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#1981236 - 11/01/12 07:07 AM How to practice/play arpeggios  
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 31
jaredm2012 Offline
Full Member
jaredm2012  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 31
Alabama
So far, I've learned 5 scales pretty well, working on a 6th and 7th. I can play them in 16ths at about 70 BPM, four octaves hands together in parallel motion, and on most of them I can do contrary motion as well.

As exciting as that is (I feel incredible each time I "get" a new scale, especially if it is a different fingering), I just cannot seem to get the arpeggios down. Now, my teacher hasn't assigned this, rather it is just something I had fiddled around a bit with since I've learned the scales.

Let's take G major for instance. In the right hand, the fingering given in my scale book is 123 123 5 321 321

So when you play that, how should you approach the transition from 3-1 (from D to the next octave G)? Should the thumb immediately cross under the middle finger to set up for the next G? Or should you lift the hand after the middle finger note and move it to the next GBD position?

When I play it at very very slow tempos, I can make it sound fairly smooth. However, at moderate to quick tempos, it sounds very choppy (long-long-short long-long-short) and not very fluid at all. Also, I find the 3-1 stretch from D-G a bit tough and uncomfortable, and I don't have small hands.

Anyway I just wanted to get some feedback from y'all to see what the proper technique is for this and any suggestions you might have on how to effectively add them into my practice routine!

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#1981243 - 11/01/12 07:32 AM Re: How to practice/play arpeggios [Re: jaredm2012]  
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 131
jehalliday Offline
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jehalliday  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 131
Ontario, Canada
Practice them very slowly. With your right hand, while your third finger is still on the D, get your thumb in position on the next G. The "bump" is caused by the thumb not being in position in time. Slow practice really helps with this and eventually you'll be able to speed it up. Also be aware of which direction your hand is slanted. For most keys, it helps to keep the left hand slanted slightly "uphill" and the opposite for the right. This makes is easier to reach under with your thumb. Let your fingers "walk" up the keyboard. (Are you old enough to remember the old commercial for Yellow Pages with "Let your fingers do the walking?)

#1981247 - 11/01/12 07:43 AM Re: How to practice/play arpeggios [Re: jaredm2012]  
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 5,446
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member
Derulux  Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 5,446
Philadelphia
This is not the easiest transition to describe online. Watch this video at the 0:59 mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRzB2-V7dkk. This person (I have no idea who it is) doesn't have great technique, so don't copy them exactly, but the concept I want to pull out, which is somewhat visible here, is the idea of shaping.

When the hand is playing the arpeggio, there has to be a shape to it. What you see is that the hand/arm starts at its lowest point on the thumb, rises to the middle finger, the thumb passes under, and the arm comes back down to repeat the process. In this case, it helps to get the hand out of the way in order to pass the thumb under.

You also need to move your elbow way out in order to get your thumb under without twisting. Really exaggerate it at first.. it will feel uncomfortable. Try putting both your middle finger and the thumb on the notes they need to play--3 on D, 1 on G--and then look at your wrist. Move your elbow out until your wrist is straight and you can play the notes comfortably without forcing your hand to stay in a certain position. Now go a little farther and see if it's more comfortable. Repeat until you find the "comfortable" spot. Yep, that far out.

The last two concepts for a true legato feel, I'm hoping you can intuit. They are more difficult to describe. If the above does not help, I would wait for your teacher, or ask your teacher. It would be worse to learn it wrong and have to "unlearn" it, than to wait a few extra days and learn it the right way. Promise. Because I once had to unlearn 15 years of playing, and I still don't think I'm completely cured. wink

Anyway, hope it helps. smile


EDIT: just saw someone beat me to a reply, and want to add just one thing.
Originally Posted by jehalliday
Practice them very slowly. With your right hand, while your third finger is still on the D, get your thumb in position on the next G. The "bump" is caused by the thumb not being in position in time. Slow practice really helps with this and eventually you'll be able to speed it up. Also be aware of which direction your hand is slanted. For most keys, it helps to keep the left hand slanted slightly "uphill" and the opposite for the right. This makes is easier to reach under with your thumb. Let your fingers "walk" up the keyboard. (Are you old enough to remember the old commercial for Yellow Pages with "Let your fingers do the walking?)

First, very nice Yellow Pages reference! laugh

What I want to add is this: the lack of legato is caused by two things. The first, you mention expertly. The second would be an early release of the third finger before the thumb has a chance to play. It sounds like semantics, but technique-wise, it's not. Either could be the culprit, so check both.

Some signs of a thumb problem: thumb is out of position, hearing separation between 3-1; thumb enters late on the beat

Some signs of a 3rd finger problem: thumb is in position, still hearing separation between 3-1; thumb enters on-time without rushing to play the note

I don't think your thumb needs to play any "earlier", but that could technically be the case. What I think you really need here is to hold your 3rd finger until the thumb plays. Some of the technique I described above will help you do this. But, like I said, if you're still having trouble, you should ask your teacher. They can sit at the piano with you and go through the motions, where we can only type. smile

Last edited by Derulux; 11/01/12 07:49 AM.

Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#1981613 - 11/02/12 04:38 AM Re: How to practice/play arpeggios [Re: jaredm2012]  
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 1,393
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014
Bobpickle  Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Joined: May 2012
Posts: 1,393
Cameron Park, California
I once watched Lypur's video posted above and it kind of helped introduce the topic to me in the past, but this video I saw recently seemed quite a bit better (with quite a bit less silly beginning teacher ramblings), as well as the second (all of Josh Wright's videos are pretty great)

[video:youtube]R2itD9n3Ky0[/video]

[video:youtube]9QUnl-HeZ0c[/video]


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