers are strong and my bridge is well established.
However, I am not satisfied with suppleness and flexibility of my fingers, wrists, and arms. My teacher assigned me Chopin op. 10 no’s 9 and 10 to work on this, and so far it’s going well.
What is dasdc school of thought regarding Cortot’s Rational Principles of Piano Technique?
I have a friend who is VERY good who swears by the book as a means of building the suppleness and elasticity of the fingers.

I feel quite confident in my fingers and less so with my arm/wrist choreography. Does this make any sense to you peeps or does it just sound like I’m talking out my ass?

Have any of you studied the Cortot AS PER the instructions in the first chapter (‘how to use this book’)?
Or have most of you just ‘dabbled’?

I’m concerned that studying it according to the instructions is a major time commitment (1 hour every day), and perhaps that time could be better spent…


god damn… is it possible to get a reply?

I have always distrusted “method” books, no matter who they are written by. There are a multitude of truisms about learned piano technique that are always (or should be always) taught from teacher to teacher (scale fingerings, playing on tips of fingers, try not to be tense, etc), but alot of specifics have to be left up to the player. It helps some people to sit higher or lower than others, etc. etc. etc.

I feel like the best way to overcome a technical obstacle is to play more music and tackle these problems as they appear in a real musical context. I am always confused when pianists talk about “finger strength”, “arm flexibility”, etc. These things surely exist and have some effect on playing, but more often than not I feel they are the results and byproducts of musical situations and the worker bees in the physiology (is that the correct word?) of performance.

In other words, I can’t be arsed to care about this kind of stuff because if someone says “well gee, i feel like the flexibility and strength of my ring finger in right hand is not quite up to snuff” or “my ring finger isn’t independent enough of my pinkie”… instead of directing somebody to a book or giving them some kinda physical advice that is not necessarily going to be true for everyone, I’d say “play the Chopin 3rds and 6th etudes” for instance.

I’m sure that time could be better spent, but it could also be spent much worse. I’ve done quite a lot of Cortot’s excercises and would say that the average tech improvement/hour is a lot better than the ti/hour of playing most pieces of “real music”. Still, for each chapter in Cortot’s book, I’ve chosen some Chopets to work on simultaneously, to put the technique into real context. This has worked very well and I have found that I learn Chopets faster than ever.

If your teacher thinks 10/9 and 10/10 will help you with your particular tech problems, perhaps you should also check out Cortot’s excersices for those in his Chop edition.

one rule of sheeyat:

learn tech from mofoz who

haff it 8)

Either do Liszt exercises,

practice arpeggios/scales/octaves,

or learn Chopin/Liszt/Rach etudes.

tis all you need. Trust me, I’ve been down that road. Liszt, scales/arps were the only ones I found truly beneficial. This is coming from someone who had always believed in technique aside from music.

Cortot and all of that can be great, but he is quite finger oriented.

Tech exercises can only prepare you for the bigger work. and Imo, the bigger work are stuff like Liszt and Chopets. You can’t play chopin’s thirds etude if you at least haven’t had some technical background in double notes.

Like musicsdarkangel said, scales/arps/octaves are the way to go, and I’d add double notes to that too. Check Dohnanyi’s exercises on double stops, they’re most useful imo, especially the fingerings on scales (which I do everyday).
But if you do it, do it THOROUGHLY, scales in all intervals (3, 6, 8 and 10), staccato, finger staccato, arms crossed under and over, in scales and sixths. That’s how they really can work. Not by just playing all 24 scales everyday, that’s just a waste of time. Well not completely, but you seem you really need something that works.

If you really want some good finger exercises to go with that, check out Brahms’s exercises, those really make you think rather than just brainlessly exercise your fingers. Besides from that Dohnanyi has worked best for me on sheer finger strength and endurance.

And if you do a chopet, do it THOROUGHLY as well, you need to OWN it to really say that you can play it, but this really takes years.

I’m not saying the cortot isn’t useful, it definitely is, but there’s so much that can be solved through more interesting means.