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#1185898 - 04/23/09 01:40 PM Am I doing this right? (& other questions)  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 39
Shaun0104 Offline
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Shaun0104  Offline
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Plymouth, Devon, UK
I try and practice for an hour a day, everyday and wanted to look at the way I was practicing scales. I read on one website to learn to play scales Hands Together, 1 octave, then 2, I gave C Major a go but found the back of my hands hurting a lot afterwards, is this normal? Do I need to learn HT now or at all?

I am learning the scales slowly and also need to ask at this stage, should I learn all the Majors 1st going around the circle of 5ths, then their relative minors? With Hands Separate, I tend to play the scale, arpeggio, double arpeggio, chord and inversions before moving onto the next, is this the right thing to do?

Finally, I find playing all those parts of scales takes around 30-40 minutes (I find them important as I read that they are the alphabet of music) I then work through my piano workbook for the last 20-30 minutes, I then get to a point of losing concentration and start playing the notes wrongly so I stop.

I do all this literally before going to bed (even if it's from 12am-1am) as I read that it'll be in my subcontious mind as I sleep.

Am I doing the right thing?

Thanks, Shaun

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#1185927 - 04/23/09 02:27 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Shaun0104]  
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packa Offline
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Practicing scales HT is certainly an important exercise. There are lots of ways to practice scales. Playing scales HT in uniform motion and then in contrary motion (the ascending scale in one hand with the descending scale in the other) is good. Playing scales HT at thirds or sixths is also good (this means playing the scale in one hand starting on the root of the scale while the other hand plays the same scale notes but starting on the third or sixth degree of the scale). Varying rhythms is another common scale exercise. Alfred Publishing's Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios & Cadences has a helpful chapter on ways to practice scales. Our own Kreisler once posted a guide to scale practice that was excellent but I can't seem to find the link anymore.

However, if you only have an hour to practice, I wouldn't spend so much of it on scales when you have other musical work to do. I'd suggest no more than 15-20 minutes. But that's just me.


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#1185976 - 04/23/09 03:36 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Shaun0104]  
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Monica K. Offline

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Monica K.  Offline

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Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted by Shaun0104
I gave C Major a go but found the back of my hands hurting a lot afterwards, is this normal?


Hi Shaun, pain is never a good sign while playing the piano. The most likely cause is that you are playing with tension. The cure is to play without tension, which is always easier to say than do. wink You need to try to play with your fingers and hands relaxed and use arm weight to move about the keyboard. This is a part of piano technique that is difficult to get across in writing and where having a teacher could be a big help.

As for when you practice, it's not necessary to do it right before sleeping unless you want to. Especially if you are encountering pain, it might be better to practice in shorter blocks several times a day, e.g., 15 or 20 minutes, take a break and get dinner, do another 20 min., etc.



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#1187390 - 04/25/09 07:21 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Monica K.]  
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Morodiene Offline
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First master hands separately on C Major 1 octave, then hands together. Then do the same with G major and go around the circle of 5ths, all doing hands separately until easy, then hands together. "Easy" also means no pain. You may have to play super slow, and that's OK. Slow practice is very good to do. Stop practicing whenever you feel pain, however. Monica is correct in that it should never happen.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#1187426 - 04/25/09 08:36 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Morodiene]  
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malkin Offline
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I agree with Monica that "pain is never a good sign while playing the piano," or at any other time for that matter.


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#1187434 - 04/25/09 08:50 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: malkin]  
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Waltz Offline
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Originally Posted by malkin
I agree with Monica that "pain is never a good sign while playing the piano," or at any other time for that matter.


lol, yes, that is very true


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#1187455 - 04/25/09 09:47 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Waltz]  
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Morodiene Offline
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I think many people think that if they feel pain, they are getting stronger, like when one lifts weights. However, piano playing involves less of large muscles and more smaller muscles and tendons, so it's a different animal altogether.


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#1187479 - 04/25/09 10:48 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Morodiene]  
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ihave12fingers Offline
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Sorry to intrude, but just curious how do you play more than 1 octave with a scale? I know how to play one octave, but am confused on more than one.

#1187634 - 04/26/09 10:52 AM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: ihave12fingers]  
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packa Offline
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Dallas, TX
Originally Posted by ihave12fingers
Sorry to intrude, but just curious how do you play more than 1 octave with a scale? I know how to play one octave, but am confused on more than one.

For example using the standard fingering for C major:

One octave: 12312345
Two octaves: 123123412312345
As many octaves as you want: 12312341231234.....45

In this example, you move your thumb up to C when you want to continue, or just use 5 to play C if you're not continuing for another octave.


Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718
#1189298 - 04/28/09 05:02 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: packa]  
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Angelus-Mortis Offline
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Could it be the pain is caused because you're using too much of your wrist?

I've noticed my right hand hurts, but not my left, and I think it's because the wrist moves too much.

I heard something interesting. I can't remember if my previous piano teacher told me it or not, but there aren't any muscles in your hands. It's just joints and tendons.

#1189313 - 04/28/09 05:32 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Angelus-Mortis]  
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J.W. Offline
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Iowa
It's true that there aren't any muscles in your fingers, but there are muscles in your hand. Finger movements are controlled by 17 muscles in the palm of your hand and 18 muscles in your forearm.


Revolutionary Etude aspirations, Minuet in G abilities.
#1189324 - 04/28/09 05:48 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Shaun0104]  
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GreenRain Offline
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Somewhere in Europe
Hy Shaun!

Pain is always an indicator that you are doing something wrong. I don't want to scare you, but hand injuries because of piano playing are very common.

I am currently taking a few days off because my hands are tired and without power, so you can beleive me. smile

Pain problems can sometimes be solved very quickly, depends on why you are feeling pain.
I think that there is a big possibility, that you don't relax your hand. It is easy to find out. Play scale with one hand and then hold your wrist with other hand. If your wrist isn't »soft«, it means that you simply have to relax hand. Put your hand on keyboard, but don't use any muscle (simply let the hand to »fall down«). Then use only that much muscles as you need for playing. Don't play too fast or too loud, use less force (until you learn how to relax hand).
I had the same problem and i solved it in a week….

I will also suggest you to practice earlier, when you are not tired. And another thing, while scales are quite useful (at least for begginers), spending more time on them then on the pieces is not so good. I think that it's enough to play scales for 15 minutes (if you practice 1 hour daily).

Do you have a teacher?

My english cannot be considered as a good, so I hope that you can understand me. smile

#1189346 - 04/28/09 06:25 PM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Angelus-Mortis]  
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Morodiene Offline
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There are muscles, but they aren't what we really use to play piano with. I don't know if your wrist is the problem, Angelus. I'd have to see it to know for sure what's causing the pain. Can you post a video of your hands while playing? You can PM it to me, if you prefer.


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#1189544 - 04/29/09 12:06 AM Re: Am I doing this right? (& other questions) [Re: Morodiene]  
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Angelus-Mortis Offline
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I don't have a video camera. Sorry. I think I'll figure it out. Eventually.


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