top of page

Analysis and Exercises on Waltz in A minor Chopin B.150 (Grade 5)

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

One needs only to study a certain positioning of the hand in relation to the keys to obtain with ease the most beautiful sounds.
To know how to play long notes and short notes and to achieve certain unlimited dexterity.
A well formed technique, it seems to me, can control and vary a beautiful sound quality.


Technical Requirements

This piece is in A minor with modulations to the dominant (E major) and (B major), which is its dominant. There is an abrupt change to the key related by key note (A major) and feelings of the key related by key signature (C major).

The accompaniment contains the typical Waltz pattern of the principal note being sounded, followed by two chords which are mostly the same with the exception of bars 17 and 21 where the chords change noticeably. Whilst the melody contains some arpeggiation it principally moves in seconds or by leap.

The melodic repetition is apparent in each theme with repeats featuring decoration that is characteristic of Chopin's music.

Rhythmic repetition is apparent when different ideas are explored. The piece is predominantly quavers and crotchets. The Rhythmic repetition is dependent upon the melodic repetition to be significant and important.

Musical Requirements

This piece benefits from the use of the pedal however the melodic lines still need to be clean and accurate. Practice without the pedal to achieve a sticky legato.

The ornamentation with Chopin is an integral part of the music rather than an optional add on. Decoration should be sounded on the beat, not before it.

Chopin aimed to achieve a 'Bel Canto' sound with his music. The melody should be phrased as if it were sung.

Although called a Waltz, this little piece is not a physical dance but rather a dance through emotions moving from momentary happiness to a melancholy sadness and back again.

The phrase should be shaped as if the human voice were singing it with the natural rise and fall of nuance dynamics. The target of each phrase may, or may not, hold the anticipation that the rubato technique provides. Rubato technique, especially when utilised within this piece should be applied as though it were chilli sauce, not tomato paste.

Pitch Considerations

The range in the right hand is E4 to E7

The range in the left hand is A2 to F4

This piece uses the standard hand placing and traditionally positioned clefs.

The key of this piece is A minor with movements to keys related by key note, key signature and dominant note placement.

The finger pattern for the decorative features depends on the flexibility and size of the hand and a number of options should be explored.

Rhythmic Elements

This piece uses a waltz accompaniment to emphasize the character of the work over which the melody weaves with haunting and repetitive rhythmic repetitions.

The tempo indicated is 104 to 116 crotchet beats per minute. The speed chosen for performance should be verified secure from bar 12 to 14 before being used to maintain the tempo of the piece. Rubato should not be used as an excuse for not playing in time.

Bar 14 includes and exquisitely decorated coda through which a small rubato can be applied to enhance the five note trill. The decoration here should not be rushed but should be expressed as a natural expansion of the sound as if thoughts were giving life to more thoughts.

Study packs are now available to purchase from

Exercise 5a

Exercise 5b

Exercise 6

Exercise 7

Exercise 8


Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

bottom of page