The Magic of Czerny Etudes for the Piano

by Lars Nelissen  - September 4, 2023

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Carl Czerny (1791-1857), a name that resonates with pianists, is renowned for his invaluable piano etudes that he gave to the world of piano playing. In this comprehensive VIDEO POST, we delve into the world of Czerny etudes for scale technique and explore how they can transform your piano technique.

The Significance of Czerny's Etudes

Before we dive into the realm of Czerny's etudes for scales, it's essential to understand their significance in piano education. In previous videos, we've discussed scale techniques, but now it's time to put those scales into practice.

While you can certainly choose pieces like Mozart's Sonatas for this purpose, etudes offer a unique advantage. They focus on specific techniques, allowing you to hone your skills without the pressure of performing a well-known masterpiece.

Imagine attempting to master a Chopin masterpiece or a Mozart Sonata for the sole purpose of practice, only to find yourself struggling, discouraged, and potentially even dreading the piece. Czerny's etudes provide a solution to this problem. You can make mistakes, experiment, and refine your technique without the fear of butchering a cherished composition. These Czerny etudes offer great opportunity for growth and exploration.

You can access the complete collection of Czerny etudes through the link provided in the description. To make it even more accessible, we've compiled a PDF including all the etudes, categorizing them from easy to challenging.

Carl Czerny etudes for piano

Carl Czerny: A Genius in Piano Methodology

Carl Czerny's legacy in the world of piano playing is nothing short of remarkable. As a student of the legendary Ludwig van Beethoven, Czerny acquired unparalleled insights into the intricacies of piano performance. He even had the privilege of premiering several of Beethoven's works, including his first piano concerto.

Following his studies with Beethoven, Czerny quickly rose to prominence in Vienna, becoming the most sought-after piano teacher in the city at just 14 years old. Over his career, he taught hundreds of students, including some of the most famous pianists in history.

Notably, his students included the virtuoso Franz Liszt and the renowned pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky, who, in turn, influenced countless pianists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This lineage of musical education, spanning from Beethoven to Czerny to Liszt and beyond, reveals the profound impact that Czerny's teachings had on the world of piano playing. This rich heritage serves as a testament to the effectiveness of Czerny's etudes in developing pianistic skills.

The great pianist Dinu Lipatti called him "father Czerny" to emphasize the importance of Czerny etudes in piano education.


Exploring Czerny Etudes for Piano Scale Technique

Now, let's embark on a journey through some of Czerny's most notable etudes, categorized by their level of difficulty. These etudes are carefully curated to help you enhance your technique and musicality.

List of etudes for scale technique:

1.

Czerny Etudes Opus 139 - "100 Progressive Studies"

These etudes are ideal for beginners. Short and easy to learn, they offer an excellent starting point for mastering scales.

2.

Czerny Etudes Opus 599 - "Practical Method for Beginners on the Piano Forte"

While also suitable for beginners, these etudes introduce a slight curve in difficulty. They are designed to build foundational skills in a gradual manner.

3.

Czerny Etudes Opus 861 - "30 Progressive Studies"

These etudes are suitable for those at an intermediate level. They focus on scales and provide a stepping stone to more advanced pieces.

4.

Czerny Etudes Opus 718 - "24 Studies for the Left Hand"

Perfect for developing left-hand dexterity, these etudes are not overly challenging but offer effective exercises for improving hand coordination.

5.

Czerny Etudes Opus 299 - "The School of Velocity (Schule der Geläufigkeit)"

Famous for their effectiveness, these etudes are ideal for intermediate to advanced pianists. They range from two to four pages in length and provide an excellent workout for scale technique.

6.

Czerny Etudes Opus 740 - "The School of Finger Dexterity"

Similar in difficulty to Opus 299, these etudes are longer and equally beneficial for building finger strength and agility.

7.

Czerny Etudes Opus 335 - "The School of Legato and Staccato"

These etudes, with a focus on articulation, are perfect for those aiming to master legato and staccato techniques. They delve into the nuances of finger and arm coordination.

