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#2120283 - 07/19/13 06:48 PM Having a really hard time with this passage  
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I'm having a very troublesome time with the right hand at this passage. Particularly the lower octave part. Actually, I don't have a problem with the higher octave part even though they're the same notes as the lower part, but it's GETTING down to the lower one AND hitting the notes (particularly the A). Any idea how to help?

[Linked Image]

PS: If I'm having such a hard time on this passage so early in the piece, is it a good idea to continue or will the coda destroy me?

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#2120294 - 07/19/13 07:00 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Hmm, I actually haven't found this part particulary problematic in the way you describe it. If you haven't already, try practicing them as chords. The most important part is to be relaxed and feel the flow of the music. If you let every note sing out and try to find the right dose of energy for every note, then you will let the music solve the technical problems for you. Playing the notes as chords might help you finding the right dose of energy for each note. Most importantly though: Don't focus too much on the physique, focus more on the musique wink

I don't think the coda is that much harder than that part, the technical problems in the coda reminds of that part but goes on for longer and are more direct. In other words, it will require even more work, but the real problem there compared to the part you are having trouble with is stamina.

Last edited by Franz Beebert; 07/19/13 07:02 PM.
#2120296 - 07/19/13 07:03 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: Franz Beebert]  
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But to get to the music you must have technique! This passage needs to be full of fire. In my opinion, the music calls for serious musical and technical conviction.

#2120302 - 07/19/13 07:13 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Try practicing in groups of three, accenting the first note only, then the second note only, then the third note only.

Alternatively you can articulate everything and play at an even (and loud) dynamic.

If that doesn't work you can try breaking up the double notes so that you have runs in groups of four: C-G-Bb-D Bb-F#-A-D

Note that the second and third groupings are both in the same hand position, so you can repeat those sequences in isolation.

Also realize that when you end up performing it, you need to find the right balance between the sweep (arm gestures) and articulation of each note (finger gestures) in order to get the sound that you need. If you think the sweep is more important, then making this passage perfectly even isn't that important.

IMO, the coda is much more difficult, but requires a different sort of technique (plus it's awkward as he|l..)

Last edited by Kuanpiano; 07/19/13 07:17 PM.

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#2120306 - 07/19/13 07:23 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
Try practicing in groups of three, accenting the first note only, then the second note only, then the third note only.

Alternatively you can articulate everything and play at an even (and loud) dynamic.

If that doesn't work you can try breaking up the double notes so that you have runs in groups of four: C-G-Bb-D Bb-F#-A-D

Note that the second and third groupings are both in the same hand position, so you can repeat those sequences in isolation.

Also realize that when you end up performing it, you need to find the right balance between the sweep (arm gestures) and articulation of each note (finger gestures) in order to get the sound that you need. If you think the sweep is more important, then making this passage perfectly even isn't that important.

IMO, the coda is much more difficult, but requires a different sort of technique (plus it's awkward as he|l..)
I think the technique required for the coda reminds of that part, the difference is that the coda is more direct(no note in between, instead of group of three it's group of two). Anyway joelw, if you can play the passage you are having trouble with, I cannot see why you wouldn't be able to play the coda. If you can't play the part you are having trouble with, you can't play the coda.

#2120308 - 07/19/13 07:25 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I'm having a very troublesome time with the right hand at this passage. Particularly the lower octave part. Actually, I don't have a problem with the higher octave part even though they're the same notes as the lower part, but it's GETTING down to the lower one AND hitting the notes (particularly the A). Any idea how to help?

[Linked Image]

PS: If I'm having such a hard time on this passage so early in the piece, is it a good idea to continue or will the coda destroy me?


I'm not sure what is troubling you here, so I will guess. Try taking the high bflat with your third finger instead of the fourth. This should change, slightly, the angle of your hand when you continue downward and could help with your accuracy. To see what I mean, just play the first four notes as a chord using your third finger where the fourth is indicated. Note your hand position. Your thumb should be straighter. Start slow, of course. smile



#2120310 - 07/19/13 07:25 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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I mean, I CAN play it... at 1/3 speed... I practiced it all day and am seeing no signs of improvement speed-wise.

#2120311 - 07/19/13 07:29 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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It's okay, some things take forever. A few bars in Rach 2 took weeks to get up to performance tempo, and let's not talk about those repeated notes in Scarbo...

Practice with a metronome slowly, and increase your speed in small increments if you want to get quicker faster.


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

#2120314 - 07/19/13 07:40 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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The passage needs to be played a lot lighter than most people think, especially in the thumb. The 52 and 42 can have some power, but the rest has to relax a bit.

(I'm guessing you're trying to be too forceful and your thumb is getting stuck, which is why the lower octave is a problem.)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#2120317 - 07/19/13 07:48 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I mean, I CAN play it... at 1/3 speed... I


laugh So can everyone else.

#2120353 - 07/19/13 08:55 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: Kreisler]  
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Kreisler makes a very good point. If you need to play loud, make the left hand do it for you. Playing loud in the right hand will just make it slow down.

