Czerny’s Eight-Measure Exercises, Op. 821


We’re pleased to announce the publishing of a new series of videos on the Online Academy by pianist, pedagogue and artistic producer at Entrada Piano, Fred Karpoff. These videos offer a guided tour to a selection of Czerny’s Eight-Measure Exercises, Op. 821. In this week’s blog post, Fred gives some background to the project and introduces his approach to how these exercises can be highly effective vehicles for bridging from intermediate to advanced technique.

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I’m delighted to join the Online Academy. The seeds for this collaboration were planted several years ago when I met Ryan Morison at an MTNA conference. Later, these seeds sprouted when Ryan introduced me to Graham Fitch and we discussed the possibility of working together. I was exhilarated. We have a lot in common. Like Ryan and Graham, I’m committed to helping pianists around the world reach their full potential.

When we met recently, I proposed contributing a unit on Czerny’s Eight-Measure Exercises, Op. 821. These videos demonstrate the pedagogical approach that has evolved over the span of my teaching career—whole-body, three-dimensional piano technique.

“Czerny, you say?!” (I can hear gasps!). Yes, I’m not a big fan of the longer (and often boring) etudes of his Opp. 599 and 740, but I’ve experienced exceptional results teaching the first ca. 38 of the 160 8-Measure Exercises, for over 25 years (After No. 38, I believe there are better alternatives, including etudes by well-known composers). Many of my former students who are successful pianists today incorporated these problem-solving miniatures to swiftly advance their technical and musical development. 

Czerny's Eight-Measure Exercises, Op. 821

Think about it: if you can figure out what the main technical challenges are in only eight measures and truly master the obstacles, you’re not wasting precious time by playing in an inefficient manner for 80-100 measures. On the contrary, laying a strong foundation of creative problem solving and effective practice habits, combined with whole-body technique, sets you up for outstandingsuccess at a much faster pace than slogging through pieces that–if you’re honest–you may not yet be fully equipped to play at the highest level. 

Can benefits be had by studying, well, almost anything? Certainly, but I like to refer to the old maxim, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” In music, that translates to: “but how does it really sound?” This is why I have students study the first page of 4-6 Chopin (or other) etudes at once, before embarking on learning a whole work. How sad it is to hear the product of relentless practice on La Campanella or the “Winter Wind” Etude when a pianist isn’t well-equipped tohandle the first sixteen measures? Practising to “perfect” a work withinadequate technique can lead tohaving little to show despite Herculean effort. 

I invite you to take this journey with me through a deep dive into Czerny’s first seven pieces from Op. 821. Beginning in Exercise No. 1, I demonstrate my take on perhaps the most important method for learning to play any piece of music: practising in overlapping rhythms of differing lengths. This approach is an example of integrating three-dimensional movement from the outset, while simultaneously incorporating reflective musical habits. In turn, musicians can creatively apply this process to any repertoire to ensure success in continuity and performance.

Video lessons and performances with an accompanying study edition for the first seven exercises are now available on the Online Academy. Click here for more information and to view the series introduction.

Links & Resources

  • Fred’s set of eight videos featuring exercises nos. 1 – 7 of Czerny’s Eight-Measure Exercises (Op. 821) and accompanying study edition are available is available for once-off purchase here or with an Online Academy subscription. Please click here to find out more about subscription options, or click here to view the series index if you are already a subscriber.
  • Click here to visit Fred’s website, Entrada Piano, for hundreds of training videos and his masterclass series.
  • Click here for a listing of other technique resources on the Online Academy.

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