Etudes Sequence

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    If a EuroHarp student goes through all the existing books of etudes for harp, in what order does he presumably do them?


    Where are you Carl? I thought this was your favorite subject.

    Some possible names: Bochsa (at least three levels of etudes), Concone, Grossi, Kastner, LaRiviere, Martenot,


    I forgot Pozzoli.


    Give me a dadburn minute Saul!! Jeesh! This is the first time I’ve seen this post.

    First of all, you left out Dizi, and there may be others too. I don’t know. Secondly, it is the French and the Russians who make greater use of etudes than almost any other nationality. And the results are evident in international competitions and orchestra auditions.

    I don’t pretend to speak for the whole French school of playing, but I suspect that the first etudes a student would work on are the 40 easy etudes of Bochsa, on which I’ve waxed poetic before. They would work their way through the next 4 sets of Bochsa Etudes and at an advanced level do the Dizi. But you have to understand that a French child taking music lessons is most likely taking solfege lessons(or classes) as well. The child is advancing in theory, sight reading, etc. as much as in playing the instrument, without burdening the harp teacher with all of that. The harp teacher can spend the whole hour teaching harp.

    In the French musical education system, one NEVER outgrows the need for etudes and technical training. An American friend of mine was at the Paris Conservatory at the same time that I was studying privately with Pierre Jamet. Years later she showed me her book of Dizi etudes that she had done, in class, with Jacqueline Borot. At the top of each etude was penciled in the date that she had studied it, and she had gone through one etude a week with Borot, and that meant playing it from memory!

    It’s not enough to simply play etudes as part of your study. Etudes are just a format for learning one tiny aspect of technique. One will deal with octaves, another scales, another jumps, another Alberti bass, etc. And each etude has to be learned solidly so that the student can play it with no mistakes, no stopping and regrouping, and at a pretty fast clip. Only that way do you really learn the technical point involved.


    If it’s at all helpful I study with a student of Jamet who started me in Grossi/Pozzoli (in the same volume). I’m almost finished going through the G/P for the first time, and we will be beginning the Bochsa “Fifty Progressive Lessons?” as soon as I can find the correct book.

    Is that the title of the first volume of Boscha Carl? The first book I purchased was incorrect, and I have been asked to get the first 25 etudes, but I’m still not sure I have the right title.


    Sherry-The easiest of the Bochsa Etudes is Op. 318-40 Easy Etudes. There is also a set of 25 Exercises/Etudes, Op. 62 which I never studied but which are I think the next step after the Op. 318. Following that are the 50 Etudes in two volumes, op. 34. These are the most advanced that I’m aware of and which I studied with Pierre Jamet. They are not killer difficult, but they are long and when played at a good clip will build up your endurance as well as teach you the technique involved. There is also a set of 20 Etudes in 2 volumes, but I’m not familiar with them.


    Which are which? Which are in the Universal Method? It’s too confusing.

    I disagree on the value of these etudes. They only prepare you for 19th century music, neglect the left hand terribly, and I think lead to stiff playing from over repetition. In principle, they have value, and should be used selectively, I think. The Universal Method is good because they are just the right length and are adaptable. The Italians seem to use etudes a lot as well. I don’t think the Dizi are harder than Bochsa’s most advanced etudes, but Posse’s are much harder than almost all of them, almost to a ridiculous degree in some of them. I’ve never seen Concone or Nadermann, too many to buy.

    I do wish Salzedo had composed more, only then I’d have to learn them, and the five he wrote can be a lifetime’s work as it is. I have been trying to compose etudes and find it very difficult, much more than exercises or compositions. It’s very hard to find that balance between providing exercise and making them musically


    I think, and Miss Lawrence certainly always held, that the strength of French training lay in all that solfege, etc. I don’t know how that does it, but memorizing an etude in one week would seem otherwise impossible. But that also doesn’t facilitate understanding the music well, necessarily, either, because that takes time and “Contemplation”. A lot of students who memorize quickly don’t necessarily read well, and may memorize mistakes, I have seen. Still, I would love to have that kind of facility in acquiring music, and to know just how it works. It must have to do with doing it while very young, like learning a language as a child, while the brain is developing.


    -I disagree on the value of these etudes. They only prepare you for 19th century music, neglect the left hand terribly, and I think lead to stiff playing from over repetition.-

    Saul- Nothing could be further from the truth. Good etudes, such as the Bochsa series, teach you how to get around the instrument with ease, facility, and suppleness. They are also the best way to make the fingers truly independent. The only way to learn that is by playing a whole series of etudes that focus on endless patterns. The length of Bochsa’s later etudes(50 etudes in two volumes) teaches you how to play long difficult music in a relaxed efficient manner. Students who have never studied etudes judiciously and try to play difficult repertoire will sound like they are struggling and do not have complete control.

    The use of etudes on all instruments really came into prominence in the 19th century and has a long proven track record. Hasselmans terrorized his students at the Paris Conservatory with his demand that the learn etudes fast and accurately(and memorized), and he produced all, ALL, of the virtuoso harpists of the 20th century.


    The harp is not the same as other instruments. Our physicality is completely different, however, I think other instruments have problems with too much repetition also in their etudes. The results we seek from etudes can be achieved with extensive exercises and repertoire.


    Of course, if I compose a book of etudes, I expect everyone shall thoroughly learn each and every one!!

    Indra Prabowo

    Is this etude playable on lever harps?



    Excuse me, I was channeling someone else.

    A few of the Bochsa etudes in the Universal Method are adaptable to lever harp, but less than half.

    Indra Prabowo

    Thank you Saul.
    I just started play Grossi, but I’m also looking for any other classical beginner etude that is adaptable for lever harp. As far I know there is an edition of Bochsa etudes adapted for lever harp by Denise Megevand but I’m not sure if the source came from Universal Method or from op 318 or other opus number.



    -The harp is not the same as other instruments.-

    Baloney! The main problem with American harp pedagogy is that the vast majority of teachers at all levels don’t think that technique has to be taught as its own issue. They think that you can learn advanced technique just by playing pieces. All other instruments use etudes, but for some reason many harp teachers think they are not needed. And look at the results. How many Americans have won top prizes at international harp competitions in the last 30 years? Who has been consistently winning prizes at those competitions? The French and the Russians, who both make heavy use of etudes.

    Years ago Americans regularly won top honors in competitions. Susan McDonald, Nancy Allen, Barbara Allen, Lynn Turner, etc. And they were all taught the French way. Salzedo, himself trained by Hasselmans and years of etudes, was the one who decided that etudes were not necessary.

    The Chopin etudes you mentioned are in fact not etudes. They are virtuoso concert pieces written in the style of an etude and are not used to teach technique but rather to show it off.

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