And BTW, playing this passage wrong got me seriously injured about 35 years ago, so please be careful.


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#2120416 - 07/20/13 03:45 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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For getting the A to be clear...

Another idea is to play the A twice. This is a general technique that is helpful for accuracy/wrong notes.

Also try practicing playing the A and D together.
Also try practicing the Bb, F# and D together, then play the A.

Also try a staccato, plucking touch for practice.

You may be holding the F# with your 2 too long, or even still holding the D with the thumb when you go to play the A.

For getting "down" to the lower repetition, try drilling the high A, the D and the Bb+F#. Note your hand should move left and the thumb should let go. Don't try for legato between the thumb on D and the Bb+F#.
Hope these help!

#2120426 - 07/20/13 05:35 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I mean, I CAN play it... at 1/3 speed... I practiced it all day and am seeing no signs of improvement speed-wise.


Some things can just take a lot of patience and time . . . why not fifteen to twenty minutes of highly concentrated time on the passage every day (every day) and gradually increase the tempo until it is where you want it?

As a pianist you need to think in terms of practice structured for programmes, I don't think this composition would be the most challenging music on a full length programme (2 hrs. with 1 hours 45 min. of music and a fifteen minute intermission) and so it can not dominate one's time at the piano.

The most challenging music in one's repertoire might be 20% of most programmes' duration but 80% of one's practice time on an ongoing basis . . .

M.

#2120454 - 07/20/13 08:04 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Try practicing the the CG, B, B, BF# (stop and pause), then BF#, A, A, BF# (stop and pause), then BF#, A, D, CG (pause), etc, etc. It helped me A LOT when I was learning this piece. If you can ground yourself in the fourths and let the other notes just happen around the 4th, you'll find it easier. Did any of this make sense?


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#2120477 - 07/20/13 10:06 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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I think that this passage just needs time. I dont have problem playing this part, but I wasnt able to play this after one day in tempo, maybe it takes few weeks, depends on your level. Practise it slowly and play only at tempo that is comfortable to you, speed will come naturally :-)

But I know that feeling, sometimes after few days practising something difficult I start freaking out that I will never be able to play it, and I could stop playing the piano etc.... but it goes away with time (sometimes).

Good luck!!


"If you want to understand the music, you don't even need ears as much as heart"
#2121320 - 07/22/13 01:07 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: emilypianist89]  
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emilypianist89, did you mean to make a little drill of parts of the pattern out of order, or in order? CG, Bb, Bb, D for example? of something different?

#2121325 - 07/22/13 01:16 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: Michael Glenn Williams]  
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rereading, it didn't seem clear about getting down to the lower part of the pattern.

Try drilling the short sequence that crosses the "break" or change of octave. A (with 3) down to D (with 1) down to Bb+F# (with 2+4) is a good one to start with. Let go of the 1 and move the hand left to hit the Bb+F# instead of doing a legato thumb crossing.

Do you have hitchhiker's thumb or anything different about the thumb?

#2121344 - 07/22/13 02:12 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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As with most of Chopin's writing, this passage is divided into several groupings of fast notes under the hand followed by another grouping of fast notes under the hand (after the hand changes position). The difficulty, just as you explain it, is not playing the notes under one hand position, but GETTING from one position to another. The first group is the G-C, Bb, D, F#-Bb, A, D, and the second group (the lower one), is F#-Bb, A, D, G-C, Bb, D. The last D of each group is the key to solving the passage, since it is the pivot note, the note that brings your hand and arm to the other part of the passage. Once you understand the structure of this choreographically, you can begin to practice. I would recommend the following ways:

1.) Practice JUST getting from the last note of the first group (D), to the first of the next group. (F# and Bb). Don't try for legato, nor think of them as connected. Do this many many times (at tempo), forward and backward, making sure that your hand completely shifts and is in complete alignment. Then start adding on notes from there, practice the last TWO notes of the first group to the FIRST two of the second, both forward and backward, then etc.

2.) Practice the whole passage with your eyes closed. When we take away one of our senses, the other ones will work harder to overcompensate for it, therby honing in on your muscles memorizing the exact distance your hand must move instead of relying on it visually.

3.) Practice the whole passage backwards, hands together, in all sorts of rhythmic groupings.

4.) Practice the passage with every note moved up a half step. This way the the combination of black/white keys that you're used to will change, giving your hands and brain a fresh perspective of the same music but laid out in a different topography. Once it adjusts to this, it may make the original seem easier.

5.) STOP practicing it for 3 days, and just stare at the passage while sitting on your couch. Meditate on it. Sometimes technical solutions can come indirectly if we just remove ourselves from the physical act of hacking away at it, and take a mental look at it instead.

