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#1677875 - 05/14/11 11:18 PM Improving Technical Skills for experienced players?  
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Eapfep Offline
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Hi, I'm reasonably experienced at playing the piano but ultimately I do find myself stumbling at the fast passages in Liebestraum No.3 or Rach's Prelude in G minor.

What are ways I can (generally) improve my technical skills?

I've been playing without a teacher for about a year now (after receiving 10 years of classical piano training) and I don't want to lose any finger technics due to not focusing on the right exercises.

Would anybody be able to suggest some exercises or books where I can get a good all-around training regimen to improve my playing?

Thanks Much.

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#1677898 - 05/14/11 11:27 PM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Hi Eapfep -
I've been playing for most of my life - without a teaching since I was 16 (I'm 47 now). I too feel like I've hit a plateau that I can't seem to rise above. I've come to the conclusion that I need a teacher. I guess I'm feeling picky about the whole thing - I want to learn the pieces I'm interested in - no interest in going through some regimented conservatory curriculum. But I need to discipline to work on the technical stuff and some specific instruction on how to get it right. So that's my plan.


Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780
#1677905 - 05/14/11 11:51 PM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Ideally I'd want to be able to find a teacher a conservatory (I live 10 minute drive away from one).

But with studies and other commitments I find it's hard. I can manage to practice 1-2 hours a day, but I'm afraid finding an instructor will jeopardize my time (and interest in music)

You could say I've really become passionate in music only AFTER I stopped learning from an instructor.

So yes, worse comes to worse, I'll find a teacher.

#1677906 - 05/15/11 12:00 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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gooddog Offline
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If you want to improve and maintain your technique, start working in Bach's Well Tempered Clavier.

I'd say you need to find a teacher who enjoys working with adults. I've had piano teachers tell me that enthusiastic adults are the most fun to work with because they are not interested in a professional career or competitions, they just want to get better and revel in their love of music. Find a teacher who works well with adults and will understand your time constraints. You will probably be able to choose your own music, or at the very least, be included in the decision making. If practice time is scarce, many teachers will allow you to take lessons every other week. This way there is less pressure on you and you have time to feel prepared for your lesson.


Best regards,

Deborah
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#1677910 - 05/15/11 12:08 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Originally Posted by Eapfep

Would anybody be able to suggest some exercises or books where I can get a good all-around training regimen to improve my playing?

Thanks Much.


Maybe Dohnanyi's Essential Finger Exercises (for intermediate to advanced students).



[Linked Image]

Music is my best friend.


#1677912 - 05/15/11 12:17 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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I find if you work slow, concentrate, and do this continuously, you'll notice after a week or so things will get easier and "get" into your hands. Regular demanding repertoire generally works, though as Deborah suggested, working through the WTC will help (advice I should take myself..).


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Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#1677913 - 05/15/11 12:18 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Well, I'm not quite an adult yet.

What exactly is it that a piano teacher can offer me? I'm okay with everything but fast passages/arpeggios (like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufGPPatMLU8), or playing massive chords with flats/sharps in rapid succession.

I reckon It'd be a real waste of time if they just sit beside me as we go through pieces (cause I already do that by myself), especially if I could tackle on the problems myself with the help of practice and etudes.

gooddog, thanks for the suggestion! I will try to play through Bach's Well Tempered Clavier.

#1677964 - 05/15/11 03:07 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: ChopinAddict]  
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Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
Originally Posted by Eapfep

Would anybody be able to suggest some exercises or books where I can get a good all-around training regimen to improve my playing?

Thanks Much.


Maybe Dohnanyi's Essential Finger Exercises (for intermediate to advanced students).


I second that recommendation, with the usual caveat that one really needs to be careful about keeping the hands relaxed so as to avoid injury, and to save the most difficult ones until after the others are thoroughly mastered.


#1678011 - 05/15/11 07:52 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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In addition to the exhortations to slow down, I'd like to stress that you hear every note that you are playing - and not just be able to mindlessly move your fingers at whatever speed.....

Can you sing those fast passages to yourself at a variety of different tempi (including "super quick" & "deathly slow")? When you do so, are the notes accurate?


Piano instruction and performance
#1678033 - 05/15/11 09:06 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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It seems a 1 hour consultation lessons from a teacher would be best for you. You would just tell the teacher what passages you have problems with, and the teacher will suggest ways for you to improve, such as change fingering, different practice patterns, different ways to use your muscles, etc.

You can spend say 10-20 minutes on a piece, so you can go over 3-5 pieces in one lesson. Then if you find the teacher helpful you can come back to him in a month for another follow up lesson.