8.

Czerny Etudes Opus 399 - "School for the Left Hand"

Designed for more advanced pianists, these longer etudes provide a challenging workout for the left hand.

9.

Czerny Etudes Opus 365 - "School of the Virtuoso (Schule des Virtuosen)"

With repeated patterns and demanding passages, these etudes are excellent for building stamina and tackling complex pianistic situations.

10.

Czerny Etudes Opus 409 - "The School of Perfection"

While not as well-known, these advanced etudes are perfect for those seeking a formidable challenge in their practice.

Special Piano Technique 'Umbrella Technique'

To truly excel in your etude practice and improve your piano technique drastically, I teach the "Umbrella Technique." This finger piano technique, which I have adopted from Avi Schönfeld, involves opening your hand like an umbrella before striking the keys. This approach allows you to develop finger independence, strength, and speed while maintaining relaxation between each note.

The Umbrella Technique is particularly effective when practicing slowly. By lifting and preparing your fingers, you enhance their agility and flexibility. This approach lays a strong foundation for more advanced techniques and faster tempos. Discover more about this piano technique in the following article: Master Method 3 Steps To Superfast Fingers


Improve Your Piano Technique with Czerny

In summary, Carl Czerny's scale etudes offer a comprehensive path to mastering piano technique. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced pianist, there's a Czerny etude suited to your level. By diligently practicing these etudes and incorporating the Umbrella Technique, you can elevate your piano playing to new heights.

Don't forget to DOWNLOAD the PDF list of Czerny etudes from the description and explore the world of piano technique through the lens of a true virtuoso. With dedication and the guidance of Czerny's timeless exercises, you can unlock your full potential as a pianist.

Click to read the Video Script

In this video, we're going to talk about scale etudes by Czerny, Carl Czerny. In the previous videos I was talking about scale technique, but it's also nice to put scales into practice. To put them into real pianistic situations. You can choose for it pieces like a Sonata of Mozart or whatever.

What is good about etudes is that focuses on only one or two techniques. Plus, you can spoil a Czerny etude and you can still sleep at night, but if you would spoil a Sonata by Mozart, or some nice piece of Chopin, just for the sake of practice, and struggle with it a lot. And then you start to get an aversion to it, even afraid to play it because somehow it doesn't succeed.

Because it was just a little bit too difficult to work at. And then you spoil it! Well that would keep me awake at night! But not a Czerny etude. You can download by the way the etudes in the link in the description. I also so made a PDF with the list of all the numbers because there are more than 50 etudes from all the opus numbers of Czerny.

He wrote so many etudes if you would pile them up, they would they will reach to the ceiling. Around 50 etudes and I will discuss them from easy to difficult; from very easy, to very difficult. And Czerny, why Czerny? He was a great genius when it came to solving problems in piano playing. He was the student of Beethoven, a very well-respected student of Beethoven. And he premiered several works of Beethoven, including his first piano concerto.

He was teaching Beethoven's cousin. And after his studies with Beethoven, they still remained friends throughout the whole life of Beethoven, until his death in 1827. Czerny was since he was 14 years old the most sought-after teacher in Vienna. He had really hundreds of students and a few famous ones. The most famous one is Franz Liszt. He was a Czerny student and he learned all his basic, his fundament of piano playing, he learned from Czerny.

Also Theodor Leschetizky, he was a student of Czerny. Polish pianist, and pedagogue, we know him as a pedagogue, because he was the teacher of a whole army of great pianists that lived in the late 19th and in the first half of the 20th century. And I see a nice link there to me with Czerny: Beethoven was teaching Czerny, Czerny was teaching Franz Liszt, Liszt was teaching Tausig.

Tausig was Liszt's most virtuosical student. He died a little bit young. You could see him as the Horowitz of the 19th century. He was a real great pianist. And he was also the teacher of Barth and Barth was the teacher of Arthur Rubinstein, and Arthur Rubinstein was teaching my teacher Avi Schönfeld. So I see there a nice link to me. But that's not the reason why I chose Czerny here.