Aside from these - to address your problem specifically - it's possible that that lower A might be giving you difficulty because it's getting stuck from your weak 4th finger just having played the Bb right before it, and therefore buckling under the inferiority of that finger. Try this: play the F#, A, and Bb all together as a chord. While holding down the F# and Bb, lift and repeat the A (3rd finger) several times. Then hold down the F# and A, and play the Bb (4th finger) several times. Then hold down the Bb and A, and repeat the F# (2nd finger) several times. My teacher called this "hold and poke" practice.

The pianist Graham Fitch has a phenomenal blog that deals with a lot of practice issues, you might want to take a look at it here.

http://practisingthepiano.com/?page_id=1521

If all else fails, maybe you can invent some whacked out hand redistribution for this passage and impress us with it smile

#2121609 - 07/22/13 05:52 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Try jumping to 52 instead of 42. Could be that 42-3 is what's really tripping you up, and not the leap itself. 52 might free that up a bit.


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.
#2121617 - 07/22/13 06:09 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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So, after all these suggestions, what did you do, and what worked for you? smile


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#2121643 - 07/22/13 07:33 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm trying everything you say. I made a short clip to maybe see if there are any technical problems you can identify.


(see how the A starts disappearing when I bring it to full tempo)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0tq-JYTSsQ

#2121646 - 07/22/13 07:41 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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YouTube said the video was private and that I couldn't watch it because I'm not your friend.


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.
#2121647 - 07/22/13 07:43 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: Derulux]  
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Oops. Now try.

#2121657 - 07/22/13 08:34 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: Michael Glenn Williams]  
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Originally Posted by Michael Glenn Williams
emilypianist89, did you mean to make a little drill of parts of the pattern out of order, or in order? CG, Bb, Bb, D for example? of something different?


Yes! Playing (using the counting) +3+4 (pause) 4+5+ (pause)+6+1, etc, etc as a drill


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#2121660 - 07/22/13 08:44 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Assuming your teacher can play it at -or near- concert level, what is he/she telling you to do here? Perhaps there is some miscommunication.

I've never studied the piece, and aside from a smattering of etudes, the only major Chopin work I tackled was the Bb minor Scherzo. But I wouldn't attempt diagnosis, though it appears you're doing everything correctly.


Jason
#2121662 - 07/22/13 08:48 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: argerichfan]  
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Originally Posted by argerichfan
Assuming your teacher can play it at -or near- concert level, what is he/she telling you to do here? Perhaps there is some miscommunication.

I've never studied the piece, and aside from a smattering of etudes, the only major Chopin work I tackled was the Bb minor Scherzo. But I wouldn't attempt diagnosis, though it appears you're doing everything correctly.


I don't have a teacher but I'm getting one very soon. I've been unable to have one due to transportation problems but that problem will not exist in a couple of months... grin

#2121668 - 07/22/13 09:05 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW

I don't have a teacher but I'm getting one very soon. I've been unable to have one due to transportation problems but that problem will not exist in a couple of months... grin
Well, Joel, there's the problem. wink

Perhaps you might wish to hold off until you find a teacher. There have been some intelligent advice here, but I feel that most of us would agree that there is no substitute for the one-on-one of an accomplished teacher. Good luck and Godspeed!


Jason
#2121722 - 07/22/13 11:29 PM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: JoelW]  
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Having a really hard time seeing... but, is your hand tipped rotated farther towards the thumb on the lower one (thumb side of hand lower and pinky side of hand higher)? It kind of looks like you are pivoting on the thumb, and then when the hand comes to play the lower one, it doesn't work anymore because the finger playing the A is just a little higher than on the upper one. Could be wrong though...

If yes, check out OpusMaximus' first practice tip.

Last edited by Arghhh; 07/22/13 11:31 PM.

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#2121732 - 07/23/13 12:14 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Could be wrong though...

And therein lies our problem. We cannot really tell from that video. Obviously the chap is very talented, but something is amiss here.

I am rather concerned. Bad habits (if indeed what might be developing here) die hard. When I was 15 I fancied I could learn a certain piece (it pains me to recall it), but I got flummoxed at several difficult junctures and finally gave up in frustration.

Later on at uni I went on to develop a lot more reliable technique -which served me well when I went on to study the organ- but when I went back to that piece and tried to practise it 'properly', all those old habits came back to haunt me. It was very distressing.



Jason
#2121837 - 07/23/13 09:00 AM Re: Having a really hard time with this passage [Re: argerichfan]  
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Originally Posted by argerichfan

Later on at uni I went on to develop a lot more reliable technique -which served me well when I went on to study the organ- but when I went back to that piece and tried to practise it 'properly', all those old habits came back to haunt me. It was very distressing.



And I've found that after spending the last few years dedicated to learning to play piano that I now know better ways to move at the keyboard. However, every new piece I start begins with some of my old bad habits that I need to break again. The first few weeks I spend a lot of time finding the right movements.

Going on a slight tangent here - I heard a voice teacher recommend to her student that if they wish to use an aria later (for auditions, for example), they have to be continually maintaining it so that it will grow with their technique. Sometimes she will try to reassign an aria learned earlier in their development only to let it go again because the old vocal habits were too ingrained.


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