If you find a good teacher, then such lesson is the most efficient way to improve (I had such lessons before and just a few suggestions from the teacher changed my technique for the better). You can try contacting the teachers at your local conservatory to see if they are interested.

#1678076 - 05/15/11 11:12 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Many times we think we can play a piece well.But if we get a really good teacher, that teacher will be able to slice and dice our playing to show us that our musical understanding is nothing. Find a real concert pianist, they usually are able to do this.

#1678095 - 05/15/11 11:52 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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You could simply play scales, start on different scale degrees of that scale or play them a 10th apart. Or play a variety of chords, invert them, arpeggiate them, eat them, etc... Thats always helped me.

#1678101 - 05/15/11 11:59 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Originally Posted by Eapfep
What exactly is it that a piano teacher can offer me? ...I reckon It'd be a real waste of time if they just sit beside me as we go through pieces (cause I already do that by myself), especially if I could tackle on the problems myself with the help of practice and etudes.
If you can say this, then it sounds like you haven't had a good teacher. A good teacher will notice things your ears aren't yet trained to notice. It also depends on how well you want to play. If you just want to learn notes and make musical sounds, you can probably go without a teacher. If you want to turn your music into something transcendent, then you need a teacher.


Best regards,

Deborah
#1678111 - 05/15/11 12:08 PM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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A good teacher is indispensible and, I believe, absolutely necessary if you are looking to make technical advances you haven't been able to make on your own. The "right exercises" are only valuable if they are practiced and executed in the correct manner. For that you need a really good teacher.


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#1678133 - 05/15/11 12:54 PM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Thanks everyone for all the useful advice.

I'll practice WTC and brush up on my scales over the summer.

As soon as August rolls around I'll be going to the McGill University Conservatory and find a teacher either for full lessons or consultation lessons. That or I can take lessons from a teacher who previously taught my a friend of mine.

Does anybody have tips for how I can decide which teacher is good for me?

Thanks!

#1678134 - 05/15/11 12:55 PM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: DameMyra]  
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by DameMyra
A good teacher is indispensible and, I believe, absolutely necessary if you are looking to make technical advances you haven't been able to make on your own. The "right exercises" are only valuable if they are practiced and executed in the correct manner. For that you need a really good teacher.


+1



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#1678150 - 05/15/11 01:19 PM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: gooddog]  
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Just to give some information:

I don't intend on being a master of classical piano. While it's a fantastic form of music and I do want to have a strong classical piano foundation (it's what I started with), it would be nice to be able to use the theory and technics to springboard into Jazz and other genres.

More than anything I want to be a well rounded pianist who can arrange and compose. I suppose I should take theory classes as well =/

Last edited by Eapfep; 05/15/11 01:27 PM.
#1678362 - 05/15/11 06:48 PM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: DameMyra]  
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Originally Posted by DameMyra
A good teacher is indispensible and, I believe, absolutely necessary if you are looking to make technical advances you haven't been able to make on your own. The "right exercises" are only valuable if they are practiced and executed in the correct manner. For that you need a really good teacher.


I think that's a bit dogmatic...doing technical exercises has definitely been valuable for me without having a teacher. I will readily agree that having a teacher would likely have made my work even more productive, but that doesn't mean there has been no value in them just working on my own.


#1678618 - 05/16/11 08:47 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: Eapfep]  
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Once you reach a certain level of technical proficiency, I think you can practise on your own, using volumes of technical exercises or just devising your own. I find that the best one for strengthening finger weaknesses and improving general technique is Geoffrey Tankard's 'Piano Technique': you can select your own exercises from the book to suit your needs as they are all very short. From your description, it seems like fluent fingerwork at high velocity with possibly awkward figurations might be your problem.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#1680058 - 05/18/11 11:54 AM Re: Improving Technical Skills for experienced players? [Re: gooddog]  
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Originally Posted by gooddog
Originally Posted by Eapfep
What exactly is it that a piano teacher can offer me? ...I reckon It'd be a real waste of time if they just sit beside me as we go through pieces (cause I already do that by myself), especially if I could tackle on the problems myself with the help of practice and etudes.
If you can say this, then it sounds like you haven't had a good teacher...

This is so true. My son's first teacher (he learned from my old books for a couple of years before this) just sat there and listened to him play for 2 years. She did give him major and minor scales and arpeggios and introduce him to literature but really nothing else. How I wish now that he had started with a different teacher but we didn't know anything about what a teacher should be like back then and didn't realize how important his music would become to him. His second teacher had to take him back to the beginning of intermediate (from about the middle) and work on correcting many bad habits, some of which are still with him a little after 3 years because he got into the habit of being sloppy. My guess is that you may not have experienced a good teacher yet so I think you should try to find one and see what a difference it makes.


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