The reason is, because it's so effective to learn Czerny for the etudes. Dinu Lipatti called him, not without a reason, father Czerny. At the end of the video I will teach you my number one tip, that will help you to effectively learn and prepare every etude. And in fact every difficult passage. That's at the end of the video, but now let's get to the etudes of Czerny.

We start with Opus 139 "100 Progressive Studies". These are very easy, like here for example: The tempo you can decide for yourself. You can play them in this tempo you can also learn them: And there is a repetition. These are only two lines. They're very short and easy to learn. Then we come to Opus 599. These are quite some numbers there: nr. 19, nr. 22 nr. 26, 27 etc. 19

Numbers from the 100 etudes, that we can say; these are really for the scales. And they are also very easy, but there is a little bit of a curve. But they're all very short. When I was teaching in China some students came to me and they were already playing from opus 599. It's called: "Practical Method for Beginners on the Piano Forte". Well, in China they use it really as a method, playing from 1 to number 100. And children really learn them.

Therefore they have also, in general, quite a good technique. I wouldn't pick them as a method, but I would select some of them, for to work on certain techniques, that students need in a certain stage in their development. So if you need some scales, there are quite some numbers to choose from here. Again, download the PDF. Then you can see all the numbers that are really designed for the etudes. So let's go to the next opus, "30 Progressive Studies" opus 861.

There are 4 etudes for scales there. These are easy to intermediate, so they're not for very beginners. But you can do them. See for example this first one: This is the first line. They are all one-page etudes. In fact ALL these etudes are for the left hand.

So if you want to develop your left hand, you should go to this opus number. Except when you are already advanced, then there are other opus numbers, which are more difficult, also for the left hand. Then we have "24 Studies for the Left Hand" opus 718. Those are not so difficult but effective. 

Let's take for example here number 8 which is for the staccato. A little bit arm movement on each staccato note combined with fingers. Then we have the next opus, which is also called the 'Preschool' for opus 299: "The School of Velocity". They start a little bit easy but they make quite a steep curve there to a more progressive level. But they are shorter than the opus 299 etudes. There are nine etudes there for scales. And we're certainly not dismiss them.

And some of them depending on the speed you play, can be rather challenging. Then we come to the most famous opus and that is opus 299 "The School of Velocity (Schule der Geläufigkeit)". Two to four pages long, and they are of intermediate difficulty. Intermediate to advanced. Also depending, later they can be difficult if you play them really fast.

Then we have opus 740, this is "The school of Finger Dexterity". After 299, very popular in conservatories. They use it a lot. You can really work them out. They're a bit longer, there are similar difficulties than opus 299. There are 9 etudes in this book. I think there are 50 etudes. I think there are 50 etudes. Yes, there are 50 etudes. I didn't play all of them.

I played I think 15 or so of them. 15 Maybe 20. The one which I find interesting in this one is number 13. I don't have it in my fingers. It's like playing scales very lightly, almost like an embellishment. It's like a like a breeze. It's not mechanical. I don't agree with that all, yes some of them yes, but even some of Bach fugues are mechanical.

I don't think that all these etudes are mechanical. Some of them, they have some very nice inspiration in them. And can be played quite elegantly and nicely. Let's go to the next opus, opus 335. It's interesting. It is "The School of Legato and Staccato". These have two etudes, number 2 and number 18. And if you like to really master 'Legato' and 'Staccato', and the differences.

And how to use your arm in fast 'Legato" scales, then you should go to this book. Because all these etudes are focused on the articulation. And 'Staccato" scales, this is something he took for sure from Beethoven, because Beethoven uses staccato scales quite a lot in his piano sonatas. And as a technique where you use a combination of fingers and arm.

Sometimes more fingers, sometimes more arm, depending on the situation, on the sound, and so on. But in Beethoven you'll really find this technique a lot. And if you like to play Beethoven's sonatas, you should really not dismiss learning also some Czerny. Then we come to opus 399, which is "School for the Left Hand", but this is really more advanced.

