Chopin's pedagogical ideas are ideas that pianists of Chopin Institute in Switzerland and many other teachers use regularly. Rereading Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger's important book Chopin as Pianist and Teacher reminds us how much Chopin's ideas resonate with the way we teach, the way we were taught, and the way that we try to play.

Chopin's approach to teaching was original and individual: as he had been himself largely self-taught, and thus not part of any "school" of learning or teaching, he was to some extent free of the technical dogmas of his contemporaries. He saw technique in an essentially musical way, and his teaching emphasized sound production first, technique second. In his sketch for a method, he writes, "One needs only to study a certain positioning of the hand in relation to the keys to obtain with ease the most beautiful quality of sound, to know how to play long notes and short notes and to attain unlimited dexterity." "A well-formed technique, it seems to me, is one that can control and vary a beautiful sound quality."

Chopin's philosophy of teaching springs from the idea of music as a language, which had become standard by Chopin's time. Chopin was said to have frequently incorporated language as a metaphor in his teaching. In the sketch for a method, Chopin made a list of attempts at defining music:


The art that manifests itself through sounds is called music.

The art of expressing one's thoughts through sounds.

The art of handling sounds.

Thought expressed through sounds.

The expression of our perceptions through sounds.

The expression of thought through sounds.

The manifestation of our feelings through sounds.

The indefinite (indeterminate) language of men is sound.

The indefinite language music.

Word is born of sound?sound before word.

Word: a certain modification of sound.

We use sounds to make music just as we use words to make a language.

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