These are quite difficult. It's a well-known volume with conservatory students. These are long, these are long etudes and quite difficult. Now we get into really the difficult level. Then we have here opus 365 "School of the Virtuoso (Schule des Virtuosen)". These are very difficult they are not long. I didn't play all of them, I played some of them.

These are not long, but they repeat many times. See, we have here: repeat 12 times, every repetition 12 times. Or another etude, 8 times for every repetition. And everything is repeated. Here, 20 times, 12 times. This is really for building stamina. The pianistic situations are more complex here. And then we get to opus 409.

This is not very well-known. It's, I think not even available anymore in the shop. So if you like to play them, you will have to download the PDF anyway. And this is called "The School of Perfection", and as the name suggests, these are difficult and advanced etudes. Number 1, 18, and 42 are devoted to the scales in this opus. And now I'm going to give you, as I promised you in the beginning, my number one tip for learning any etude.

And I think any difficult passage, challenging passage. So you followed me until so far! I hope you have a little bit of an idea about etudes to pick. If you like this video, give me that Thumbs Up! Again download the links in the description! I call this the umbrella technique. I learned this from Avi Schönfeld. And I think all the great pianists work more or less in this way.

To really open the hand and articulate the fingers very well. But there's a special way of working that really can effectively develop the finger independence, the finger strength, and the finger speed, while we we work in a slow tempo. But we still work on finger speed. And we work on finger independence. Because we relax between each note. So we open the hand.

When we play these fingers prepare... for the rest of the keys. So, I open my hand as an umbrella, and then I fast attack, fast and speedy strike of the key. [Music] And there is a relaxation in the muscles between each note. Let's take the first of Hanon... See, and you also feel a little stretch, here of the skin, between the fingers.

So it's also good exercise, in a natural way without stretching your fingers, to get better stretching in the hand. Because when you start to stretch like this it can be risky. And if you stretch too much, you can injure yourself. So this is a more natural way and it's also very effective. When you're a little bit better, you can speed it up to maximum this speed. And sometimes I also like to, 4 and 5 are more weak, to focus on them a little bit.

You feel nicely warming up here the muscles. When we take for example, this in a fast passage. [Fantasie-Impromptu by Chopin] If I was going to work on this again, I will, because I want to record that once. I would do this kind of exercises. Lift the fingers, prepare, feel in the muscles the stretch. Articulate! Even when you play later fast and you are more close to the keys... [Music] Then I still articulate.

When you go faster the fingers don't lift so much, but they still lift and articulate. It is still the same technique. I will talk about this more in other videos. And go more deep into it. Because this is a really important stage in learning. And I know that pianists like Horowitz, also work like that.

Horowitz, for example, said that he advises every pianist to play the first etude of Chopin, but very slowly and strong. [Chopin - Etude opus 10 no. 1] Every day! That is the first phase exercises, with the umbrella technique. We don't use the arm yet, we use the arm later in the second phase. But in this phase, we really focus on the fingers, and how to free the fingers.

Make them fast, strong, flexible! If you want to develop your piano technique and your fingers to a new level? Then I would recommend you to check out my book: "Super Fingers". The link is in the description, you can check it out. And it will help you for sure to develop your fingers and your arm technique. Don't forget to hit that like button!

So that YouTube lets other people know that this is a good video. And they will also watch and have benefit from it. If you didn't already subscribe, hit that subscribe button! And the bell, so that you will be notified for the next videos! And if you want to learn more about scales, how to really effectively speed up scales, and so on, then I would recommend you to watch this video here. And then I see you in the next video!

Where to Download Czerny Etudes

If you prefer to buy them as real books. Here are some (affiliate) links to the books available on amazon.com.

Buying through the affiliate links below will support my YouTube Channel, and I thank you. Otherwise, download the FREE PDFs that I bundled for you.

Buy the scores here on Amazon:

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